Friday, February 02, 2007

Toward the Shadow

As I returned from the counselor training in Maryland, I found myself lost in thought about the notion of psychological shadows. I've heard this concept before, but during the training, we observed shadow work up close, and learned to converse directly with the shadow to gain important insights.

Simply defined, the shadow is any part of our personality we repress or deny. We may find certain parts of ourselves shameful or bad, but all parts of us serve some helpful purpose. We can learn a lot from our shadows, but they can also destroy us if we repress them too hard.

When I returned to the sweat lodge, I mentioned my shadow work to the brothers in my circle. I was surprised how much the topic inspired some pretty deep conversation for the rest of the evening.

Last night, I returned to the sweat. My friend Gene had been part of our initial discussions around the shadow, but he was absent last night. Even so, he left me a handwritten note that let me know something of the impact of our discussion on him. The note said:

"So this is how it feels at the Rock Bottom of Despair, when the house I built comes crashing down; and this is how it feels when I know the man I say I am is not the man I am when no one's around."

Now there's food for thought. Thanks Gene.

By the way, the photograph above was taken on the road to Wellpinit last night. It represents that golden moment right before the sun falls and the earth plunges into shadow.

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