I feel as of late I’m beginning to understand the idea behind shadow work. The idea of shadow work arises from shamanic practices, which approaches dealing with the dark aspects of the self as a means of spiritual growth, of moving forward through the aspects of ourselves that cause us to create our own limitations.
The revelation regarding my own personal approach to shadow work came when my coworker was telling me how much she disliked putting away groceries, though she didn’t mind grocery shopping all-in-all. I asked her why she didn’t like it, but she couldn’t say why as she didn’t know why. Suddenly I heard myself say “when you figure out why you don’t like it, you won’t dislike it so much”.
I don’t know where that came from… it seemed to fall into my head and out of my mouth. I then played back the reel of my past to find those little aggravations where I had applied this practice unknowingly. Yes, mine was with folding laundry. I had always attempted to get an unattainably perfect origami fold from clothing otherwise molded to a standardly asymmetrical body. Once I realized and embraced this notion, I abandoned the attempts and settled for the expedient flop-and-fold method, thus abating the aggravation.
Is shadow work really about such mundane matters as folding laundry? I say these indicators in such aggravations are not to be discounted. It is not about the annoyance itself, but the bread crumb trail that leads to our own self-constructed prisons, a trail whose bits become snatched up by the crows of our ego, rendering us lost in the woods while trying to navigate our way to where we have placed our limitations on ourselves.
Here is my most recent encounter with my shadow self: On Thursday evening I was asked by my boss if I wanted to attend a technology forum on Friday, a forum that was a 90 minute round trip drive that would significantly extend my work day well into the evening. Upon examining the forum’s agenda I could not see any topic that covered my roles and responsibilities at my job. I wondered why I was asked to attend.
Mind you, my boss did give me the option of whether or not I wanted to go. I asked Jacque her opinion. She asked if I wanted to go, where I answered with an immediate “no”. Nonetheless I felt that strange resistance to what I wanted. I knew that resistance from similar past experiences, it was guidance telling me to not back out so quickly.
I meditated on it Friday morning. Guidance backed Jacque’s suggestion which was to see how important it was to my boss that I attend. Upon arriving at work, he descended upon me for an answer as he needed to RSVP ASAP. Even after explaining that the information being presented didn’t seem pertinent to my area of work, I still got the sense it was important for me to go. I agreed.
Then comes the shadow, lurking over my shoulder, grumbling in my ear. I could not shake the aggravation of agreeing to go to this thing. I remained steeped in a low grade irritation I couldn’t seem to shake. I blamed myself for my misuse of free will. I blamed my higher self for a lesson I did not want to learn. I tried every trick in the tome to lose the tail of my shadow, but it remained firmly on my heels.
Suddenly I stopped, turned and faced shadow directly and looked it square in the eye. I had been dancing around the shadow, trying to find ways of avoiding it, of de-justifying its need to exist, the purpose it was serving me.
How often I do try to shake the negative feelings I experience as I grapple with the self, rather than shaking hands with shadow and thanking it for its attendance, for bringing self awareness into my field of vision. What was the specific part of this event that I was dreading? As I stared at the depths of shadow I saw boredom. I seem to always associate boredom with imposition, with being placed in a situation where time moved at the pace of a mollusk, where I was clamped down and exposed to stimulation that was far from stimulating.
The solution came with such simplicity it was nearly painfully insulting. I promised myself I would not be bored. And as ego started to tiptoe around the corner to tell me that I could not guarantee such an outcome, I surrendered it to All-That-Is, that if I was being guided to attend, the likelihood of becoming subject to ennui was remote at best.
I watched the shadow become flooded with light, being absorbed into the light. The heaviness that tagged along with me was instantly lifted. I gave the matter hardly any thought for the rest of the day leading up to the event.
The forum turned out to be very interesting, and a source of great inspiration to retooling my workflow! Recently I have been working on trusting divine guidance, and it looks like shadow assigned itself to help me in this work. I want to say how ironic this seems, but seeing irony in it almost feels like I would be missing the point.