Life is a dance of shadows and light. Both are essential to our evolution. In the absence of shadowy events, the light and blissful experiences would cease to be special. Without contrast, we would not know the difference.
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and thus marks the longest night. It is an excellent time for witnessing and making peace with our inner darkness––our shadow, our ego. It is also an ideal time for releasing thoughts, memories, unforgiven actions, patterns of behavior, fears, and beliefs that limit us from accessing the highest version of ourselves.
Six years ago, I began doing focused shadow work. I wanted to know those inward parts of me that were subconsciously controlling my outer experience. I wanted to bring them to the fore of my awareness so I could work with them in a constructive way, rather than having them control me and my actions in a self-sabotaging manner.
During each Winter Solstice, I delve into the work again. I take time to identify characteristics and beliefs I may have developed throughout the past year that could use a little finessing. In stillness, without any distractions, I ask myself a few questions, and record the responses in my journal. I write down what immediately comes up for me, rather than analyzing or thinking too much.
If you are interested in releasing stuck patterns and beliefs, here are a couple questions to get you started:
1. Am I feeling fulfilled in health, my profession, relationships, and life experience? Be honest with your reply. If you answer no to any one area, ask yourself what you are willing to change, give up, leave, or let go of in order to feel more fulfilled. Write your considerations down. Just the act of identifying what needs attention will activate change. As the days and weeks progress, return to your responses so that you can chip away at those areas that need follow-through.
2. What characteristics create a negative charge when you identify them as being your own? Write down and say to yourself the following statement, “I am ___________ (any quality you deem negative or bad, such as fearful, rigid, lazy, irresponsible, and so on.)
Which of the qualities you recorded make you feel uneasy? Then ask yourself why. For example, what is it about laziness that rubs you the wrong way? Once you identify that, consider how the quality could be of value to you. In the case of laziness, it is not all bad. We can be considered lazy when we choose to rest, and give our bodies desperately needed relaxation. We can be thought of as lazy when we CHOOSE to put off a task in order to direct our attention to something we believe is more meaningful.
In the case of being rigid, how might that serve you? Maybe it is of benefit when you choose not to compromise your core values. Being rigid just might protect you from emotional or physical harm.
As you work through these two exercises you may discover shadow understanding and relationship building is liberating. Doing the work helps us make peace with those parts of ourselves we believe are bad, or that we have taken issue with. With the New Year right around the corner, having a fresh perspective, and knowing what needs to change will help us more easily access the lives we desire.