Sunday, February 13, 2011

Embracing the Shadow

Recently I asked a group of my students to spend the next four months getting to know their chakra energy centers personally and up close. The directive was to spend two weeks intimately connecting with the issues and lessons of each chakra. I knew this would be a powerful exercise but I had no idea how deep this would take all of us.

Intention is everything. Once I had given the assignment, the deep work began within me as well. I must admit some of my shadow issues - traits, fears, and hidden agendas - surfaced and I was humbled.

This is a planet of duality: yin/yang, light/shadow, sun/moon, day/night.  Each of us has a light and a shadow side. The light side is expressed through joy, compassion and unconditional love. Shadow is operating when fear, anger, resentment, hatred, and jealousy  are present. Through conscious awareness the shadow becomes a powerful tool for expanded perspective and a deepened awareness of self. Once we become comfortable that both light and shadow exist within us, we can explore these polarities with detachment, observing our subconscious beliefs without judgment, and step into our lives from a place of empowerment.

The first chakra, the "root" chakra, is located at the base of the spine and rules survival consciousness and represents our deepest unconscious and most primitive self. At the first chakra level we address issues of standing up for self within the family or group, recognizing self-blame, guilt or shame, and the need to clarify personal boundaries.

While exploring the first chakra I found myself confronted with recent decisions and the consequences of having ignored my intuition. I had not set clear boundaries and it had resulted in a difficult situation where a number of people were being affected. I had to rethink my responsibility for my students' overall highest and best good. I had to back track and reset boundaries. It meant that I had to make difficult decisions and there were hurt feelings along the way. It was messy and uncomfortable.  I experienced self-doubt, guilt, and self-blame for not having handled things in a more loving manner. This moved me into issues of the second chakra.

The physical energies of the second chakra symbolize that all relationships are essentially spiritual messengers. They bring into our lives, and we into theirs, revelations about our own strengths and weaknesses. From relationships within the home to those at work to community, no union is without spiritual value; each helps us to grow as individuals. We can more easily see the symbolic value of our relationships when we release our need to judge what and who has value and instead focus on honoring the person and the task with which we are involved.

The second chakra’s energy has an inherent duality. The unified energy of the first chakra, represented by the tribal mind, becomes divided into polairites in the second chakra. Understanding the significance of these opposites is key to working with second chakra issues.  It is crucial to accept our own "shadow" as part of our whole being. The spiritual challenge of the second chakra is learning to interact consciously with others to form unions with people who support our development and to release relationships that handicap our growth.

Throughout this process I considered how the first and second chakra issues where affecting my third chakra, personal power. The third chakra is our power chakra that helps us manage life on earth. It is very helpful and we need it as it is the center of our egoic self. However, it is has limited usefulness. When we try to do everything with this chakra, we get caught in anxiety and fear. Most personality problems are centered in this chakra because it has to do with defending oneself and polarizing judgments.

Managing the power of choice, with all its creative and spiritual implications, is the essence of the human experience. All spiritual teachings are directed toward inspiring us to recognize that the power to make choices is the dynamic that converts our spirits into matter, our words into flesh. Choice is the process of creation itself.

With this new perspective I was able to look with fresh eyes at the situation that had been presented, for myself and others, and accept the "invitation" to forgive myself and then take responsibility for the choices I had made. In the end I felt like I had made the correct decision but also recognized that in future situations I need to pay attention to my intuition before making decisions that affect a group that I am responsible for.

We have chakras that focus on issues of higher consciousness that are not stuck in polarities. The chakras focused on these issues are the fourth through seventh. The fourth chakra is located at the heart center and is connected to universal love, compassion, and empathy for self and others. Located at the throat, the fifth chakra is about speaking our truth, communication, and creative expression. Intuition, physic sight, and visualization is the focus of the sixth chakra located at the forehead (third eye) and the seventh chakra is your spiritual perfection and your connection to Divine Love.

Healing and balancing the chakras of the body is an important part of maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit. Understanding the chakra system and restoring the balance of light and shadow is essential to wholeness and well being.

May you find the beauty that is inherent in your soul. May you appreciate the lessons provided through relationships and have gratitude for both light and shadow in your life and may you learn to embrace the shadow in your own life.