Shadow Dancing In Times Of Crisis
Over the course of our lives we experience things we cannot handle, and situations that are too much for us to fully experience. When this happens, the infinite part of us may fracture. In its place we will create concepts, belief systems, and thought forms to protect ourselves in the future. Our bodies will create a physical reflection of this as a pattern of tension, creating chaos in our unique expression. These can also be held in our DNA; epigenetic research is revealing that what happens in one generation can affect the two generations that follow. If the idea of our soul incarnating for multiple lifetimes is true, we can have these disassociated aspects of self and cellular memory from other times, too.
Part of our healing journey is to bring all of these “shadow” components of ourselves to light, to make them conscious again. This can either be done through conscious endeavor on our own, with the guidance of practitioners, or in community. This process can also happen spontaneously when life circumstances are similar enough to invite these disassociated pieces to “come home”—to allow the opportunity to rewrite our belief systems, and the cellular memory to process and integrate. As psychologist Carl Jung wrote, “A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.”
When a cellular memory that is disassociated “comes home”—or, rather, “floods back”—into the present lifetime reality, it can often feel like it is being experienced in the present moment. If the person does not process and integrate the cellular memory, it will manifest in present reality, causing disturbances, suffering, pain, harm, and even unexplained physical conditions. If the cellular memory is taken personally, if it throws the person out of present time, or if the person judges it as right or wrong, the cellular memory is manifested in the physical body as an imagined physical present reality. And as Candice Pert, Ph.D., explored in her book Molecules of Emotion, cellular chemistry will have a direct impact on our emotions, our mood, and how we think.
The beautiful advantage of this dance with our own shadow is that as we integrate these cellular memories, we let go of the trauma that created them. We get to change our previously held belief systems, and make a different choice. “I was exhilarated by the new realization that I could change the character of my life by changing my beliefs. I was instantly energized because I realized that there was a science-based path that would take me from my job as a perennial ‘victim’ to my new position as ‘co-creator’ of my destiny,” wrote Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., in his book on epigenetics, The Biology of Belief.
Processing and Integrating Shadow
Current events have created the perfect storm to bring up an abundance of shadow to be processed. It is entirely possible that much of the panic our society is experiencing has nothing to do with the current situation. We may be processing the cellular memory and disassociated aspects from 9/11, the Great Recession, the Great Depression, the 1918 flu pandemic, and other events humanity has experienced in the past. We have all co-created the possibility to heal centuries worth of the traumas humanity has endured. And it is entirely possible that we come out stronger, more loving, and more connected on the other side of this storm.
The word enlightenment is often used, but rarely defined. One way to think of enlightenment is it’s when all of the disassociated pieces of self have “come home”—when we have made all of the shadow aspects of ourselves conscious and they no longer control us. This journey can be done with trauma, drama, and struggle. Or it can be done safely, gently, and easily. According to world-renowned teacher Dennis Adams, there are three key things to do to attain enlightenment, when we are processing shadow. They are:
Don’t judge it.
Don’t take it personally.
Stay in present time.
Don’t Judge It
This step is possibly the most challenging when we first become aware of our healing. We live in a culture that promotes self-judgement. Therefore, it is critical to develop the ability to not judge your shadow as right or wrong. Simply allow it to be. It’s not good nor bad. The mantra I use is, “That’s interesting.” This allows me to stay aware of it without having to determine whether it falls on the good or bad side of duality.
Don’t Take It Personally
Imagine you have been doing laundry and putting clothes away in your closet. Then you come across that itchy sweater—the one your great-aunt gave you that is so uncomfortable. Then you decide to put it on, and you feel how itchy it is. That is what taking it personally is like. When you consciously stay detached, you simply hang the sweater up and put it away. When you are processing shadow and cellular memory, as much as possible, stay unattached to it and to the process. Simply allow it to flow.
Stay in Present Time
When shadow comes up for processing and integration, it can pull us out of present time. This will often manifest as cold hands, sweating, heavy breathing, and a fast heart rate. Our thoughts will either become lodged in the past, or rapidly worry about the future. There are two simple strategies to employ when this happens. One is to gently squeeze your glute muscles. This will help pull you more fully into your body.
While you do this, another strategy is to look around the environment you’re in and name things. Begin naming things out loud to yourself: the blue lamp, the doorknob, the stapler, the window.
Do this over and over again. You will likely feel yourself calm down.
Clear the Nervous System
For centuries different cultures around the world have acknowledged that the nervous system was key to enhancing human consciousness. “Enlightenment is the normal, natural state of health for the body and mind,” wrote the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “It results from the full development of consciousness and depends upon the perfect and harmonious functioning of every part of the body and nervous system. When one is using the full potential of the mind and body in this way, every thought and action is spontaneously correct and life-supporting. This is life free from suffering, life lived in its full stature and significance.”
By improving the function of the nervous system, the body is allowed to process the shadow, stress, and trauma it has held onto. The chemistry of the body may shift to one of love, rather than being locked in fear. We are better able to move. Our children can grow and thrive as they were meant to. And, as teacher and chiropractor Sue Brown has often stated, we can all take a small step on our path of evolution.
Moving Through This Time of Uncertainty
None of us know how current events are going to change tomorrow. We don’t know what’s coming next. It feels like we are all making this up as we go. However, that’s how all of life is. We are all given an opportunity to remember that one of the only constants is change. Certainty comes from the finite perspective of our personality. Clarity is a value which all of us can embrace as we process, integrate, heal, and evolve. This situation can be an opportunity to remember what is truly important to each of us, and to find clarity in who we are and where we choose to go after this storm passes. Because if you are reading this, then you have a perfect record of making it through storms.
May you gracefully, easily, safely, and gently process and integrate the shadow that is coming up for you right now. May you stay in present time, stay consciously detached, and allow it to flow. May you remember that you are enough.