Befriending the Shadow
I love Amma, the incredible self-realised being otherwise known as the ‘hugging saint’. She has brought joy and healing to 33 million people by extending her warm loving arms around them in an infinite embrace that melts even the most hardened souls. She was my compass when I moved to her ashram in India to stay with her one sweltering Spring and still is my go to place for a good dose of unconditional love. She is to me the embodiment of Mother Earth as well as the grounding force of love into service.
But I also have a treacherous relationship with Amma. I fooled myself into thinking, based on the cute, cotton replica dolls of her, and the friendly glittering Ganesh’s, that it would all be fluffy love and pink flowers. Alas it isn’t so. Instead, without fail, Amma shows up as the goddess Kali – the badass, scythe-yielding goddess who slays the illusion of our ego to allow the truth to take its place. Connecting with Amma meant that she would work through me like a master shaman – I just didn’t quite know how.
With me, my dreams become heavier and sometimes terrifying whilst I walk around feeling like I’ve been dropped into a boiling cauldron of hot oil frying in my own ‘issues’. Clearing the shadow can get gnarly. The good side is that often I am able to alchemize feelings and emotions quicker and more easily. Sometimes there are casualties in the purifying process – old stories, frequencies and even people, come bubbling up from the depths of my core to be dealt with one way or another – but the result is that I always come out lighter and fortified.
Yet why have I come to love Amma even more for this macabre gift she imparts on me every time? Because she allows me to keep things real and to know that I ALSO contain the dark, the void and all the nasty bits within me that I try to ignore. You see I’ve discovered that I can’t bask in the full magnificence of the light until I’ve looked at the dark straight on. So that being said, I would like to share a few tips on how to engage with your own shadow so that you may cultivate your own relationship with it.
- Befriend your shadow
It’s all the ugly parts of yourself that you don’t want to look at that are the real gold dust. If you integrate and accept all these parts of yourself, you have a better chance of feeling whole. Start by writing unedited letters and journaling with the intent of really engaging with your emotions. Let it all out as if it were your last chance. If it feels right, take a pillow and start hitting it as hard as you can. Truly working with your shadow is messy, uncomfortable and sometimes downright crippling. You’ll know when you’ve hit the spot. And when you’ve released all that energy, something may come to mind or you might realise something that you didn’t know before so be mindful of your thoughts. This is a good time to ask yourself, “what do I really want?”
- Make friends with your beast
We all have a beast that lives inside of us. It’s our animal instinct that wants to come out to play and express itself. Meditate on an animal that appeals to you or that you feel you may have something in common with. Practice bringing the elements of this animal into your space and connecting with it. Who would you be if you were ruled by the instinct of this animal? How would you behave in certain situations? Which part of you would finally see the light?
- Honor the feminine
Keep an altar with a picture of a feminine goddess or deity that calls to you. What characteristics does she embody? How can you be more like her? Invite her into your energetic field. The feminine IS also the dark side, the shadow and the underworld. How does it feel to acknowledge this and sense the beauty in this? Our shadow is the most revealing part of us and where our edges lie. In that place we might find that there are unexplored landscapes that are just waiting to reveal our depth and our power.
For me, Amma has lead me from the darkness to the light and back again. I am eternally grateful to her for showing me time and time again that unconditional love goes hand in hand with the need to surrender to the dark. With her I am always reminded that there is no place that Love is not – all of life is just one orgasmic, blissful, kaleidoscope of shadow and light coming together.