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  • Writer's pictureErika Murphy

Illuminating your shadow

Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing. ~ Rumi


For the past four weeks, I led a course on the shadow, a term coined by psychiatrist Carl Young that refers to all the aspects of our mind that live in "the dark," unseen by the ego mind. Spiritual practice requires that we bring consciousness to bear on our shadow in order to become fully awake and aware.


Without this work, our mind acts from an unconscious, automatic pattern that inflicts suffering on ourselves and others. Individuals project their feelings, seeing the outside world as the source of their pain. Human history has countless examples of leaders committing genocide in an effort to eliminate that which they do not like in themselves. Instead of eliminating their ignorance, they eliminate those they create as "other."


Every moment is an opportunity to become more aware. Shadow work offers some of the more challenging moments on the hero's journey, but it sets the course to become radically free. Increasing awareness illuminates our authentic Self, reclaims our power, and opens us up to surrender into the boundless love and joy at the heart of existence.


Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put

up a swing:

all earth creatures, even the supernovas, sway between these

two trees,

and it never winds down.


Angels, animals, humans, insects by the million, also the

wheeling sun and moon;

ages go by, and it goes on.


Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire,

and the secret one slowly growing a body.

Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant

for life.


~ Kabir, The Enlightened Heart, edited by Stephen Mitchell

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