I have been interested in facing ‘my monster’ probably since Olivia Nagorcka lent me “You can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay, at the end of 7th form. Followed fairly swiftly by “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.
I have ‘looked at’ many aspects of my ‘self’ through varying movements, philosophies, teachings, experiences.
Drama School (especially the voice and body work we explored there), yoga, dancing the elements, Buddhist teachings, Landmark Education, self-help books, psychotherapy, Tao of Clown workshop and other creative/therapy workshops, counselling, Women in Religion (at Massey Uni), conversation with friends, keeping a journal, rituals, meditation, Pennie Brownlee workshops, conversations with women (vagina club as my husband affectionately refers to it), Satsang with Erin, Joseph Campbell recordings, my husband, conversations with family.
Books that have recently illuminated and provided a platform for insight have been:
Non Violent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg
Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Pinpoche
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
My Mother, My Self: The daughter’s search for identity by Nancy Friday
What’s the Matter by Dr Mike Godfrey
Myths to Live By, by Joseph Campbell
Buddhism for Mothers, by Sarah Napthali
Broken Open, by Elizabeth Lesser
BUT, right now, I have returned to a most ‘opening’ of books called (drum roll please):
Meeting the Shadow:The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature
Edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams.
It is a collection of accessible ‘essays’ by persons such as James Hillman, C.G. Jung, Susan Griffin, Marsha Sinetar, M. Scott Peck that explore the psychological shadow.
With titles such as; Gary Toub’s: The Usefulness of the Useless; Rollo May’s: The Dangers of Innocence; Marsha Sinetar’s: Using Our Flaws and Faults; Kim Chernin’s: The Underside of the Mother-Daughter Relationship; and John C. Pierrakos’: Anatomy of Evil.
You may ask – what is shadow? Here is how Edward C. Whitmont defines it on page 14 of the aforementioned text.
“Ask someone to give a description of the personality type which he finds most despicable most unbearable and hateful, and most impossible to get along with, and he will produce a description of his own repressed characteristics – a self-description which is utterly unconscious and which therefore always and everywhere tortures him as he receives its effect from the other person. These very qualities are so unacceptable to him precisely because they represent his own repressed side; only that which we cannot accept within ourselves do we find impossible to live with in others. Negative qualities which do not bother us so excessively, which we find relatively easy to forgive – if we have to forgive them at all – are not likely to pertain to our shadow.
The shadow is the archetypal experience of the “other fellow,” who in his strangeness is always suspect. It is the archetypal urge for a scapegoat, for someone to blame and attack in order to vindicate oneself and be justified; it is the archetypal experience of the enemy, the experience of blameworthiness which always adheres to the other fellow, since we are under the illusion of knowing ourselves and of having already dealt adequately with our own problems. In other words, to the extent that I have to be right and good, he, she, or they become the carriers of all the evil which i fail to acknowledge within myself.”
I find this somehow maniacally liberating.
Right now, I’m most interested in my development for the benefit of my children.
My tamariki are my mahi.
They are my practice.
Being with them brings out the parts of me I feel joyful and peaceful with, and the parts of me I feel shame and disappointment.
Dr. Laura Markham (creator of AhaParenting.com) and author of my ‘go to’ book on parenting right now, called:
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids has a 3 stage approach to being with our young. She titles these stages:
1. Regulating Yourself
2. Fostering Connection
3. Coaching, Not Controlling
She includes this quote by Dan Siegel on page 7 as a way to introduce Breaking the Cycle: Healing Your Own Wounds within the chapter on Regulating Yourself.
” In the absence of reflection, history often repeats itself…Research has clearly demonstrated that our children’s attachment to us will be influenced by what happened to us when we were young if we do not come to process and understand those experiences.”
Within the afterword she reminds me to, let go of the last moment and return to the now – the now is where we can make difference. She includes Maria Robinson’s quote on page 252:
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Before I go quickly to right up a complementary post on forgiveness I will finish by sharing a practice Jan A. Vincent encouraged me to incorporate into my daily rhythm (or at least how I remember she suggested it).
At the beginning of the day, as the first thought: Invite whatever ‘the gods’ have in mind for you in this day. Be curious. Be grateful. Go with the flow. Observe. Have wonder in what learning is here, in this moment.
At the end of the day: Shower, wash away, let go of this day. Release both the wanted and unwanted experiences, emotions. Relinquish and be willing for our next moment.
I’ve added the serenity prayer to my nightly ritual, another friend adds two drops of lavender oil, one for each shoulder.
Go well. Be all of you.