Working with Qualities of Soul: Shadow

I opened my email this morning to find one from Debbie Ford who writes the Shadow Blog. In it she discusses the fall from grace of two prominent American public figures and how its a reminder for us to be more aware of the how the Shadow may play out in our own lives.

My shadow was certainly present yesterday as I prepared for my first temping assignment at a restaurant. An event came back to me that I hadn’t acknowledged for quite a few years. Another assignment at a large cafe in Devonport, Auckland where I hadn’t coped at all with the requirements of the job and I lost the plot completely. I didn’t know where I was and didn’t know what to do.  So much so that the managers had to call in the Head Chef who was supposed to be having the day off. I left there completely lost. I  returned to the safety of my career as an Air Force chef. I think I may have completed one more assignment for that temping agency and that was it I never went back to temping. Until now. I felt compelled to explore this option once again as the casual employment I have engaged in for 18 months dried up and debt began to throw its shadow over my days.

My assignment got off to a reasonably good start. Following the tasks that had been given me by the chef there. I felt I was on top of it – dinner service was due to start at 6.30. At 5.30 the first order came in and I wasn’t ready for it. I could feel panic setting in. Consequently that first dish wasn’t my best. I needed the help of my assistant who had more experience in this particular environment. She encouraged me all the way through and while I didn’t feel completely in control we got through the night without much fuss. I felt better about turning up today. Her support made all the difference. Though its not how I aim to be living in an inspired way it is what is happening in the now. Opening up to a new experience can have a chaotic prelude but if we stay with it the rewards are worth it.

It has been said that the closer we get to a life of living in an inspired fashion the more the shadow conspires to darken our steps. I’m feeling this right now. While I am seeing the light at the end it seems I’m in the darkest part of the tunnel. And I’ve heard it said that night is darkest just before the dawn.

From my experience of VisionQuest I had been, during the final night of a 96 hour Quest (fasting and meditation alone in nature), imagining I was hallucinating. The fasting and meditation produce an altered state that opens participants up to receive vision. The “hallucinations” had something of a dark nature and I was awake most of the night uncomfortable, checking to see if dawn was finally beginning to break. The days had seemed interminable and now this final night also. Sleep finally overtook me. The next time I awoke I saw it was lighter and dragged myself zombie-like back to the camp.

I was received with open arms by the Quest protector and his assistant and proceeded to tell him that I’d been hallucinating. His answer to that was, “that is what we call vision”. Later that day vision called upon me again, this time without the darker images, this time with a message of hope.

Myers Briggs

I’m trying to remember how I got there and can’t. Probably something to do with the archetypal information I shared yesterday in regards to cycles. Anyway found myself at this little gem: Jung Typology Test ™. When I first took this test I was surprised at the result and how indicative of my personality traits it was. This is not to say that because we have a certain type we are going to be just like everyone else that has a similar type. All said and done each of us has a unique gift to bring to the world.

I kept following this trail through sites and the next stop was this. The PersonalityZone. When confronted by our shadow it is often useful to remind ourselves of our intrinsic potential. What is good about me? What do these tests tell me regarding my innate qualities? What am I affirming or validating by reconnecting with these qualities?

Watching Men in Black yesterday gave me some food for thought. Here are these two agents played by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith who are working for a covert government organisation that deal with alien beings that have found their way to Planet Earth. Most of these beings are quite content with their lot here but there are some that have a malevolent attitude. That have a shadowy, destructive presence.

This has parallels to what may going on in our own shadow. What is in there may be the greater unfulfilled potential of our lives co-existing with more malevolent aspects of our character. The parts of us that seek to sabotage our well-being. These parts have built themselves through years of conditioning and the bonds of this conditioning may be difficult to break.

Again I come back to the night is darkest just before the dawn. How dark does my life need to become before I choose to break from darkness into the dawn of a new day.