Is it all love and light?
Paradox, dichotomy, contrast, shadow...call it what you will.
The opposition to light exists, it is real, it is intense, and it is compelling. Within each person exists a shadow, what Carl Jung called the Id. Jung felt this was an aspect of the personality the conscious mind/ego denied. It was his theory that if left unrealized these shadows would become more intense, dark and insidious. In my experience, that is unquestionably true. You can not simply "love and light" shadow away. You can not run from the internal struggles, shadows or fears....for a multitude of reasons. If personal growth or evolution are conscious objectives in this lifetime, it is critical that you fully embrace these "lower" aspects of self to ultimately transmute them into light and consciousness. We live in a society that avoids discomfort at all costs. When met with resistance from either outside or within; many will fold to avoid discomfort. As evidenced by a weight loss industry that was a $60+ billion in 2014. Most people want a quick fix; a band-aid of sorts. Something that requires little to no effort and produces overnight results. The same is true for soul work. Growth is an uncomfortable process. It pulls you from the perceived safety of the known into a space you have never been. It asks you to be honest with yourself and sift through some very big questions. It is much "easier" to soothe the shadow with substances, sex, work, overscheduling, or merely staying in the place you have known forever. While these temporary fixes may bide time, what they don't do is address the root of the discomfort or internal angst. Sure, drinking a glass of wine may calm your nerves at the end of the night but will it allow you to handle the stressors of the following day?
I have been watching various people in my life approach the challenge of growth, change, and loss in various ways. I am watching as one of my dear friends is undertaking a life-changing situation and loss. She decided (on her own accord) to dive into the depths of her psyche and to take a good hard look at the way things are managed and where some of the reactions stem from. She is the outlier; she is the alchemist, she is the Wayfinder. In the midst of a VERY intense, demanding, and busy life, she has taken the remarkable path of self-inquiry and realization. Rather than plod along numbing the sting as she goes, she is leaning into the shadow. I have been watching her journey with such admiration, respect, and fierce love. She is doing the work many will never truly do and she is doing it while juggling 1000 other things. She is unwinding the tangle of yarn to understand and move forward in a way that is clear, healthy and progressive. She is a badass mystic in her own right and my beloved same-old. She is doing the soul work, the grieving, the integration and she is doing with such grace!
I have also been looking back at the way I have handled these situations in my own life. Noticing the times I have gone in one direction or another and taking stock of the measurable outcome. My path has not always been one of meditation, breath, and zen.....trust I have been down a rabbit hole or 5 in my day. I have tried many a conventional stress relievers to combat the bumps along the road, to no avail. The temporary fix is not only short-lived, but it is almost always a backtracking and stopper of growth. If we turn around too soon and return to the chrysalis of our former selves, we inhibit the growth and blossoming. It is not enough to simply venture out into the new landscape only to return home moments later. You must forge ahead, boldly, brazenly, with determination. You must allow for the changes to be integrated into new habits. There is a learning curve and a neurological rewiring that occurs in the cultivation of any new habit. Meditation and mindfulness are no different. It takes 21 days to form a very simple habit, like drinking a glass of water before bed but it takes on average 60 days to solidify a lifestyle shift. This waiting game and patience is often the biggest challenge I see when most people set out to change their life. They give up before they have integrated the work and lessons and return to old patterns with a feeling of defeat. If you are willing to sit with the discomfort of growth, the flip side of these experiences will be incredible expansion; new found the truth and the unshakable foundation of an alchemist. You will look back and smile, knowing that you alone were the change maker in your life and there is nothing that you can't handle.