Today is the Autumn Equinox. Today as the Sun crosses the celestial equator, we experience an equal amount of day and night. In the Northern Hemisphere, this astronomical event marks the beginning of the fall season and historically is referred to as “the second harvest.”
We see this change in season all around us. Farmer Markets are winding down, gardeners are preserving the last of the summer bounty, and herbalists are busy drying herbs and making elixirs. We have entered a liminal space where we move from a time of growth to a time of rootedness. Just like our plant friends, we redirect our energy from up and out to down and in.
On this day, as we observe the balance between light and dark, I invite you to notice how you balance the light and the dark in your life. Do you tend to focus primarily on the light – what is easy to love and to support? Are you able to go into the dark and explore your underlying motivations and desires? And if so, are you able to meet these motivations and desires with compassion and empathy?
If your answer is “no or not very often,” then know you are not alone. Descending into the dark is often depicted as scary or evil. In addition to suffering from a horrible smear campaign, there is little in the way of training or of support for navigating the dark. If we do have an interest to explore the dark, we may feel the need to do so secretly and wonder if there is something wrong with us for wanting to try.
In attempt to take away the stigma and to demystify this healing modality, I offer a brief introduction to the exploration of the shadow: the archetype which reflects the dark. If this introduction intrigues you and you want to learn more, then send me an email with your questions. I love exploring the shadow with folks and would be happy to support your personal exploration.
A Brief Introduction to Shadow Work
The shadow archetype reflects the parts of us we do not like: the parts we find socially unacceptable, unworthy, or just plain ugly. We have been taught to be ashamed of these parts, and therefore, we fear acknowledging them let alone dialoguing with them.
Shadow work is the process of going into the dark, acknowledging the parts we fear, and befriending the need underlying the unwanted parts. Befriending the need is instrumental to healing from the shame and fear of the shadow, and ultimately, is one of the kindest acts you can do for yourself. When you realize the unwanted parts are simply a reaction to unmet needs, you free yourself from the prison of the shadow and have the freedom to make different choices to get your needs met.
The first step in shadow work is to create a sacred container. In other words, creating a supportive environment where you do not feel judged or are worried you will be punished is essential. Identifying trusted mentors who can listen with compassion and empathy will help you learn how to meet your unwanted parts with love and kindness. If you are unaware of a potential mentor, then find a mental health practitioner who understands shadow work.
The second step in shadow work is securing resources which illuminate the shadow. I am a big fan of Debbie Ford who wrote “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.” Debbie does a great job of making shadow work easy to understand and accessible. Her books have exercises to work and stories which humanize the process.
Historically, I facilitate a shadow work class in the fall. This year the class is postponed until winter, so a support group for women suffering from emotional burnout could occur. (See details here.) The need to address the impact of stress seemed the priority for fall; however, if you are interested in pursuing shadow work, there will be an opportunity after the first of the year.
As we move into the fall season, I wish each and every one of you an abundant harvest, good health, and much kindness.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.