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Rescheduling the Shadow

Shadow work sounds like it's a good idea. Yes, let me work on my shadow. But what does that really mean? What does it look like? I caution people when they say they want to do shadow work because often it means that we start seeing a lot of things we don't like in our lives. It can show up in other people or in situations. Sometimes we can recognize it in ourselves, but more likely, we start to become annoyed with other people.

Shadow aspects are parts of us that we have disowned. They were too messy, complicated, wounded, difficult, or bothersome to examine. It's not the sunshine and rainbows of healing work. It is the shame, fear, guilt, and not good enough feelings that we tend to avoid. The ones the ego wants to deny as actually existing in us.

So imagine what happens when offering a shadow work class to others. Wouldn't it be nice if I could be exempt from working on my shadow while developing and offering the class? Ah, but the shadow does not work that way. By setting the intention of illumination, I also get to drop into the dark dance of the shadow. The silver lining is that there is healing on the other side of that dance if I'm willing to stay conscious and do the work.

So it went like this... I'm over the moon because I get to co-facilitate a class with Noeli Lytton, a woman I deeply admire and who is admired by many. During the development of the class, shadows pop up and try to convince me that I'm not good enough, that I don't know what I'm doing. When asked a question that is challenging as we discuss the layout, an old wounded part left in the basement of my consciousness gets her feelings hurt and wants to collapse. She says, "Shut up and let the grown up decide the layout of the class. Who do you think you are?" But wait, there's more. There's another even harder part to acknowledge that comes up and says, "We know more than they do. Shut them down. Do they not know what you know?" Both are shadow aspects that are calling out for healing. But it is so hard to recognize that it truly is a call for healing and not another reason to be wounded and shut down.

It requires a lot of effort to stay present and do the healing work. After that meeting, I spent time with the feelings that came up: shame, not good enough, hurt. Because of the work I've already done with other shadow parts, I could bring them into the light and offer healing techniques. Lather, rinse, repeat. One time around with the shadow may not do the trick. It takes repetition and often more than one method. It takes patience, compassion, and acceptance which is the opposite response I often have right after a shadow aspect pops up.

And then it gets even more interesting. Noeli needs to go out of town for her nephew's funeral which is on the exact day of the class. She offers encouragement and tells me I can do it on my own. She has faith in me. I immediately feel the emotional reactions rising as I read the message. I practice listening to the internal responses that feel like absolute truth, to the feelings trying to hook me into falling into the darkness of unconsciousness and shadow response. And my shadow work begins once again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I am able to hold space for the healing work and navigate to stay conscious and healthy. I get clear that we made an agreement with the participants that both of us would be there so rescheduling would be ideal instead of only one of us being present. We begin the process of finding a new date, figuring out how to communicate about the reschedule, sending out the communication. But since this is a shadow class, can you imagine all the ways shadow may sneak in? That's a story for some other time.

We now have the new date and are confirming who can attend, doing refunds and filling the empty spots from the wait list. Simple, easy, things are moving forward. Right? But the shadow says, now just wait a m