Tag Archives: Shadow-Self

Coming Home to Myself

Standard

Fall is in full-swing and it feels like winter is just around the corner! Every year I get excited for this slow-down period. As the natural environment edges toward a scene of sparseness and simplicity, so does the calendar of events. However, I cannot say the same for what may be stirring within our household.

This autumn, my husband and I took on a 25 day whole foods detox led by a fellow holistic health studies classmate of mine, Katie Jasper. More on that to come. We are only 7 days in, but so far, the results have been wonderful. As we are home cooking and eating in community, we both feel more energized, clear-headed, and grounded. With this new excitement and clarity, we feel like we started trekking down a path together that is so important and truly rejuvenating. What really is happening is we are simply making the commitment to live a healthier, holistic life. While I can go on and on making it sound all flowery and unicorn-like, I would rather point out that plenty of the purgative experience is dealing with the “mess in the basement” that is not related to the foods we are eating.

The “mess in the basement” is the not-so-pleasant or hip or happy parts of what makes me…me. It’s the parts of myself that I know can be destructive if not handled appropriately or acknowledged. From a big picture standpoint, it’s the greater reason why people get sidetracked on the road coming home to themselves.

The detox has acted as a catalyst and plunged me right into a ritual that happens every year at this time – the practice of going inward, self-reflecting, accepting, and letting go. It is different and yet it is the same – and as the days shorten and the darkness surrounds me all over again, I continue to look forward to what I will encounter this year.

Below is an excerpt from a wonderful book, written by Marion Woodman that pairs well with this time of year and with this post. Her work is appropriately named, Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and SoulI think all people can relate to it, so I hope that this snippet inspires you to take some time to experience what it means to come home to yourself and to explore the “mess in your basement.”

Happy Fall!    

In my dream,

I was a priestess

and had prepared

the altar for great celebration.

The flowers were almost in place,

the roses almost in the center

of the sunlit altar.

(I could not make the roses fit

within the light.)

A shadow the shape of a cross came through a window.

 

An old man came to me and said,

Your hymns will never rise to heaven

until you clean up your mess in the basement.

 

But there’s no basement in this temple, I said.

That’s the problem: there is, he replied.

 

Down the rotting old steps we went

and found a slimy lagoon.

A water wheel,

joining basement to temple, lay still.

 

A huge serpent writhed,

trying and failing and trying again

to center its head on the wheel.

It knew its task was to turn the wheel–

quiet, rhythmic–with its head.

 

I tried to move the wheel towards the serpent

and it struck.

The old man pulled me out of danger,

You can’t move so fast

She doesn’t trust you.

Hasten slowly;

you will make her your friend.

 

For twenty years,

the wheel has creaked but turned;

The lagoon, fresh; 

the serpent, Sophia;

the roses, not yet in place.

 

In a Rut (or a Hole)? Need Inspiration? Read this Poem

Standard

 

I walk down the street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I fall in.

            I am lost …. I am helpless.

                        It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I pretend I don’t see it.

            I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place.

                        But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I see it is there.

            I still fall in … it’s a habit … but,

                        My eyes are open.

                        I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

I walk down the same street.

            There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

            I walk around it.

 

I walk down another street.

 

–Portia Nelson, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

I love this poem. I find it simple, true, and relatable to our individual and collective struggle to become ourselves and to really thrive in spite of our shadow sides. In the sense of the meaning of the poem, I find Portia’s depiction of the experience of being in a rut and playing out useless patterns in our lives to be a very real description. When we are stuck, we are really stuck. We cannot help ourselves, because we do not take responsibility for our actions.  However, once we start to notice how such behaviors and thought patterns are serving us (or not), we can begin to make small changes that will greatly impact our well-being and our personhood. My two main takeaways from this poem fit perfectly with Mandala Reflections’ focus on the self and the greater community.

“My” sidewalk vs. “Our” sidewalk

1) My sidewalk. Take personal responsibility and avoid avoidance. When I read this poem, I couldn’t help but think about the metaphor of changing streets to avoid the hole.  I recognize that Portia was not intending her words to be taken so literally and that part of changing streets requires us to recognize or “see” the holey sidewalks we attach ourselves to, yet, I still wanted to point out the imagery, because I think our society has a tendency to avoid matters by simply changing directions, (I know I have). At the same time, her poem still affirms that often times we really need that time spent sitting in the hole. When we sit in the hole and really see, we understand ourselves and situations better, we recognize and accept it all with greater ease, and we can move to influence change in our stories and our surroundings.

2) Our sidewalk. Mend the BIG holes together. Sometimes you just can’t do it on your own. Rather than just avoiding it and walking down another street is there a way that allows us to repair/mend the hole that we are falling into? What if this hole is not a shadow in your psyche or family history, but is a bigger societal problem that affects the greater community? Just mending your own hole won’t be as easy if it is not you who is causing the problem. Fixing this kind of hole can only be done with the collaboration and cooperation of many concerned individuals. To effect change on this level will require you to build relationships and connect with others in a way that is meaningful.