A Blog about Shadows, the unconscious patterns of belief and behavior that block access to my authentic, sacred masculine self

The very best use of life

...is to transform to the awakened state. Next best is to develop qualities. Next best and skillful use of life is gaining deep connection to capable mentor who promises to hold you and care for you even after your passing. The least useful is to say you are a Christian or a Buddhist and expect that to save you!

Awakening to my Aliveness, Robust Health and Well-being by Taking a Stand for My Shadows

A talk given at The Celebration Sunday service   December 6, 2009

Good morning.

I’m talking today about my journey of awakening to what I believe is my true purpose in life, a life of aliveness, robust health and well-being, a life made purposeful by a seed of intention that I made at our retreat at Ghost Ranch last May, when I declared myself as a “shadow warrior.”

This stand for my shadow began at the retreat when we were addressing the topic of shadows in our community.

I realized that there were no shadows out there in the community at all, that all the shadow can only be in one place, for everything that I see out there that doesn’t work in my experience is no more than the mere reflection of what I need to look at in here.

We have a saying we use in the New Warrior work which is “what you spot, you got!”

I was asked by our dear brother Norman at lunch that day what I meant by declaring myself as a “shadow warrior.” Did I mean that, as a warrior, I would be fighting against my own shadows, and ultimately, myself?
I responded: “while it is true that a warrior “makes war”, so does a soldier.”

What I believe distinguishes a warrior from a soldier is that a warrior takes a stand for who he is and chooses his own battles to fight. Like the lovable Klingon “Worf” on Star Trek: The Next Generation would say “The test of the true warrior is the battles he wages within himself. By declaring myself as a “shadow warrior”, I take a stand for my shadows rather than trying to make war with them.

And what I mean by taking a stand for my shadows is about taking ownership of those things about me that stand between myself and my experience of being totally alive and present to myself and to others.

It is that experience that I tend to conceptualize about myself and which, in time, become the emotional, intellectual and even the physical baggage I carry with me and with which I identify with who I think I am.

I also chose as my weapon of choice in my stand for my shadows, a mixing spoon. The meaning in that choice was that I was also at the retreat to “stir things up a little.” How little did I know then that I would be stirring things up for myself in the process.

So what do I mean by Aliveness?

In the realm of Soul, aliveness is a state of wholeness and presence, being here and now.

Yet there is another realm, that which I call bodymind, a realm in which I believe I actually live my life and in which I experience all physical sensation to which I add my feelings, interpretations, conceptualizations and all other thoughts of who I believe I am.

It is in this realm of bodymind where I experience myself as a being separate from the wholeness of soul and where I experience myself as separate from you and from everyone and everything else.

It is in this realm of bodymind where I believe that my experience of health or dis-ease are manifested.

Werner Erhard, the founder of the est Training, says that
“The only two things in our lives are aliveness and patterns that block our aliveness. When you get rid of the blocks, what you have is aliveness, and when the blocks are gone, purpose emerges. There is no use searching externally for purpose, or trying to "pull it in. It is already there. Just focus on clearing out what is between you and aliveness, so every time we create greater aliveness, the purpose is being served.” 
I believe that the biggest block to my own aliveness is shadow.

So what then, is shadow?

Up until recently I have been of the conviction that shadow is synonymous with a sinister dark side of ourselves.

I now hold that shadow is both light and dark and paradoxally, neither.

I believe that shadow is simply that which is unconscious or hidden, probably by the ego.

The ego’s job is to protect me and defend my sense of who I believe myself to be at all costs, the ultimate cost being my aliveness.

I must now thank my ego for having done its job perfectly to keep me small and protected from harm.

To find my shadow, all I have to do is look where I have a strong emotional charge with another person, something that presses buttons of both revulsion and attraction in me.

By noticing an emotional charge when it shows up and taking ownership of the charge, by not projecting on another or making them the false cause of my charge, I have the opportunity to take a stand for that shadow rather than taking a stand for my three-year old made up story about an emotionally-charged event, where my shadow was birthed and which I have since kept hidden from myself and from others as well.

Revealing these shadows is not an easy thing, by any means, because, as I said in my blog, “Awakening to Aliveness, they are the very things that I least want you to know about me. They are things that I believe most of us would do just about anything, probably short of murder, to keep hidden from others and from ourselves as well.

In beginning this journey, I had first to face the shadow of “Waiting for Someone Else to Do It”

I believe that we are living in a time of enormous shift on our planet, a shift that is dissolving old paradigms of consciousness as we are awakening to a new way of looking at ourselves, our significant relationships and families, our organizations and governments.

As our financial and social institutions and the way we look at money and power begin to implode, as the environment is raging against us at an alarmingly accelerated rate and manner, as our healthcare and social security systems are more and more unworkable,

I was looking in quite the wrong direction from which the genius to produce solutions to each new crisis will appear.

My shadow is that I have been waiting for the big fix, never considering that the implosion towards chaos may not be the problem, but may actually be the seeds of the solution itself.

I was waiting for my Prince to come, like Snow White, meanwhile, the Queen Mother had put me to sleep with my own chosen poisoned apple.

My apple was that I was waiting for things to happen, to be like they were before, or different, or better, and therein could be how and where the problem is being held in place.

Since I have tended to look outward to gain all the necessary information I need to survive, I chose instead to look at those outward signs as merely a mirror of who I think I am, to recognize that what I am looking at is also what I am looking with, that I don't see things or people as they are, but as I am. This is what I believe the Buddhists call mindfulness. I call it “being awake.”

Here is a shadow I call “Thinking that I know.”

Have you ever known someone who you just want to avoid like the plague because they not only seem to know it all, they probably also believe that they do,and that seems to turn you off to them, in some way?

A recent encounter into this shadow happened with a customer to whom I was delivering flowers.

Shortly after I had left her house to return to the store I received a call from an associate telling me to go back to retreive the flowers because the customer said the flowers were wilted.

I returned to her house and in retreiving the flowers, which seemed fine to me, she told me that she had her own rose bushes and “she knew roses.”

I conceded and took the flowers back and when I was returning from her house, I was thinking about how there might be a shadow whenever I think that I know something that someone might not know and still make them wrong for it by making myself right.

Once I realized the opportunity to be a witness to this moment in the car, that is to take myself outside of any emotional, rational, or other such attachments to this situation, I got to see the woman as me.

So how does thinking that I know become shadow?

If I am wanting to be right about something, by my focus, I can no longer be in the present moment, to just be alive with the person with whom I am sharing the air, the time and place.

Instead I am stuck in my story about the other person thinking that she knows, and therefore I can’t experience any aliveness in the person or in myself, for that matter. Noticing this once again, I can choose aliveness over righteousness, and with that choice, everyone gets to win.

This is the essence of the slumber I am constantly lulled into by my own beliefs, thoughts and feelings, when I forget that the truth is I can stop the world around me, if and when I choose, and simply notice that I am noticing that I am noticing.

It may sound strange to describe this phenomenon in this way, but it is what is so about being awake and present to the moment.

What about those times when I am in the throes of my automatic thinking and behavior and I am unable to even begin to become present to myself?

Is it possible to simply stop myself in the middle of the whirlwind and become one with it, and in so doing, simply become present, to find myself awake?

When I simply tell myself that shadow could be there right in front of me, the answer becomes “Yes, I can”

In summing up, I want to leave you with one more thought.

Just six months ago, when I planted my seed of intention to take ownership of my shadows, one very deep shadow that seemed to be running my life was the shadow around my own health and well-being. I weighed 245 pounds and had constant pain in my knees and legs, could not stand for periods of more than a few minutes, and was on and off walking with a cane.

I had come to believe that my life as a strong robust man was over and that I would never again enjoy the sense of independence that had been my life up until now.

At that time the talk about healthcare reform seemed to be centered around the Obama administration devising a new plan for us, a big fix, and I meanwhile was taking it on into my body, becoming weak and in constant pain.

I finally realized that the solution to my healthcare crisis was to take full responsibility for my own health and well-being, not just to depend on practitioners, orthodox or alternative, to tell me the path to well-being, that I could be fully in charge of my own health and well-being by standing for the shadows that I speak of here.

At that time that I began to publish the first of a series of posts to my blog Awakening to Aliveness, I also began to change the quantity and quality of what I was eating, foregoing old patterns of buying, preparing and eating food, taking daily walks of longer and longer duration and then beginning to ride a bike in September, even when I didn’t even have the strength to get on the damned contraption.

In seven months I have lost 55 pounds and am still continuing to lose more weight as I rebuild muscle mass in my legs, back, and lower torso. I have, with the help of a new purpose in my life, rehabilitated my body and my way of living and being.

I say this, not as a reason to brag, but simply to invite you to the possibility that the power of healing is available to us when we seek greater aliveness as our primary purpose in being alive.

And in seeking that greater aliveness in myself, I leave you with the gift of greater aliveness.

Thanks for coming.