Can You Push Away A Shadow?

[suggested meditation for this topic]

I have clients that ask me how they can push away a negative feeling.  No one likes pain. No one wants to suffer.  Naturally, the inclination is to avoid it, or push it away.  But, how well does that work?

Positive thinkers suggest a method of “breathing out” emotional pain and negativity, and then “breathing in” joy and positivity.  However, unless there is a transmuting force, it’s like having a shadow that continues to follow close behind. And, if you are afraid of your emotional pain, then it appears like a shadow that is chasing you.

Do you remember being a child and discovering your shadow for the first time?  Do you remember running, and then looking over your shoulder to find the grey mass following you?  Was there any way to avoid it?  In your youth, you might have valiantly tried, but after you could run no more and the shadow was still there, you accepted its presence.  No longer antagonistic to it, the fear dissipated.  Then the shadow became a friend. 

Our journey with pain can be similar.  Emotional pain is natural. It needs to be understood and accepted. When the feeling is accepted, then suddenly the quality of the pain starts changing. You are no longer antagonistic to it, and because you are no longer antagonistic to it, you can welcome it into your heart as you would a friend. That’s when the magic happens!

The heart is a transforming force.  Every spiritual tradition has its own beautiful method for entering and working with the heart. Some see the heart as a heavenly garden or secret sanctuary, an opened lotus or sacred fire.  Poets and musicians help us with metaphorical imagery to enter the heart. I am reminded of Krishna Das’ lyrical reference of the heart as being as wide as the world.  Indeed, the energetic heart is deep and wide.  For me, that evokes images of the ocean and there is an inner urge to want to dive right in.  Are you ready to jump?

Visualize your heart as an ocean of Love--deep, vast and endless.  See your individuated self on its shore covered in sand.  Each grain represents a heavy emotion or negativity that you are carrying.  Name each category of emotion, and feel it.  Accept each fully as being a part of your overall journey.  It’s okay.  You are okay.  The journey through these emotions has helped make your energetic being deep and wide.  Do not judge your emotions or how much sand is covering you. Run out to meet the Divine and plunge head first into the waters. Each wave purifies and cleanses you.  Then float on your back in the pinkish-gold ocean of light allowing God’s love and grace to move in and through you.  Experience being in your God, and your God being in you.  It’s a process of transmutation in which the old goes and the new arrives, the mind disappears and the heart functions in its totality. As this occurs, the rhythmic rocking of the waves brings a renewed feeling of safety, a return to the cosmic womb, and the fears are gone.  Then life is a benediction.

This feeling overflows you, your life, and goes out into the world.  Realize that you are no longer pushing away or avoiding, but actively seeking out.  With a deep sense of compassion, breath in all the miseries and suffering of beings everywhere—past, present and future.  Watch them absorb into the endless ocean of light.  As you breathe out, share joy, bliss and compassion. Pour yourself and your blessings into existence.

This process of transmutations allows you to become the love and compassion that changes the world.  On the spiritual journey, trying to push away a painful emotion is fruitless.  Can you push away a shadow? No, but if you choose to, you can make it a friend!

[suggested meditation for this topic]