Why should we want to get in touch with the hidden, dark sides of our selves? Isn’t it hidden for a reason?
Actor Lorraine Toussaint notes: “We all have a dark side. Most of us go through life avoiding direct confrontation with that aspect of ourselves, which I call the shadow self. There’s a reason why. It carries a great deal of energy.”
The Shadow as a source of creativity
Depth psychologist Carl Jung explained: “…in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness — or perhaps because of this — the shadow is the seat of creativity.”
That quote comes from a Wikipedia page about “Shadow Man” – a song written by David Bowie first recorded in 1971.
“Seeds find nourishment in the dark.”
Author and teacher Mark Matousek writes about the challenges and rewards of solitude, and refers to May Sarton’s “fantastic book” Journal of a Solitude.
He comments that she “reminds us that solitude may be indispensable but that doesn’t mean it’s easy,” and quotes from a poem of hers:
“I can tell you that solitude/Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done
Solitude exposes the nerve
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.”
Matousek goes on to write that solitude “always includes the shadow, the part of ourselves that we run from, the places that scare us, the demons, the ghouls. That’s why solitude can be so intimidating.
“Unless we learn to engage with it, we cannot begin to awaken. We can’t be enriched by our darkness; nor can we integrate what lies below the surface with the flow of our day-to-day life.
“Avoiding the shadow of solitude, we avoid our essence and our core.
“All things that grow begin in darkness. Seeds find nourishment in the dark. All the things that matter most — creativity, love, inspiration, deep work, and spiritual awakening, require the dark earth of solitude to take root. And this practice can be cultivated.”
He finds that the challenges of solitude “are identical to those of spiritual practice: locating balance inside us; getting comfortable in our own skins; becoming intimate with our own minds; laying claim to that power that flows through us when we touch center.”
From his post The Power of Solitude.
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In his post “Black Swan” and the Recovery of the Shadow Self, Joseph Burgo PhD comments about the success of this movie in depicting how an artist (ballerina Nina, played by Natalie Portman) gains more self-awareness and power to express her creativity.
“Only by embracing her passionate sexuality, jealousy and murderous feelings of rage can Nina grow into her role as the black swan, becoming a whole and independent woman in the process… the film accurately portrays states of mind and psychological reality in a way rarely seen.”
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Mark Matousek presented an online workshop through the Shift Network on the shadow self, healing and how to be creative: Writing to Heal Your Shadow: The Power of Uncovering Your Hidden Truths.
The information page for the presentation indicates some of his interests and teaching on the shadow self:
“Are there parts of yourself that you feel ashamed of?
“Writing can help. Truly. There is remarkable new science that shows that intimate journaling, if done in the right way, can help you metabolize the past (or the present) in a way that frees your attention, allowing for greater liberation and joy.
“One of the keys is to first stop resisting the darker parts of your psyche — and relating to them as your shameful ‘problem’ areas — and instead recognize that your shadow likely holds the most profound gifts for you (and the world) once you can surrender into what it has to teach.”
Learn about his classes and resources at MarkMatousek.com.
One of his related books:
Writing to Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery
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Book: Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson.