I read once that our shadows follow us around. We can’t always see them, but other people certainly can. Some will even point them out to you.
This can create an impulse to react with defense, denial or avoidance. These uncomfortable impulses are confirmation that your shadows are indeed real. It is important to notice your reactions and what triggers them, because these are what will ultimately limit your growth and greatest potential.
Over the last couple of months, I have been hunting down my own shadows, and doing my best to use them as teachers. This is so much easier said than done.
Overall it has been a really good practice on patience, self inquiry and surrender. I am learning a lot about myself, and thanking my meditation practice for being a necessary means for transformation.
It is not just people that can trigger us, but circumstances and mediums like the news or social media.
Ramana Maharshi was an Indian saint who taught people to constantly ask important questions like, “Who am I?” He believed that by doing so, one could attain self realization.
This beautiful inquiry is the act of soul searching, which is one way to hunt down your “shadows” that obscure your “light”.
Rumi, the mystical poet, said: “It is not your job to seek for love—just seek the barriers that keep it from coming.” Your barriers, shadows and triggers are not something you should ignore, but instead try to understand, for they hold the key to inner peace.
Social media and the news are great examples for the global play of shadow and light. They can be colossal triggers that will provide insights to your personality. They can celebrate moments of magic which could be a light for one person, but a shadow to another. What other people think about something is not as important as how we “feel” about ourselves at the end of the day. If you use these mediums, and get triggered by them regularly, then I would invite you to ask yourself why that is.
You can use social media as a valuable tool to hunt down shadows. The “light” of social media is the connection with others, while the “shadows” can trigger unsavory emotions. Ever hear of the new term “Facebook Depression”?
The psychology of social media is out—if you have not read about how it purposely makes us crazy—check this article out. Social media is designed to trigger us, and as you already know, triggers are uncomfortable. But again, triggers are also “keys”, and if you can become aware of, and understand why you are triggered, you can stop stunting your personal growth and mediums like the news and social media will become a different experience.
Like Michelangelo’s David, we really are all whole, beautiful and complete. As sculptors of our own identities, we have the power to chip away what is unnecessary, so that what is left can shines brightly and serve to the world in a positive way.
I invite you to become a “shadow-hunter” like me. Grab your sculptor’s chisel and start chipping away at what is blocking your true happiness. Pay attention to what sets you off. Try to breathe, pause, notice, ask yourself why you are feeling this way. Meditate on it. Everyone has a shadow that requires investigation. If we didn’t our world would be perfect. By helping ourselves we help others, and the world becomes a little bit more lighter and relaxed.
A Yoga Unplugged collaboration - written by Jennifer Reuter, edited by Sarah Burchard