Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you. -Walt Whitman

Give voice to your shadows as you face the sun.

Yesterday, I went for a walk with my neighbor friends: a sweet mom and two of her lovely kids. It was a bright and sunny day and quite windy. As we were walking along the path, the kids invented a game called Shadow-Tag. All four of us cast these long shadows that fell on the ground leading our path. As each of us would walk on one another's shadows, we would declare, "I got your shadow! I got your shadow!". It was quite a fast-paced and entertaining game. And no matter how fast or how slow or in which direction we walked, there was a shadow attached to us. At one moment, the shadows started to feel like loving dogs who don't cease to follow you.

Our shadows! As long as there is light coming from the sky, there will be a shadow falling on the ground. The shadow has been used as a metaphor for the dark and the unwanted in our literature, art and religion. Yet, what if, instead of looking at our shadows as unwanted entities to get rid of, we learn to accept and embrace our personal shadows. Wouldn't they also transform into a loving friend or a master guide who is here to show us our way? Our shadows are, indeed, here for us. They are here to show us where we need to shine our light of radiance. The question for us is: How vibrantly do we want to participate in this dance of shadow and light? How do we want to light the way? 

So what exactly am I referring to when I use the term, "our shadow". Essentially, the shadow is that aspect of ourself that we are ignoring, neglecting or abandoning. It need not necessarily be a bad habit or an addiction. It can also be something beautiful that we are not allowing, consciously or unknowingly, to take expression. It can be our ability to love: to receive and give love. If we have been hurt before when receiving love from someone, we may hide and suppress our openness to love and thus that aspect of ourself "open to receiving love" can become our shadow. When a characteristic of our self is not allowed to blossom, flourish and just be, then it takes on darker guises only to show up unexpectedly. Our shadow can be our brilliant mind. Let us say a really smart child has been teased and isolated because of her brilliance when she was growing up. The child may suppress this part of herself because she learns early on that being smart means being lonely. Her intellect can then become her shadow, if she doesn't allow it to be expressed.  

Reflect on your own life. What characteristic or voice inside you that is yearning to seek expression is feeling smothered, kept in the dark, admonished? Allow yourself to let it out. One way to do it is to give that part of yourself a creative outlet: like writing, drawing, speaking. See if you can do it bit by bit. Ask for help and guidance from those you trust. Make sure you embark on this as gently and safely as possible for yourself and others. If you feel that there are some things that may gush out of you like champagne out of a bottle, then prepare your closest friends and family or get help from a mentor or a counselor you feel safe with. You do not have to do this alone. 

Shadows are waiting to be enlightened. Yesterday, after our weekly visualization meditation, my friend Rachael and I spoke at length about how our beliefs that we have unconsciously adopted over the years, can sabotage our very dreams and goals. Let us say that someone is working on building financial abundance in their life. Yet, deep in their consciousness there is the belief that money is the root of all evil or that you must deserve it to earn it. Then no matter what their conscious actions are, they hardly make a dent in their efforts to create wealth and prosperity. One powerful exercise that I learnt from her, deals exactly with dissolving such deep unconscious belief systems. I would like to share that with you:

1. Take a goal that you are working towards. This is a goal that means a lot to you and you want it to become a reality. Write that goal down in a complete, positive and present tense statement. Example: I am spending my day doing what I love. Or: I easily run 5 miles each day to keep my body fit. Choose your own unique goal.

2. Then, write down the first reaction that comes to you. Allow it to just emerge without censoring. Remember no one has to see it. And you can even destroy this piece of paper after your exercise.

3. Then write down the positive goal statement once again. Once again allow any responses to come through.

4. Repeat the first three steps of this process as long as it takes in order to come to a state where your response and your positive goal statement resonate with each other. 


This exercise is designed to suck out the most negative and unconscious thought patterns that you may have towards this goal of yours. Do not censor it. Nor should you dwell on it. Let it come through and that's that. Move on. You have now given your shadows at least one healthy avenue to show up. 

Now regroup and refocus on the sunshine in your life, like Whitman encourages us. Come into a state of gratitude and into an abundance mind-set. And congratulate yourself for going through this intense process.

Let us celebrate ourselves and cherish the sunshine within us. Let us face the sun.


With love and warmth,

Sophia Ojha