Among your many faces, in the cover of darkness, that you hide,
Buried somewhere beneath them, is your Light…
Although its been many years now, I haven’t forgotten her shining face, and sparkling eyes as she spoke to a crowd of around a hundred and fifty odd people.
My head was in a whirl. Her expression was not matching the horrifying words emerging from her mouth. There she was, smiling, her body perfectly at ease, her voice soft, clear and firm, and she was saying, “ I was raped,repeatedly raped, throughout my childhood years. By two three people at a time. Family members.”
“ How can she talk about it like that?” my mind screamed. “ Just how?”
And as she finished narrating her story, someone from the audience cried out, echoing my thoughts, “ You are shocking me! How can you speak so calmly about it all?”
She turned at the audience member, smiled, and said something, which etched into my heart and will remain there for as long as I live. “ I can,” she said, “ because I stopped judging myself a long time ago. I was but a child. I did not know what was happening. The people who did it carried the burden of a lot of filth. And that’s why they were how they were. I was not in control as a child. It happened. Yes, I broke. Yes, I suffered. And I did carry guilt and low self-esteem for a long time, till I realized, how long could I carry the filth, the burden and the guilt, which is not mine? I refuse to carry filth, for I am too precious. My life is too precious. And I love myself too much to allow myself to do that. ”
The hall thundered with applause. And as for me, my heart was full.
I choked and something changed within me. I did not realize then fully, but that one sentence, “ I stopped judging myself a long time ago,” was a directing signboard on my road to self-discovery.
Almost two years after this meet, one day, as I sat for meditation, I was shown a scene in my state of trance. In the scene I could clearly see my mother, in her younger years, and some of her friends going on their routine visits to some prisons and offering their services there, in the form of cooking food for the prisoners and teaching them different skills.
The next scene that came up, much like the next shot of a movie, showed me how happy the prisoners were, with the attention they were receiving. I also noticed the prison hall-room had changed. That slight darkness and dullness which pervaded the atmosphere the first time was not there anymore. The room had become brighter than before.
The following scene showed me yet another visit of my mom with her friends to the prison, and this time, the prisoners seemed to be transforming into happy, industrious and honest people.
For a moment, my logical mind interfered and wondered at the meaning of these scenes. I decided not to pay attention to this rude intrusion of my mind, and instead, simply go with the flow of the scenes.
Suddenly the insightful hidden message within the scenes unravelled. I saw in my mind’s eye the prison walls crumbling and falling to dust…the prisoners emerging happy and jumping for joy at their newfound freedom.
A deep sense of gratitude ran through my body as I deciphered the profound lesson my unconscious mind chose to teach me in this unique manner.
The prisoners changed because they wanted to. Nobody forced them to change. They were simply made to feel loved, and accepted and they transformed automatically. And once again they were assimilated back to the society.
So what was all this about? Well, the prisoners symbolized different parts of me. I was holding these different parts captive for so long, by labeling them with different labels, “not good enough”, “failure”, “worthless”, “rejected”, “ jealous”, “helpless”. Parts of me that I felt guilty, and shameful about… So now through these scenes my Higher-Self was posing a question to me – am I ready to accept all those “imperfect” parts of myself? Am I ready to stop judging and criticizing them, and instead love them and accept them, just the way they are? For if I do, I need not put in any effort to change my so-called ‘bad habits’, or try so hard to overcome my ‘fears’, as it will all happen automatically.
Why? Because the so-called bad habits, which can be anything, ranging from procrastination to addictions, to nail-biting, are the behavioral projections of these parts from within ourselves, who are feeling unloved, judged, imprisoned and unaccepted right now.
THE PARTS HIDING IN THE SHADOWS
So now gentle reader it is to you I ask, which are the parts of yourself that you hate and fear the most? Which are the parts you feel are inferior in you? Which parts are the ones you want to hide the most because you feel, shameful, or guilty about them? Is it the part telling you, ‘I am unlovable”, “I am not good looking”, “I am lonely”, “nobody understands me”, “I feel rejected”, or, is it the part telling you ‘I am not good enough”, “I am worthless”, “I am feeling jealous, because he/she has what I do not have?”, “I am good for nothing”, “ I just hate him/her/them because I can never say no to them.?”
Many a time these parts, hiding in the shadows, are nothing but what we call our inner children – our echoes from the past, trapped in dark prisons of our own making. They are lost and do not know what to do. They only need love and acceptance. And that is exactly what we do not give them. We try to hide them beneath over-confident exteriors, or forcefully constructed superiority complexes, and even behind inferiority complexes, for that matter. We conveniently turn our faces away, not willing to see these “unpleasant” parts of ourselves. In doing so, we shut them down. We search for acknowledgment and acceptance from people outside and yet shut our ownselves from our own love and acceptance. These parts become mute shadows constantly following us… haunting us.
Nothing is more suicidal.
We think these parts of ourselves do not deserve to be loved, because, according to us, they are inferior, they are not perfect. Yet, the ones who, according to us, deserve love the least are the ones who need it the most– that includes parts of ourselves that we dislike, and turn away from, the most.
THE MIRRORING PARTS
What’s even more interesting is that, very often in life, we come across people who act as triggers and pull up these unpleasant parts in us to the surface. Why? It’s simple really, these people are mirroring back to us what we hold on the inside. Unless we learn to face our shadow selves, people reflecting the traits we try to hide will continue to surface in our life.
People who push our buttons, who we end up hating, criticizing, avoiding, or worse still, who we try to change. There is no use reacting to them negatively.
It is like trying to clean the mirror when the smut is on my face.
For, in them, we are only seeing one of our own faces that we are desperately trying to hide. And seeing that face so clearly in the other scares us. Instead, we need to thank these people for they are providing us with the clues leading to the shadows within us so that we may bring them to light.
The outside world is but a reflection of what we are on the inside.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung
The next time, dear reader, when these parts rear their heads in you for whatever reason and start showing you their fears, anger, and frustrations, do not distract yourself by reading a book, watching T.V., or by hanging out with friends. This is a chance to get to know yourself better. Don’t brush it under the carpet again. Just stop whatever it is you are doing, and when that part begins to speak to you of its insecurities – listen, and acknowledge it. Acknowledge that part’s deepest fears by speaking it out aloud to yourself, or to someone who you love, and whose wisdom you trust, or simply by writing it all down. In doing so, you bring that part to light. And where there is light, darkness cannot exist, for darkness is only the absence of light.
EMBODIMENTS OF LOVE
Hereafter, comes the important part, are you able to love and accept this shadow part of yourself, which repeatedly makes the same mistakes, leads you to dance through the same patterns in life, and refuses to let go of its fears and frustrations?
For if you do, you will have chosen to bring down the barriers you had erected against yourself – a cage of your own making. Infact, these are the barriers you had created against love itself.
This is what Rumi meant when he said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself, that you have built against it.”
By accepting and loving you are bringing that part once again back to yourself, and letting it taste the freedom, which is its right.
My own Master in almost every discourse would refer to us as “Embodiments of love.”
I never really understood the full import of this phrase till I started working on myself. Gradually I started liberating myself from myself. Time and again I get a small taste of the love, which lies deep within me. It is still continuing. The breaking down, the cracking, the crumbling… And yes it pains, sometimes, much more than I can bear. Then I remember my guidepost, that girl who stood up years back and innocently but firmly declared, “ I stopped judging myself a long time ago…” She professed her love for herself and had the courage to own her past story publicly, but without identifying with it. It was just that – a story, which could not define her, and instead enabled her to own all parts of herself completely. She became whole. That is what reflected in her eyes that day that shocked us – boundless love and innocence. Her true essence…and for that matter, everyone’s true essence…
Her barriers against love had crumbled completely. And seen through the eyes of love, everyone is ultimately innocent. How can they not be?
So, yes slowly, but surely, my barriers too are coming down. Sometimes multiple barriers crumble down together, for when you loosen one wall through constant hitting, along with that wall, the adjoining walls too come crashing down. And you are free. Then suddenly you realize, love is also free. Always free. You do not have to deserve it or earn it. You just have to be it.
That is the message all these shadow selves, these many faces you hide, are trying to get through to you. They are there for a purpose. Yes, even these parts of yourself that you hate…. Surprising isn’t it?
Nothing comes to you without a reason.
You are not the roles you play; neither are you your emotions, feelings or sensations. So, who are you? And what is the purpose of your life?
Which, brings to mind the way the movie session with my Higher Self ended that day. Towards the end of the session, I decided to pose the question to my Higher Self, which had been bothering me awhile – a centuries-old question, really, bothering the collective human mind through the ages –
“So, what is the purpose of my life?”
A palpable silence hung in the air.
Awkwardly shuffling my astral feet I hemmed, hawed, and asked again, “What is the purpose of my life?” Silence.
Deciding I was not getting any reply I opened my astral mouth to bid adieu …and just then a smiling voice responded- “It is you!”
– ANUJA PATHAK
Please Note: Required permission has been granted, to cite the above-mentioned example of the lady, without revealing the name, venue, time, or kind of meeting, to avoid disclosure of identity.
(If you wish to do Shadow Work with me please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
© Anuja Pathak and www.breakthroughholistictherapy.com, 2015.
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