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Consciousness

Why It’s Important To Understand Your Dark Side & Stop Fearing It

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One of my favourite quotes is by Carl Jung: ” One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”  This resonates with me so much, I think, because I’ve spent the last 10 years reading, listening to, absorbing, mimicking, and meditating on the following mantras: “Just think positive thoughts.”; “All we are is love and light.”; “This too will pass.”; “Transcend your ego.” 

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I have pages and pages of words in countless journals asking, no, pleading, with God or the Universe to please help me be better and rid myself of negativity. I think to myself, “God please help me be more loving, more compassionate, more understanding.” Let me just go ahead and say, nothing is wrong with praying for these things, but not once did I ever stop to think that perhaps I’m not embodying these traits I so desperately seek for a reason.

What is this wild, pushy, manipulative, self-serving woman trying to actually show me right now? I’m talking about my ‘shadow’ self, or ego-self. We all have one, and the more we run and hide and try to deny it’s there, the more internal conflict arises. We’re living in fantasy land if we think we are, and must be, happy, loving, shiny, joy-filled beings all the time. Everyone wants pleasure without the pain. Life doesn’t work like that. We live in a dualistic world.

Our psyche and our experiences are constantly trying to get us back into balance, hence the turmoil we may feel when we encounter someone that challenges our motives, ideals, beliefs, or values. We tell ourselves, “I gotta stay loving, gotta stay compassionate, gotta stay peaceful.” Affirmation, affirmation, affirmation. We fight our nature and go against our own values to please others, usually by subordinating. In order not to hurt others, we hurt ourselves. I had a very profound shift in my personal relationship this year regarding this so-called light/shadow self.

Through his words, my partner actually helped me to become more integrated with myself, and in the same instance, he became more aware of his own delusions when it came to a significant other. He was constantly calling me mean and unkind but I knew how loving and caring I could be.  Too often we had disagreement after disagreement, over things that now seemed small, but at the time they felt huge. It could have been my tone that set him off, but it was his words that agitated me. One time he came home with a friend and I had just spent time making bean burgers. He came into the kitchen gave me a kiss of the cheek and said “oh you made bean burgers? i make them all the time” . I shook my head a bit and said “um, no you don’t. We’ve lived together for six months and you have yet to make them once”. We went back and forth like children and yes my tone did change due to do the annoyance I felt. I wanted him to just be honest, he felt i over reacted and didn’t understand what the big deal was and why I was being so mean. Bringing in our mutual friend into the equation as an allie did not help the situation and i continued on my ‘mean’ streak for the rest of the evening. Basically in this situation mean looks like me shutting down. Unresponsive, short, cold demeanor, sarcasm, and withdrawn. It came down to a he said she said, that we were both tired of doing. It was hard to communicate with I slipped into this kind of mode and he was seeing me through his own filters. I asked my closest people ” Do you think I’m a mean person?” Surprisingly to me, I got a bunch of yes responses, but always followed up with a but, your also loving, fun, caring…it’s just sometimes. It was very rare my partner would follow up one of his “you’re mean” with a positive so I just thought something was terribly wrong with me. Months of biting my tongue, repressed emotional outbursts, sad journals entries, and tears lead to hating myself for being something he didn’t like or want. I experienced deep insecurity.

Great rewards come to those who have the courage to see. I asked  my good friend and fellow CE team member Stephan Gardner for some guidance and help, as he is a master of neutrality. He assisted me in seeing the positives of this situation and they came in the form of an unwavering bond of self-love, a deep desire to find out what was really going on, and a much more balanced relationship.

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Being manipulative, demanding, and mean are parts of myself that I was denying, and in those moments when I embodied these characteristics, I was actually helping my partner come out of his delusions of having a girlfriend that is ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ and ‘loving’ all the time. Again, wanting all the pleasure without the pain.

It’s funny, since I’ve been chatting with Steve, I’ve realized that everything actually does serve our highest mission or values in this world. I’m not reading it in some book or listening to a lecture or talk from someone that “knows more than me”; I learned this from my own experiences and looking at them from a zoomed out perspective. Our shadow/ego self works so incredibly hard to get our attention and break us out of our fantasies and actually is a compensation to the extreme light side so many of us have made on this spiritual/awakened path. I think it’s time we revisit everything we think we’ve learned on this journey and ask ourselves what really resonates.

I asked Steve for some ways we can all integrate both sides of our psyche. A self-aware person will be able to identify moments when their ‘shadow self’ has come out. These can be difficult to do, but they are so worth it. He came up with these helpful tools:

  1. Identify moments where you have displayed your so-called shadow self.
  2. Write down how displaying that side, in those moments, were of benefit or service to you and those you displayed it towards.
  3. Write down the drawbacks if, in those moments, you had instead displayed your ‘light self.’
  4. How is your ‘shadow-self’ integral to achieving your highest values and life goals?
  5. What would be the downsides or drawbacks if you didn’t have this ‘shadow-self’? 

There is always a golden, shiny nugget of wisdom, experience, and knowledge to be found in every challenge or seemingly negative trait we encounter. We need more wildly conscious people on the earth right now — it is time to get really real and balanced!

If you have any questions or need further clarification on the five points above, feel free to reach out to myself or Steve.

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Consciousness

15 Quotes From Alan Watts’ Book: ‘Out of Your Mind’

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In the middle of yoga class the other day, sweaty, exhausted, and holding a pose for what seemed an eternity, my teacher reminded me of the wisdom of Alan Watts with a single quote that would ultimately make me forget about the physical discomfort I was in, and allow me to fully connect to the beauty of the moment at hand.

“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless,” she said.

The recitation reminded me in that moment that what I was feeling was not permanent, and I was choosing to be there to be enlivened, not lifeless. I wanted to feel, to sweat, to dig deeper mentally and physically. And so I let it happen, and suddenly the moment was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Alan Wilson Watts was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known for his interpretation and popularization of Asian philosophies for the Western minds. His more than 25 books and various articles spanned sensational subjects, including personal identity, higher consciousness, the true nature of reality, the meaning of life, and the pursuit of happiness without the desire for materialism.

Perhaps the most profound part of Watts was that he had the incredible ability of expressing complex thoughts in the simplest of ways.

Here is a glimpse into some of his most awakening quotes:

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1. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”

2. “We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.”

3. “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.”

4. “Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.”

5. “What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money … but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth … In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are ‘coins’ for real things.”

6. “The source of all light is in the eye.”

7. “Just as true humor is laughter at oneself, true humanity is knowledge of oneself.”

8. “Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”

9. “This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”

10. “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

11. “What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”

12. “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

13. “There will always be suffering. But we must not suffer over the suffering.”

14. “To put is still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

15. “Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.

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Consciousness

Navigating Difficult Emotions

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Day and night exist; so too do joy and sorrow, anger and sadness. Yin and Yang comprise our wholeness.

  • Reflect On:

    Consider that the night has as much to offer as daytime, and is just as necessary. What new version of wholeness can we be crafted into when we embrace and skillfully work through all of what we feel?

“Each of our feelings or attitudes, no matter how negative, can evoke compassion and lead to transformation. We then joyfully realize how every negative experience has positive, growth-fostering potential, how every liability is a resource, how every shadow trait has a kernel of value, how every disturbance or mistake can deepen our spiritual consciousness . . . there is an energy of light frozen in our confusion, a luminosity we can release, if only we do not give up our mining.”

—Dave Richo, Ph.D.

Positive emotions satisfy the immediate gratification style of modern culture. They pay dividends right away. We try to keep up with pleasure, joy, and bliss in their ever-more-enticing forms. Difficult emotions, however, take patience, and require delayed gratification. The result of this gratification is a deeper sense of fulfillment that can’t be gained by direct experience with positive emotion.

Through the lens of Chinese medicine, our positive emotions are considered Yang (positive and quick) and confer Yang power. Our negative, dark, or difficult emotions are Yin. They take longer to release their nectar, as we slow down to meet them. We might have to look like outcasts for a time to reap their hidden, subtler power. These Yin experiences deliver a quieter, inner power, gradually.

A balance of Yin and Yang power is crucial. If we over-feast on Yang emotions, we can burn out and fall into an exhausted or depressive state once we can’t keep up with all the excitement. This corresponds with the modern epidemic of adrenal exhaustion. If we over-feast on negative emotions and ignore the lighter side of life, we can also end up in the pits. Sojourns into grief don’t count because they often deliver great rewards.

When Yin and Yang are in balance and healthy they mutually support one another. When we find balance between Yin and Yang emotions, we can reap the benefits of both positive and negative states. It’s not difficult to see the benefit of happiness, joy, positivity, exuberance, and inspiration—all Yang experiences. More difficult is to glean the good reasons to embrace our dark and difficult states.

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When we understand, even if just intellectually at first, why and how difficult states are absolutely crucial to our well-being, this gives us incentive to stay present and open to them and override our knee-jerk tendency to shut down and go away when they surface. What’s more, when we attune to and are patient with what’s difficult, that darkness transforms us little by little into more light, a light we cannot attain from Yang states alone. Only by staying with what’s dark can we create more love and light from what seems rotten and miserable.

So, this writing is dedicated to understanding the unique benefits that come from our difficult feelings and why it’s a good idea to stay close to them, when they visit.

Looking Deeper

Just like beauty and the beast, beneath the ugly exterior of our difficult emotions is a tender core of inspiration, soulfulness, and renewal. They return us to what really matters by revealing and empowering what we care about. If we sit with these feelings long enough, which is to welcome and let them have their way with us (at least in good part), we can reap their hidden riches (note: this is often not the case for mental illness, such as anxiety and depression).

Paradoxically, this process of staying close to difficulty eventually fills us up, quenching us with fulfillment. I’m convinced that if we don’t milk and allow ourselves to be transformed by these emotions, we live fractured lives. And as a result, we fracture the lives of others, including the Earth.

In being with painful feelings and letting them change us, they recede. The more we allow ourselves to be changed by them, the more they dissolve. In fact, they recede in proportion to how much we allow them to change us, as if their purpose were to get us to pay attention, to surrender, and to transform. From being with and working through our anger, sadness, fear, remorse, and envy, we develop genuine compassion, courage, creativity, inspiration, meaning, purpose, empathy, and greater love—qualities I call our finer jewels of being human.

We dont transform difficult emotions as much as they transform us. For this we must surrender and become vulnerable; we must have the faith and courage, humility and strength, to be changed in ways not in our control, shaped by the wild ways of nature expressed through our emotions. This way we get to become more than what we can control, or even imagine. So, if you want to live a passionate life close to nature, give way to your heart and its storms of wild wisdom come to revolutionize you.

To be changed by difficulty, we have to be vulnerable, pliant, brave, and strong enough to weather the shape-shifting of our sense of self. This requires having a strong enough core sense of self, our functional ego, one that can handle the adjustments, or in some cases, the dismantling of our sense of self. For this reason, the support of loved ones, and a therapist, is virtually essential, or at least makes the journey more productive and smoother.

Our dark, uncomfortable, or downright terrifying emotions are the other side of love. They are love’s underbelly, the deeper regions of our heart. In fact, we can often sense when someone has not entered this sacred chamber inside themselves and met their life-renewing shadow because they are generally uncomfortable around the emotional struggles of others.

The Way Out is Through

While offering nuanced suggestions for precisely how to navigate our difficult emotions is beyond the scope of this article (I offer more of that here), I want to briefly speak to the popular adage, “Don’t wallow in negative emotions.” Ironically, this might be an outsider’s perspective, coined and perpetuated by folks who haven’t entered their shadow in a significant way. For, when we do, we learn that we don’t really have much say for how long we are beset by life’s downturns.

We in fact must endure periods of what seems like wallowing and obsessing because we don’t have control over these states, nor do we have to. Nor do we have to fit in to the horse and pony show of modern living, rife with sickness, dysfunction, and obsessed with productivity and positivity. Other times, however, we will be able to snap out of a funk. In these cases we have at least some say in mitigating difficult states, apart from how they might ultimately benefit us.

We experience emotion in two primary ways. The first is in response to troubling environmental factors, events, or circumstances. In these cases, it’s usually safe to heed emotional signals at face value. Another way is to experience difficult emotions due to an imbalanced physiology such as illness (including mental illness) or another stressor. In these instances, it’s better not to listen to the voice or message of emotion and its distorted reasoning, or at least not take their perceived impact and significance to heart. For example, if you’re in a spat with your partner and irritated because you need to eat, get to sleep, be alone, or just chill out, it’s often wiser to just focus on taking care of yourself and not get into it with someone else. We might also need to grab the reins of our mind and control our negative thinking, which is absolutely appropriate during rough times—especially, for example, when we are looping negative thoughts.

All these self-help actions help “skim the surface” of feeling bad, which is to clear the superficial and temporary stress that contributes to circumstantial emotional flareups. After we self-care this way, our troubles usually seem smaller and less painful. Whatever emotional charge or realization left after skimming this top layer of stress, we can embrace and more confidently take to heart. To not self-care to relieve everyday stress is to suffer unnecessarily.

 Exercise, appropriate diet, and how supported we feel. all significantly influence our physiological state and therefore the duration and intensity of difficult emotional states.

The idea is to try to stay close to, and be with, our core emotional responses to real life events and to manage and discharge the extra energy these emotions generate due to mental obsession and physiological imbalance. For example, I might feel sad that I lost my girlfriend. I might feel extra sad if I lie on the couch all day and don’t force myself to get up and take a walk, eat something, or talk to friend. We have control over the latter, and not the former. In fact, we might not want to control our grief too much (so it can work on and change us), unless it’s unnecessarily physiologically generated and/or exacerbated by too much inactivity and stagnation.

To get in touch with our core emotions, we can activate and express them (Yang), or slow down and gently embrace them (Yin). This is where the jewels are—if we dig, or better, let ourselves be unearthed! Taking a break from digging and feeling tough feelings, however, is also crucial. This is healthy denial, when we focus on other things to give ourselves a break and so we can return to the inner work refreshed and with clearer perspective.

Lying around feeling sad all day might be helped by taking a walk, venting and being heard by a friend, or getting out to get out of our own head. Feeling angry for hours might be appropriately curbed by going for a run, pounding on some pillows, or finding genuine cause for laughter. But longer stints of grief, for example, might stay with us for months or years. Often, we don’t have much say in this. We can therefore surrender and be changed into what we can’t imagine by this wild wisdom of our deeper hearts.

An unfortunate alternative to embracing our difficult feeling states is turning to drugs, addiction, and excess avoidance, which usually create more suffering. What’s more, we miss out on the nourishing qualities hidden in challenging emotions—our finer jewels of being human—which we harvest by embracing them. Handled skillfully and with support, difficult times can be immense opportunities for growth, finding meaning and purpose in life, and reckoning with our demons. How we approach and handle difficulty is just as important, if not more so, than how we deal with easy times.

—–

Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac., MA, is Chinese medicine physician, having graduated valedictorian of his class in 2000. He has authored hundreds of articles, thousands of poems, and several books. Weber is an activist for embodied spirituality and writes extensively on the subjects of holistic medicine, emotional depth work, and mind-body integration, all the while challenging his readers to think and act outside the box. Weber’s latest creation is the Nourish Practice, a deeply restorative, embodied meditation practice as well as an educational guide for healing the wounds of childhood. His work can be found at jackadamweber.com, on Facebook, or Twitter, where he can also be contacted for life-coaching and medical consultations.

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Consciousness

Using Human Intention To Help Manifest The Physical World Into Being

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Many people believe that human intention has a direct impact on physical material reality. Quantum mechanics has played it's role in this belief. This article presents tips on how you can use your intention to better your life.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you want to change the world. Do you want to change your-self? Perhaps both are intertwined.

The idea that we actually manifest the physical world into being in every moment based on our thoughts used to be the stuff of fairy tales for most people. There was a sense that old sayings like ‘As ye think, so shall ye be,’ and ‘Everything is possible for him who believes,’ were considered to have some mysterious wisdom, but few really took them to be direct conditions of reality itself.

A little over a decade ago, however, many started to take the subject more seriously. The popularity of a movie and book entitled ‘The Secret,’ which brags 28+ million copies in print translated into 52 languages, was an important contributor to the popularization of the idea that we can manifest the things we want in our lives through the power of intention.

Has Our Belief Subsided?

I have observed over the past decade, at least in terms of the people and communities I am in contact with, that the belief and optimism in the power of intention has waned somewhat. While some people have gone forward and made the power of intention the centerpiece of their life’s activities, many who once tried to engage in such practices have since become disillusioned by the idea, a consequence of failed attempts, or have simply forgotten about it and returned their focus to strictly material processes to try and get what they want out of life.

Are you familiar with the idea? Have you made some attempts at manifesting through intention in the past, and have since shifted away from the practice? Let’s read on.

Feeling Good

To manifesting through intention is first to overcome what seems to be a logical paradox; as we try to visualize what we want  (a new car, lover, etc.), we have to somehow ‘feel good’ about the whole matter, as though we are not actually lacking what we want. As The Secret feature speaker Joe Vitale says,

It’s really important that you feel good. Because this feeling good is what goes out as a signal into the universe and starts to attract more of itself to you. So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that help you feel good and that will keep bringing you up higher and higher.

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But how are we supposed to feel good about what we are lacking? Even those who have been highly successful at manifesting through intention have a devil of a time explaining how they are having positive feelings in relation to the exercise of bringing towards them something they don’t have enough of or don’t have any of.

In some writings on the subject, the ‘wanting’ of something as an intention does not bring to us the thing itself but only the continued ‘wanting’ of it. We are told that the proper mindset is to feel grateful for what we ‘want’, as though we already have it. But the fact is that we don’t have it! Otherwise we wouldn’t be asking for it. How do we get around this paradox?

The Real Secret: Become ‘Service To Others’

I believe the secret to overcoming this paradox is in understanding that there are mainly two types of people in the world: those who are oriented towards service to self, and those that are oriented towards service to others.

Those who are fundamentally ‘service to self’ see themselves as separate from the rest of humanity, they see the world’s resources as scarce, and they feel they have to compete with others to get what they want. In this state of fear, manifesting from intention becomes very difficult, because their fear of lack will always be more powerful than their ‘belief’ that they can get what they want.

Those who are fundamentally ‘service to others’ see all of humanity as connected, the world’s resources as unlimited, and in getting what they want they actually inspire others to get what they want. My favorite book on the subject, ‘The Science of Getting Rich,’ written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles, says it this way:

You are to become a creator, not a competitor; you are going to get what you want, but in such a way that when you get it every other man will have more than he has now.

Win-Win

In choosing to manifest through intention in our lives this way, we can actually see our lives as modeling and inspiring others who are actively seeking their own desired manifestations. So it’s really a win-win mentality between ourselves and others. There are no ‘limits’ to what can be manifested. Wattles says that no matter how many people actively intend abundance, the material universe is compelled to bring it into being.

People who have a true service to others mentality serve others with a confidence that they will be served themselves, by universal design. When serving others authentically, there is love and lightness, and a genuine sense that we ‘have’ to give, and so we naturally feel gratitude for our own abundance. What we want is already a part of us, since we are connected to all things–so there’s no longer a contradiction in being grateful for what we want. This gratitude really embodies the amorphous ‘feel good’ of Joe Vitale, or the ‘higher vibration’ of so many other commentators.

If you have tried and given up on the process of manifesting through intention, it might be helpful to check if your intentions were always grounded in fear-based egocentric desire, as mine were in my earlier failed attempts to manifest. If you can make the move to orient your life to be in service of others—a monumental shift to be sure—you will see that manifesting through intention will become more natural, enjoyable, and ultimately successful.

 

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