Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dancing with the Dark Side

"If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance." ~ George Bernard Shaw

    I presented a two hour meditation and pranayama workshop this morning to yoga teachers in training. As part of our exploration of meditation practice, we discussed the intention of meditation practice as sitting in the "what is". Sitting in the mess and breathing, without the need to react, respond or change anything. We sit in meditation and make space for all of who we are, in any moment, to be seen and held without judgement. This is difficult since we have a lot of programming, generally, that tells us to hunt down our shadow parts and eradicate them, or at least send them into exile in a lock box, cast down to the bottom of the ocean of our consciousness, to hopefully never return. But it becomes evident quickly that this does not work, no matter how hard we try to lock our skeletons in the closet they always find a way out. Meditation is to dance with whoever shows up for the party, even, and especially, the skeletons.
    The truth is that those skeletons and shadows, the dark side, have so much wisdom and energy to offer, and if we don't invite them to the party and dance with them their offerings are lost. As part of the yoga training I am in right now one of my specific practices is to look at my anger. My anger has caused me great pain and shame because I resist it, and extend to it only judgement. I have made no room for compassion. I have tried many times to send my anger into permanent exile, and have failed many times. My intention now is to invite my anger to the party, to dance with it in my yoga and my life so that I might see it fully and from all angles. If I dance with it, I might charm it into revealing what currents lie underneath it, what great energy is it's source.
    When I think about how much energy surges through me when my anger comes up it is amazing.  Now, what if I came into relationship with that and made friends with it so all that energy could perhaps shift or transmute and be channeled into my evolutionary process?  I know that the effects would be enormous and enlightening.  I know the way to achieve that is to keep getting on my yoga mat and my meditation cushion, roll out a red carpet, fling all the closet doors open and have a skeleton's ball.

What skeleton should you let out of exile?  Open the door, extend it a hand and a smile, maybe a bow or a curtsy and ask it to dance.                 


  1. Yes. Repressing our shadows, as Jung tried to demonstrate, only makes them stronger, and is a great deal of the reason that American culture is so split between extremes, in everything from politics to art to sex to ...on and on.

    Fear is my Guide has been my mantra lately, and I know I don't have to explain that here. :)

  2. Well said, my dear friend. We all must face the music and the sooner, the better. It is the skeletons and the shadows that hold the greatest keys to the kingdom of understanding, growth and wisdom; which leads to freedom. Let us dance and be free!