Core Level Awakening
The Radical Inclusion of All that You Are
Many of us seek healing work to get away from, detach or cope with our pain. Such work is a wonderful remedy to suffering. When we learn to transcend our wounds, without returning to or thoroughly completing the healing journey, we exclude pieces of ourselves from enlightenment. There is often a rush to get away from pain as fast as possible, and once we’ve done so be reluctant to return, vigilant to avoid pain if we are nudged to do so. As a result, we are left with a healing that is incomplete and lopsided.
To discover that we are indeed one with the All, a drop that is identical to the entire ocean of consciousness, is where we begin. To become intimate with every shade of who we are is the path beyond oneness. The journey ahead is one of intimacy with all of life; all that we’ve been, all that we are, and yes, all that is.
Core Level Awakening wakes you up to each piece of yourself that you’ve kept hidden, safely tucked away from harm. One name for that hiding place is the shadow. The shadow is always with us, usually unseen, in the background; the thing we really want to say, but choose not to. Core Level Awakening is the act of consciously and courageously turning towards that which we have turned away from, ignored, disowned, dismissed, and isolated within us.
For example, projection is a manifestation of our shadow. Projection is viewing someone’s behavior as distasteful, but being unwilling to see that same quality within ourselves. Reactivity or a disproportionate response to something said reflects an aspect of the shadow that has not been worked with. The shadow is also manifest in addiction whether it’s porn, sugar, drugs, excessive TV watching, alcohol etc. The addiction is what we do to cover up the shadow; the deeper feelings, memories, and sensations we’re trying to get away from.
The more we ignore our shadow the more power it gains. The shadow is an aspect of who we are that is begging to be seen, acknowledged and welcomed home. The shadow often appears in behaviors like aggression, passive aggression, toxic shame, indifference, apathy, excessive detachment, being cool, numbness and others. When we turn towards these behaviors and examine their roots, we often find that we were conditioned to respond a certain way in order to survive, endure, or avoid stressful, painful and traumatic situations. By making enough space for the wounded piece of ourselves to come forward, be heard, empathized with and fully acknowledged we no longer have to hide or hold back the shadow. This newfound energy vitalizes us and ignites our fervor and hunger for life.
Spiritual practices like meditation, breathwork and chanting powerfully release stagnant energy and deepen a relationship with the spiritual realms of life. Many people often use such practices to bypass and avoid the wounded, endarkened aspects of self. Because meditative practices often transcend this middle ground of self—the shadow lands—they do not give us the capacity to know our shadow; its pain and dark light, more on this ahead.
I’ve heard many teachers say that there is no need to get into the painful, dark pieces of the past. They say things like, “No need to air our dirty laundry…Let it be… Don’t wake the sleeping elephants…Meditation will take care of removing those unsavory pieces of us.” Such teachings are a profound disservice to the seeker and reflect a lack of capacity for the teacher to safely take one through the shadow lands.
A deep meditation practice will relinquish much of the grip that trauma and pain has imprinted on the body. Yet some pieces often remain stubbornly embedded in our being. It is for these instances especially, that shadow work is essential to include with meditative practices. To avoid shadow work on the spiritual/healing path is quite literally to exclude a significant part of who we are, deeming it as less than divine or worthy of our love. Core Level Awakening relaxes the nervous system, boosts metabolic activity and increases blood flow to the vascular and muscular systems, which in turn, grounds meditative practices into the body.
This work is much more than gaining an intellectual understanding of our shadow. For shadow work to truly function, we must dive into the greater depths of our being and bring in a sense of care and love to that which we have deemed unlovable. As we make this traverse into our shadow we alter our relationships to it. We don’t get rid of our shadow, which is a common misunderstanding of healing and spiritual work, we change our relationship to it and mind it less. In fact, we may welcome aspects of our shadow as honorable pieces of our past that we once developed to survive or endure a difficult or traumatic situation.
As adults we become good at avoiding our shadow. We’ve had lots of practice stepping over, ignoring and dismissing the aspects of ourselves that we find unappealing. This has become so automatic that we simply do not notice we’re doing it. Whether we feel content, depressed, joyful, distressed etcetera with our lives, until we work with our shadow, we remain cut off from the storehouses of power and vitality consumed by keeping our shadow material at bay. The automatization becomes part of our autonomic nervous system. Our body, without our conscious effort, involuntarily regulates our shadow in the background, in order for us to not have to think about suppressing our anger, shame, lust, jealousy, or joy. (Yes for many people, even joy is not something that they allow to be felt and expressed)
Even if we’re benefitting from certain spiritual practices, the shadow often becomes more out of reach, buffered by meditative work that creates even more detachment from our wounds. This work can seem so obvious and simple at first that it can be mistaken for therapy, counseling or work that is elementary. Core Level Awakening is anything but. To turn towards our shadow is a delicate and necessary endeavor. To do this work well, each piece of self needs to be worked with step by conscious step and brought home to the core within us that welcomes each unique creation of who we’ve been and who we are. What was once not obvious, in the shadows, becomes blaringly obvious, visible in many aspects of how we live. The beauty here is we can then do the work to shift our behavior and alter disempowering and unhealthy dynamics in our lives and relationships.
Shadow work can be intense, but it is doable and worth doing because it frees us to not have to hide parts of who we are. New life force is liberated to be and express all that we are, no longer obligated to exert energy to conceal self. The work brings more ease inside the body, space and freedom to breathe, feel, and acknowledge our experience. Our spiritual freedom can then stand in the full-blooded presence of our bodies. This passionate affair with ourselves enlivens our purpose as it softens our hearts, and allows relationship with those closest to us to come front and center.
The mystery of life then becomes a felt presence in our relationships. This experience is an intimate undertaking that is so rich and full as we stand in awe of what may come next, not knowing, and being okay with that. There need not be a sense of desperation to get to the mat, the meditation asana, or the spiritual retreat in order to get away from what is perceived as unsavory. The ashram becomes your relationships, which reflect lively what you love, and that which is still emerging into awareness. Core Level Awakening allows the darkness to be honored as its own form of light. It liberates whatever arises within you and brings into presence, deepening your compassion for all that is.
The Power of Two or More. Being lovingly witnessed encouraged and cared for while breathing, seeing and opening into once frozen, stagnant pieces of self, alchemizes the healing power of love. Such vulnerability and trust in the group magnetizes grace as the work takes on a more spiritual transcendental quality. With eyes, ears and the rest of the senses wide open, fully alert and awake, we can walk into the darker inner realms of self fully capable to reclaim what was once cast away, and discarded as unneeded.