I’m grateful to have gotten to a place in my life where I’m not easily triggered. I’ve incorporated and interspersed enough mindfulness practices into my days, over enough years, that when the unexpected happens, I am (most of the time) able to just roll with it. I’m able to face surprises in their many guises, disappointment and frustration in a way that allows me to take a breath and choose my response. All of that is true to a point. All of that is true, until it is not at all in any way true.

I recently sent a note to a colleague in another state who I do not know very well with a request for some simple, logistical information. The response I received (after three weeks of waiting) was, basically, “I’m not telling you.” The heat and anger from the fire of one thousand suns was summoned and I was temporarily blinded by the light, and not in a good way. I did some breathing, some pacing, some ranting, and then I sat down for the first of what would be many sits to get clear. 

Press pause. I’ll come back to that. 

Last month I hit the halfway mark in a year-long Jungian shadow work training. This amazing process has exposed a significant gap in all the other work I’ve done to date. My previous understanding of “getting clear” was to sit and come back to center, to return to what is most true about who I am and the nature of the reality. To get back to the wiser and steadier version of me. I am discovering that that is actually another form of spiritual bypassing. Insert whistling sound here. It’s a humility bomb. Is that a thing? It should be.

Prior to this new work that I’m exploring, my understanding of spiritual bypassing was about using spiritual beliefs and practices to bypass or ignore the difficult and messy aspects of human experience in favor of donning a more idealized or “enlightened” persona for the world. What I am figuring out is that it’s also about avoiding dealing with unresolved emotional issues and inner challenges. It’s using this amazing yogic toolkit (and it is amazing!) to sidestep inner work by seeking transcendence prematurely. I’m glad I came to this with the understanding that the work is never done. Because let me tell you, it is never done.

So, back to getting clear.

If the new practice is not just to re-center and remember who I am and how I want to be in the world, where to begin? It always starts the same place: the remembering that when I am triggered, it is about me. It is not about someone else. And the process of truly getting clear requires quite a few additional steps before commencing the centering, breathing, higher mind practices. Any time I want to point a finger at some other person calling out their bad behavior, I know the answer is to take that finger over to a mirror and have a good, long look at the reflection, and feel into where this lives inside me and why. This is the foundation of shadow work. This is what it means to transform every experience into an opportunity for self study. What am I dodging or trying to avoid that made this simple exchange extra spicy? What is hidden under the surface, bubbling up from the depths, wishing to be brought to the light and understood as part of the complex being that is me?

Maybe you already know all of this. But it’s been eye-opening to take my practice of sitting with what is and the all-that-is to really sit with the very human, non-transcendent stuff I’m carrying, holding, storing, and, mostly, hiding from and avoiding. This is enlightening. This is the missing piece. This is up-leveling what it means to make the unconscious, conscious and what it means to move from the darkness to the light. tamaso mā jyotir gamaya. 

The only thing we can know is the self. And that is actually the roadmap to the Self.

All the love,