after reading several inspirational and enlightening articles on mindbodygreen, i knew i had to give it one of my top bookmark slots. not long after, i came across an article from deepak chopra about creating a life of fulfillment. i was deeply intrigued and decided to seek out other works from chopra. a quick search on the chicago public library site led me to the shadow effect. as i began reading, i had no idea what to expect, but i was pleasantly surprised to find a balanced mix of psychological history (roots of carl jung) and suggestions for present day life applications of the themes. in addition to a hefty chunk of advice from chopra, we also get perspective from authors debbie ford and marianne williamson.
the basic premise suggests a few tenets:
1. to be “whole” is superior to being good (because no one can be good all the time)
2. we all have a collective psyche that we contribute to with both good and bad
3. in order to deal with or “overcome” the bad, we must acknowledge and confront it, because ignoring it gives it power
one point that particularly resonated with me in this context, even though i’ve heard it many times before was about projection. frequently, the qualities we dislike in others are the same as the ones we secretly harbor ourselves and have a hard time dealing with. for instance (and this is DEFINITELY an oversimplification), one behavior that really grinds my gears is selfishness in any form. people who are inconsiderate of those around them just drive me up a wall. reading this book made me think, however, that part of the reason this hits me so hard is because innately … i am selfish but don’t want to admit it to myself or others. how these qualities are manifested in behavior becomes a bit more complicated, however. i might overcompensate for my fear of being selfish by going out of my way to be nice to others, but all the while growing more bitter about the whole dynamic.
one component of projection that i hadn’t considered before that was raised in the book was positive projection. if you think about qualities you admire or respect in others, whether it be a friend, a family member or even a celebrity (aka – how much do i love jennifer lawrence!? and why?), these are traits that are within you, but perhaps not fully developed for one reason or another.
in each situation, the authors of the book recommend continuously taking inventory (both consciously and via meditation) of these feelings and tendencies. in every situation, ignorance is the enemy and we can improve our level of happiness, ability to cope and deal with life/others via exploration and honesty with ourselves.
the bottom line is that “negatives” exist and will continue to. we will get angry, jealous, frustrated, impatient, etc. what i took from the reading of this book was that the most appropriate reaction when these emotions arise is to take inventory of your state of mind and motives. meditation can increase your powers of awareness in pursuit of the shadow in your life, and thus your chances of reaching “wholeness.”
one of my favorite parts was the quiz at the end to analyze the shadow’s role in your own life. luckily, you can find it here as well! i would definitely recommend giving it a shot and reading the book as well.