"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." Andy Warhol said this, and he's right.
Anything and everything can be seen as beautiful because it's the perceiver who ultimately decides what is worthy of love and what isn't. As an Empowerment Teacher, I am always looking to expand my perception and experience of life into a more inclusive and holistic picture so that I can reflect more love and light back to humanity. This process includes looking at my shadows as they arise and facing them with love- or as some would say "shadow work".
I don't typically have a ‘shadow work’ practice that I sit down and do every week or month. Rather I've found that when I am regularly choosing higher frequency thoughts on the basis love or excitement, momentum takes over and requires me to release more and more fear/limitation to sustain the flow of positive energy.
It's a natural process for me and has been for roughly the past 3 years. With each paradigm shifting expansion, I come to greater understanding of myself and deeper experiential realization of the infinite nature of existence. One such realization occurred recently when I decided that I wanted to dress up for Halloween.
The only challenge was that by the time I'd made the decision to do so it was already the week of Halloween and I hadn't purchased a costume or even thought of what I'd like to dress up as. Also, in true millennial fashion, I didn't feel like leaving my house.
I sat for a few moments in presence based awareness and let in a flow of inspiration. AHA! I'll create a character with make-up!
I began looking around on Youtube for inspiration and came across a video of Youtuber Emma Cervin made-up as a creepy clown. I watched, decided the look was simple enough to try, and I got into my creative flow.
I don't consider myself to be a professional makeup artist, but I'm very creative. I loved the finished product almost as much as I enjoyed the process of creating the look itself.
Interestingly enough it wasn't the ease of application that surprised me the most, it was the energy that began arising in my personality by simply wearing a new face. Wearing creepy face paint had given me a permission slip to embody a persona that I would never normally bring out to play. I began to take mental notes about this energy that had been living in my subconscious all this time. She was rude, vain, bold, rebellious, and in one word a brat!
What my Halloween makeup afforded me was an opportunity to see beauty, validity, and light in my darkness. The careful blending of light and dark hues I used to create a face of makeup, acted an externalization of my inner process.
The following day, I felt significantly lighter and less judgmental around the person who I'd met the day before. I've always known that my ego would whisper thoughts like the shadow I'd met, but seeing the shadow aspect in the light of day felt like I'd taken much more of my power back from it. My shadowy trait was being transmuted with the energy of fun, creativity, and humor.
I was inspired to do the same exercise the next day, and the day after that, and again the day after that. Each day leading up to Halloween (four days cumulatively) I channeled a makeup look reflecting a facet of my shadow self. Each day the process was the same: Sit in presence, receive inspiration, act on creating the inspired look, and embody the shadow with love.
One thing I know for sure, it's that darkness is only darkness if we refuse to shine our light on it. Most of the time refusal means resisting looking at our shadows because of judgment or fear. I've learned from looking at many of my most vulnerable aspects with presence and love that love and light are always more powerful.
Each persona I brought to the surface was distinctly different, but all allowed me to see more clearly certain gifts that were being overshadowed by fear.
What I Learned
1. "The Brat" and her judgmental nature taught me that it's not others judging me that hurts, what hurts is when I'm not able to love and accept myself in the presence of it. I was able to integrate more love and compassion for myself and others.
2. "Smile Through It", taught me about the desire I have to be vulnerable and show my truest and most authentic self at all times via the egoic need to maintain a facade. Love doesn't always appear amiably, sometimes it reflects back to others exactly what they need to see for them to move forward.
3. "Revenge of the Fairy Queen" taught me about the immense desire I have to take ownership of my vibration and to act consciously instead of reacting unconsciously. I recognized the importance of pre-emptively choosing my state of being, so that I'm not caught off guard by unconscious conditioning when it arises.
4. "Alien Visitor" taught me that even though I feel alien to this world sometimes, it's not an excuse to alienate myself from other beings. It's an opportunity to learn about our commonalities and to co-create a bright and beautiful future!
The gifts hidden in fear aren't always obvious, but sometimes placing the fear outside of ourselves in a creative and fun way can make seeing and processing the unconscious much easier. Though these concepts are things I have been present with many times before, having these externalized representations of my inner shadows helped me to integrate more loving perspectives even more deeply and very quickly.
If creative shadow work is something you'd like to try, even if it's just dressing up as your alter ego in a fun outfit (or even just using a Snapchat filter!), it can be an extremely liberating and aligning experience. I suggest taking a picture of the look you create as well so that if the shadow energy arises again within your consciousness at a later time you can refer to your picture and remember, It's just a persona.
It's not who YOU actually are. You are the awareness underneath. If you can simply look at your dark side, you have the power to change it back into the light. In the words of Carl Jung, "When we are aware of our weaknesses or negative tendencies, we open the opportunity to work on them.”