I immediately resonated to Rita Loyd’s art “Embracing Shadow Self” (above) when I came across it a few days ago. I, too, am aware of how my ‘illuminated’ Self dreams and connects with meaningful coincidences that catapult me into the territory of ‘shadow.’ There I must face the challenge of embracing disowned parts of me—those parts I tend to stuff down away from consciousness and label ‘Not Me.”
In the book The Art of Forgiveness, Loving Kindness, and Peace, Buddhist Jack Kornfield relates a story about two strangers coming to a new city. Each meets a woman outside the gates of the city and asks her about the inhabitants therein. Before answering, the woman asks one question of the strangers in turn, “How did you find them in the home city you left?” The first found the inhabitants from his old city to be gossips, mean-spirited, and often selfish. The second found the inhabitants from the city he had left to be industrious, open-minded, and easy to get along with. What each person will find in the new city is revealed by his answer. To both strangers the woman responded, “You’ll find the people in this city to be likewise.”
In my case, I was born with a tendency to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. This natural inclination was reinforced in my family of origin. I was taught that it’s best not to look too closely at the messy stuff of life; you’ll be happier that way. But that sort of naiveté brought into adult life is not the same as the seasoned optimism of the second stranger in the story above. Rather, in my case, it became a tendency toward fantasy and avoidance. Fortunately, I’ve learned over time that facing those places in my life and psyche that feel the most chaotic and difficult can offer the greatest opportunities for healing and change.
In another of Jack Kornfield’s books, A Path With Heart, in the chapter titled “Turning Straw Into Gold,” the author begins by referring to the story of “Rumplestilskin,” and how we often do not realize that the straw—the messy stuff of life—all around us is gold in disguise; that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.
The morning after reading those words, I awoke from a dream I entitled “I Want My Warts.” In the dream ~
I am coming out of a dark wood and find a mother and her daughter and
son sitting on the porch outside of their house. The mother is very nervous that a threatening man will return to harm them in some way. I take the young girl with me and the mother takes the boy with her to hide until the threat from this person has passed. I am running with the child and look back and see this dark figure of a man following us in the distance. We climb over a series of bothersome hills (not mountains), but he is still in pursuit every time I look back. Finally, I realize that I don’t have to go over the hills anymore, but can go around them on the ground. I am looking for all my old hiding places along the way, but either someone else is in them or I can’t find them any more. I finally find my way to an abandoned house. It is in good shape, just no one living in it any more and rather dark. We – the young girl and I – are looking for a place to hide in the house, and I suddenly think to myself, “This is ridiculous! I am not going to run from this character any more,” and I whip around to find the figure right behind me. I am not as frightened as I thought I would be, even though he is dark and an iridescent, green light is shining in his gaping mouth. I ask, “What do you want from me?” He says, “I want my warts!”
As I pondered the meaning of the dream later that morning, the thought struck me that W.A.R.T.S spelled backwards is S.T.R.A.W.! Of course! I had been unconsciously avoiding facing a certain painful situation in my life for several weeks, but didn’t make the connection between Jack Kornfield’s words and my own life circumstances until having the dream. It showed me, in no uncertain terms, that a part of myself that I had tried to run away from wanted me to face the unsightly (warts) in my life as a way of moving (green light) through the ‘pain and fear’ toward needed resolution. Another boon of the dream was to fully realize that yes I have characteristics I would like to deny, as do most people. However, the nightmarish symbolism of the dream forced me to see that denial doesn’t make these ‘negative’ traits disappear, only helps them to grow darker, stronger, and more insistent.
“Our challenge, as emotional warriors, […] is to see ourselves—shortcomings and all—with compassion, not beating ourselves up at every opportunity. Then we can start to heal. This entails a radical shift in self-perception, an all-inclusive inquiry into who we are. No hiding. No part left out. Here’s where many of us hit a wall. We’re ashamed of feeling depressed, inadequate, and anxious, as if this implies we’ve failed or done something wrong. Nonsense…”
I am grateful for the guidance of that part of Self that brings me dreams and synchronicities like the ones above that help me to embrace my warts in conscious awareness, the only way that natural healing can occur.
You can experience the exquisite art and wise words of Rita Loyd at her website at http://www.nurturingart.com/
Rita’s new book for purchase: “Unconditional Self Love: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Nurture It in Your Life”