Do you remember the scene in Disney’s Peter Pan where he loses his own shadow, and quietly sneaks in to Wendy’s room at night to hunt, fight and pin down his shadow with all his might?
This seemingly minute scene is a huge hint at something most of us may not even be aware of:
Shadow Boxing in the dark…
The idea of Shadow Boxing came to me on the 3rd of December, ’14.
That night at 8pm, he left me for the desert. His eyes told me he’s going off on a fight.
I saw the seething rage beneath the calm. In an instant, I knew.
He’s going shadow boxing.
This time, the punches will be hard as steel and soul breaking.
It made me want to cry out. “Don’t hurt yourself! Please, be patient with yourself…”
And then, as real as it felt, as quick as it came, the vision in the night vanished into thin air.
It left me wondering who’s the one Shadow Boxing?
Him. Or me?
It could be my projection.
I could be the one, left behind, left to face a most unforgiving fight.
And you may wonder, “But how can one hurt themselves if they’re only shadow boxing? Aren’t you just fighting with… air?” Indeed, Wiki states that in shadowboxing, “only one person is required to participate; the participant throws punches at no one in particular.” – Wiki
But the shadow boxing I had in mind last night was a little different… It’s the fight we have with our own Shadow.
“In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow.” – Wiki
I went Shadow Boxing with a group of strangers last night and it was quite an experience.
We sat in a ring. Lights dimmed. The master was on her raised meditation cushion. And then, with a nod, one by one, the fighters took turns to get into that ring, Shadow Boxing, freestyle.
As each of them shared their story and struggles, the master, with eyes as sharp as an eagle, mind ten paces ahead, and experience twice our lifetime, is listening. Every uttered word paints the flow and the movement of the Shadow. She’s quick to catch and redirect, with tough-loving suggestions here and there.
Each fighter returns to his or her seat a little weary but much stronger in Awareness.
Some, like A and I, continued our shadow work even after the sessions were done. Her piercing insight, now that I think of it, was kind of like expertboxing.com‘s guide to improve shadow boxing.
“If something feels too difficult, you’re probably doing it wrong. Your shoulders shouldn’t be hurting during the hook. Your back shouldn’t be aching when you slip. You shouldn’t be falling off balance when you move around. If you’re getting tired shadowboxing, how can you expect yourself to have much endurance during a high-stress fight with an opponent?” – expertboxing.com
‘Cos I was saying things like, “I’ve been trying to be patient, trying to be understanding, trying to be open-minded, trying to be loving…”
A responds, “Trying this… trying that… trying, always trying… trying means you’re not there yet… you’re not patient, not understanding, not… you get the idea? You think you are but you’re not. If you are, you wouldn’t be trying… you’d BE.”
And she ended our session with the one word I needed reminder of: ACCEPTANCE.
Until we see, acknowledge and understand our own Shadow, coming to a point of Acceptance, we’ll find it hard to Accept others, as they are.
“The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself” and represents “a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well”.
If and when ‘an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others — such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions…” – wiki/Shadow_(psychology)
Shadow work is scary and uncomfortable, but so necessary.
Perhaps when we gradually slip into Acceptance, we can do less Shadow Boxing and more, as cgjungpage.org puts it, “Shadow Dancing.”
“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb
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