Shadow Boxing In The Dark…

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‘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?” – 

‘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 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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My Projection of You Is A Reflection Of Me – I

“Where did you charge your phone?” – M

“There on the left.” – W

“Left where?” – M

“Near the custom. You will see it.” – W

We’ve been waiting for hours to board. All flights are delayed indefinitely. Our plane has been diverted to Sandakan to wait out the storm and crowds from later flights kept pouring in by the hour. There weren’t enough seats for everyone. Many sat in groups on the floor, many more remained standing, while others crowded into stores to kill time. With hardly any space to move, the rising level of noise and crying babies, everyone was getting restless.


Everyone, it seems, except me. I was quietly feeling good about myself. After making it to the top of Mount Kinabalu and back, I can do anything! I can totally handle this! For the first time, I am not annoyed at Air Asia or aggravated by the long wait. I am enjoying listening to other climbers swapping stories of their hike. I was even grateful that the delay had caused me to stray into a store and find a gem of a book by Paulo Coelho, ‘Like the Flowing River’, which I was now reading. I felt calm like a river!

By this time, my phone had died and I’d like to charge it. But I didn’t want to vacate my precious seat for nothing. So I’m staring at my cousin scrolling through her phone, fully charged. She had found the charge point. I wanted to know its exact location, but that was all the help I got.

“There on the left.”

“Near the custom. You will see it.”

What does she mean by ‘there on the left’? How am I supposed to see that hole in the wall in this crowd? Suddenly, many hours of perfect Zen gave way to instant irritation to the highest degree! It’s like Life wanted to show me, “So you think you’re so tough? Here, take this!” It was a test.

At that exact moment, these were my unspoken thoughts on rapid-fire, ‘Why can’t she talk properly? Why can’t she answer precisely? She gives poor direction! What’s wrong with her? She’s so damn lazy!’

My cousin continued scrolling through her phone in perfect calm, oblivious to my offended ego, which demanded an answer that instant.

But she did answer.

That was her answer. Why was I feeling so much anger, over such a small matter? When I asked that, I got myself an answer, in rapid-fire no less.

I realized I’m the one who is just sitting there, too afraid to move and find the charge point for myself, from fear of my own poor sense of direction!

Another cousin of mine had ventured out earlier to find a charge point. While she was charging her phone, W had gone off to find her, and in the process, discovered the charge point for herself. Nobody told them where it was. They found it on their own. Why couldn’t I do the same?

Who’s the lazy one now? Ooops! 

There’s no harm in asking for directions. But sometimes directions are just that. It directs you. It points you “THIS WAY” but the rest of the details is your adventure and up to you to discover for yourself.

I was too lazy to get off my seat and projected my laziness and poor directions on W. In truth, I feared my own tendencies of getting lost!

The first time I heard about the concept of Projection was from my friend Guillaume, in Berlin. As we were taking a walk, he shared, “We see the bad in others that we don’t want to see in ourselves… we project it out.”

At first, that radical idea struck me as bizarre! I’ve written about it here: Owning my Shadow / Taming my Dragon. After the initial shock, the truth of it began to reveal itself to me–and it’s still revealing itself till this day.

“Projection is a fascinating phenomenon they failed to teach most of us about in school. It is an involuntary transfer of our own unconscious behavior unto others, so it appears to us that these qualities actually exist in the other people.

When we have anxiety about our emotions or unacceptable parts of our personalities, we attribute these qualities—as a defence mechanism—to external objects and other people. When we have little tolerance for others, for example, we are likely to attribute the sense of our own inferiority to them.

Of course, there’s always a “hook” that invites our projection. Some imperfect quality in other people activates some aspect of ourselves that wants our attention. So whatever we don’t own about ourselves we project onto other people.

We see only that which we are.” – Debbie Ford, ‘The dark side of the light chasers’.

At the clear realization that I was projecting my own personal traits on my cousin, the hot flash of irritation vanished! I felt a little embarrassed for me of course. These kinds of awareness aren’t easy on the ego. But there was no more reason for anger, so I felt free and light as a feather!

I decided to leave my phone uncharged and happily continued reading instead. Perhaps I passed the test. Perhaps I really can endure anything after the climb up Kinabalu. BUT. My lesson for the day is far from over.

The hilarity of what ensues later must be shared in ‘My Projection Of You Is A Reflection Of Me – Part II. I’ll leave that post for another day.

For now, that’s all the humble pie story I’m sharing. Has anyone had a similar experience? What are your thoughts on Projection? Got anything to share? I’d like to hear it! Leave comments below! LET’S GROW… 😉




“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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