Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Dawning of New Life

In celebration of the arrival of my first grandchild, Jaylynn Rose Schanerman on Sunday, October 19, 2008 I've decided to post this article which I wrote back in 1996.

Yesterday my friend Susie gave birth to her first child ... a 6 lb. 7 oz. beautiful, baby girl. I just had a long conversation with her getting all the details of the labor, birth, etc ... and as I got off the phone, I began “musing” about the wonder of it all.

Is there any experience we know of or could even imagine that comes close to the mystery, awe and wonder of birth? I can’t think of one.

From the conception ... the merging of male and female energies ... to gestation ... growth ... maturation ... to labor ... and finally, birth. Nothing less than an out-and-out miracle.

The act of creation is and always has been. PERIOD. From beginning to end ... the process has its own timing ... its own “knowing” ... Just like Susie was saying about when it was time for her to push ... it was just time for her to push ... she just knew ...

Somehow these thoughts about a new birth and the incredible wonder of it all led my mind to contemplate the similarities with the process of creativity, in general. Conceiving of an idea ... allowing it time to gestate ... mature ... going through a labor period and then voila ... giving birth ... and seeing the idea in its physical form. A thrilling experience for me, without a doubt.

But what I am coming to understand is that any act of creativity, like creation itself, has its own timing, wisdom, “knowing” ... and for me, I am coming to realize that the more I allow myself to “go with the flow” of the process ... to trust it ... the more creative I actually become.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shadow Dance

"Dark Days" by Susan Schanerman

I've been studying human nature for the better part of my life. I guess I have the kind of mind with an insatiable need to understand ... how and why we do what we do ... internal and external influences and how they play a part ...

I received an e-mail yesterday or the day before, from my friend and shamanic counselor Michele Lessirard. While she is an astrologer and likes to explain things from that perspective, she is also a very wise woman and has great insights about all aspects of life. For her, astrology is a tool to understand the cycles of life, both personal 
 and collective. It offers guidance as to how to live proactively, rather than reactively.

She says that cycles spiral in four stages - a time of hope, a time of growth, a time of completion and a time of standstill. As she sees it, we are currently in a time of standstill. What that suggests is that we are being forced to deal with the death of the old structures. It is also a time when the “shadow aspect” of ourselves wants to be acknowledged. 

"Too often we discount the richest part of the journey... the death of the old ways, the death of the old self. The moments of standstill...” – Michelle Lessirard

Carl Jung, perhaps the greatest proponent of the shadow or “shadow aspect” of our personalities, wrote that "everyone carries a shadow." He considered it a part of the unconscious mind that holds our shortcomings, repressed weaknesses and instincts. The shadow is prone to project, and without recognition or acknowledgment, it will form "an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world." - - Carl Jung

What I found to be particularly interesting was that Jung believed "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness--or be perhaps because of this--the shadow is the seat of creativity."

We spend inestimable time and energy in this society suppressing what we deem to be our undesirable qualities (our shadow.) In so doing however, we are actually denying our humanity.

Author Jill Badonsky suggests that "the phrase 'I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought' and the book/movie The Secret [actually] go against our inherent make-up as people." She goes on to say "...You see what a waste of energy it is to try and stop negative thoughts especially when both the energy we use and the thoughts themselves have so much potential for creativity."

Obviously, we don't want to identify ourselves or act out of our shadow. But observing and acknowledging it non-judgmentally, allows us to embrace our humanity. We've all seen examples of the fine line between madness and creativity. Our shadow can be transformed and even exalted by giving it creative expression.

Giving ourselves permission to be the totality of who we really are is what gives the magic and passion to our lives. You know what the silliest thing is? Each and everyone of us has a shadow aspect - - and yet most people spend the better part of their lives trying to hide, deny or suppress it.

"This it is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters."--Stephen King