Bringing the Shadow to Light, with Ruth.
Often with Ruth, we would chant:
I am opening up in deep surrender to the Buddha Dharma in my life.
I am opening up in deep surrender, to the numinous darkness of my shadow.
I am opening up in deep surrender, to the powerful wholeness within myself.
And opening up, to the numinous darkness of my shadow, I certainly did.
I came in angry and complaining about people, and circumstances in my life. The first evening, after I told my story, Ruth set me straight, and asked me to look within myself first. "Awaken to that which is hindering you, and is imprisoning you from your most inner self." And she shared about her own life, and the choices she had made. She talked about her sometimes difficult husband, and how she would respond to him from a place of love. She told us how surprised she had been by the amount of anger often present in women, here in America, particularly toward men. I went to bed, and was met by shadowy figures in the night.
|Woman's Shadow in the Mojave Desert|
I dreamt of a woman in her bathrobe, opening the door to a kind man who had come to meet her. She embraced him reluctantly, apologizing for not being properly dressed to receive him. She offered to feed him breakfast but could not find enough food in the fridge to fix him a good breakfast . . . The first in a series of dreams, all on the same theme. Women not ready to meet friendly men willing to love them. During the ensuing days, I watched as the hindrances came and went, relentlessly. Hindrances, shadow. Same thing. Only, the shadows in my dreams were telling a story that tied together the bursts of anger, and anxiety, and the episodes of diffuse wanting. Being with myself for a long retreat made it obvious. I needed a change of attitude.
In my journal, I wrote, 'Inner transformation needs to take place before I can truly honor and nurture masculine part within myself, and also outside. Dhamma Dena is a great place to do that. Coming home to myself.' As time went on, I could feel the purification taking place inside, physically, emotionally. The anger, the fear, being burnt away by sustained attention, the wise understanding of their irrelevance, and the willingness to slowly open my heart to love. There was nothing to do but endure the unpleasantness with great patience and acceptance of the process, of myself. Ruth was showing me the way. I knew she had been there and in her I could trust.
I left the retreat a changed person. Anger, resentments, complaints, projections, helplessness, defensiveness, distrust, fear . . . all gone, burnt away. In their place, love, trust, and openness have taken permanent residence. It's been two weeks now since I came back, and the joy is still there. Some rather wondrous events have taken place in my outer life as well, and I am still in awe of the gift that was bestowed upon me.
Do you have similar stories to tell of inner transformation? How has your mindfulness practice changed you? I would love to hear.