I’ve always been aware in my life of a certain constant emotion. A sort of half-engaged energy that seems to surround my work and my romantic relationships. Questions like, “Is this it?” and “Am I missing something?” seem to linger around two of the most profound areas in my life.
While in Costa Rica with my boyfriend this past December, I brought along a book by Don Miguel Ruiz entitled, “The Four Agreements.” I read the book throughout our almost two-week trip and felt very strongly that I was learning something new for the first time in a very long time. Maybe it was just the gravity of what I was learning that made me feel that way, but nonetheless, I recognized that it was important new information.
Once I read Ruiz’s words, I could never forget them. Well, that’s not true, because I have a pretty bad memory and if you asked me right now to list what the four agreements are, I’d probably miss at least two of them. But the point is, I know them inherently now. By simply reading this book, a new area in my brain was exposed to light and I’m now able to see situations from an angle that was not available to me prior.
With these new seeds spreading their influence throughout my brain, I began to find that each interaction, conversation, thought process, and situation in my life was different than how it would have been before. Sometimes the change was ever so slight, and sometimes there were radically different outcomes than what would have been had I not been processing information through a new filter in my brain.
I came home from Costa Rica and started a new job – my “dream job”. At first everything was exciting and new and I felt important and valuable to the organization. Then, after approximately four months, I started to question what I was spending my life’s energy towards. Working in brand strategy for a fast-growth technology startup in the advertising industry felt very important and accomplished, but it also felt very pointless. I had worked hard for a long time to find myself in the position I was in, and yet when I got there, it still wasn’t enough.
Disillusioned wouldn’t be exactly the right word, but bored, tired, lazy, uninspired, and mediocre would be a lot closer to it. I thought about going to a psychic, I went on vacations, I consulted a virtual magic 8 ball on the internet more times than I care to admit, and I applied for other “dream jobs” – but nothing changed the way I was feeling.
I couldn’t even muster enough energy to exercise or really take care of myself. I want to be clear, I’ve been through depression before, but this did not feel like depression. It felt like apathy. And that was sad for me logically, yet I wasn’t emotionally sad yet. Just sad like, hmmm… you’re wasting your life – you’ll definitely regret wasting your time on this later.
Not knowing what to do or what to change or where to look for answers, I felt an inclination to seek some type of otherworldly advice. It was April 2012 and my old college roommate’s sister, Swati Jr*, a yogi and jyotishi, was posting Vedic astrology notes on her Facebook wall. That sounded otherworldly enough for me. I emailed her and scheduled a reading.
She created a birth chart for me based on my exact time and location of birth and also my full name. We spoke for an hour on the phone and while what she said to me was interesting, not much of it sounded particularly like what I was looking to hear. I knew she wasn’t a psychic, but I thought that she would somehow reveal a sure and solid solution to what I was experiencing. She didn’t. Instead she left me with a few meaningful nuggets of insight that sounded faintly familiar, but didn’t quite start to fall into place until months later – now.
She said that my seeking fulfillment was hindered by unresolved issues with my mother and father, and that I needed to explore my sexuality in a much deeper way. She also said that I have answers to many questions about my life’s work and purpose buried in a shadowed part of my being. Her professional recommendation? Completing shadow work to understand myself and my emotions more completely.
It’s now August, four months after our phone call, and I am just now starting to put the first puzzle pieces together in what looks like the things she was referring to.
And so I guess you could say that my subconscious, my heart even, began seeking out ways to begin my own personal shadow work without the conscious me even being aware of it. I feel a lot of emotions about beginning this sort of internal quest, including lack of motivation, fear of hard work, excitement for potential success, curiosity about what I may discover, and fear about what I’ll inevitably need to face personally.
I guess that’s why they call it shadow work.
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