Love! Oh dear oh my oh my...I think we will all agree, romantic love is one of the most powerful experiences a human being can have. When we fall in love, we are at the whim of forces far beyond our control: dynamic, ancient, and mysterious...dun dun dun...
My experiences of love relationships have profoundly shaped who I am and how I experience other people. I've been in and out of all kinds of relationships, and they are all different and strangely similar...short term, long term, marriage, polyamory, flings, long distance, on and off again, co-dependent, interdependent... And perhaps the most important thing I've learned is that a person is NOT the relationship you have with them! They are a dynamic being, changeable, at once perfect and faulty, and very importantly....as am I...
In this day, and in the Conscious Communities I've been part of, there are powerful concepts around what a relationship is, and how men and women should be together. In this day and age Tantric Practices, the Divine Feminine and Masculine Paradigm, and Spirituality in general are highly likely be important elements of conscious relationships. These practices, by their very nature, trigger change and transform.
Transformation is challenging
People who consider themselves part of the Conscious Community (myself included), in my experience, can be going through transformation processes and periods of deep personal growth on a reasonably regular basis. In transformation, we experience new energies, ideas, and parts of ourselves. This can have a huge influence on the way we experience Love. This can be confusing, exciting, painful, enlightening, scary, or all of the above. In my life this has brought all sorts of blessings (the light) and wrecked all sorts of havoc (the shadow)...
So for me, remembering these things, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret to Staying Conscious in Love!:
Let go of the concept of a relationship
As with all things in this world, the Concept of a Thing is not the Thing itself. If we want to live a more conscious and liberated life, we need to realize that the truth is not in the mind, and its NOT in the past or the mainstream media! My concept of how things will be in relationships has historically been spectacularly wrong. I hereby admit I am and have been a Love-Sick Fool. However, as time goes on I have slowly grown to understand more about myself and others through Love, in ways that I could not have imagined...
I've done this be practicing accepting that there is no 'right way' to have a relationship, because we are all different and changing. And also very importantly, each person in the relationship experiences the relationship differently. This is to say that they are each in a different relationship in their mind! No wonder its confusing!
By staying present to the situation at hand, with the person whom I love, helps me to be real and open about what is happening for me, without the distraction of illusions.
Letting go of the concept of the other person(s) frees them
I have in the past been made painfully aware of the power of projection in relationships. In a past relationship, both my partner and I were going through really tough times related to mental and physical health, which put huge pressure on the relationship. As such I blamed the relationship for my problems, which led to resentment and feeling trapped. One thing I'm deeply sad about is the times that this dynamic stopped me from seeing the other person. I had built up in my mind an idea of this person as being the source of the trouble, but in actual fact, they were truly being a good friend to me, as best they could, given all the stuff going on in their life. The shadow in relationships can fly around and obscure the truth, and the other person. Indeed in my life, the unconscious shadow has been the major cause of dysfunction:
"Everyone carries a shadow" Gustav Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is". He stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, "The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object (target)--if it has one--or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power."
A person is not a relationship, a person is a person.
Seeing the truth means letting go of the concept of myself
So I need to be aware of the Shadow! To bring it into the Light! In my experience as a therapist and an artist, revealing the shadow, in a safe controlled environment, has led to an incredible deepening of my understanding of myself. Likewise and by extension, my understanding of the other person(s). We are dark and light! we are primal, powerful, mysterious! You are changing! I am changing! We are changing together! Part of this process is that the shadow will come up, it will respond to the shift. At this time it is crucial to not make the shadow the enemy. This only sends that part of life further into hiding...If we want to be conscious, we must use our spiritual power to destroy the illusion that obscures our deeper selves. We need to do this while being gentle with ourselves and others.
In self acceptance we find that we are free to be what ever we are...
What is your truth?
How can we come to value and honor the shadow aspect?
In my experience, working on my shadow aspect has made me more conscious, and helped me to understand more of the depth of what it really means to be me. We need to take time for ourselves to give ourselves the attention we deserve.
Ultimately, these 3 important things have helped me transform the shadow:
1 . Trust the bigger process I've had to be patient! Stuff that was hidden in me wasn't used to being seen, it took a long time between knowing there was things hidden, and those parts of me coming to light.
2. Ask for help In times past, I have soldiered on in all kinds of phases of trying to be strong, trying to be the idea of some 'divine manifestation' of myself. I've risen and fallen and risen again, and changed so much. The times which I let down my guard, asked for or accepted help, taught me so much about love. I believe we need to connect regularly with people who can really hear us, and honor our light and dark sides. Importantly, when this help has come from a friend, a mentor or a healer, it has taken pressure off the relationship. We cannot be everything for each-other, no matter how much Divine Feminine and Masculine we are channeling ;).
3. Respond Creatively Journal your experiences! Look at your feelings by expressing them through words or art. Learn about yourself and your hidden self through creativity. Creative expression is so often marred by expectations and pressures to perform or produce. The truth is however, that the tools of expression have been so powerfully important to my process that I cannot imagine life without them. Indeed, expressing one's story through creative process is one of the great joys of being alive, at once empowering, revealing, and liberating.
In this way, I have come to accept my Shadow through creative expression. Once I see the truth inside me by making art, I can let it go...the creative process moves the energy, freeing me up for the next step. Importantly, it means I can deal with my Shadow without putting pressure on the relationship.
4. Embrace the Hidden Integration means moving towards integrity. As I have moved through life, sharing my truth and hearing the truths of others has been essential for happiness. It gives meaning, allows access to deeper personal resources and ultimately has helped me to likewise Transform the Shadow in Relationships.
"The truth is in there" ;)
We have the ability to see and transform the shadow, gently and honestly, accessing the deep resources within. This process for me has been precious, essential to happiness, and ultimately enriches my relationships with people and the wider cosmic playground of life. It is a Journey!
Safe travels :)
Michael Maso Ellis
About the author:
Michael Maso Ellis is an artist, mentor and spiritual practitioner, with a deep passion for the intuitive experience of creatively connecting to reality.
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