Debbie Ford and Shadow Work

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Debbie Ford is the author of a series of books that deal with working with one’s Shadow, the part of our psyche that we have neglected, repressed, or forgotten. To my understanding, she’s in league with The Omega Institute, and she might be labeled under “New Age” to some degree.

Her books are, on the one hand, a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the “happy thoughts thinking” fluff that exists in the New Age community. Though I tend to be rather idealist and think that most religious movements begin as a heartfelt reform or as a matter of Truth Seekers, I’m also realistic in pointing out how quickly movements can devolve into drivel that benefits few people, if any.

Debbie’s premise is largely that the Shadow can usurp you, and that thinking only about positive things ignoring the dark side of life can lead to devastating consequences. This, in accordance with Jungian psychology and my own observation about the world, seems to be fairly accurate.

Yet I still feel that something about her method is incorrect. Something strikes me, intuitively, as being wrong about certain aspects of what she says.

I’ll first consider that it’s quite possible I’ve misunderstood what she’s saying. Ford seems to be under the impression that if you see a trait in another person that you do not like, that ultimately it is merely your own projection of your Shadow onto that person. This seems to almost be THE rule of thumb in reading The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. Now, it is always reducible to traits- so, for instance, it isn’t about whether you’re a cold-blooded murderer, it’s about the characteristics of a cold-blooded murderer- someone who is callous, uncaring, hateful, unable receive or give love, and that there is such an aspect of this in ourselves.

But something about this doesn’t mesh well with me; the first response people will give is that I’m just now owning that dark part of myself.

At this point, I would like to defend myself and express that yes, I’m constantly working with my Shadow and am aware of the Darkness that exists inside of me. I’m, to the best of my ability, making friends with it, as it were- learning its depths, its power, its secrets. So to say that I am not owning my Shadow would be incorrect.

I think that on a reasonable level, I can’t buy that every single time we have a problem or dislike something about another person, that it’s merely and only something about ourselves that we don’t like. Now, I’m not denying that this is sometimes the case. But…it makes more sense to say that sometimes, if not most often, other people actually embody traits that have negative effects on us, and we don’t like them because it makes sense to stay away from people who might hurt us.

These are just some thoughts for the moment.

Allow me to also say that despite my criticism, I would still recommend reading Debbie Ford’s works. She has exercises and meditations written to do with Shadow work, and, in my own experience, they can be enlightening and informative.

She does offer some good explanations, too, about the Shadow- one’s flaws are actually one’s greatest strengths whose “volume” is just turned up too high. (I’m pretty sure Neale Donald Walsch says this in the forward of the book.) That can make sense to a degree…but sometimes some people’s flaw-volume is so loud, turning it down still might not repair our character-eardrums.

Just sayin’.


The Visions During Reiki Treatment

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Oftentimes, my friends Kelly and Michael get together with small groups of people to have dialogue and exchange about life and love, to tackle things in a very modern sort of mystical way by “bringing God into the marketplace,” as they say.

Kelly, Michael, and my friend Rheana encouraged me to let Kelly do a Reiki treatment on me. For a while, my schedule conflicted, but finally we were able to do the treatment, and am I glad that I did.

For those of you who are unaware, Reiki is something of an energy massage. The actual explanation is that the energy from the Absolute is diluted into the forms of Gods, Angels, Messengers, what have you, and that the Reiki master further dilutes this energy into a form that the person receiving Reiki can receive.

The only problem is that I felt the old skeptical part of myself rise up several times, wanting to condemn Reiki. But the result of the treatment was rather interesting.

First, I relaxed. I mean, I actually relaxed. That’s rare for me, for sure. The relaxation was so great that I actually made myself slightly sick by moving too quickly when I turned to lie face-down. My body hasn’t been that still in a long, long time.

Second, I had what one might call visions, two of which, in particular, stand out to me and that I will mention here.

The first such “vision” was of a female version of myself. She was naked and looked almost identical to me. She only said one thing to me, in a very kind way: “We are One and the Same.” She felt in many ways like my long-lost sister, and I had the feeling of being her brother and related to her in a brotherly way. It was very peaceful to see her.

The second vision was of being in a Garden and seeing a snake-woman. The woman was naked, her breasts had no nipples, she was green all over, but a pale sort of green, and her snake part began around the hips. Also, her hair was green as well, pulled back in a pony-tail.

We were in a clearing in a lush, verdant forest, and the snake-woman began to play a violin, of all things. The music she played was beautiful and entrancing.

The treatment left me worried to drive, thinking that I might be ungrounded. Luckily several things went wrong at once, so the irritation brought me back down to Earth.

Later, I was reading Carl Jung’s The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious when I came upon mentioning of a Gnostic book called the Book of Baruch. Lo and behold, he began to talk about a character name Edem, who was, in fact, a snake-woman in the Garden of Eden! I kid you not, this happened a week or so after I had that very sort of vision during my Reiki treatment.

I haven’t especially looked into the meaning of Edem, but I do happen to have a copy of the Book of Baruch in my book called The Gnostic Bible, and I’ll definitely be reading that particular scripture to see what all I can make of it. I’ll blog about all my findings.