What are sexual shadows?
Our sexuality comes in so many colours, shapes and forms. Many of us are turned on by things that go beyond the narrow bandwidth of what society deems as ‘normal’. Some of us are turned on by specific feelings: such as the feeling of excitement in engaging in the forbidden, feeling like a victim, perpetrator or voyeur. Some of us are turned on by power dynamics: having power over another or being overpowered. Others are turned on by specific objects, textures, sensations, materials… the list is as long as there are humans in the world!
We learn pretty quickly as children and young adults which behaviours, traits and tendencies are met with approval by our parents and those around us, and which with disapproval. Emphasizing our traits that are likeable and downplaying or hiding the ones that aren’t is a natural thing to do, because we want to be liked and accepted by those around us (as an infant it’s also a survival mechanism as we need to be loved by our parents in order to survive). For many, sexuality as a whole, or certain ‘flavours’ of sexuality are met with internal judgement, and become something to be hidden and suppressed, due to the fear, disapproval or even punishment from the outside world. These then become our erotic shadows.
Why does this matter?
- When we suppress part of us, we block our vital life force energy from flowing. When our energy flows, we feel radiant and alive and we are healthy, when it doesn’t, we don’t feel good and we are more susceptible to disease.
- If we hide or suppress parts of us due to feeling shame, it makes true intimacy impossible as intimacy is about transparency and revealing ourselves. For most of us, a life without intimacy is a pretty lonely and painful place to be. No one wants to feel ashamed of who they are or feel like a freak.
- Our shadows don’t just stay comfortably hidden and out of the way. Life has a funny knack for ensuring we can’t sustainably reject parts of the Self. They have a tendency to demand our attention by taking on volatile, addictive and ‘icky’ qualities. Often we project our shadows on to others, judging qualities in them that unconsciously we actually reject in ourself. Focusing on our dislike of others may feel good initially as we don’t have to focus on our own demons, however being caught up in a web of illusions and judgements does not feel good for long! Ultimately it just reinforces our own self-judgement and shame.
In order to be happy and full of life, we need to have love and compassion for ourselves. This means being in contact with and finding ways to integrate and accept all the different facets of ourselves, regardless of how well they fit into our ‘ideal’ vision of ourselves.
What is shadow healing?
Shadow healing involves discovering, consciously connecting and integrating the parts of you that you judge and that you feel ashamed of and embracing them as part of you and part of what makes you a uniquely beautiful expression of life. Through this process we often discover many valuable strengths these parts can contain in their purest forms, and the insights they can teach us about ourselves. We can start learning how good it feels to allow our energy and to ‘shine’.