Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Shadows at Midlife - Part Two

According to Janice Brewi and Anne Brennan, authors of "Celebrate Midlife: Jungian Archetypes and Midlife Spirituality," there are two possible catastrophes at midlife. One is to deny the presence of the shadow and hold on firmly to our lifestyle and identity, refusing to surrender outgrown or acknowledge developing aspects of our personalities. This fear to risk, and determination to maintain the status quot, freezes our personal development and deprives us of valuable opportunities for growth. As Brewi and Brennan observe, "one can die at forty and not get buried until ninety. This would surely be a catastrophe."

The other catastrophe according to Brewi and Brennan would be to embrace our shadows while at the same time rejecting much of what we've valued up until this point, deeming most of our past choices to be the wrong ones, and the 'self' that we've presented to the world up until this point as an impostor. Those of us who respond to our shadows by abandoning all of the now rejected old, in order to be completely free to experiment with the more titillating new, often sabotage their development and risk catastrophic losses.
Psychotherapist, James Dolan, suggests that one of the most obvious ways that we can detect the presence of the shadow is in the simmering depression that haunts so many of us. This depression, from his perspective, is connected to our sorrow, our regret, our resentment, our lost dreams, our creativity, and so many other facets of ourselves that we've denied.
Finding oneself is not purely about embracing the desired, or rejecting the unpleasant. Instead, it's about examination and integration -- exploring what fits, letting go of what no longer works, embracing the gifts that we've lost or abandoned, and weaving the various strands of the self together to create a whole and unified tapestry.

The years following young adulthood offer as many (if not more) prospects for growth than our often romanticized youth promised. Opening ourselves up to these possibilities by reclaiming or modifying old visions or by creating new dreams fosters hope, discovery and renewal. Focusing on what did not/ might have/ could have/ should have/ and should not have been only leads to prolonged and unnecessary suffering.

It's impossible to arrive at midlife without being scarred. In "Listening to Midlife" Mark Gerzon points out, "None of us reaches the second half whole... Our health depends on beginning to heal these wounds and finding greater wholeness - and holiness in the second half of our lives."
The process of healing past wounds and reclaiming lost gifts can often be a painful one, and yet when we proceed with wisdom and integrity, it is always a sacred journey.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Good Life

Here's a short thoughtful video based on an old and wonderful story, one that's particularly meaningful today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Our Shadows at Midlife

The process of individuation (of becoming oneself) which begins the day we are born takes on a greater depth and intensity at midlife. It's from this place of accumulated wisdom and experience that we're most likely to come face to face with our shadow. Our shadows consist of those parts of ourselves that we've repressed, rejected, lost or abandoned -- the person I might have been, and the one that I chose not (dared not) to be. Psychiatrist, Carl Jung, called the shadow the "negative side" of the individual. I choose to think of it as the disowned self. It's the dark side, the silent witness who steps forward from time to time into the light to have its say. Its appearance, while unsettling, brings with it a creative force that offers tremendous opportunities for deepening and growth. If, from time to time, we move toward our shadows, rather than turn away, we will discover significant gifts from within our depths. Reclaiming lost and buried parts of ourselves will most likely require some excavation, however the buried treasures available to those willing to dig deep are well worth the dark journey into the unknown...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Talk Therapy Superior to Medication for Treating Insomnia

A new study conducted at Laval University in Quebec Canada found that talk therapy is superior to the use of medication alone in treating insomnia. You can read more about the findings of this study here.

Recommnendations for those suffering from insomnia by those who conduceted the study include but are not limited to:

1. Don't read, watch television, worry, etc. in bed, bed time should only be sleep time.

2. If you are unable to sleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and return to bed only when you're sleepy again.

3. Establish a wake up time that is the same time each morning, don't plan on getting up at 7:00 one morning, 9:00 the next, 7:00 the next, etc.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A good Question...

Deena Mezger observed, "a good question is a great gift... a good question can change your life..." What important question have you been avoiding answering?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Latest Information on Swine Flu in Maine

With so much information regarding Swine Flu available on the internet, it's easy to obtain a significant amount of misinformation. The Maine Center for Disease Control offers daily updates
regarding diagnosed cases, prevention strategies, and treatment. There is also a general public call in number, 1-888-257-0990 or 207-629-5751.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Creation and Spirituality

I saw theologian and author Matthew Fox in Portland yesterday. I had read/heard much of what he shared in other lectures and books he's previously written but it is always wonderful to be reminded of what feels wise and whole and true. Among the thoughts that he shared which resonated with me were:

Suffering is initiation into our deeper creativity...

The definition of courage is comprised of two French words meaning "wise heart."

To overcome our fear it's helpful to connect with what we love and cherish.

Our culture fails to appreciate the value of the void, we're always trying to fill it up.

Wisdom brings heart and mind together.

Men have to recover their warrior nature (huge difference between warrior and soldier.)

Christ, Gandhi, King were all warriors.

The warrior is a lover and a mystic.

"Don't give a loaded gun to young men who have not yet learned to dance."

The love of death (necrophilia) grows when the love of life (biophilia) is stunted.

Wildness is the wellspring of creativity

Clarissa Pinkola Estes asserts that creativity (and the wild woman) lives in the gut and not in the head

The love of life and the grief of life give birth to creativity

The first level of grief is anger

Our universe is completely committed to birthing and creativity