Monday, August 17, 2015

Dancing With the Dark - An Intense 2 Day Workshop

Shobhs announced this Self-Acceptance workshop 'Dancing With The Dark' over last weekend. The workshop is about accepting your shadow side (the dark side) - the parts of you that you have not accepted. Or worse, have rejected. So these parts hang on (to use a strong metaphor, like rejected children) and are discriminated against. All this makes us feel less than whole, and maybe a tad heavy too, because we are carrying these dark and heavy secrets.

The workshop idea struck me as something powerful and I signed up immediately because I think I am almost entirely a dark side (okay, just joking and pun intended!). It was an intense 2 day affair that started with an understanding of our shadow sides which pretty much is all those parts of us that we have consciously rejected or kept away - as not being part of 'us'. Now in most cases we know that this list could be a longer list than the other list of qualities we accept as 'us' and flaunt. Most times these lists grow because of our perceptions of good or bad, or perhaps based on reactions from others. The shadow bag grows bigger and bigger and we make a valiant effort to hide it from public eye. We don't want you to see that awful bag you know.

Now the whole idea of the workshop is to open this bag, dust the stuff we have rejected, clean it up and let them join our other 'acceptable' selves. We have an unapologetic version of our self sitting on the mantelpiece - take it or leave it. - but this is me


So in the workshop we had to first find the shadow parts (or the dark sides). One easy way to do this is to see what qualities or people affect us (irritate us, anger us, disturb us) and that list is pretty much the list of stuff we have hidden away. The principle behind this affecting business is that if "you spot it, you got it". So if you spot some injustice, bad work, behavior etc, be sure that you got it too! (Typically the more judgmental and critical of us get longer lists - so there's no surprise I got a long one!) If it particularly affects you enough for you to get upset - its something deep within you don't like (or want) so you project that self on to someone else and despise them for exhibiting it! This projection seems to have a reason too - obviously we cannot take so much self hatred so it is better we hate the guys on television or in the news or someone else.

Anyway we find that this is a longish list which itself disturbs you some. But then after unconcealing our shadow parts we now have to 'own' them - and not act like they are some bastard children. Own them. And then, even more difficult, embrace them. Its an interesting and intense workshop that gets you in touch with your best self, your most magnificent self and also your worst. And we need to make them both come together and live together with us somewhere in the middle. (Imagine living together with your super achiever rich and handsome brother and your sad and unhealthy and super failure poor brother with you somewhere in the middle and all of you meet after ages and have to make peace - sounds like an unexplored and interesting hit movie theme actually.)

Its powerful stuff. Some of the exercises make you realise how stuck we are with our thoughts, patterns and how difficult it is to accept that we can be otherwise in certain situations. But gradually we start accepting the worst parts of us, we tend to get less upset when someone calls us stuff we normally get upset with, we understand that is ok to be that and that in itself is quite freeing.

Thanks co-participants N,P and S. And thanks Shobhs for doing this rather difficult but powerful workshop.

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