Seeing Your Shadow



On February 2nd, in many towns across America, a  groundhog will emerge from his burrow. If it is cloudy, that will seem to imply that spring has come early; if it is sunny, so goes the legend, the groundhog will see its shadow and go back into the burrow for another six weeks of winter.

What is it about seeing our shadow that makes us want to burrow away, to pull up the blankets and slip back into sleep?

In energy medicine, as well as in Jungian psychology, the shadow is everything of which we are not fully conscious or which we don’t recognize as being part of ourselves. We simply don’t want to know about the least desirable aspects of ourselves.

What’s the problem with keeping the nastier side of ourselves out of sight? Well, for one thing, what happens is that you can wind up projecting your own deficiencies onto others. You may believe your co-worker is stealing from the company, while in fact your jealous shadow side is always looking for ways to steal the praise that co-worker receives for doing her work well. In other words, your personal faults turn into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.

Conspiracy theorists, and TV shows like The X-Files, are always talking about the “shadow government”—the private individuals who are really controlling what happens in the world rather than the elected officials. They are the ones carrying out black budget projects and covert operations. You can think of your own shadow that way. The face you show the world, the person you have elected to be seen as, is friendly and cheerful and good, while your shadow is governing the fact that you are always sandbagging your relationships one way or another.

Part of the inner work of healing ourselves has to do with making peace with those parts of ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to see—the parts Christianity calls the seven deadly sins, Buddhists call the negative emanations of mind, and Moslems call the nafs, our lower selves. It takes energy to deny and block our shadow side—energy that could be used in far more constructive ways in our quest for becoming fully integrated, healthy and happy individuals.

The first part of making peace with the shadow is to become aware of it. You recognize that everything has its shadow side. Benevolent Mother Nature, the goddess Gaia, whips out her deadly shadow side in hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Societies and cultures also have their shadow side. The technological boom that has given us our favorite devices—computers, smart phones, tablets, televisions—has lessened our direct face-to-face relationships. Have you ever seen a group of teens sitting together all looking at their phones instead of talking to each other? As Albert Einstein put it: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.” That day may have come.

Many of the people whose public image we admire have dark secrets or terrible home lives. Imagine how many women have swooned over handsome men only to be shocked when they came out of the closet of homosexuality. Think of the spiritual teachers whose teachings helped many connect to the richness of their inner lives but whose private lives included sex with students or favoring those who contributed big sums of money. Or the adulation we give sports heroes who turn out to be doping.

Even deeply spiritual people often go through a “dark night of the soul” when they can be overcome with terrifying feelings of depression and doubt. It’s all part of the process of being a fully integrated human being in our less-than-perfect world.

But the shadow side isn’t all darkness. Our shadow is also, as Jung put it, the “seat of creativity.” It may show up in dreams and visions that reveal the depth and complexity of your inner life—the rich mixture of dark and light that artists throughout the ages have called upon to create their masterpieces. It’s the deep darkness in which the seeds of your perfection take root and grow, like the lotus with its roots planted in the mud and its beautiful flower shining in the light of day.

When you learn to make friends with your shadow, make sure to look not only at its darker components—the ones you wish you didn’t have—but also at your untapped talents and powers. Reclaim them all, and accept who you are—the whole package: good and bad, dark and light, negative and positive, yin and yang. There is no way to reach Oneness without accepting all of yourself.

So when the groundhog comes out of his burrow this year, may he not be frightened by his shadow and retreat for six more weeks, but welcome Spring, shadow and all!


The Gift of Speech



On the first day of the first week of Earth, Genesis begins with “And God said . . .” Later in Genesis, Eve was fashioned out of man’s rib, “And the man said . . .”—the first recorded words of a human being. God had spoken, and mankind, made in the image of God, could likewise speak, whereas none of the other beings in creation could use words in that way. Clearly “speech” was a special gift from the Creator.


That doesn’t mean we have always used this gift to the best of our ability.


I always had a fear of public speaking. In fact, I was downright terrified. In college, I wouldn’t show up for finals where I had to speak in front of others. In my last year of law school, when I had to be in moot court, you could say I didn’t shine. I molded my law career as a transactional attorney, putting deals together in the back room.


Then I went through a vast change in my life, left the pursuit of law, and dug deeply into consciousness and healing studies. One day I got a very strong message from Spirit that I was to bring my healing work to the world. Seriously, me? I was willing but the flesh was weak. So I decided that the only way to get over my fear was by the process of immersion. In one day, I booked myself to give a seminar once a week for 12 consecutive weeks, in 12 different venues.


At the first workshop I used a trick I had learned as a mountain climber. There, I had learned to traverse dangerous vertical “friction slabs” where there is no way to protect yourself, no cracks or nubbins for feet and hands, just pure balancing. The way I conquered my fear was to convince myself I was walking across a kitchen floor. So to overcome my fear of public speaking, I convinced myself, in my strong-willed way, that there was actually no audience.


I walked into the room, pointed at someone, and without so much as a “hello” to the group, said, “you’re first!” I would work with that audience volunteer as if there was no one in the room watching, and when finished with him, I would call up another. By the time I got to the 12th session, people were lined up to get in, and I could at least glance at the audience. Today I talk at events and workshops with thousands of participants, without notes and even without knowing what my topic will be. I have learned to get out of my own way and let Spirit work through me.


Why do I tell you about this? Because you, too, may have avoided exposing yourself to a wider audience for your work. Or you may have trouble communicating even on a one-to-one basis. Do you mumble or stumble over your words when in a confrontational situation? Can you express your feelings to someone else? Do people misunderstand your intentions because you haven’t spoken clearly?


Here are five tips for developing your gift of speech so you can communicate better—at work and at home.


  1. Have the courage to say what you think. You have something valuable to contribute to the conversation; don’t be afraid that your input isn’t worthwhile. Be open and honest.
  2. Remember that communication involves not only spoken words, but also body language and nonverbal cues. Your whole body can talk, especially your hands and face. Use larger gestures if addressing a large group. If your arms are crossed and shoulders are hunched, you are saying that you’re unwilling to listen or to communicate.
  3. Enunciate. Are people always asking you to repeat yourself? Try to speak clearly. Consciously slow down your speech a bit; if you talk too fast, others will think you’re nervous and find you difficult to understand.
  4. Pretend you’re talking on the radio or on TV. Would an audience that can’t see you get the drift of what you’re saying? Raise and lower your pitch, animate your voice, and use an appropriate volume.
  5. Learn to listen. When you really understand what someone else is saying, your response will be so much more effective.


Your ability to express yourself will grow as you practice good communication skills. Use the gift of speech wisely, and your relationships, both personal and business, will prosper.


Weighing In



It’s that time of year, the beginning of a new year, when, once again, you’ve made a resolution to lose weight. And your first act is to step bravely onto the scale, with your eyes open. Horrors! You didn’t think you ate THAT much over the holidays! Or maybe it’s been years since you were ready to face the scale, and just kept buying new clothes (with elastic waists) as your old ones “shrunk.” Reality sucks.

So, how are you going to tackle those extra pounds this time? Atkins? South Beach? Weight Watchers? Jennifer Hudson looks pretty good. Are you going to track your calories, fat, protein, sugar, carbs, and water intake on Are you setting goals for running that half-marathon in six months?

According to The New York Times, four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them, and a third won’t even get to the end of January before giving up. And the top resolutions are always losing weight and exercising more (and getting out of debt and saving more). Where did all that self-control go? Where’s the willpower to resist that donut or bagel or mocha frappuccino?

There has to be a better way than struggling with those self-defeating resolutions and then quickly regaining whatever few pounds you managed to lose. And there is.

Like everything else in life, you can approach weight loss from a spiritual/holistic perspective, not just calories in/calories out. To really lose weight, you have to lose the weight between your ears, not just around your middle. You have to change your thinking, your emotional connection to food, and the psychological issues behind your weight. Without addressing the true root of your weight problems, even if you lose a considerable amount of weight, the chances are good you’ll gain it all back.

So how do your subconscious feelings drive your eating? Some spiritual teachers have said that the cause of excess weight is fear, which blocks feelings of love. So when you overeat, or eat the “wrong” foods, you are feeding your feelings, not your body. Emotional eating is an obsessive relationship with food. What are you trying to get from food? What is missing in your life? Are you using food to numb your pain? Are you beating yourself up because you can’t seem to lose that weight?

In order to approach weight loss in a new, positive way, you have to be ready to do the deep inner work that’s needed to suss out your personal connection to food, eating, and weight. Yes, those are all different. And we are all different. There is no one answer that works for everyone, just as there is no one diet or exercise program that works for everyone.

By now you’re all familiar with the tools I’ve used to do the work of uncovering my own emotional blockages, especially journaling, meditation, and energy healing. If you have trouble doing this type of inner work by yourself, find a therapist or teacher or healer who can help you unearth the hidden reasons behind your weight.

Basically, we’re talking about weight loss from the inside out instead of from the outside in. The stronger your connection to your own divine core, the more you open and listen to your intuition and guidance from your Higher Self, the more support you will have as you tackle whatever lingering childhood issues or traumatic residues are behind your problems with weight. The road to success lies within. When you lose that weight between your ears and release whatever blockages are in your chakras, you’ll be able to lose more than just emotional blocks.

The optimal way to go about it is to make gentle changes in your lifestyle, in your approach to nutrition and fitness and health, along with doing the inner work. Check out my article on on “Five Surprising Ideas on Weight Loss” for some recommendations you may not have thought about. Think of it as an adventure in consciousness, not another plunge into a restrictive way of living.

This year, stop worrying about your resolutions and, step by gentle step, walk the high road to lasting weight loss, and a happier and healthier life all around.