Andy Gibb has a song called “Shadow Dancing” and the chorus goes like this,
Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more
When I awoke this morning I felt heavy as if I’d been dragged across the floor through the night. Sometimes it’s like this with shadow work, in “the dark of the night of the soul”, the light illuminates parts of ourselves that we are not always ready to embrace with understanding and tenderness. This morning I was not at all embracing nor was I asking for more; I was shadow boxing, not shadow dancing.
Boxing is exhausting, even professional boxers limit their rounds to three minutes. In addition, boxing is done in a ring or a “box”, if you will, and if you get knocked down three times or stay down too long, you lose. Using this analogy, “shadow boxing” is fighting tooth and nail, to the point of exhaustion, to not get out of the box you are already in while working to annihilate the shadow before it knocks you down. The thing is, our shadow is not meant to be defeated, it only yearns to be seen. Our work is to cease fighting our shadow and start dancing with it.
“Shadow dancing” is entirely different from “shadow boxing”. Dancing calls us out of the box, it requires we tap into our creativity and be stretched. Dancing is invigorating, there have been many times I’ve joyfully danced all night. When we develop the ability to dance with our shadows we lighten up, joy is present, and we aren’t overcome with fear. George Bernard Shaw says, “If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”
If we are not in direct alignment with the light source, God, we will always cast a shadow. Another interesting point to consider is the closer we get to the light source, the bigger our shadow gets. So in essence, when our shadow seems the biggest, all we have to do is turn around and those are the times we are closest to the Light. Thomas Keating says something like, “the darkness is not darkness at all, it’s overwhelming light and we must give our eyes time to adjust”.
Our shadow can be an excellent teacher in bringing us wholeness and healing. In learning to dance with our shadow we develop a deeper sense of compassion and kindness for ourselves and all of mankind. Richard Rohr says, “what we resist, persists”. It is through seeing ourselves more clearly and willingly acknowledging our shadow that we bring ourselves into greater alignment with the Light and fullness of our being. May we find the courage to take up “shadow dancing, all this and nothing more”.