What Groundhog Day teaches us about our shadow…

We are four days away from Groundhog Day.  You know, the day when Punxsutawmey Phil emerges from his burrow and decides the fate of the arrival of spring, or the lengthening of winter. 

As superstition holds if the groundhog, upon surfacing, sees a shadow it retreats back to the den, winter persists for six more weeks.  

Today, I was thinking about the shadow side that frightens most people. That part of an individual that doesn’t get much air time. That part, of us all, that we would like to hide and spend much time and effort resisting.  

If the groundhog sees his shadow, he retreats and winter season goes on and on.  

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of seasons of winter being prolonged unnecessarily in my life.  The groundhog sees its shadow if the sun is out. The sun attempting to bring light onto the situation.

I know all of this is a bit on the corny side. 

Shadow work, however, isn’t.

It is the real deal.

I spent so much time running from inadequacies, perceived or real. I spent time resisting failure, fearing so much limitation or lack of character.  It isn’t that I want to dwell in the shadows. I don’t want them to rule, either.  I don’t want to fear those places within that would have me withdraw back to the dens, continuing to endure the season of winter. It is cold. The winds are brutal. So can be the shadow work.  Darkness prevails in the evening, sacred text tells us that joy comes in the morning.  

As a spiritual director and emerging trauma informed yoga therapist, I work with the shame and guilt that brutalizes hearts, souls, and bodies. As a human being, I have felt that shame. I have worked hard to temper those darker sides. 

Now, now…. I do something different.

Yes, again corny.

Me and my shadow, we go strolling down the avenue.

There are weaknesses within my person. I am not everything I present to the outside world. I am frail in moments. Frightened, angry, jealous, lonely shadows visit me as the guests in the Rumi poem, The Guest House.  They have actually become welcomed guests.

Learning to embrace shadow work with honesty, has done more for me than I could have ever imagined.  Satya, the Yama that invites truthfulness has been an incredible traveling companion.  She has held my hand. She has invited me to look truthfully in the mirror. She has invited me to not back away from shadow out of fear, she has held me so that I don’t retreat. She is what brings the spring rains and the sweet fragrances of new life.  

Turn towards your shadow. Is it impatience? It is fear? Control? What is your shadow? Look at it straight in the face, accept that there are places of growth within all of us, linger not back to the caves full of shame, guilt, resistance.  

You are an amazement. 

Learn from the groundhog, learn from Satya; let the shadow stroll down the avenue with you and listen to what truthfulness has to express.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *