Shakti Gawain : Q & A Living in the Light 25th Anniversary Edition
Q & A with Shakti Gawain
Living in the Light 25th Anniversary Edition
Q: The original edition of Living In The Light was published, 25 years ago, how are the ideas in your book important today?
A: What I write about in Living In The Light, in some respects, feels even more timely and relevant than when I wrote it. I believe we are in a global healing crisis on many levels; financially, emotionally, spiritually and physically (as a planet). We are struggling with how to resolve the multiple levels of chaos we are experiencing. The path through is the same, to become conscious of how we are living and in the choices we are making. We can do this through connecting with our inner guidance and to also look honestly at what is holding us back from that connection.
Big changes can feel out of control and disastrous. However, these changes can bring attention to what has been hidden, can bring light to what has been swept under the rug, and ultimately can be our path to freedom. This is true healing, which is to reveal the issue or problem, to acknowledge it, and then accept it and bring balance and consciousness to the process. Our inner guidance it what leads us through this process and brings us into balanced living.
Q: What is inner guidance and how do we distinguish it from other voices within?
A: Inner guidance is our ability to be connected to our intuition as a resource for knowledge, guidance, and direction. I believe our intuition, is a natural ability that we are born with. However we may not have been raised in an environment or culture that supports it, or maybe it was not understood or valued. By paying attention to this sense, to these subtle messages, we can regain connection and strengthen it to be a vital tool in our life.
Some people find that being in touch with their inner guidance is experienced as a feeling, or physical sensation often a "gut feeling" or a strong internal knowing. You can learn to distinguish this connection by paying attention to your body, and what you are experiencing or feeling when connecting with your inner wisdom.
I used to talk about my intuition as if it was the only "voice". I have discovered that there are different voices, in fact many aspects or "selves" within me. Intuition is one of these selves. Often feelings of doubt or fear diminish our ability to sense our intuition. We can practice simple meditations where we ask a question or think about something we are concerned about, then "listen" for guidance and direction. Over time, and often quickly, we begin to distinguish our own unique intuitive "voice". The messages may be experienced as a sound, a symbol, a color, a phrase, a feeling or a knowing. Each person experiences their intuition differently. Be open to how you experience your connection with your inner guidance.
Q: You refer to "living in the light" as exploring the deep places within us and shining the light of our consciousness into them. What do you mean by that and can you say more about that please?
A: In Living In The Light, I talk about shining light into the darker places within us or looking into our shadow sides. This can sound weird or be misunderstood and I think it is important to explain. We have many aspects within us and these aspects are like "selves" with traits and qualities that make up our personality. Some aspects we are very comfortable with and they serve us well at work or in our family life. I call these "primary selves". Other aspects we may not be comfortable with and in fact may suppress, deny or hide. These aspects which we try not to reveal, are "disowned selves" and often are referred to as our "shadow side".
Viewed in this way, "bringing light to our shadow" means becoming conscious of what we are suppressing or denying. On the outset, this may seem like a scary process. However, bringing awareness to this process allows us to have conscious choice in our lives. We are no longer locked into being a certain way in the world out of fear or habit. We can begin to "own" or embrace what we have denied and find a balance that is right for us. We discover that even our disowned selves have a role in our lives and can even be gifts or the perfect antidote for what is ailing or troubling us. We begin to realize that we need all these parts within ourselves and that we must have access to these different energies to experience authentic wholeness.
Q: Can you say more about these "selves" you are discussing?
A: To give an illustration of primary and disowned selves, I would like use the example of my friend Paula. Paula has an important role in a company working well over 40 hours per week. She has two children that she has raised as a single mother. In addition to her work, she volunteers at her community center and visits her parents every weekend with her kids. Paula describes herself as being responsible, a good mother and daughter, a perfectionist, care taking of others, driven, outgoing and very smart. Several opposites of these traits could be described as irresponsible, sloppy, uncaring, apathetic and not bright. These tend to be negative terms and understandable why she "disowned" them.
At a point in her life, she reached a certain imbalance and started to experience some minor health issues and several shifts in her relationships at home and at work. Through working with this body of work and becoming conscious of the selves, she discovered that she was in fact over identified with her primary selves, limiting her ability to fully experience her life. She was sort of locked in to a certain way of being in her life. She further realized, that the disowned selves, were not negative and were essential to her finding balance in her life. The words that were used to describe the opposite qualities were negative because her primary selves were viewing them that way and keeping her from being seen that way. However she found freedom in not being responsible for everyone and everything all of the time. She found new ways to relax and rejuvenate through taking more restful time and not caring for others in all of her free time. She also realized she had more to offer by taking care of her self.
The goal of this work is to have conscious choice. Once we become conscious, we can make decisions through a process that embraces all of who we are and acknowledges the different feelings or thoughts we may be having. Through this process, we can experience balance, wholeness, and fulfillment in our lives.
Q: How can we make the necessary changes in our own lives, to support the global changes you talk about in your book?
A: I believe that as we do our own work, as we heal ourselves, we can help to heal the world. Once we become conscious of the many aspects or "selves" within us, we can begin to see the people and situations in our lives as reflections of our own process. In fact, they become powerful teaching opportunities where we can learn about ourselves and become conscious, leading to healing and balance in our lives. One way of beginning this process is to become conscious of what we perceive as negative or what we reject as unpleasant. We begin to see these as reflections of ourselves and of experiences in our own lives. Often these people and situations are mirroring the energies and aspects within us that we have disowned.
As we embrace all of who we are and have the potential to be, as we find compassion for our past hurts and acceptance of the places within us that we try to bury or hide, we naturally experience understanding, compassion, and acceptance for others. We can not find this acceptance of others without accepting ourselves first. Focusing on our healing process ultimately leads us to healing relationships and situations around us. The effect continues to ripple out through our lives and others.
My greatest hope is that through this time of healing crisis, a new way of living can come into view. As the global issues continue to unfold, as illusions continue to be smashed, as deceptions of governments and people are revealed, we are given an opportunity to directly address the issues that exist. We are no longer living in the shadow of old ideas and ways of being in the world. We are being given a gift, which is to live consciously as we rebuild and create a new foundation for a new future. •
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