THE SHADOW, DREAMS AND THE PSYCHE’S AGENDA
(This is part of a section on the Birth of Consciousness dealing with the Shadow)
The shadow is not evil. In one sense it is all that you neglect consciously, and therefore at times may be allied with creativity and even a deeper spirituality. The shadow is hardly static, and its contents and character are always shifting. Neglected, the negative side of the shadow can erupt unexpectedly, irrationally, angrily, or even violently. When the positive side of the shadow is too much neglected, depression can ensue. Whatever its contents, the shadow seeks recognition, acknowledgment, understanding and integration. This is why you cannot fully evolve without some awareness of your dreams.
Now clearly, especially in the world you know, many of you do not have time to engage your dreams at length. Many of you seldom remember dreams. We have several points here: 1) Not all dreams necessitate, or are designed for, conscious recognition. 2) Even a very brief time – say five minutes in the morning – devoted to dream awareness can open windows in the psyche and help integrate its contents. 3) A shorthand for recording dreams – a few descriptive words, images or phrases – may be expanded later when you do have time. 4) Asking yourself “what does this mean?” may yield later insights when you return to the dream.
You must understand that the psyche has its own design, and that is not to fit many of your conventions. Your conventions will be far more satisfying and will serve you more when they are designed to reflect the needs and nature of the psyche. Dream work is part of the psyche’s agenda. To understand the psyche, you must be willing somewhat to meet it on its own terms. If you reach out, it will respond in kind. This is part of the integration of the whole self. Many of you would not dream (forgive us) of missing your favorite TV show, but you easily neglect the far greater treasures of your own dreams and psyche. Also, though you may find invaluable help from knowledgeable others, your own psyche is your best analyst. You must learn to accept this function, however, and that includes some attention to your dreams. Being playful with your dreams, even the dark ones, can yield greater insights than an oppressive or obsessive gravity. Some of your dreams are “Academy Award” winning dramas. Others are B-grade melodramas or horror films. Some are potpourris of detached symbols or episodes. Even a sense of wonder at the psyche’s diversity and creativity will yield insights, and will contribute to your wholeness. The psyche will respond to your requests, though often in its own way and timing.
©Harry C. Stafford