Shame, guilt and fear cannot be accessed by thinking. The shadow isnít a region of thoughts and words. Even when you have a flash of memory and recall such emotions, you are using a part of the higher brain Ė the cortex Ė that cannot touch the shadow.
The journey of descent begins only when you find the doorway to the lower brain, where experience is sorted out not according to reason but according to intense feelings.
There is an ongoing drama inside your lower brain (identified with the limbic system, which processes emotions, and the reptilian brain, which reacts in terms of raw threat and survival). In this drama, many issues that would be interpreted reasonably by the higher brain Ė getting stuck in traffic, losing out on a business deal, being passed over at work, having a girl turn you down for a date Ė trigger irrational responses.
Without realizing it, everyday events are causing our lower brain to draw the following conclusions: I am so hurt, I will never recover. They put me in agony. I donít deserve to exist. Everything is hopeless Ė Iím lost in the dark forever. Nobody loves me.
No matter how free you feel from these shadow energies, they exist inside you. If they didnít, you would be in a state of total freedom, joy, and unboundedness. You would be in unity, the state of innocence regained when the hidden energy of the shadow has been purified.
Today you can begin to learn how to feel your way into the shadow. Shadow energies make themselves known whenever you canít talk about your feelings. You feel out of control. You feel a flash of panic or dread. You want to feel strongly, but your mind goes blank. You have an irrational dislike for someone, and other such responses.
What they have in common is that a boundary is crossed Ė a controlled situation turns unexpectedly anxious or causes unexpected anger or dread. The next time you experience this, watch and see if you feel guilty or ashamed of yourself afterward; if so, then you have touched, however briefly, on the shadow.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).