Today marks the one-week-anniversary of the Orlando shooting, one week since a man walked into a nightclub and gunned down 49 of our fellow human beings.
As the shock of this tragedy begins to pass, many of us are now being forced to confront our own shadow sides. Mostly what I have observed this past week is outrage and fear, acting along with sorrow – emotions that I myself experienced after hearing such heartbreaking news. Those feelings of rage and fear can be very disorienting; they trigger our own shadow sides and remind us that we too carry darkness inside. That darkness, combined with the senselessness of the event, has left many people feeling overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do.
What I propose, and am doing myself, is that each of us actually allow ourselves to feel the full depth of our feelings that arise, that we give ourselves ample time to be with our own shadow sides, to feel our own darkness, in as much depth and scope as we can.
The first step is to acknowledge the shock (or perhaps the lack thereof). The next step is to give ourselves permission to really accept each of the feelings that come up: hatred, sadness, judgment, despair, fatality, hopelessness, grief, guilt, empathy, revenge, and more. We must learn to be honest about what we are feeling rather than to simply push away the feelings we do not want to experience.
As you take time to acknowledge those feelings, it is important to notice how the feeling affects your entire body. You can do this in whatever way works for you: sitting in silence, walking, writing, running, yelling at the ocean or simply standing with your feet in it – there is no right or wrong way to feel your feelings.
As you notice each feeling, try to refrain from rejecting the feelings you label as wrong. This can be incredibly difficult – this might mean being the parent of a gay son and taking time to feel the deep fear in your body of what it would mean to lose your son. It might mean acknowledging the guilt you carry for some of the thoughts you have, spoken or unspoken, that contributed to anti-gay climate in our culture. It likely means facing feelings you may not even consciously realize you have.
Once you have given yourself permission to feel your deep self, your shadow self, you can now make a choice to move beyond the darkness and to help the rest of the world move forward as well. Remember, we are all interconnected. When dark, hateful events trigger our shadow sides, they lower both our individual vibrations, and also the interconnected vibration of the world.
One simple tool you can use to help raise the vibration of the world – and to move beyond those feelings of helplessness – is the ancient art of Tonglen.
Take a few deep breaths and place your hands over your heart, right hand over your left.
Send intentions of love, first to yourself, then to your family and friends. Next, take these same intentions, and send them to the strangers of the world, and finally to those you dislike, hate, or have any negative feelings toward.
While you can choose words of intention that best fit your personal feelings and spiritual beliefs, here is a version you can use:
May I be free from suffering;
May my heart be full of love for all beings.
I am love and compassion.
I give love and compassion.
May my family receive love and compassion.
May my family be free from suffering.
May my friends receive love and compassion.
May my friends be from from suffering.
May those I don’t know receive love and compassion. May they be from from suffering.
May those whom I fear and dislike, receive love and compassion. May all be free from suffering.
When you raise your vibration, you help raise the vibration of all. Rather than indirectly contributing to ongoing hatred by reacting without acknowledging our own shadow side, you have now made a choice to feel your fears and to consciously expand through your heart.
May you too be from suffering and shed your light to help those in need.
Kim Marks is a soul coach. Her work focuses on helping individuals understand themselves and overcome past trauma in order to achieve more joy and peace in their lives. She specializes in grief and radical forgiveness.