In the last week of October 2018, we held a 6-day, 30-hour training titled, Stalking the Shadow at Vital in Denver, Colorado. Over 60 Bowspring teachers from all over the world – Japan, Barbados, Peru, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and many from the US representing Florida, California, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois gathered for our annual Summit.
In celebration of Halloween, we explored how to work with our shadow side to spiritually grow in our daily lives. Each year’s Summit brings together among the most dedicated and experienced of our global Bowspring practitioners. They are bonded by the challenges of practicing the Bowspring often far away from other Bowspring teachers in their country. Each have inspiring stories of their own personal journeys of discovering the Bowspring, and then being confronted with the truth they had been inadvertently limiting and hurting themselves through their old postural alignment. When this inconvenient and disturbing truth was revealed out of the shadows of their unconscious ego, each student faced the choices to deny or ignore the healing power of the new alignment, or courageously proceed with full accountability on a new path of healing using the Bowspring method.
All of our Bowspring teachers chose the latter, but the mainstream reaction to the new alignment paradigm is typically either a shadowy hyper-masculine aggressive denial of the truth or a shadowy hyper-feminine ignoring of the truth to avoid conflict. Most people don’t want to look at their shadow because it is just too uncomfortable or too scary.
In general, there are 2 main disharmonious mindsets which block us from honestly and fully working with our shadows. One is the rigid, linear, authoritarian mindset of tradition and the status quo (hyper-masculine), while the other is the postmodern ‘New Agey’ mindset in which ‘all is one’, and ‘all is good’ (hyper-feminine). These are polarized distortions, shadow mindsets that block us from opening to fully knowing the truth of the new paradigm of alignment. With extreme Yin or Yang dominance in our viewpoints - too open or too closed in the mind, avoidant or belligerent, then the truth is turned into a false myth or is denied as dangerous and must be suppressed. It is by the great work of marrying the highest development of both sides of our brain - our rational critical thinking with our heart's intuitive knowing of harmony and beauty - we can truthfully see our shadows.
If the masculine left side of the brain thinks of itself as the superior and correct side compared to the feminine right side, then the linear, rational mind can cut itself off from one's emotional, psychic nature. Confronted with radical, new ideas that can overturn the status quo model, the left hemisphere will fight and argue against the revelatory information in order to persevere the traditional belief system. The more the new ideas begin to spread into the public forum, the old guard becomes increasingly vehement in its opposition to the heretical methodology. The dogmatic teachings of the old system attack the new paradigm as flat-out wrong. As the attacks mount, then it isn’t just the new method angrily condemned, but the character and personal reputation of the proponents of the new ideas are also slandered.
On the other side, when the right hemisphere cuts itself off from its polar side, the mindset often aligns with a postmodern ‘New Age’ worldview in which the whole focus is on the good of the collective while ignoring the specific shadows and the negative aspects of our own mind-body. According to the New Agey idea of the ‘law of attraction’, if you pay attention to the negative, it will magnify. In this way of thinking, it is easier and safer to simply look the other direction away from the shadow and say with a shiny smile, “we are all one, so it’s all good.” Avoiding and ignoring the discomfort and ugliness within our lives, while putting on a happy face with positive group think, is a common cultural mindset today. When the right side of the brain is hyper dominant, then imaginary myths and blind beliefs create the relative truth that is religiously held by mainstream culture.
All of our global Bowspring teachers have experienced some level of push-back and faced negative backlash from both sides of the spectrum of other postural professionals. On one side are those aggressively defending the standard model of linear, static stretching, and on the other side are the postmodern yoga teachers who are defending the idea that all alignment is relative - everybody is different, so there is no universal template to align for a specific functi