Facing Our Shadow // Reclaiming our Wholeness

January 12 & 13

 

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“Early in life, our psyche decides there are aspects of who we are that should never see the light of day.”

Bryan Smith


This happens because something within us rightfully understands that conforming to familial and cultural expectations keeps us safe and secure and protects us from rejection and ridicule. When we are young children, the risk of being authentic is simply too great for us to face. And so we impound aspects of ourselves into the dungeon of our psyche, a dungeon we call Shadow.

This early childhood survival strategy was a wise move as it helped us to create an adaptive personality, a first identity. But this strategy, while necessary in childhood, leaves a legacy of incompleteness that we are compelled to address in adulthood if we are to live in the deepest and truest way possible.

In his book, Wild Mind, Bill Plotkin notes, “The Shadow helps ensure our survival, but it also impedes our blossoming, often rendering our life into a series of so many dull days for want of the imaginative possibilities and visionary resources trapped and held in the long bag we drag behind us…Given the great psychological and social price we pay for the services of our Shadow and Shadow selves, how might we uncover Shadow elements and integrate them in a way that enhances our wholeness and relationships–or at least minimizes the damage they would otherwise wreak?”

At this retreat, we will explore the dimension of Shadow we all carry deep within us in the hope of reclaiming aspects of our wholeness, for the Shadow contains long rejected yet profoundly crucial dimensions of our divine identity. Buried in the Shadowlands are treasures we need to become truly ourselves.

Join us for this time as we gather in groups, spend time alone in nature, and engage in creative ways that will help us explore and integrate our shadow selves.

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Special Notice
This will be our last event at the Hermitage. Beginning next year, they wish to move again more toward their primary focus, being a place of refuge and presence for individual silent retreats. We cherish what the Hermitage has been for Indiana-Michigan M.A.L.E.s. We would not be who we are, were it not for the rich spiritual growth this holy space, it’s staff, it’s volunteers, and Board has provided, Thank You all!

Retreat Focus

This retreat invites us to look into our shadow- that long dark bag that we all drag behind us where our psyche has hidden and repressed (without our knowledge) our most socially unacceptable traits (both good and bad) in order to create an image that our ego can live with.

Drawing on the resources of Scripture as well as the insights of modern depth psychology, Bryan Smith will help guide us in this retreat into discovering and embracing those repressed parts of our psyche that we call Shadow.

In his book, Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin notes, “Most elements of the Shadow–wildness, say, or carnality or selfishness–were disowned and repressed during childhood and early adolescence as an attempt, successful or not, to win acceptance from family and peers. Far from being a mistake, this was necessary in order to form a socially adaptive personality, a first identity. Now, uncovering a soul-rooted identity requires a descent into those dark realms to retrieve the lost pieces. Therein lie key elements of our destiny” (NATHS, p. 282).

What Will I Learn?

You will learn that when approaching the Shadow, you can truly be blindsided by what you fail to notice, which is what Shadow is.

The range of what we think and do

Is limited by what we fail to notice.

And because we fail to notice

that we fail to notice

there is little we can do

to change

until we notice

how failing to notice

shapes our thoughts and deeds.

-Daniel Goleman

The soul lives contented by listening.

If it wants to change into the beauty of terrifying shapes it tries to speak.

That’s why you will not sing,

afraid as you are of who might join with you.

-David Whyte

Preparation Ideas

Here are some journaling ideas to do before we meet:

  1. Who are your three favorite and long-term heroes from books or film? List the characteristics of each of them. Draw pictures yourself with each of them. What are the qualities of your heroes that are also your own potentials?
  2. Who are your three worst villains or tyrants from books or films? Then do the same as above.
  3. Think of mother and father figures, wise guides, tricky characters, and the like, in books and films. How are any of these also like you in some way? Who are the people you have met along the way who fit into the various character/archetype roles? How have they helped or hindered you?
  4. The animal species you love, especially if it is one most people don’t like, can be a clue to elements of both your positive and negative Shadow (e.g., liking crows because they are naughty when most people consider them rude and pesky). Which animal scares you the most? Which do you find most repulsive? Most admirable? What things in nature most appeal to you or most repel you? Any intuitions as to how your answers above reveal you to yourself? (Don’t try to figure it out, though!)
  5. Day world relationships: Our relationships with people often reveal missing facets of ourselves – or a union of opposites that expands our identity. What are the qualities typical of the people in your life?

Recommended reading:

“Wild Mind– A field guide to the human psyche” by Bill Plotkin- this book will be the basis for much of what is unpackaged at this retreat. Chapter 9 titled: West: The Shadow and Shadow Selves would be interesting and helpful reading if time allows leading up to this retreat.

 


The retreat leader:

Bryan Smith is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and currently serves as the pastor at Geneva Church in Canton, Michigan. He also is a certified spiritual director and life coach as well as a trained facilitator of human development through the Animus Valley Institute. He completed his M.R.O.P. in 2014 at Pilgrim Park, IL.

Bryan’s passion is to help others to discover the richness and vastness of their own depths so that they can live out their truest and most meaningful purpose in life. Drawing on the resources of Scripture as well as the insights of modern depth psychology, Bryan will help guide us in this retreat into discovering and embracing those repressed parts of our psyche that we call Shadow.

In his book, Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin notes, “Most elements of the Shadow–wildness, say, or carnality or selfishness–were disowned and repressed during childhood and early adolescence as an attempt, successful or not, to win acceptance from family and peers. Far from being a mistake, this was necessary in order to form a socially adaptive personality, a first identity. Now, uncovering a soul-rooted identity requires a descent into those dark realms to retrieve the lost pieces. Therein lie key elements of our destiny” (NATHS, p. 282).

Retrieving the lost pieces of ourselves is sacred work that allows us to discover and live our God-given destinies.


WWe invite you to join us on this journey of illumination 
as we seek to become Learners and Elders.