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Katie Rose
from: Katie Rose
Category: Sound Healing

Finding Peace in the Shadows

April Blog - Finding Peace in the Shadows

As another war starts in Libya, I have been dedicating this month’s events to Peace.  This has prompted me to take a deeper look at my own struggles and my sense of what peace is. It is oft proclaimed that peace in the world arises when peace is found within, but what does that actually mean?
As I understand it, peace is a natural, indwelling state within us which can be accessed at any time.  For me, it is the ability to be with whatever is happening and approach it from a place of stillness. To remain in this state requires a daily process of showing up in that place so that it becomes anchored and reflected in my life experience.   There are so many distractions and so many circumstances which trigger powerful reactions that to be moved from it is very easy, to stay with it much more difficult.  Peace however embraces even that whole process of moving away and coming back - because it can hold war in its arms, like a small child that is learning and making mistakes, and say ‘there now.’
I find it interesting that the word ‘arms’ is used for weaponry. Our arms extend from our heart, so when our heart is full of strife it is likely we will indeed be more inclined to pull a quick left hook than to offer an embrace.  In this sense we do not need disarmament but rather re-armament - remembering what our arms are really called for.  I am sure we have all felt the different energies of hugs, which can be infused with longing, passion, love, respect or admiration, each in their own way seeking to make connection, to restore a sense of unity.   Guns and knives are metallic extensions of the arms, weapons wielded in defense or offense. They are the fingers of power whose touch is deadly.  Hence to heal the heart of distortion is to make a step towards peace.
Where the heart is broken, shut down, disabled, disbelieving of its own incredible power to bring love and peace to the world, violence ensues.  Firstly towards the self - admonishing words, self-criticisms -  all bullets of the broken mind.  Secondly projected onto the other - seeing ‘you’ or ‘they’ as the reflection and source of all ills.  Every daily paper carries the picture on the front cover of the latest ‘they’ - whether it’s the PM, Phil from EastEnders, leaders of other nations, dysfunctional celebrities, footballers, anarchists, criminals etc.  Many social rituals, from Greek theatre to football matches, have employed this use of ‘othering’ to enable some sort of cathartic release of our need to embody our shadow in an outward form.
There is increasing recognition that it is the owning of our own shadow that will enable personal and social transformation.  That peace is not some sort of wishy-washy blissed-out state but is in fact a radically authentic way of being which allows us to face and embrace all that is within and without.   Previous editor of The Sun, David Yelland has written openly about his discomfort at choosing who the paper was going to point the finger at next, as part of his journey towards owning and healing his own alcoholism.  He saw that the vulnerable, damaged people in the eye of the camera lens were no different than the one he saw in the mirror everyday.  
Owning the shadow is not easy, because so much of the self becomes hidden by the desire to be included in family, social, cultural groups. Unconsciously we take on the belief that if we expose our vulnerabilities and indeed many of our gifts, that we will be outlawed, excommunicated, excluded from the tribe.  Ideologies which emphasise the ‘light’ /‘positive’ and invalidate the ‘dark’ /‘negative’ aspects of the self create inner conflict and oppressive self-policing.  Whatever is repressed in an individual’s background will emerge in a distorted form - paedophilia in celibate priests, madness in artists and visionaries whose gifts are de-valued, crime in young people labelled failures.
Peace heals the perceived dualism between the ‘light’ and ‘dark’ forces, enabling us to see that far from being at war, they are actually beautifully, mesmerically dancing together hand in hand.  The darkness supports and reveals the radiant brilliance of the light, which in turn enables us to illuminate the wisdom of the deep, dark, mysterious places.  As Monica Sjoo points out in her book, ‘Return to the Dark/Light Mother’, it is in the dark earth that seeds germinate, in the dark womb that we incubate, in the dreamtime that we process our daytime lives.  A world without the dark has been a powerful war propaganda used by western politicians and leaders throughout history who saw themselves as the great white aryan brotherhood, justified spiritually by a hierarchy of white light masters/ God, conquering the earth and all other cultures.  We have an opportunity in these times to restore respect for all ways of life and the wisdom of the planet.
It is the whole self that requires space to flourish, as Jung pointed out, and often our shadow contains our power.  When we allow our so-called dark aspects to be seen and heard, magic can happen. Just recently I had to own up to some jealousy I was experiencing, and thankfully a dear friend was able to help me see my projection and to own the power in myself.   She modelled for me the peace that can hold and see beyond the frightened child that all our different emotional states proceed from and helped me find the gift in my process.   
What we fear in ourselves often turns out to be not a demon but a companion at our side. Sometimes we need access to the deep, dark well of the shadow’s wisdom in times when a light, bright affirmation will not do the job - for we all encounter endings, deaths, tragedies in life.  Sometimes there is useful discernment in my inner critic which I realise is usually just trying to keep me safe.  Sometimes the saboteur is just a mischievous imp seeking to spice things up a bit -  it’s part of being human to mess up sometimes - how else can we learn?  We can embrace our inner children, take them in hand and learn together.
Abstract sounding can be phenomenally helpful in facilitating safe expression of outlawed emotions.  All of the ancient healing arts involved movement and sound to enable us to meet and master our most primal impulses.  It can feel terrifying to approach volcanic mountains of stored anger, but blowing off a bit of steam whilst shaking or dancing can be very liberating. Screaming, shouting, singing, crying, wailing, lamenting - the sound current has so many ways to pass through us, taking debris with it like a transforming river of peace.   
Focused chanting is also an incredible tool for entering and anchoring the place of peace within - Om Shanti, Ya Salaam, Shalom, Dona Nobis Pacem - whatever mantra is right for you.  Singing, speaking, whispering, silently intoning mantra injects a new frequency into the music of the mind, restoring balance to disjointed mental processing.   Singing together and learning each other’s songs builds connections and unifies communities.  In 1914 German and English soldiers famously learned each other’s Christmas songs and were able to put down their guns and celebrate together in No Man’s land.  So often when we climb over the trenches of division we find that those on the other side are just the same as us.
I greet you eye to eye, child to child, shadow to shadow in my own struggles, offering you peace as I know it today, in hopes that we can re-arm our world with loving embraces.
* By kind invitation of Nikki Slade, I will be sharing kirtan at Triyoga, Primrose Hill this Saturday - 6.30-7.45 pm -
* Do join me at The Yogi Tree, Greenwich for a Peace Kirtan on Sunday 17th April, 5-7pm -
* Peace is the theme of my radio show on April 19th featuring Kate Mckenzie and tracks from her album ‘The Peace Room’ plus ‘Om Shanti’ from Dreamtime Journey by Denise Leicester and Tom Simenauer.  -
* Join us at Inspiral for soulful songs in the Garden of Roses with Janna Goodwille, Caroline Ophis & the Kosmic Troubadour on Tuesday 19th April 7.30-10.30pm. -
* I also wholly recommend the heart coaching and workshops of Cate Mackenzie.

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