Is it true that our destiny is to turn into Light, I and self?
—Hafiz, Sufi poet.

The path to authentic presence entails the journey within oneself. As Thomas Merton says, “The real journey in life is interior.” My experience of embarking on a journey inward for the past 16 years has created in me a space to connect with my authentic presence.  I have learned that the key to living a life of wisdom, creativity and joy is to live from one’s authentic presence, which entails a life-long process of journeying inward to deal with our shadow self.

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist once said, “One cannot truly know the magnificence of one’s light until one has dealt with the darkness of one’s shadow. ” For those who desire to live a happier, balanced and authentic life the paradox of the integration process is inevitable.

What is the Shadow Self?

To put it simply, the shadow self encompasses the unacknowledged aspects of our psyche that are repressed in our subconscious mind like anger, fear, depression, jealousy, shame, addictions and so on. Most of us go through life with emotional and psychological wounds sustained in the past, whether from childhood, teenage years or in adulthood that we may or may not be conscious of. These wounds if left unhealed will unwittingly surface in our interactions with our self and with others as inner turmoil, conflicts, dramas, and emotional and physical illnesses. Whatever is going on in our outer world is often a reflection of our inner world. If our inner world is in turmoil so will be our outer world and vise versa.

Through inner exploration, we are able to to identify and heal aspects of our shadow self, our erroneous attitudes and core beliefs and habits in order to release self-destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors to attain awareness, acceptance, self-love, creativity and joy.

Inner work is important as it awakens us to the silence of our inner world, to the inner peace and presence of our authentic self. When we pay attention to our inner work by using tools such as self-inquiry, contemplation, reflection, meditation and so forth, we are able to attune to our inner voice, the voice that empowers us to make choices that honor our authentic self. It is a way to reclaim our personal power and inner freedom, the freedom that strengthens our core self, which helps us be true to ourselves and thus to live with integrity.

It is therefore essential that we devote time to our inner work to heal and to transform our negative patterns of behavior, thoughts and beliefs in order for us to lead happy, purposeful and creative lives. It is only by connecting to our authentic self in our heart center that we can access our inner truth, peace, wisdom, creativity, abundance and joy.

(c) Sasha Samy 17-8-2015, Author of ‘Shadow To Light.’