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September 4, 1999 - Romancing The Shadow

Life often seems to consist of coping with one crisis after another in almost every arena of our lives. This is not a bad thing; matter of fact, life without conflict, drama and challenges would be quite boring. However, when the crises in our lives come to resemble a recurring nightmare, or the repetitive refrain on a broken record, we are at risk of moving into a place of hopeless despair and abject depression, to say nothing about high anxiety. At times like this, boredom might look like an idyllic yet unattainable alternative. Advisedly, most of us seek help when such patterns begin to govern our lives and psyches. Unfortunately, many self-help programs, therapies and spiritual paths, while temporarily easing our angst, ultimately do not assist us in our need to move in a different direction. In writing

Romancing the Shadow

Illuminating The Dark Side Of The Soul

Jungian psychotherapist Connie Zweig and clinical psychologist Steve Wolf have filled this deep void by providing insights, approaches and self-exploratory orientations that to date have not been accessible to the general public. Hailed by such people as Deepak Chopra and Larry Dossey as an important breakthrough, this book delivers what is promised in the first chapter which is called "Introduction to Shadow-Work".

In the past, shadow work has primarily consisted of meeting and confronting the dark side of ourselves and society. Zweig and Dossey take this effective technique one step further by showing us how to learn "to live with it" by realizing that "romancing the shadow", as opposed to fighting or attempting to eradicate it, "is a lifelong challenge". "Romancing the shadow means reading the messages encoded in the events of our daily lives in such a way that we gain consciousness, substance, soul. Romancing the shadow means meeting the shadow for a private rendezvous; eventually it means taking it seriously enough to learn to embrace it in a long-term relationship."

This work is far too rich and deep for me to adequately review in this column, nor is it a light and breezy read: on the contrary, the authors suggest exploring the book by beginning with the segments that speak to you and to take time in absorbing and pondering the material at your own pace. I, for one, am glad I followed their advice! I highly recommend Romancing The Shadow as a perfect read during this season as we shift our focus from the external to the internal aspects of our lives.

© Kristina Strom

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