On the Frontline of Meditation Coaching: Taoism, Practice, Shadow Work
Javi Otero speaks from his heart, responding to people from around the world who seek advice on a wide range of issues. The letter below is adapted from Javi’s response to a young woman who asked which teachings speak to him in particular. Javi is iAwake’s CTO, Experiential Customer Support person, and one of iAwake’s brilliant brainwave entrainment artists.
“I am a big fan of Taoism as it has helped me rewire and unload (as you say so well). I see Taoism as a system designed to help us live our own true nature. I’m sure you are aware of how conditioned we are by our education, socialization, and mainstream ideas about what’s right and wrong, desirable or not, and how that boxes our thinking, feeling, and doing into categories that may not always be in resonance with what we truly need and are. Taoism is a very refined system designed to transcend all of that. It is both ancient and very contemporary at the same time. It is inspired by how things happen in nature, because we are nature too. And it brings on what can become a lifelong trip journeying ever more deeply into acceptance.
As with many other systems, it’s essential to understand that in order to feel like we’re making valuable progress in dissolving all those things “we are not,” we need to tackle our work from various angles simultaneously. We all need different things, and I don’t really like to put myself forward as an example of anything, so please accept this as a means to illustrate my point:
I practice Yin-Yang Yoga to keep my body strong and flexible; meditation to keep my mind strong and flexible; journaling as a lens of examination; poetry as a way to discover my inner world beyond logic; photography for glimpses of what cannot be told with words; music so my heart can also talk and sing; bathing in cold water and deep breathing to take my physiological being outside its comfort zone; and I study the Enneagram to further understand the glitches of my personality, so as to hopefully create more space for my true nature/essence to unfold. And every now and again, I do dreamwork to keep in touch with what´s below the surface and read Taoist books to further my capacity to accept what life throws at me. I also try my best to live my emotions fully, laugh when it’s time, and moan over all my grief, so the crying dissolves the blockages in my heart.
I’m on a special diet of no watching the news (no TV at home), no reading newspapers, no gossiping, no drugs, no meat, fish, or dairy products, and am working on decreasing my intake of carbs. I fast for at least 12 hours each day and take various health-enhancing herbs. I also try my best to live inspired—dedicating time to service and to the things that remind me about the wonder of this life I´ve been given.
I share all this in the hope that it might serve you, whatever practices you choose to engage in. The more angles you work on at once the better, and the more prepared you are to face the pain, the easier you’ll come back to a new center (growth is not linear but probably a spiral). I don’t know the specifics of what you are going through and it’s not my area of expertise, but as a fellow human, all I can say is that you must find a practitioner willing to go with you to the epicenter of your feelings, understand why they’re there, and feel them to your bones so you can move on.
Our modern lifestyles are pregnant with distractions that prevent us from feeling what’s going on in our interior world—from busyness to food and everything in between. It seems that we are constantly escaping from ourselves. Even some therapies are directed at blocking and fighting our symptoms—when they are actually godsends that warn us about our most pressing imbalances. It might sound strange given your condition, but I encourage you to go within. I guess it must be terrifying, but just trust in your inner goodness and that of life.
I’d also recommend that you look at your shadow. Very briefly explained, our shadows are the parts of ourselves we don’t want to see, are uncomfortable with, or at some point in our lives decided were unacceptable, so we pushed them into the “unseen.” Often we didn’t even make that decision: it may have been our parents, caregivers, or teachers who told us that something should not be thought, felt, or done. Then we started hiding this from others, and eventually even from ourselves.
Every time we identify with something (for example, the statement “helping others is good”), we push to our shadows its opposite. Our consciousness has to deal with polarity all the time, so shadow work is about balancing the polar aspects that make us human, rather than pretending we are ONLY those things we identify with. Why? Because the more we pretend to be what we are not, and the more we believe and defend our stories and insist on being right, the more our repressed parts will need to find a means of expression. Sooner or later, these unchecked aspects of ours will start to emerge—even to the point of directing our lives, playing a starring role without us even noticing. When this happens, life plays “out there” the dramas we don’t face “in here,” often in the form of severe despair, conflict, or cyclical crisis. We all go through this, and the intensity of your situation speaks to the huge untapped potential you hold inside.
I’m sorry to hear what you are going through. Nothing stays forever the same, so I trust that you’re about to shift toward new landscapes—I can’t wait for you to create the shift you are longing for.
Sending you trust and love.”
I Ching Coaching and Dream Analysis with Kari Hohne (cafeausoul.com)
Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature by Connie Zweig
The Dark Side of the Light Chasers: Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams by Debbie Ford
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu and Gia-Fu Feng
The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton
A Path and a Practice: Using Lao Tzu´s Tao Te Ching as a Guide to an Awakened Spiritual Life by William Martin
Nothing Bad Happens in Life: Nature´s Way of Success by Kari Hohne
The Mythology of Sleep: The Waking Power of Dreams by Kari Hohne
Check out iAwake’s The Spark, fractal sound entrainment for focus and flow, created by Javi Otero:
Javi Otero is iAwake’s Chief Technology Officer and is introducing new and experimental entrainment protocols developed through his ongoing research on further harnessing the power of sound energy. He also offers experiential support with iAwake products, sound technology expertise, and sometimes lends his lyrical hand at writing for iAwake.
Photography by Javi Otero
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