This picture makes me feel warm and restful. It reminds me of the long shadows of an autumn evening. Many leaves are changing their colour, and though it is getting colder, on sunny days it still feels quite warm. It feels gentle and yet full of life and vigour.
It tells me to rest and enjoy the fading warmth. To collect my strength before moving on again, but I think also to maintain a certain poise and readiness for when the time comes to act again.
“Doing” is very much emphasised in Western culture, and resting and quiet observation are undervalued. But if we wish to “do” things well we must learn to rest well and observe carefully. I’ve always thought of myself as a patient and observant person, not given to haste.
Shadows provide a place for relaxation, shelter and a hiding place. There are plenty of species that need some shade to grow, like fungi. This autumn we’ve been looking for edible mushrooms, mostly woodland species that prefer shade and the shelter of trees; we’ve also been given logs for growing shitaki mushrooms, and they need some shade to grow, though not too much.In the summer I am acutely aware of how I need shade. In the middle of the day, when the sun’s shining bright, I will actively seek shade, instead of standing in direct sunlight.
Shadows protect all living beings and give them space and time for rest and recuperation, to give space to grow and find shelter from summer heat or predators. My “shadow self” has protected me, from others and from myself. If I do not understand my shadow self, or rather its contents, it makes sense that they may be “hidden” from me, it could be damaging to myself or others if I didn’t know how to handle those contents. It takes a work of introspection and understanding to properly handle the shadow. Sometimes the shadow also hides what is not yet ready to emerge. The womb protects the baby and the soil protects the seed until they are ready to emerge into the world. I feel I have a developed a lot of my potential. I also feel I have a lot more potential to develop and that bit by bit I am recuperating many things that I had hidden. At present, my training in aikido is showing me a whole world of untapped human potential that I never realised I had. The ability to be calm in stressful circumstances, my innate athleticism and also my ability to teach and help others advance in their own learning. I have a lot more confidence in my body about what it can and can’t do, and yet still these limits are being pushed further than before.
I can gradually and continually push my limits, revealing new abilities and qualities in me. This isn’t something that miraculously appears overnight, but is something that takes a lifetime of development. I feel at peace with what I don’t know of myself; either I will eventually know, or if I will not know it is because I don’t need to or it is not the correct time to know. I continue doing what I am doing; there are many seeds that have been sown and they are gestating. Some are now emerging or will emerge, and I feel everything is unfolding as it should.