Connie Zweig, award-winning author, depth psychologist, master shadow guide, and longtime contemplative practitioner asks some good questions—and answers them too, with unusual clarity and deep insight born of long experience and a cutting-edge mind. Why is it that we meet darkness on the spiritual path? What do we banish into the shadow? How do we reclaim what we project onto charismatic leaders? Learning to recognize and resolve the shadow is a powerful practice, and one that is all too often overlooked in a time when psychology is focused on objective approaches, neglecting the fact and force of the unconscious. Cultivating shadow awareness, we can begin to look beyond projections and stereotypes, recognize the risks of black and white thinking, and learn how to reclaim what Carl Jung called the “unlived life.” Connie discusses the psychodynamics between spiritual student and spiritual teacher, and other situations where people have disproportionate power over others, shining a bright light of illumination on the nuances and complexities of these relationships.
This is an intimate look into the challenges of the spiritual path, where we need both psychological practice and spiritual practice to advance our awakening, and a very relevant, timely conversation with shadow currently erupting in our culture in epidemic proportions. Connie’s dedication to helping people find their way through the dark nights we inevitably experience on our spiritual journey comes through strong and clear. Her authenticity, caring, and wisdom is palpable, inspiring us as to how the lights really go on when we start to see the dynamics of our inner world and relationships with more nuance, deeper insight, and shadow awareness. Recorded April 5, 2023.
“When you meet the shadow, it means something else is required of you.”
Topics & Time Stamps – Part 1
- Introducing depth psychologist, illuminator of the shadow, and award-winning author Connie Zweig (01:17)
- What brought Connie to the subject of shadow: exploring the psychology of spiritual yearning (02:10)
- Why is it that we meet darkness on the spiritual path? (05:18)
- What Carl Jung meant when he used the term shadow (06:45)
- The negative traits (and our unlived gifts) that are in the shadow are always in relation to the ego (08:02)
- Why don’t we recognize the shadow? By definition, the shadow is hidden, unacceptable—locked in both body & mind (10:03)
- The shadow has erupted in our culture, but it’s not so apparent in the spiritual arena (12:43)
- Psychodynamics & psychological defense mechanisms: projection, repression & denial are not recognized in the wisdom traditions (16:44)
- Dreamwork is a way to begin exploring the unconscious (19:19)
- How does developmental psychology fit in? Self-observation is the beginning, turning inward (20:13)
- Connie’s book is a call for spiritual awakening, deepening practice, and also shadow awareness (22:45)
- Shadow awareness includes recognizing our projections—both negative and spiritually bright (24:37)
- What is it in us that wants to make the human divine? Projection and the psychodynamics of our relationship to spiritual leaders (26:08)
- Archetypal projection: attributing godlike power to leaders (28:36)
- How does it feel to have large numbers of people projecting perfection on you? (29:21)
- Narcissism, secrecy, and spiritual bypassing in spiritual communities (32:03)
- What leads a spiritual community to become cult-like, where people lose their critical thinking? (37:48)
- The practice of guru worship, idealization, or visualizing inner gods and goddesses (43:00)
- Cultivating shadow awareness in spiritual contexts (45:56)
- Taking the risk of stepping into liminality and uncertainty, trusting life (50:06)
- Follow the yearning beyond the ego self while also remembering to be aware there will be dark nights on the journey: when you meet the shadow, it means something else is required of you (52:58)
Resources & References – Part 1
- Connie Zweig, Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path: The Dance of Darkness and Light in Our Search for Awakening*
- Connie Zweig, A Moth to the Flame: The Story of the Great Sufi Poet Rumi*
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem The Holy Longing (translated by Robert Bly)
- Connie Zweig, The Holy Longing: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Yearning*
- Connie Zweig, Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life*
- Connie Zweig, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul*
- See also Deep Transformation episode #19, Connie Zweig –The World Needs Elders: How Inner Work Transforms Aging into a Developmental Process, a Life Culmination, and a Gift*
- Connie Zweig & Jeremiah Abrams, editors, Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature*
- Carl Jung, “The Relationship Between the Ego and Unconscious” in The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol. 9 Part 1)*, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol. 9 Part 2)*
- Sigmund Freud, On Murder, Mourning, and Melancholia*
- The #MeToo movement
- Defense Mechanisms in Psychology Explained (+ Examples) (Positive Psychology.org)
- Ken Wilber, “shadow material in every chakra,” The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions*
- Dick Anthony, Bruce Ecker & Ken Wilber, Spiritual Choices: The Problem of Recognizing Paths to Inner Transformation*
- A.H. Almaas, creator of The Diamond Approach, see also Deep Transformation episode #43, Nonduality and Beyond: The Exhilarating Adventure of Discovering the Nature of Reality (or watch on YouTube)
- Keith Raniere, the NXIVM guy
- Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in Our Time*
- Connie’s blogs on Medium: https://medium.com/@conniezweig
- Connie’s website: conniezweig.com, Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drconniezweig/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReinventingAge, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dr.ConnieZweig/, YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLdvX4rtyOC4SA75JU98qaA?view_as=subscriber
* As an Amazon Associate, Deep Transformation earns from qualifying purchases.
Connie will be organizing spiritual shadow-work groups to readers of her new book. They are free and meet online to do practices in the book. Contact her at email@example.com and write “spiritual shadow-work” in the subject line with your time zone.
Connie Zweig, Ph.D. is a retired therapist and co-author of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow. Her award-winning book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul, extends her work on the Shadow into midlife and beyond and explores aging as a spiritual practice. It won the 2022 Gold COVR Award, the 2022 Gold Nautilus Award, the 2021 American Book Fest Award, and the 2021 Best Indie Book Award for best inspirational non-fiction. Her new book, Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path: The Dance of Darkness and Light in Our Search for Awakening, will be available in May 2023. Connie has been doing contemplative practices for more than 50 years. She is a wife, stepmother, and grandmother. After all these roles, she’s practicing the shift from role to soul.
Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell
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