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Shadow Boxing: Along Our Spiritual Path

Shadow Boxing While We Walk our Spiritual Path

by Cate Cavanagh

There is something inspiring about modern day warriors like boxers. Of course in the older days you had Joe Lewis and James Braddock now made famous by the movie, “Cinderella Man.”

But I think what inspires such respect in me for people who do this is the discipline they have to do the training. They run, they spar, lift weights, punch the punching bag and shadow box. I couldn’t imagine sparring with them, much less getting in the ring for a real fight-unless I could run around like crazy, get on my knees and plea for mercy! Shadows have always intrigued people. The old radio program and more recently, the movie, “The Shadow” testify to our fascination with shadows. There was even a famous old song called, “Me and My Shadow”.

The other day I was going shopping with my husband and saw a huge shadow on a lawn as we drove by. We live in a rural area and have seen wild turkeys, hawks, guinea hens and even Bald Eagles! I asked him what huge bird could have made such a big shadow and he reminded me that it didn’t have to be a huge bird at all, just a bird, like a hawk flying very high with the sun hitting him just so that the shadow appeared huge. Of course I had a “duh!” moment but, more importantly, I began to think.

I began to think of how on some days, something irritating happens and suddenly, I am not just battling the irritation but a whole line up of issues making “guest appearances” in the play that is my day.

Like that bird, a small thing can loom so hugely, we are distracted by the deception of a larger than life shadow. Suddenly, we are boxing a shadow that belongs to something that is really quite small but that we allowed to grow under the diminishing spotlight that is our own spirit power. We are in a ring fighting a fight and we never know it. Frankly, there are enough really big monsters with equally large shadows-hunger, disease, war and all types of brutality that, if we are lucky, we have not experienced to the fullest others have. Our daily monsters can be our children not doing as well in school as we would like, an ailing elderly parent, a recent death, the loss of a job and worrying about bills. Life monsters. We all have these monsters but, at least we know their shadows and at least we know what we are boxing.

It’s when we fall to the ground and try to hide among the tall grass and see what seems to be a huge shadow that we have lost the moment’s battle. Life is not easy for a lot of people and each moment can present a possible battle which we can cower from or choose to look at directly, assess and see that this particular battle will pass and that its shadow has no form, other than that which we give it. When we realize this, we have won that battle and in fact, flexed the inner muscle that is our spirit power.

Flexing muscles. I like other people flexing muscles. But frankly, the flexing of the inner muscle which is the self, the mind and the spirit is harder than pumping iron everyday. The growth and power of the self, mind and spirit demands that every challenge, every heartbreak, every monster in our past and mind be faced down and conquered. Like disciplined boxers, we are running, lifting weights (and carrying them around in the form of worry, guilt and despair), punching the punching bag (or air or pillow or even the wall) and we spar with ourselves! In a ring of power, like boxers, we are fighting ourselves and our own knowingness that we are beings of power! As long as we punch at shadows looming formless we cannot see that for all we have suffered, we have the proof that we are as strong as any boxer. We are our own shadows- our defeated and lost side casts a big shadow and we box with it until we are exhausted whereas, the shadow never gets exhausted as long as we allow the light to remain constant and cast these shadows selves against us. If we were to just put on ALL OF THE LIGHTS, the shadow self and the gruesome shadows it casts, disappears!

While walking in our spiritual and personal truths, why is it that we are always the last we educate? Must we not look at ourselves and our shadows in truth as well? Hmmmm. If we remember to do this everyday our truth will become that we are fit from shadow boxing things that weren’t there and that wisdom and knowledge is within us just waiting to be flexed. We just have to turn on all the lights!

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