Harvesting Inspiration from the Shadows
Written by
Karen A Szklany
October 2019

Digging Deep When the Ideas Don't Come Easily

What do you do when your plot falls short of completion and your characters don't rise to the challenges you've set for them?  Your story has taken an unexpected turn and you are wondering what to do next.  You haven't prepared for this change in your story's direction and you are at a loss for how to make everything come together.  To quote a question from Ghostbusters, "who ya gonna call?"  The answer to that question is yourself

Take a Walk With Your Shadow

It is now time to stop thinking and reach for the archetypal wisdom of the Universe.  The Collective Unconscious, where all great stories come from, will guide you toward resolving the tangles in your plotline or the plateaus in your character's development.  Read some of Joseph Campbell's writing for some added inspiration, then put the book down and take a walk.

Let go of working from the left side of your brain and open your mind and heart to the messages you can receive from the right side of your brain.  It is the side that recognizes patterns and solves puzzles.  It's not linear in the way it processes information and has the power to give you a fresh perspective on a problem or puzzle you're working to solve, such as the plot of a story you're writing.  It's the side of the brain responsible for developing intuitive knowing, and this knowing is where lots of archetypal wisdom is stored subconsciously.  It is often called the Shadow.  Your Shadow, or Intuition, holds important information for you to use when you're ready for it.  We all have a Shadow and that Shadow is worthy of our love and attention.  If we watch lots of  thrillers, we may think of it as a dark, scary place, but it doesn't have to be.  I believe our Shadow world is where our Muses live. The more love and appreciation you give your Shadow, the more likely she will be to serve you by showing you new information to use in your writing.

The Labyrinth Path Will Lead the Way

One way of walking to access the Wisdom of your Shadow is to walk a labyrinth.  A labyrinth is a form of walking meditation with one path in toward a center.  There are lots of different designs, but they all have some common characteristics: a clear path to the center and back out to the beginning, turns in the path that pass the center before you arrive there, some pleasing design features, and no tricks, such as the "dead ends" in a maze.  Because of this, the left side of the brain can go take a spa day.  You can relax and release the thinking that brought you to a "dead end" in your writing.  You are ready to take a new direction based on new information.

Walking a labyrinth path is a wonderful way to reconnect with parts of ourselves that often lay hidden from us when we're engaged with all of the worldly distractions calling for our attention.  It's one way to find relief from "information overload" to disengage from FOMO, and to bask in the beauty and freedom of the present moment.  Releasing those distractions allows room for your quiet, gentle intuitive Wisdom to rise to the service.  Walking a labyrinth path integrates the mind-body-spirit connection within us, which gives us a sense of renewal when we've completed a walking meditation.

Finding a Labyrinth to Walk

If you know where a labyrinth is located, head for it and take a journal and a pen to write down insights that come to you when you walk the path.  If you don't know where one is, then search the World Wide Labyrinth Locator.  If there isn't one located near you, a simple backyard labyrinth is easy to make for yourself, and you can make your own tabletop finger labyrinth from the same design.

A Ritual for Walking a Labyrinth for Inspiration

Below is a ritual for you to use when you walk a labyrinth. Being a writer, you'll want to take a notebook and a pen or pencil with you on the path.  Spend time journaling at the center or when you return to the beginning.  Here are the steps:

1. When you step onto the path, take a deep, cleansing breath that comes from the diaphragm.  Release your breath slowly.

2. Walk slowly, with intention.  Ask the universe to help you make progress with your story, then let go.   Truly surrender your concerns and gently turn your attention to the beauty of the space around you.  Notice your surroundings from as many of your senses as possible.

3. As you take each turn of the path, talk to your Intuition directly.  Ask your Intuition for help in writing your story.  Keep your request general, so your intuition has lots of space to respond to you in creative ways.

4. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, take a deep breath and release it slowly.  Stay there as long as you like.  Stand or sit for a while and keep your attention on the space around you.  Let the life happening around you be part of your meditation. Close your eyes for a while if you need to.  When your mind drifts, return your attention to your breath and the space you are in.

5. Do any ideas come to you?  If so, write some quick notes in your journal to elaborate on when you return to your writing desk.  If the information you receive seems cryptic, trust your intuition enough to write it down.  Thank your Intuition, or your Muse, for her help.

6. Step back onto the path and slowly return to the place where you entered. 

Journaling Your Way Back

Repeat this mediation as many times as necessary to get yourself where you want to be with your writing.  Write observations and ideas that come to you on the path.  Draw some of your ideas with colored pencils or crayons.   Do whatever brings your experience on the path to life on your journal page so you'll remember it when you need to.  The more you engage your deep Intuition, the more accessible and less shadowy she'll become until she's more like an old friend you love to spend time with.  I hope this meditation serves you and catalyzes fresh storytelling energy into your writing.  Namaste.

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