When we shine a light very closely at anything we see quite distinctly the contrasts and differences between the parts we are inspecting. On the mental plane those differences give rise to judgments. Some parts are “good,” some parts are “flawed” or “imperfect.” Perfection is the highest standard of the light: a being without flaw.
How comfortable is it to make love in a brightly lit room where every part of the body can be seen in utter clarity? In fact, how comfortable is it to look into a full length mirror, naked, in a brightly lit room. How do we not cringe as we see before us our well lit “imperfections?” That cringe is what we call embarrassment.
Embarrassment generates a boundary line within the self. On one side of the divide are the parts of the self that are “OK,” parts that can be allowed to be seen in the light. On the other side are all the imperfect or “defective” shame-worthy parts that must remain hidden from the outside world, a world that confirms what we already know: we are flawed.
Frequently, in recapitulation, we discover that we had no conscious involvement whatsoever in determining what parts of ourselves and our experience were excised from consciousness and sent to the prison of the shadow self. We may then discover that some higher decision-making factor within the self censored the awareness of significant experiences in our lives for a self-protective purpose, like in a state of shock where we are shielded from the full impact of a sudden trauma. Some experiences must be shielded from consciousness for the better part of a lifetime.
This self-protective function is a judgment function of the psyche that is pretty black and white, as it asks the question, “Is this experience safe or dangerous to the stability of the ego, my conscious sense of self?” If the answer is “no,” the experience is swiftly removed from memory. The ego, being the shielded one, has no participation in this decision. The ego is the recipient of its action.
What we commonly call a trigger is a current event that mirrors the censored one residing in our hidden shadow, which is stirred and experienced consciously as a feeling of anxiety and embarrassment. The anxiety is a protective warning signal to get away, the embarrassment signals the unacceptability of a part of the self.
Often, attention is given to the formative influence of the primary socializing agents in our lives—parents, teachers, coaches, lovers, and even abusers—in defining for us what of us is acceptable and what of us must stay hidden, often from ourselves as well. The process of recapitulation offers us entree into the hidden worlds of our rejected selves.
When during recapitulation we are confronted with the socializing agents whose judgments we internalized and cast upon ourselves, we often find ourselves in an accompanying rage, fully blaming these characters for not protecting us or for contributing to our flawed sense of self. The healing journey of recapitulation may require us to fully feel this rage and be allowed to release it in some form of expression.
Release of pent up feelings may feel incredibly cathartic, but total healing requires total acceptance of all that has happened to the self, without embarrassment. In fact, the absence of embarrassment during the review of any and all experiences in life, traumatic or otherwise, is the best gauge in assessing total healing.
Thus, for example, to be fully embodied, calm and present, without embarrassment while describing to another person the explicit details of a rape, including the experience of utter helplessness, terror, exposure, violence, humiliation, negative judgment and stimulation, mark a condition of total healing from the experience.
Such healing is marked by the melding together of present and past-self experiences that demarcate the contours of different kinds of experiences but remain whole, reflecting total acceptance of all of life’s experiences, without embarrassment.
The new seers of Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic line exploited the utility of embarrassment to deepen their journey into their energetic potential. They discovered that embarrassment was a product of self-importance, the drive to shelter the self from the crushing impact of the true reality of the unacceptable hidden self.
Carlos was pushed by one of his teachers, don Genaro, to dance by lewdly thrusting his pelvis, movements which burned him up in mortification yet suddenly gave him access to his energy body while in a waking state. Burning through the wall of embarrassment provides the sobriety and wholeness to journey beyond the physical body with awareness.
Ultimately, we are challenged to reconcile the relationship between the light of our consciousness with the contents and personality that live in the darkness of our unknown portion of self. Carlos Castaneda could not encourage us enough to suspend judgment as we venture into the realms of the unknown self. Embarrassment is a most helpful marker of where we must suspend judgment and welcome, in total acceptance, all that we are, all that we have been, all that we have done and, most especially, all that has happened to us. A tall order, but totally possible.