Karuna: I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis, and today on meditation, happy hour, tea talk and Truth with Karuna is my beautiful friend and colleague and guest Kimberley Lafferty. It’s so nice to see you.
Kimberley: Great to see you.
Karuna: Kimberley, where in the world are you?
Kimberley: Well, I’m actually in the North Cascades of the Pacific Northwest and North America, and I’m actually on a bit of wildfire watch right now. We’re at level one at our at our retreat center, our home out here, and the other fires burning just just probably five miles from our house. And and that’s OK. Yeah, we’re handling it. But it’s definitely a different world that we’re living in now.
Karuna: Yeah, I can really relate to that. I live in the mountains of Colorado and we have been blessed with the ashes from all of the fires that are happening up by you. But last summer we had to evacuate our home and we were gone for about two weeks because the fires were just about three miles away. Luckily, they weren’t going our direction. It would have been a real act of God or the world if they would have turned around. But I understand that fear that we live in these days.
Kimberley: Yeah, it’s interesting to watch. I think it’s a good metaphor. My family is, no anxiety. We’re prepared, but that’s the vicissitudes of life, which comes to our topic today is what happens when when things get stressful, where do we go and when we have these challenges that arise. So we’ll get into that.
Karuna: Yeah. And so before we get into the vicissitudes of life and how we can handle it with less anxiety and more grace, which it sounds like that’s where we’re going to go. Tell us a little bit about you. Tell us about a little bit about your family, a little bit about your background and what you spend up to the world.
Kimberley: Yeah, thanks for. Well, yeah, we tend to to live our life in eras and in chapters. And I’m at a point right now where I am sort of have launched a new chapter where I am re-emerging with with some public offerings and starting to teach publicly again now that I completed my graduate degrees and raised a son and really spent the last decade primarily being a householder and with businesses and raising a child and completing a bunch of Western degrees and really focusing on that aspect of life and and when we knew each other over a decade ago, that was really the era of Lama Kimberley. And Lama Kimberley was running a nonprofit, the yoga studies institute, and teaching Tibetan Buddhism and teaching classical yoga philosophy and and was a very doing two months of solitary retreat every year. That was the decade before. And what we see now is really an integration of both of those aspects of my life. Now that my son is 10 and our mandala is really built, we we now have a beautiful retreat center, which is also our home on 40 acres in the North Cascades, which will not be burned. OK and yes, on this beautiful confluence of two rivers that come together, just a very sacred space which will be starting to offer live retreats in the winter. So it’s still small keeping it, keeping an intimate environment. But so so where I am now is really focused on remerging and offering educational pieces, as well as leveraging my my doctoral studies into some pretty exciting research that I’m doing as well.
Karuna: Tell us a little bit about it.
Kimberley: Yeah, well, my studies from the western side are in the field of adult human development and some of us studied a little child development maybe when we were in college or if we become a parent or an auntie or an uncle, you know, we might read up a little bit about how children go through different stages of development. The ego mind state, the personhood of a two year old and how they see themselves in the world. It’s very different than that of a 10 year old, for example. We can see that that’s evident, right? There’s evolution that happens. And that 10 year old is very different than a 16 year old evolution. The ego evolves. Our personality, our sense of identity evolves which reside in our consciousness just like everything. And the field of adult human development really looks at how as adults, we can actually continue to go through these evolutionary changes. I study what it takes for our consciousness to evolve, really, and how that expresses in different ways. And one of the most important aspects of consciousness studies and definitely one of the most essential aspects to understand of our Path, our psycho spiritual Path is the phenomenon of shadow. And so I’m excited to share with Mind Oasis an upcoming shadow workshop and really look at how psychological shadow, which we could talk about, what that means, how that shows up in an individual’s life, particularly when when we’re just going through our normal life. It’s very normal and also how it gets accelerated when we’re on the spiritual path and even making progress and also during times of stress and anxiety, which naturally happened, then, ah, shadow begins to emerge. And with all this wonderful spiritual tools we have from these ancient traditions of meditation and contemplation and yoga and breath work, we really need the modern tools of psychology in order to deal with our shadow.
Karuna: I love that, so I feel like I’ve been probably walking a spiritual path my whole life, it looked like going to Sunday school as a Lutheran when I was growing up. And then it looked like in my thirties or early thirties, yoga asana and all of the beautiful teachings substantially that go along with that. Right. And then I met Kelly Lindsay and Michael Hewitt and you and Lama Meerut and now my beautiful Hector La. And so my feet are pretty firmly planted in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and have been, I don’t know, let’s say since twenty thirteen, maybe a little bit before then. And and what I find so interesting is something that you mentioned that as we walk the spiritual path, that our shadow work arises, whether we’re ready for it, what whether we know what it is, whether we can label it or not. And I found in the beginning of this year, probably kind of covid related. Climate change related and then also that I’m forty, I just turned forty six, so I’m squarely in the middle of what would be called a midlife crisis. Perhaps I even bought a motorcycle. So I’m even cliche in my in my middle age. Right. Can you just just talk a little bit about that shadow because, gosh, she’s there.
Kimberley: Oh, yeah. Girl, she’s there.
Karuna: She kinda comes out of nowhere. She did for me. And then it took me a minute to realize what was going on.
Kimberley: Yeah, good. Yeah. And it does take a minute and often we don’t even know what’s going on. Thank you. Right, well, let’s talk about what it means, so shadow, first of all, is most commonly coined to Carl Jung. Carl Jung really was the one who actually before that, Freud also used the word shadow, but it was really Jung who defined shadow and he defined shadow in two ways. And one, the first definition is the unconscious, things that are out of our awareness aspects of our personality that our conscious mind won’t admit, like it arises within us. But it’s not us. We don’t see it. We don’t hear it, not us. And then the second way Jung defines Shadow is just kind of anything generally unconscious. And that’s not the definition we’re using today. So shadow is the unconscious parts of ourselves that arise within our being and we do different things with it. And I’m going to give you three, three different types of shadows, which we’re going to talk about. And that’s really what is going to make this course unique because, yeah, it is juicy and it’s pretty fun. But everybody, I want to say preface this with everybody knows their shadow. They just think it’s someone else. So if you think you don’t know your shadows, just look around at what you loathe, you know what’s really bothering you, what happens when you get stressed out, at the end and nobody escapes it? Think of your most sublime spiritual teacher. They have a shadow. If you’re human, you have a shadow.
Karuna: If you’re growing, it’s just natural. So one thing to do is just to get rid of the stigma. We have to get really good at being shadow workers with ourselves and others with humor and love and clarity. So there are three types of shadows. And this is really what makes this course unique because it’s not really defined that way. The first type of shadow is what those of us who have maybe heard a little bit about it or done a couple of courses on it, we’ll call projections. And this isn’t like the capital P Projection, kind of like you’re projecting your entire world, which you hear a lot about in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. Think about this is more like little p, projection, still very valid, but this is where the parts of ourselves that are, they’re extruded the parts that arise in our own consciousness. Something comes up in our consciousness and maybe a feeling or a judgment or a thought, and we project it out onto someone else and it’s them, not us. We refuse to acknowledge that it’s us. It’s like we put this boundary. That’s not me. I’m not like that. They are doing that. So that’s the first type of shadow in this, this type of shadow tends to be common, kind of when we start to work on ourselves, actually. It’s ironic. Once we get to a point at point in our adult life, maybe it’s high school, but we start to really want to work on ourselves. And that’s when projections really come strong.
Kimberley: It’s interesting, our consciousness actually evolves and we start to project even more. The second type of shadow is something called an introject. And in introject is a type of shadow that is intruded upon us, it’s it’s like a sort of personality or an aspect of our personality that really doesn’t belong to us quickly. It belongs to someone else. So maybe you were five years old listeners, you know, you were a little kid and your mom or your dad or somebody powerful said something to you like. You can’t do that, you’re stupid. That idea I’m stupid didn’t arise, it came from someone else, right, and gets put into us as like this shadow of I’m stupid and so introjects, we’re kind of like our ancestral often it’s ancestral traumas that get passed down, you know, on family issues, family stuff. It’s like our moms and dads shadows that we end up absorbing. So that’s an introject. And the way you treat and introject is very, very different than the way you treat a shadow or a projection, sorry. The way you treat an introject and heal it and handle it, it’s totally opposite from the way we handle a projection. OK, so that’s there’s more than one way to heal a shadow, which we’ll get into in the course. And then the third type of shadow is something called a split ego state and a split ego state are the parts of ourselves that are like, have you ever had like two parts of yourselves, like arguing with each other in your head.
Karuna: On a pretty much minute to minute basis unless perhaps in deep meditation?
Kimberley: Right. And that’s all of us. See, that’s all we get. Like that’s like this one is like coming up and saying you wake up and saying, oh, go finish your book, you know, do your art, exercise, do your yoga, do your meditation. That’s like this voice in your head, like the person who’s like on it. Right. And then there’s this other voices like, no, just go make some brownies and watch Netflix and you need some comfort. You need some self care today. You need to relax. It’s OK. And they’re arguing, right. It’s called a split ego state. You know, it’s the parts of our, we have these sub personalities inside of ourselves that are constantly in conflict and one even is bullying the other person. How often do we do inner shaming? You know, you don’t do this or you’re so bad. But all of those voices are another type of shadow that we’re not aware of. And so how we treat and handle a split ego state is also very different. So those are the three types of shadows that we’ll be looking at.
Karuna: I love this, I am writing a book and the title right now, the working title is, “Letters to My 10 year Old Self”. And it’s really about a reclaiming. Going back and sort of a reclaiming of, at that time, Kelly Voss and and letting that 10 year old know that there would be the vicissitudes of life, but it’s going to be OK. And so I, that’s kind of the shadow work I’ve been doing, actually, is to go back and sort of notice those experiences. And one experience that I really related to with the three different types that you just described, my poor mom, when I was, I don’t know, eight, I think I was twirling around in an Easter dress, looking in the mirror, and I said, wow, I look really pretty. And I did. And I really didn’t mean it vain, I meant like, wow, this is like the most beautiful dress my grandmother has ever made me and I feel like a total princess. And my mom was, I think, afraid that I would be vain. And so she said, we don’t say things like that about ourselves. And it really stuck with me. So like in my teen years, like, we don’t say that we’re pretty, you know. And so it’s part of what I’ve had to do in my reclaiming is to go back and tell that little girl, fuck, yeah, we say that about ourselves. Of course we say things like that about ourselves because that’s empowering. And you do look beautiful. And so I know from experience that the shadow work is potent. Are you doing your shadow work?
Kimberley: Oh, yeah. You should ask my husband. Yeah, it is. It’s essential. You know, one thing, I always I’ve been doing it for ten years, actually 12 years longer. Telling my students and those who come to my courses is always look for a spiritual teacher who is doing the shadow work and has peer review and has colleagues give them feedback because nobody escapes it. But I want to circle back to something powerful you said, because you know that that 10 year old and thank you for sharing that, because it’s it’s these little intimate moments of sharing that also healing can happen and which we’ll do in our course to will break up into small super safe groups and be able to without being forced to just let it naturally arise, you know, just talk with each other, you know. But that 10 year old is still in there, right? So that 10 year old and that 10 year old comes out an unexpected times, like when I suddenly start acting like a teenager, when I’m with my mother, sometimes, like, where did 50 year old Kimberley go? She’s not here right now because there’s a teenager here right now. So when you go back to that 10 year old and you tell her she’s beautiful and you tell her, you know, shine your light, girl, one thing for healing.
Karuna: I’ll just give you a little extra credit right now. That’s really important. And it’s often missed. And the therapeutic approach in terms of healing, split ego states, you know, is make sure that you step into the shoes of the 10 year old, step into her shoes just in your meditation and feel what it’s like to be told. That 10 year old let her feel what it’s like to be told. You’re beautiful. You look gorgeous. You shine and let take let her feel what that’s like to hear that. And then what happens is that 10 year old shadow, the beautiful shadow, rose up. And grows up, and that’s how we grow or shadow, we grow up our shadow from 10 and maybe you’ll hit another one at 16 and that one will come up. But we grow her up and it becomes like your spiritual power. It becomes this this alchemy, right, from trauma. Those little moments are dramatic. They are. They’re small ’t’ traumatic and big ’T’ traumatic. We have, you know, but they affect us deeply. And so then that heals that trauma, grows it up and becomes your your power.
Karuna: Kimberley, what’s your power? I mean, I’m hearing a bunch of it, but from your perspective. So the course that you’re offering right now, we’re calling it evolution of shadow on the path. And it’s going to be happening towards mid or late September. And you’ll be able to find it a mindoasis.org and you’ll go to the learn tab and you’ll see Kimberley’s face there and it’ll be up in the next few days. So it might even be up now, listeners, when you get onto your devices. So what’s your, what’s your power?
Kimberley: What’s my superpower? Well, to answer that question, we have to go to trauma. What was my traumas, you know. I mean, one, that that’s honestly first comes to mind and is true. It was really traumatic for me and I I recently told this story in another podcast, which is my own personal story, so your listeners can also go there and check it out if they want to know more about me. It’s aliens and artists and part one, part two and three. It’s going to be announced soon. And it’s where all podcasts are found, aliens and artists. And I talk about this a lot. The absence of the spiritual community and the absence of spiritual understanding from, you know, just the feeling seen and understood as a spiritual creature myself, which waxed and waned throughout my childhood. Had a trauma at 16 around that where I got kicked out of confirmation class and basically kicked out of the Catholic Church, which I talk about in this podcast up until like age twenty eight, when I had probably my most life altering spiritual experience, which was the clear light, which I detail. Yeah, it was, it was the loneliness of living in a society with spiritual apathy. Really, and then flipping that into an adult career focused on spiritual meaning and really being a spiritual midwife. So it’s not my superpower. I am really a channel and a vehicle. But I do seem to have this capacity to. All of the deep dive I did and still live and breathe into Mahayana and Vajrayana, particularly Bhujangini practices combined with the modern developmental psychology education and simplifying that for everybody, you know, just kind of making it like, how can we use these tools to really help our lives and be happier and kinder and wiser? And yeah, I think that’s my calling.
Karuna: One of the aspects of Mind Oasis that I think we’re makes us somewhat unique, but I think makes us a potent community is that we are householder’s and the people who teach and the people who show up in the form of the student, which of course we all switch different positions all the time. I think while ultimately waking up is a beautiful aspiration and something that we have the teachings to do, the ability to put into daily practice. Breath by breath, moment to moment practice with our partners, with our children, with our pets, with the climate, with the way that we vote, with the way that we show up for one another, like that’s Mind Oasis’s jam. Is, you know, how can we create a, our vision is connecting a compassionate global community. Well, how the hell do you do that? Right. What are the things that we can do? Moment to moment to do that. And and one of the things you just mentioned is how we simplify things. So I’m just I would love to hear you just kind of echo back a little bit about the practices and simplifying what can be really complicated practices actually.
Kimberley: Very, it’s true.
Karuna: Especially in the Vajrayana.
Kimberley: Yes and the most potent. Thank you, you said some really powerful things. So I just want to acknowledge how cool Mind Oasis is and what you’re doing with it. And just seeing you do your vision over these years is just, Hooray! I just think its fabulous. Well done. Well waking up without waking up the world would just kind of be flat land, meaningless drivel. But waking up is not enough. We have to also grow up. And growing up is what the whole study of development is about is how we grow up through the different stages. And so what we’re going to do in this course is we’re going to look at how we grow up and what kind of issues can happen along the way and how that may affect us and how we heal each issue like how we feel. What happened five is very different than how we heal what happened when we’re 30. They’re totally different approaches. How we heal and introject like an ancestral sort of voice that we’ve absorbed is very different than how we heal a split ego state, two voices inside of us. But so growing up is very important. But then we also have to clean up, wake up, grow up, clean up.
Kimberley: And cleaning up is cleaning up our shadow. It’s going back into those small t traumas and big T Traumas. What we simplify. You know, I think it’s just it’s getting together in a community of practice. Where we’re we’re taking the ancient teachings and we’re being really the essence of them, the essence of the ancient teachings which are so ahead of their time and so radical and so kind of the best spiritual, contemplative psychology out there? But we make it relevant to, you know, because these are premodern traditions and we live in a postmodern society. These premodern practices and traditions were primarily designed for monks. Sometimes women who didn’t have day jobs and computers and huge population and climate change and all of the stressors of daily life. Right. And so we need to apply. And that’s what what places like Mind Oasis. Right. Are all about is is getting some people who have experience, experience with these practices and also training in the modern world to tease out the essence practices that can help us on a day to day basis.
Karuna: Kimberley, what’s your truth?
Kimberley: Depends on what day you ask me.
Kimberley: I wouldn’t say my truth or a truth, we all know that truth is partial, right? And any any truth can be deconstructed. And, you know, I do believe and this is based on my own experiences, that all things are conscious and alive and made of love, made of love and wisdom. I have an optimistic view of an evolving, positive, loving universe. And I don’t just mean a physical universe, the all things you can imagine and all things you can’t imagine. I also believe we live in a multidimensional, highly populated cosmic universe and that there are more things under the heaven and stars than we can imagine. So I also believe that each individual is much, much more powerful than they know. And happiness is really found by finding our callings, which are tied to our traumas and our shadows, interestingly. So I encourage everybody just to to do the work of cleaning up and growing up because waking up without those things can be very dangerous.
Karuna: I’m really honored to have heard those words directly from you. It’s to me so much easier, doesn’t make it feel better sometimes, but it’s so much easier to have people lay out a little bit of a roadmap for you and to say. Gosh, you’re not quite sure what to do, Karuna, at the age of forty six, and you’re looking at your shadow and it’s looking at you and it feels like your skin is being torn off your body. Well, here, how about you take these three little mantras, right? I mean, and so then we have a touchstone. Then we have a place when more like I don’t know what to do. My teacher says maybe meditate more. And you’re like, but I don’t want to meditate more, I’m not sure that’s the right thing. But but to use this idea of healing and growing up and waking up, it’s really beautiful.
Kimberley: Oh, good. I’m glad. And you know what’s interesting, too, and we’re going to get into this in the course is sometimes meditating is the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s not. It depends what level the shadow is coming from. It depends on the level of the issue. You know, it depends on who, what and when. So so no teacher with teachers and therapists tend to do is I’m putting myself in this is and especially for years and years until I learn this new technique fairly recently to my psychotherapeutic training, is we tend to do like kind of one answer to everything. I’m going to give you my favorite technique that worked for me and I’m going to give that to everybody. And I wish it worked, but it doesn’t you know. It really has to be customized. A shadow approach has to be customized to what the level of the issue and whether it’s which type of shadow it is. Is it an introject? Is it a projection or is it a split ego state? Those have very different healing interventions that you do.
Karuna: Awesome. So we’re going to be talking all about this and doing the work in your six week series Evolution of Shadow on the Path. It’ll be up at MindOasis.org under the learn tab. But in the meantime, Kimberley, do you have a website that you can point people to.
Kimberley: Sure thing, confluenceexperience.com or Conklinsexperience.com? I think both of them will get you there. And you can I’ve got an article on there pretty soon. Probably by the time this comes out, they’ll be the links to the the different podcasts I’m doing. People there can sign up to check out the research that I’m doing, as well as if they want to schedule a one on one with me.
Karuna: Oh, great.
Kimberley: They can do that there as well. And but my my my favorite, favorite, favorite thing to do is to teach groups, whether it’s online or in person, because that’s really just talking to each other and connecting with each other. Heart to heart is is where the healing happens. So, yeah, that’s really I’m looking forward I hope that if this triggered something in you just sign up, just sign up for this course and we’ll do some good, very confidential private work together.
Karuna: Wonderful. So to learn a little bit more about Kimberley, you can go to her website, ConfluenceExperience.com. And then if you are ready to make the leap into the course MindOasis.org and it’ll be under the learn tab. It will be happening, it’ll start mid to late September and it’s a six week series. Kimberley, thank you so much for being my guest today.
Kimberley: It’s a pleasure. Really great to see you.
Karuna: Yeah, it was really sweet to connect and yeah, MindOasis.org go to the learn tab and find our dear friend. Kimberley, thank you so much.
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