Stephen Levine, in his book "Who Dies?", makes the comment:
Until we have nothing to hide, we cannot be free. If we are still considering the contents of the mind as the enemy, we become frightened, thinking we have something especially wrong with us. Not recognizing the mind as just the result of previous conditioning, nothing special. That all of these stories of mind which we fear so much can actually be mulched back into ourselves to become fertilizer, the manure for further growth. Which means that in order to allow these materials to compost, to become rich fertilizers for growth, we must begin to make room in our hearts for ourselves. We must begin to cultivate the compassion that allows the moment to be as it is, in the clear light of awareness, without the least postponement of the truth.
I love the use of the gardening metaphor here, and relating to 'our stuff' as the compost for growth. It seems like much of our efforts in life, much of my efforts, are to try and rid one's self of all the detritus that we perceive in ourselves. This is something that I have been more and more aware of—and that is that judgment serves no one—least of all myself. What really creates the shadow is when we disapprove of something that pops into our head. We push it back down where it then begins to grow larger in order that it might get our attention.
Levine is a Buddhist teacher and has worked with the dying for years. His ideas reflect the powerful teaching of being able to take the position of The Witness. By allowing ourselves to stand in witness to what bubbles up in our hearts, minds, and lives, we can sit in a place of non-judgment. I like to think of it as if I am sitting in a classroom, observing what is taking place on the stage of my mind, and open my heart and intuition to see what it has to teach me. Another metaphor that I have found powerful, is to picture sitting down with the personification of my thought or feeling and having tea with it and asking, "What are you here to teach me?"
I really think this is how we 'listen in on the ancestors'. Their voices, thoughtforms, emotions, and rigid structures present themselves to us in our ramble of thoughts and feelings. When I can step out of judgment regarding these for a moment, and just sit in witness to them, I get a really vivid, clear picture of what is present within my DNA. Not until I can regard this with love and compassion can I then choose to act, think, and feel in new ways.
The really challenging part is to find that neutral space, to 'catch' myself in the midst of my thinking or feeling in unconscious ways, and to actually tune in and listen to them. When I can do this, it is crystal clear that I am listening in to an ancient pattern—sort of like stepping into a crystalline form that has set patterns and ways of being. Then I can choose consciously about whether or not I want to participate in this or rather start to create a new and different structure and pattern of thinking.