Pathwork for Midlife Crises
A Pathwork friend of my encouraged me to get The Shadow Side of Intimate Relationships by Douglas and Naomi Moseley. Pat and I are reading it together and smile as we see how Pathwork-like the material is in regards to shadow work. Or, in Pathwork lingo, Lower Self and Mask Self work.
Almost as an aside the authors note that shadow work is for the second half of life, or Midlife. The first half of life is time for building up one’s ego and one’s mask self that “fits in” with the culture. From this egoic platform one can find his or her identity and fit in at work, at church, in other organizations, in families, and in society overall.
But at Midlife (usually somewhere between 35 and 45, for me 50) “fitting in” isn’t enough. The sometimes nice life we have built up just isn’t satisfying our deepest needs. The authors deal with this fact in looking at intimate relationships, and do this beautifully, but the material applies just as well to all of life after midlife. It’s the old story that at Midlife we realize that we’ve climbed the ladder of success only to find that the ladder is against the wrong wall. Kind of a big deal!
Pathwork often works best at this Midlife time in life. The ego has built a life for the individual. He or she can pretty well make it in the world with a strong ego. And most importantly, the developed ego is strong enough to do the hard work of transformation. Simply put, this transformation requires the courage to take off the mask piece by piece and then deal with the shadow underneath. Oftentimes psychological work focuses on this mask and shadow stuff, helping a person become more real.
But Pathwork is a spiritual program and, while also dealing with psychological issues as it must, Pathwork has an entirely different purpose beyond removing the mask and working with shadow material. Pathwork points beyond the mask and Lower Self to an inner Divinity, the Higher Self that lies beneath the Lower Self metaphorically. In our mask self we may will ourselves to do acts of love, for example, but when we release our Higher Selves we find we are love at our deepest Divine level. Before our transformation we did not fully realize this or trust this, and our egos worked hard to appear loving. Transformation involves working through the mask and lower self and releasing the authentic powers of the Higher Self, our inner capacities for authentic love, truth, peace, creativity, wisdom, compassion, and so on. In fact the Higher Self is the power we need to truly experience the transformation work within.
For me in my long history in the church, I experienced this transformation as a stripping away all the forms of religion, religious practices, and dogma I had built in my my “Higher Self Mask.” Not saying all of my practices were mask, but many were and still are. What I see now is that post Midlife, prayer, worship, Bible reading, everything got and is getting redone in me and I sense that over time these practices will increasingly emerge in a more authentic way from my deepest core of Divinity within. This seems to be the road to Christ Consciousness, to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship that can be real only from my Higher Self where I am compatible with Christ and God. I am not here yet experientially, not by a long shot, but these thoughts help frame the transformation work and open the door to deeper Truths.
While these ideas are simple, living them has become a lifetime of growth for me. Pathwork is something that truly resonates with this deepest core within me and guides me into ways to come home to God, to my own Higher Self where we are all One with God. This is the path from duality to unitive consciousness.
Of course we can take up Pathwork at any time, but perhaps if we take it up too early, before we have our ego and mask-self developed and grounded, we may sometimes get confused and break the natural order of our spiritual evolution. Timing seems very important. For me I see that Pathwork has worked best as I was facing my substantial Midlife challenges.
I realize that this picture is much clearer looking backwards. I’m not at all sure that I would have been open to all this before my midlife crisis in my 50s.