Aspects of Consciousness.
Consider the aspects of your consciousness, as if they are sitting together, at an outdoor cafe on the French Riviera.
You sit in one chair. You as your ego, that which you think you are, your conditioned mind. Anything that you believe about yourself that is a fear, judgment, belief or limit.
Across from you, sits your Shadow side. Your inner demon, that which you think you are not. It may look like simply a very deep shadow, or it may take the form of someone you judge and reject. The Shadow is a reflection of the ego, the bigger the ego, the larger shadow it casts. They both represent your separation from the Divine, except the Shadow is the Divine that has taken on the task of reflecting your fears back to you, so you can choose love instead.
For everything you believe you are, there is a belief of what you are not. Ego polishes its buttons of pride and illusions of holier than thou, because all flaws and negative judgments are projected onto the Shadow. The Shadow plays the bad guy, by reflecting it all back at you so you can see what you fear, and have the free will option to choose love and unity. In most awakened people the shadow is integrated through the discipline of seeing yourself mirrored as what you judge. With some spiritual awakening, such as Shamanism, it is not unusual for the Shadow to take a form, to be an inner teacher. A harsh trainer, whose sharp tongue teaches humility. You have to learn to love and accept your own shadow unconditionally, to integrate it and become self realized.
To one side of you sits your Divine Beloved, your own unconscious mind which has a mind of its own. It is usually the opposite gender of your body. It is your soul mate, lover and guide.
On your other side sits an invisible presence, the Witness. The eyes of your Soul, the aspect of you that is outside of duality, emotionless unconditional love.
Behind the Shadow and the Divine beloved, there is a large crowd gathered: the Archetypes. These are most easily understood as manifestations of the old Gods. Many Pagan pantheons, such as the Greek, Roman, Norse and Mayan Pantheons had a God for each aspect of being human. Athena is the Goddess of reason and self defensive war, Mars is the God of aggressive war and conflict.
Behind the Archetypes, is an infinite crowd. The collective consciousness. Every being who ever existed, or ever will exist. Every event, every blade of grass and every snowflake that ever has been or will be, is alive in the eternal moment, outside of time. All of this, is within the infinity of the collective consciousness. They are how you are All that Is.
Behind them, beside them, and through them all is the invisible presence of the Witness. Always there, never seen... only felt.
The Divine Beloved, encompasses all the archetypes, and the entire collective. Your unconscious, the "Divine Beloved", does not experience itself as separate from the Archetypes, the Collective, or the Witness Self. Many faces, one Self.
One aspect of the Shadow, is that it is also the Portal Guardian, the gatekeeper between your conscious and unconscious mind. The veil of forgetfulness. Its role is protective, it keeps your conscious ego mind from being overwhelmed by the chaos of the collective. By reflecting your fears back to you, it keeps you from going to altered states that you are not yet ready for. You could say that it is the Shadow that is in charge of pacing and arranging your process... the linearity of its unfolding.
It is also the Angel of Death, because death is the doorway to the Light, and the unconscious is not separate from that. The awakening process eventually leads you to experience the death of your ego. The experience of separation from the Divine ends and you become the Light. Ego dies and goes into the light, and your Higher Self comes down into the body to be You. Body lives on as a temple of your Spirit.
The shadow keeps you from going there before you are ready, because too much karma clearing all at once would be a mentally hazardous experience. The Shadow, is the fiery sword that guards Eden, so that only those who are without fear, can pass.
Understanding the many aspects of consciousness is useful for the Kundalini process, because these aspects so often show up symbolically, in dreams. Understanding that your consciousness is made up if an internal cast of characters is useful because it allows you to communicate directly with these aspects of yourself, in meditation. You already experience yourself as separate from these aspects of you. Surrender to that, and create a relationship between the aspects so they can teach and guide you.
Try it! Imagine sitting at this cafe table with the many parts of your mind, plus your Higher Self and Guardian Angel... and let them be a council, to sort out all of your problems for you. Even if you cannot hear them, they will hear you, and act on your behalf and in service to your highest good and the continued unfolding of your spiritual path.