An Introduction to Shadow Work
The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow. Maybe the only thing each of us can see is our own shadow…
Welcome to my three-part series on one of the most profound healing practices you can learn and implement into your life.
Carl Jung called this shadow work. He said we never see others, instead we see only aspects of ourselves that fall ‘over’ them. Shadows. Projections. Our associations. Shadow work is one of my favorite practices to share. I have found it to be one of the most challenging, yet simultaneously the most rewarding of the many types of healing modalities that I utilize on my path to Enlightenment.
This work is for anyone who truly wants to come to know all aspects of their invisible self. Both their light and their darkness. What I have found is that by embracing the darker aspects of our psyche, we in fact become more open to receive light. We begin to uncover more of our hidden gifts and talents. The unconscious mind, as many refer to it, is in fact a gateway that opens up to the infinite possibility of all that we have the potential to become. But before we can access that windfall of inspiration and abundance from Source Energy, we have to face what many refer to as our own “demons”. This is why many stay clear of this type of work, it’s not easy. Mainstream religion and dogma teach that our demons or darkness should be cast away, banished, or exorcised as if it is somehow a source of evil that can affect us outside of our own will.
This first part of the series will focus on what the shadow self is and how we have come to from the dark parts of our nature. We all have aspects of ourselves that we wish to see grow, mature and evolve. Far too often however, instead of showering these aspects of our self with love and acceptance, so that they may come more fully into light, we have been taught to cast them away or suppress them to please others and gain more acceptance. Maybe we grew up in a home where talking about feelings frustrated or annoyed our parents. We may have been told that crying is a sign of weakness. So in order to create a scenario where we can receive more love, we slowly begin to suppress the aspects of ourselves that want to express emotion.
Another example might be that we were teased when we were younger by other kids for openly expressing preferences for the things we liked. However if these preferences do not align with mainstream ideas, we may have been taught that in order to be more accepted we should hide these preferences. In order to make more friends we then begin to assimilate the preferences of what all of the other kids liked.
Unfortunately not many of us were taught to have a strong sense of self. So these types of experiences where we reject aspects of our self in order to be loved and accepted continue to accumulate far into our adult life. All of these abandoned, rejected and banished aspects of our soul that have not been receiving love and acceptance create a shadow in our psyche. They create what we refer to in healing circles as an block (or resistance). You see, there is no true source of darkness. There is only being in alignment with Source (light) and being in resistance to or the absence of light (what we call darkness).
From the perspective of the quantum universe we create our reality from our subconscious mind. The subconscious is hundreds of times more powerful than the conscious mind. So that being said, it is only natural to then understand that these suppressed aspects of our psyche that reside in the subconscious would play a huge role in the world that is reflected around is. They create what is often referred to as energy patterns. These energy patterns become a powerful point of attraction. In other words, the people we encounter who we have resistance to, are actually projections of our own shadow. Being in resistance to any aspect of our true self drains our life force energy. These experiences take us out of alignment with our Higher Self and Source energy. This is why it feels so draining to be in these types of interactions.
The goal of working with the shadow is to integrate and come to know and accept all of those parts that we have attempted to hide or run from. To make that which has been operating at the unconscious level, conscious. Some may not be aware that these aspects even exist. However these aspects will continue to appear in order to become noticed. The higher self will always orchestrate opportunities for us to come to know ourselves more deeply, in truth, and for the purpose of nurturing wholeness. It is always up to us if we chose to answer our own soul’s call and turn inward. Shadow work, if practiced properly, can help us to create not only more compassion for others, but also for ourselves. It helps us to change our views, perspectives and beliefs. It asks us to embrace what we consider to be our weaknesses and turn them into strengths. When we work with the shadow we begin to reclaim the projections we put on others. We turn inward and begin to gently listen and heal those aspects within ourselves, instead of casting someone else as the bad guy and us as the helpless victim.
With continued awareness and inner healing, we will no longer need to attract into our experience people who trigger those energy patterns. We will notice that the people who we attract into our lives are whole and healed as well. No longer looking to blame our parents, others, or the world for our misfortune. We will be able to look back with compassion on all of the experiences that we have chosen (consciously or unconsciously) and see that there was a lesson and purpose in it all. Within shadow work the practice of forgiveness helps to fully empower us.
Through this series I will be teaching the step by step process of going deeply into this work. This week the homework is as follows: Take a few minutes of quiet time somewhere where you can connect to your higher self and ask for the support of this work you are about to begin. Set the intention that you will begin to call back all aspects of your soul that you have misplaced, rejected, suppressed or abandoned. Understand that people along the way who have caused you conflict have provided your soul a unique opportunity to learn more about your own personal truth.
Connect to a situation (or situations) in your life where you have been in discord with someone. One quick and easy way to locate those unclaimed aspects is to look at where and how you are judging others. We will begin to recognize that judging others is a shadow aspect of how we are judging ourselves. Ask questions inwardly such as; Why am I so irritated or annoyed with that person? Where does that live within me? What frightens me about that person? Who do they make me think of? Some other questions that you want to ask are; Why is this so bad? What does this mean to me? When was the last time that I felt this way? When was the first time that I felt this way? Begin to write down what comes to mind.
The ultimate turning point in shadow work is when we recognize the root or core belief that has created the shadow to begin with. Once we have identified the core belief that we have been holding on to that created a shadow, we can easily become aware of how this is creating resistance within us. Often what happens when we start to ask these questions is we are brought back to a time in our childhood where we can identify the original “trauma” that created the personality split.
This might be a bit hard to grasp, so for now you will have to just trust me. In truth, time is not linear, everything is happening simultaneously. What this means in terms of healing the past, is that you can actually connect to the parallel aspect of yourself that is experiencing this “past trauma” and envision a different outcome. What happens when you do this is that you experience the past healing benefits right now, because all things exist in the present moment. I wont get into the quantum physics of why this is so, however all you need to do is keep an open mind.
When you are able to identify the time/space when you began to create a split in your psyche between good and bad, dark and light.. you want to visualize yourself with the understanding that you have now. We will discuss more of the healing techniques in the upcoming parts of the series. For now, focus on identifying those shadow aspects of yourself that have been projecting onto others. The patterns should be fairly obvious. Because we are holographic by nature, we manifest the same patterns in various areas of our lives, work, home, relationships, etc. Start there.
And as always please check in with your own intuition about when and how much of this work is appropriate for you to start at this time. Self care is always the highest focus.
Stay tuned for the next piece in the series, Part 2: Healing the Inner Child.
“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole” ― C.G. Jung
By: Ascension Lifestyle Contributor Hasnaa
(Art by Jeff Sullivan)