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What is Shadow Work? And Where to Start?


Shadow is the yang to yin, the other side of the coin, the consequence of light, the inner unconscious depth that anchors onto our outer conscious simplicity of personality.


Shadow is a depth that is typically reflected back to us through the conscious actions of others, objects, or even our own psyche in the form of dreams or unconscious behavior. The monsters we see in life, in our past or future and the monsters we see in our psyche are linked to an unconscious attachment or judgment we're experiencing within ourselves.


And while I reference "monsters," the triggers may not be negative in nature as we may experience being heightened in a positive way as well in the form of external validation, an exciting environment, or admiration.


The discovery of that unconscious attachment is Shadow Work. Shadow work is the doorway to functional empathy, the catch and release of patience, joy, love, fear, despair, and other emotions. Shadow work is a passage to our full humanity to see how we and others are the same in essence.


Shadow work is a process of layered awareness of emotional honesty due to the bravery of the uncovering process and the resulting expression through creative, vocal, or practical means, leading to full energetic flow and release. It's the freedom to feel an authentic emotion without self-judgment by accessing the watcher or infinite self to simply notice how we feel then express it habitually to release that energy through ourselves.


This usually starts as something shallow but a self-reflective examination can reveal the shadow of that initial feeling.


- Anxiety can convey a hidden or withheld excitement.

- Feeling rejection can reveal a habit of rejecting.

- Self-consciousness can reveal an outward focus on others.

- Sadness can reveal anger.

- "I can't" can simply mean "I won't."

- External hatred can reveal a self-hatred.

- Envy can reveal a denied greatness within yourself.


In a sense, shadow work is the unveiling of authentic emotion, and the acceptance of that authentic emotion leads to a liberation of the energy tied to that emotion.


- Anger leads to clarity.

- Fear leads to present bodied awareness.

- Doubt leads to an inquiring of intelligence.

- Jealousy leads to self-love.

- Avoidance and denial leads to wonder and simple presence.

- Sorrow leads to care and connection.

- Passion and grasping leads to wisdom and effortless intelligence


These are just a few examples.


So, how do we get from A to B?


A simple method of accessing shadow is the 3-2-1 method in the book Integral Life Practice, which has many amazing tools for nurturing mind, body, spirit, and shadow. This 3-2-1 method is a process of perspective shifting. Start by describing the element in the 3rd person in as much detail as you can. Then talk TO it in the 2nd as if they are in the chair in front of you. Then speak to yourself in the first person with a similar description. From here you simply notice what you are saying as it's likely something you are pointing out within yourself.


When identifying something deeper you may feel lighter and feel as though you've let go.


This freedom is the reward for lighting a torch into the darkness with no promise of an exit. It's a lightness that enables forward movement. It's the fuel needed to leave the atmosphere and venture into new worlds.


This is not a magic pill process. Continue to do it with all of the things or people in life that may be bothering you to begin a journey of personal freedom and expression.


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