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  • Writer's pictureNaama

What is Shadow Work?

To understand Shadow Work, we must first learn what the term shadow refers to.
To many, it may sound intimidating, dark, or scary. Often these negative connotations deter others from wanting to learn more about the benefits that come with embracing and understanding your shadow. Our hope is to challenge that initial fear, and bring you to a place of deeper self-acceptance in the long-run.
The concept of the shadow self was first introduced to the Western world by psychologist Carl Jung. Jung described it as the unconscious and disowned parts of our personalities that the ego fails to see, acknowledge, and accept.

Shadow work is said to be one of the most authentic paths to enlightenment.

The shadow refers to any aspect of ourselves not exposed to the light of our consciousness. It can include the aspects of ourselves we have been conditioned to repress or feel ashamed of. Our shadow experiences everything we do, and it carries our lingering trauma--unconsciously shaping our daily lives. Understanding your shadow will challenge those initial ideas controlling your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Once we become exposed to parts of the inner child and deep personal psyche, we receive proper insight of ourselves needed to transmute negative behaviors into generational healing.

Through our Shadow Work practice, we will learn to understand the duality of our Light and Shadow Self. There is a harmonious and beautiful balance inside of us composed of many parts and layers that ultimately define us. Most times, the brighter the Light; the darker the Shadow. The reason our Light shines bright is because we have our Shadow that is complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. There is a synergetic pull as they interrelate to each other.

Everyone has a Shadow and we must learn to accept and love our Shadow. It isn't "bad" or "evil" as some people tend to cast harsh judgment on these parts of themselves. Our behavior is influenced on what we are taught to perceive as "bad" and what we perceive to be "good". Philosophers call this "Moral Objectivism" or "Ethical Relativism" which is the theory that cultural and societal influences can dictate a person's definition of right or wrong. These words "good" and "bad" are defined differently by everyone and will vary from person to person. What one person may view as "good" another can view it as "bad". For example, one person's experience with a fire can be "good" because it provides him warmth on cold days whereas another person's perception of that same fire is "bad" because that person got burnt from a flame in the past and now has created an affiliation with the idea that fire is "bad". These terms distract from the all knowing truth that lies within... that things just ARE. There is no "good" nor "bad". We have these words in place as a survival tactic. We teach our children to look both ways when crossing the street, not doing so is "bad" because you can get hit by a car. This can be counter-productive in our growth because we constantly judge everything and compartmentalize things unconsciously as "good" or "bad" and later create an emotional association to something that isn't good nor bad, it simply is. We are limited by these words when we use them to describe anything. What we can say to the child crossing the street, is that it is "safe" to look both ways before crossing the street and therefore avoid "danger" from getting hit by a car. We will learn to take away the judgment of the ideas and simply state facts without an emotional reaction.

We, as humans, are not good or bad, we simply ARE. Every person has areas of correction. If we didn't have a Shadow, we wouldn't be whole. Even the most enlightened people have a Shadow, but they have learned to love and embrace these parts of themselves. They are able to understand those are still parts of themselves and is worthy of love. Our Shadow, by definition is the repression of the parts of ourselves that we find unfavorable. We must change our relationship and the way we view these parts of ourselves. We will work on strengthening these areas through bringing it to our awareness by dissecting the trigger, cause, and emotional response to better understand ourselves.

It is important when we do our Shadow Work that we see ourselves objectively with eyes of non-judgement, acceptance and love. This means to be the observer of ourselves like we are looking at ourselves from the outside without any predetermined attachments. We will practice simply noticing our emotional response without judgement.

With the right tools, will be able to get us in direct connection with our intuition and highest self. We have to practice working on our relationship with our Shadow Self by understanding our Shadow Self. I emphasize the word "practice" because it takes a good amount of time, patience and effort dedicated to healing and surrender and therefore isn't always an easy, linear path. There may be challenges and learning curves which makes your journey that much more unique.

Shadow work exposes parts of you that needed healing from adolescence, parts of you that are far from perfect that have possibly lead to abandonment issues, repression, attachment issues, deep rooted insecurities, etc..

Shadow Work is never easy. Especially if you have been through trauma. If considering the shadow sides of yourself brings about pain, suffering, or fear that feel ill-equipped to handle, it's time to seek the help of a licensed professional.

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