Updated: Oct 23, 2019
It's a term that gets thrown around and it sounds ominous but what is it really and why do we even want to go there?
Shadow work is accepting the traits in ourselves that we don't like. For example, I can be intense, domineering, bossy, and even super critical. I know these things about myself and by admitting them, and even loving them (awkwardly at times), I am able to see the benefits of them, identify when I'm falling into their grasp, and work on healing their deep rooted wounds. That's not to say that they are all healed up and never come out to play, but when they do, by admitting to them, I can see when and where I need to focus my attention.
Shadow work is a blessing.
Happiness and joy are great places to be, they make us feel light and free. They create endorphins (happy hormones) that release into our blood stream giving us a sense of pleasure and even euphoria. Nice, right? Everyone likes a good dose of happy hormones. Laughter, good company, love, sex, nature, music, creativity, these are all great ways to live with joy and happiness.
Shadow work can release these endorphins too.
Would you know happiness if you didn't know sadness? Would you know pleasure if you didn't know pain? Would you appreciate day if you didn't know night? Would you appreciate health if you didn't experience illness?
These are what we call polarities. Light and dark, happy and sad, day and night, feast and famine, hot and cold.
Life and death.
Everything in our world, at the very core, exists in polarity. Opposites that create difference so that we can know the full range of experience. The more dramatic the difference, i.e., the bigger the gap, the more extreme the polarity, the deeper the lesson.
And when the lesson is deep, the wider the range to our experience.
For example, the more heartbreak the grander our capacity is for love. Consider it like a swing of a pendulum, if you are only ever doing surface emotions (mostly happy and avoiding sad), your pendulum will have a small swing. If you fully feel and express your sorrow that takes you to the very depths of your soul, where you can feel your heart breaking and the ache of it ripping in two, you will open yourself to the capacity of utter heart shattering love beyond measure, and the swing of your pendulum becomes as wide as possible. You have swum the rivers of both sorrow and bliss so you are able to move into duality.
Duality is wholeness. It is the acceptance of how it is. We don't have to like it but acceptance is the key to living with intent and accountability.
When we live in a state of duality that sense of wholeness provides us with contentment and thankfulness, a state in which endorphins flow consistently instead of a spike here and there.
Why is shadow work important? When we move from polarity (opposites) to duality (wholeness) we live with ourselves.
We fully embody and accept how we are, we stop blaming and shaming, we hold compassion, love, and non judgement more easily. We forgive ourselves and others.
We heal and have the capacity to help others heal. We become brave and vulnerable, and strong. We no longer have to fight to overcome because we accept.
We no longer look to compete, we see our graces and our challenges both as gifts. We learn to love who we are with all our faults, not as problems but as quirks and uniqueness - like the facets of a stained glass window or the pieces of a mosaic.
We also gain a greater sense of who we are and how we operate both as an individual and as part of the collective.
We talk about living consciously, being Goddesses, and raising our vibration, what better and longer lasting method is there than through self acceptance? Do we genuinely believe that a Goddess is one who never faced a challenge, never had to overcome a personal attribute that made her go, oh wait a second?
We talk about raising our vibration and the gold that comes of that, what greater way to overcome a lower personal vibe is there than grace? How do we get to grace? It can only truly be achieved through complete self acceptance.
No one wants to be stuck in the dark and shadow work is not staying in the cave. It is being brave enough to step into the labyrinth and facing the uncomfortable truths that lurk there, shining a light and loving them until you forgive yourself.
Do you remember when you were a kid and there were creepy shadows cast on the walls? You'd turn on the light and find out that it was an item of clothes draped over a chair or a toy sitting weirdly casting an odd shape. They taught us that perceptions colour our sight.
That the things we fear are inside of us and when we shine light on them we can understand and accept that it is how it is.
And as it turns out, the shadows weren't that scary after all.