The Importance of Shadow Work

Article by Angie Webster, Reiki Rays

As energy workers and light workers, it can seem really tempting to keep our attention only on the aspects of ourselves that we like or that we feel are “spiritual” enough. We can feel tempted to resist the aspects of our personality that cause us to feel triggered, angry, sad, worried or fearful and to cling to the aspects of ourselves that feel happy. We may not want to admit that we get caught in judgement of others or that certain situations are overwhelming or unpleasant to us.

It is a trap to believe that being a spiritual person or a light worker means that we don’t have any darkness or that we are supposed to pretend we are perfect or superhuman. When we don’t acknowledge the aspects of ourselves that we reject or that we are ashamed of, we are not able to find complete acceptance. We are not able to fully see our own Higher Self and the Divine working through us, because we continue to believe we are separate and unworthy of being whole. We can only go so far on our healing path without truly looking within ourselves and examining the parts of ourselves we judge.

Shadow work, sometimes called healing the inner child, is the willingness to begin honestly noticing when you are triggered in some way in order to begin understanding why and how you respond the way you do. The point of this is not to explain away the trigger or to cling to your thoughts and emotions, but simply to observe what is happening within you in a non-judgmental way. By doing this, you can begin to learn more about your automatic reactions and what thoughts you have during emotional responses.

It is not possible to work entirely from alignment and truth if we are fragmented within ourselves. Yet, we all have aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge and we push away. Most of us have many parts of us that we deny. Each time we cling to something or push something away, we are meeting up with an aspect of ourselves that is fearful. When we examine and acknowledge that fear (and any other feelings), we may find that a part of us is ready to learn more about who we are. The more we can acknowledge the way we truly feel, while not clinging to it or pushing it away, the more we can release it without getting caught in automatic reactions. We can then choose to respond in the way that feels most in integrity to us at that time, without the confusion of remaining stuck in old thought patterns that don’t work anymore.

Shadow Work

To do shadow work, the next time you are triggered or feeling difficult emotional extremes:

1) Practice breathing in your belly by noticing the breath rising and falling in your abdomen, especially the low belly. You may need to consciously let go of tension in the belly to really feel the breath move in and out. Many of us hold tension there, especially when we are upset or stressed.

2) Notice your inner responses–how you think and feel, where you feel it in your body, what the triggers were. Notice any thoughts you may be having about the emotions or the situation. Note any constriction in your body.

3) Honor your feelings without judgment or further reaction. Neither try to push them away, nor engage in thoughts, words or actions that build upon them. Simply observe and allow the emotional energy to move through you. Continue to breathe. Speak to the feelings, if that feels comfortable to you.

4) Note what your reaction has been to the emotion, again without judgement. How do you feel about the reaction? Is there constriction in your body when you think about this?

5) Ask yourself if the thoughts you have been telling yourself about this emotion and this situation are really true? If you are afraid of something, ask yourself if you can be OK with that happening. Can you trust the Universe? Can you offer the situation to your Higher Self or the Divine?

6) Can you step back, even a little bit, and see if there is a larger message that is available to you? Messages are available in any situation, particularly those we are triggered by. We only need to pay attention. These messages can come from our body, our environment, song lyrics, animals, etc. In fact, repeating situations themselves can be seen as messages that something within us is asking for attention and healing.

Shadow work can be challenging at times, but it is very rewarding work. The longer you do this work, the better you will understand yourself and your own place in the Universe. In addition, your need to judge others will fade. The things we judge in others are often aspects of ourselves that we are not able to tolerate. As we heal and develop understanding and compassion for the many aspects of ourselves, we find that we have the same for others.

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Angie Webster

Angie Webster is a freelance writer, Reiki Master Teacher and meditation teacher. Angie’s primary focus in her Reiki practice is empowering women with chronic pain conditions, neurological conditions or anxiety. She offers guided meditation and shamanic Reiki as part of her practice, where appropriate. Angie is the author of Infinite Reiki, Infinite Healing: How Energy Medicine Healed my Life and What it Can do for Yours. Reiki and a healthy lifestyle contributed to her healing after a 20 year struggle with neurological and chronic pain issues. She comes out the other side with a new perspective on life and now seeks to empower others, guiding them back to their own innate healing abilities. You can follow her at: http://naturalholisticlife.wordpress.com/,https://www.facebook.com/HolisticSpirituality, http://www.serenityenergyhealing.com/

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