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Shadow Work

 Integrating Disowned Parts of the Self

The most annoying and irritating traits you see in another reflect it. The most virtuous traits you admire in another reflect it as well. The things you say or do that you later regret reflect it.

The Shadow Self, or simply ‘the Shadow’ is the most valuable contribution of the West to the ancient traditions wisdom of the East. In the East, sages on a spiritual quest have focused on Being: realizing one’s Self, being with what is, in the here and now. The West has brought the part of the picture that focuses on Becoming: growing, bettering and improving one’s self. Your ultimate spiritual quest is both Being and Becoming.

What is the Shadow? Everything that you have repressed or suppressed, from emotions to sexuality to desires to potential strengths, becomes active under the radar, in the shadow of your subconscious mind. Let’s say that, when you were young, you were harshly admonished for stealing your sister’s cookies. You were told that this was greed, and greed was unacceptable. You stopped the offensive behavior and decided that you were not greedy. You grow up, and someone’s behavior strikes you as greed, and it triggers your emotions. You condemn them for their greed. The disowned part of you – the ‘greedy’ voice of your mind -, shows up through this other person. You don’t see the greed in yourself, but you can easily spot it in others.

Both negative and positive repressed parts of you can be contained in the shadow. Anything that you condemn in another is negative shadow. Anything that you admire in another is positive shadow. Your emotions are indicator in both cases.

Shadow often shows up in relationships. It shows up in 3rd (he / she / they) perspective or 2nd (you) perspective. To integrate it, you must own it, and become it (1st perspective: I)

In one recent session, a woman who was contemplating divorce went through the protocol of integrating the shadow. By the end of the session, she had tears of love for her husband and couldn’t go home fast enough to see him.

When you own back disowned parts of yourself, you become integral. The energy that was tied up to maintain those parts under the radar is now freed and available for you to express in life. The physical result of the integration is often a change of posture – when shadow work is combined with yoga and chiropractic – and muscle tension release. Emotionally, you open up to greater felt compassion.

The cultural result of doing shadow work is often more loving relationships.