Engaging with shadow work

This article is going to give you an understanding of potential routes through shadow work. The ideas and activities here are designed to help you move towards a deeper understanding of yourself. If you have not read my previous post “shadow work is” now would be the time to do so.

Shadow work aims to open up a dialogue between the conscious and subconscious so that we can better understand our own internal processing. By identifying our motivations, intentions, and needs, on both sides of the fence, we enable ourselves a more full understanding of who we are and how to maximise our own potential.

95% of our brain activities happen at an unconscious level and occur at tremendous speed; within milliseconds. Studies show that only 5% of our cognitive activity (decision making, emotions, actions, behaviours) comes from our conscious mind. If we don’t attempt to access our deeper selves, we can’t truly know ourselves at all.

The world is loud and getting louder still. We have more demands made of us than ever and it all serves to keep our minds busy. We are often living without any attention or mindfulness for the subconscious. Our subconscious encapsulates all of our experience which is not consciously known. Our subconscious therefore needs time to be recognised and responded to in order to repair trauma with any meaningful depth.

When we choose to listen to our intuition, (the voice in our head, the gut feeling, the sensation, the sense of knowing) we enable ourselves to meet our true nature. We are hearing or feeling what we need to recognise and potentially resolve within ourselves or within our environment, to find inner peace and security.

Find the time to be in silence. Sit alone. No pets, no people, no sound. Just you. Allow your mind to go where ever it needs to. Perhaps practice breathing exercises or focus on something singular (E.g an oak tree) to slow the thoughts of the day.

As you begin to feel aware of your deeper thoughts and feelings, refrain from resisting them on account of not being comfortable about what it says about you. This is your own safe space within your own mind where you can explore how you feel free from judgement BUT, only if you allow yourself this honour, acceptance and respect.

Pay attention to yourself
Take the time to sit with how you feel and pay attention to why.
Ask yourself as you would a close friend, “What makes you feel this way?”

Which thoughts come to the surface for you?

I would warn that very often we begin to recognise or recall, memories and emotions we had forgotten about or not known we held.

This can be hard to handle, so we will look at how to handle big emotions as we move through this shadow work collection. In this step we should be examining our deeper sense of reasoning.
Using the silence to hear, and then listening to ourselves effectively,
are core components in reaching full self awareness.

Remember our quote from Carl Jung
“The seekers on the road to consciousness will pass through the dark night. In fact they will pass through several until they experience the profound joy of their true nature.”

Listen and be true to yourself
Are you avoiding things you don’t want to face or accept? Be honest with yourself about your ‘WHY?’.
Why don’t you want to accept that thing about yourself? Is your reasoning sturdy?
It’s important not to be dismissive of your own nature when working through your shadow. We often silence our shadow selves to fit in with society and what we believe is expected of us.

When alone be honest with yourself. Be real about what you feel, confess to yourself what you’re afraid of, your urges, fixations, social masks, tendencies etc.
By bringing your subconscious to a more conscious state you are granting yourself the power to change the foundations of your thinking.

Facing ourselves can be painful. As we learn to unravel all of the conditioning and judgements we were made to believe and enforced then upon ourselves, we often find wounded children within. Once we meet them, it is time to love you back to health through kind support and acceptance.

“Dear child, you are me. I welcome you and all of your wounds to break in my presence, and leak. Fill the rivers and drowned the lands, I lose it all to give me the chance to rise renewed. In our summer, when the crops return, leave full my well with tears of joy” – OnceUnchained

Writing a journal can help to track your developments and progress. More significantly they provide you with an aid for reflective thinking. By revisiting our ‘eureka’ moments with personal development, we help to solidify these new thoughts and ways of thinking as parts of our full self.

Type of journal entry…

Note taking is the process of writing out our reflections typically after having had some development in our thinking or learning something we want to remember. This is a good way to keep track of your developing thought processes through your journey.

Stream of consciousness writing is essentially writing down anything that comes into your head while you sit with your pen and paper. Simply flowing with your thoughts onto the page enables a cathartic process for some, which may help to uncover deeper emotional complexities or otherwise release stress.

Pay attention to your self. Stop to explore what your inner voice is saying and how your shadow could be playing its role. Once you have identified the various factors in play you can work with them to develop new understandings and perceptions.

If you are wanting to continue your shadow work, grab a journal and give the above exercise a try. Sit alone in silence and journal any thoughts that come to you. You should finish with a few notes highlighting your thoughts.

You might not yield an immediate result; you have to silence your conscious mind in order to hear your shadow speak. It takes time, patience and practice to silence and control the conscious mind. It is difficult to be objective about ourselves and to re-parent ourselves too but we are all capable.

Learning a new way of thinking takes work but can save you from repeating upsetting cycles.

If you run into distress while on your journey of shadow work it is important to seek help from people you trust and potentially to make contact with your GP for access to counselling and specialised support. There is a wide variation of potentially useful therapies available, ranging from talking therapies and traditional counselling through to hypnosis and bodywork.

With love,
Unchained Inside

  • Aaron Abke – ‘The deeper the pain the deeper the healing.’ ‘Thank your pain for its presence, integrate yourself.’
    The three stages of shadow work
  • Teal Swan – ‘no-one over reacts’ ‘we always act in perfect accordance with the reality reality we are perceiving, it just so happens that the reality we are perceiving, is not necessarily the realty that others are perceiving.’ Diving Deep (shadow work)

6 thoughts on “Engaging with shadow work

  1. A thoughtful backpack of tools for a Shadow Work journey. I’m interested to apply these exercises and be open to whatever I might find.
    I particularly like the ‘Dear Child…’ meditation. Gives me a feeling of a child returning to ‘bleed closed’ the wounds of the land.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this phrase ‘bleed closed’. We should aim to accept the all of who we are. This does mean facing things about ourselves we would rather not accept. It is a process of big emotion. Great emotion often indicates great healing with the shadow.
      Moving forward I will be releasing a ‘Meeting your inner child’ post, aimed at exploring this style of meeting the self more fully.
      Hopefully once complete, you will find an extension on your liking through that.
      What does shadow work mean to you at the moment? (If that’s not too personal)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At the moment to me, Shadow Work means recognising that much of my identity is eclipsed. I experience my passions but not what lies beneath. It is about learning how to usefully visit those eclipsed territories and come back with more light. Or expressed bluntly – finding out why I am as I am and deciding whether that is useful to me.

        Liked by 1 person

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