As humans, we exist on a full spectrum. We are both innately divine as well as elementally animalistic. We are often guided to bring out the spiritual and “light” nature and to suppress primitive judgment, fears or “dark” nature that arises. Although these human aspects are the exact messengers we need to hear in order to guide us deeper into our light.
What Is Shadow Work?
We all have a conscious mind as well as an unconscious mind. We are all in a human body that naturally creates desires, needs, questions, and even misunderstandings.
The Shadow is a term coined by Jungian psychology referring to the unconscious aspects of the human nature. This can be viewed as what is behind the conscious ego and is the unknown or dark side.
This encompasses our inner wounding, shame, and fears. Shadow Work is the idea of accepting and owning your shadow rather than suppressing or rejecting it. This process guides us to integrate and acknowledge our shadow in order to become fully whole.
As children, we learned how to express ourselves in certain acceptable ways due to receiving positive or negative cues. In order to be accepted or approved of in society, we suppressed certain parts of ourselves.
What Is Spiritual Bypassing?
With the shadow being related to the ego, our inner darkness, and negative emotions it can be unflattering to see within another let alone yourself. It is pleasing to see someone constantly happy, motivated with pure intentions, and forever full of patience.
This is precisely the foundation behind what drives people to spiritually bypass. As well as your shadow emotions can be uncomfortable. In fact, that is what defines them as shadow emotions, the discomfort.
Spiritual masters train to transcend the suffering of the human world. Although this cannot be done in full authenticity without the acceptance of the entire human spectrum as well.
Spiritual bypassing is the opposite of Shadow Work. It is escaping the human world and existing entirely within the comfort of the positive thinking or spiritual philosophies.
For example, spiritually bypassing can look like a person who’s loved one has died and instead of allowing themselves to mourn they shift into a spiritual perspective. Such as knowing their loved one is not their physical body and still exists in their truest essence.
This restriction of feeling the depth of the shadow will correlate to a restriction of feeling the depth of the light as well. This is because to have light we need contrast. Both the spiritual perspective and human emotions can exist at the same time.
What Is The Benefit Of Shadow Work?
Exploring the unseen parts of us, or shadow, when it surfaces is incredibly rewarding. This is because through fine-tuning and deepening our sight we will be able to see our light even more deeply as well. It is a humbling gift to get to know the self completely.
It also can reveal underlying tendencies one is not consciously aware of. Through this acknowledgment and integration, the shadow worker can take conscious action based off of the full awareness.
The act of shadow work can return us to a place where gratitude and appreciation flood our system easily. It allows us to deepen the compassion we have for others as well as open our minds to see through illusions more easily.
Shadow Work Exercises
Before beginning shadow work it is important to ground and center yourself. Since you are exploring the many aspects and layers to yourself that can be highly emotionally charged it is important to begin at a neutral space with a strong foundation.
Learn how to ground yourself and techniques here.
You can also center yourself through loving-kindness and compassion-focused meditations. This is because in order to clearly see all sides to your psyche and nonjudgmentally allow yourself to unfold, compassion is a great tool.
Learn about compassion and meditation here.
Now to get into self-reflection techniques. Journaling is a powerful tool in order to allow your subconscious to unfold. As well as journal prompts can instigate the surfacing of hidden aspects within you.
We have journal prompts for each of the seven chakras. Click here to begin your shadow work with the journal prompts for the first chakra.
Another technique for looking at your shadow is through Byron Katie’s turnaround technique. This is part of “The Work” which involves diving deeper into judgments and expectations.
Turnarounds are looking into how true the exact opposite of a thought is. This work because disappointments are always created from you, not the other person. To understand this more you need to understand that your external environment is a reflection of you.
The practice is to take a statement and to turn it around to the opposite, toward yourself, and to the other. Not all judgments will have three turnarounds that’s okay. Then you try to prove how these turnarounds can be right. Click here to find a more in-depth guide to turnarounds.
Meditation can also be used to practice shadow work in three different ways. One way is when meditating on a singular point of focus it will strengthen your ability to stay objective and curious when approaching thoughts. This skill can then correlate to your investigative practices.
The second way it can work is through mindfulness techniques and expanding your awareness. When your awareness is increased and you are able to notice more subtle details you will be able to uncover deeper and more rewarding layers to your psyche. Find one of our guided mindfulness meditations here.
The third way to apply meditation to shadow work is through meditating upon a negative emotion. This is an advanced practice and a strong skill set to be able to self soothe is required before embarking on this practice.
To apply this technique, when you become aware of a negative emotion or a trigger come into a meditative and objective state. Curiously explore the emotion from a non-judgmental point of view. See what caused it, what fears are behind it, and even what it is asking of you.
You may also enjoy our article: 5 ways to free yourself from judgements