Updated: Jul 16, 2020
Shadow work is a somewhat popular topic lately (depending on who you follow on social media). As I write this, we are currently in a retrograde. That means that something inside of you will be surfacing. It will be a part of yourself that you have suppressed for some time now. In this way, shadow work is a timely topic.
Shadow work is a process of deep transformation that involves one integrating the parts of oneself that have been rejected. These rejected parts of our self are referred to as our "shadow".
These parts of our self are rejected and suppressed on a daily basis through unconscious thought patterns designed to reinforce their suppression. In this way, shadow work can be extremely tricky.
Essentially, shadow work is no different than resolving subconscious patterns. However, shadow work requires us to take on the subconscious patterns that suppress the parts of our self that we reject the most. It is not just the part of yourself that you judge in the mirror every day. It is the part of yourself that you wish did not exist. It is the part of yourself that you see as an ugly, unworthy monster that you should never show to anyone because nobody would ever accept or love that part of you.
When we reject ourselves in such a deep, profound way, we create many unfavorable consequences that affect the quality of our life in every way.
At first, undergoing shadow work will be one of the craziest adventures you ever experience in life.
As your shadow starts to surface, it may feel like you are physically in danger. You may feel like something is near you and about to attack you. You may feel a deep sense of depression. You may experience a sudden surfacing of anxiety. What you experience varies. It depends on the way you have personally programmed yourself to suppress your shadow. Since this is a very deep, intricate pattern, it will likely contain a lot of distortion due to the judgment and limiting beliefs.
If you can somehow find the drive to keep going directly into your fear, you will find that a lot of the things you just experienced will fade in intensity. Then, you will experience a great deal of thought patterns. You may experience a great deal of restlessness in both your mind and body. Your mind might race everywhere. If you are judgmental, you will become attached to this restlessness. You will never be able to see the bigger picture. You must practice being mindful (nonjudgmental) of all of the thought patterns you notice. If you do this, you will start to pick out limiting beliefs. You will start to see how these limiting beliefs are designed to suppress emotions (of your shadow). As you see this, you can consciously choose to release these limiting beliefs.
This part can be very tricky. It will appear extremely distorted. You may even experience visions similar to a dream. If you do, surrender to these visions. You will find that they will fade as they were just a distorted illusion, a projection of your subconscious fears. Your fears take on a specific form when you judge them and blame something in your external reality. You may experience visions of spiders, snakes, or monsters. These are simply forms that you created to blame for your fears.
If you can release enough limiting beliefs, a great deal of emotion will come to the surface. It will be an incredible amount of emotion. You may experience unbearable suffering in both your mind and body. Your first instinct will likely be to run. Ironically, trying to fight/control the suffering only makes it worse.
If you can surrender to the pain/suffering, the emotions will flow. It will feel like an ocean washing through you. Purge it all. Be thorough. Go directly into the pain and sadness.
As you do this, you will understand the pain you put your shadow through. It will become clear how the people you reject most were mirrors of the way you treat yourself. You will experience a great range of emotions from guilt, grief, sadness, sympathy, etc.
As you feel all of the "bad" emotions, you will start to experience the other duality of emotions. This part of yourself will get to experience the present finally. It will feel like being liberated from years of slavery and suffering in darkness. You will start to feel the beauty of this part of yourself. You may cry out of happiness.
As the duality of emotions comes full circle, you will establish a nondualistic/unconditional connection with your shadow through feelings. This makes it effortless to become present with this part of yourself. As you are present, this part of yourself will become integrated into your conscious awareness.
Then, you will find a deep sense of peace.
What is integrated into your conscious awareness will depend on which part of yourself you rejected. If you rejected your inner child, you will likely integrate the child-like joy and adventurous spirit. You will experience the present with a new way of seeing the world.