In the midst of the acceptance and practice of astrology and other esoteric studies online, there are a record number of coaches and guides who are interested in helping others through their shadow work. Over the last 3-4 years, shadow work has become a buzzword for the spirituality and personal development communities. However, for some this can be a trigger word that brings little to no understanding of the spiraling emotions that can accompany shadow work.
So what is shadow work and how do you maintain wholeness while in the thick of it. In order to know what shadow work is, we must first understand the characteristics of the shadow self. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung defines the shadow self, as our deepest primitive state of human emotions and impulses. Due to its unfiltered nature, facing this version of the self can create emotional havoc within. As BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) the shadow self can feel like a reflection of all the pain, trauma, and struggle of previous generations, on top of how this karmic energy is expressing itself in real-time. The shadow self can feel like a collection of the fear and shame of our ancestors found in ways of our own thinking and being.
“Self-love cannot flourish in isolation. It is no easy task to be self-loving.” -Bell Hooks
When we find ourselves called to solitude and reflection, we are meant to hold space for compassion and gratitude. Shadow work is necessary for deepening our self-awareness and spiritual shifting; allowing the Divine to bring truth and light to the re-workings of our hearts. However, we must allow ourselves to be reborn from that space. Bell Hooks shares it plainly stating, “self-love cannot flourish in isolation. It is no easy task to be self-loving.” This implies that in this work of facing the shadow, this is simply a practice of loving your whole self, both healed and unaware.
The process of self-reflection and self-accountability is frequently initiated by emotional triggers. In today’s world, we get a glimpse into acts of self-love displayed online but the common force of the evil eye (envy and jealousy) can make anyone feel overlooked and unseen. It’s key to see these feelings as invitations to deep chakra energy healing. The goal of shadow work is to get to the root of the primal emotions or impulses we have. Therefore, it is key to maintain our wholeness in the midst of facing the realities of the lower vibrations we feel.
We do this by recognizing the pattern of our behaviors and how they’ve shaped our lives so far. Realizing how we’ve already experienced these patterns, creates an accurate starting point for healing and growth. Our wholeness is found in the present moment, so remember to remain objective when reflecting on past experiences. It’s not uncommon for significant life events to leave an impression on the nervous system, making it feel difficult to release because the memory is felt on a physical level.
As you gain more awareness of where you are energetically in your shadow, you can identify the areas where you need more attention and love. Modalities like reiki can provide a look into your energetic aura, providing a clear map on how to approach your shadow work. This can also look like adopting a mentor who possesses the particular qualities you wish to develop within yourself. How you wish to transmute your shadow into divine awareness is completely up to you.
However, you must allow time for your healing and developments to authentically integrate into the self. This happens when you reemerge from the depths of your shadow work to live your life in alignment with all you’ve learned. That way, your healing journey is authentic to you and the shift you experience is real, strong, and foundational. Maintaining your wholeness allows you to come back to the present essence of being you, exactly how you were created. It saves you from getting lost in trying to “fix yourself.” Since you led your journey from a place of wholeness and compassion, you already understand that you’re not broken— you’re human.