What is a shadow:
Shadow work, in its basic form specifically deals with parts of our self that we do not always recognise or know that exist. These are parts of us that we consciously do not accept or believe exist, because they do not fit within the perception we have of ourselves. In other words, when we are confronted with these shadows, we don’t believe we are that particular thought, or that we feel that particular emotion, or are capable of that type of action. These shadows can be good and bad and are inherently attached to our thought patterns, our feelings or emotion and to our behaviour or actions, they can also be attached to us in an energetic form such as manifested energy. In this article I talk more from the perspective of the human experience of the shadow as opposed the energetical aspect. These shadows are usually formed from experiences and interactions we have had through life and depending upon the type of experience or interaction, these shadows can be damaging to our life experience, our inner peace or our spiritual evolution if not acknowledged and overcome.
So now that we know this… how do we acknowledge something that we don’t always know exists? Well… in its simplest form, a shadow is usually seen when light shines over it, in other words a conscious (foreground) acknowledgement is made about something that is going on in the sub-conscious (background). A good place to start is to be aware of your thoughts when entering into conversation or debate with people, to understand the actual thought process you use to understand what someone is saying and to understand where your reply is coming from and what you have based that reply on, whether your reply is based on experiences you have had personally and whether the thought of those experiences is from a true and balanced place. With regards to behaviour and emotions, it is good to take a step back from your emotion as if the emotion were someone else’s and just observe from an out of body perspective your usual automatic responses of certain situations.
To deepen this acknowledgement, look further back to when you first started to feel this way in your life. This will help to understand for the first time the depths of that shadow and how imbedded it has become into your life and how it can control your experiences. This is also true with actions, to watch from a far your actions in any given situation, but especially in situations where you feel a lot of emotion.
Acknowledging the shadow
A good example of all of these aspects is when you find yourself in a heated debate or argument, someone may have offended you by something they have said or done… A usual reaction can be to feel that you are absolutely right and therefore you have the right to be upset or angry or frustrated because the other person just isn’t understanding your point of view, and as they carry on hammering their point across, you start to feel more and more tense and angry or upset, you can feel patience is running out until that time when you will simply explode!… Sound familiar???
Stop for a second, start to recognise the aspects of your shadow, catch yourself with your thoughts and how absolute in your righteousness you are becoming, rest down your ego and become humble, look at your absolute held thoughts, the ones that you feel will override anything else anyone has to say. Next, recognise your emotion how upset or angry you may be feeling, know that this is a learnt behaviour and not necessarily yours, so you are free to set it down for a moment. Finally acknowledge your body and the change in it within this moment, feel how your muscles may be becoming tense. Relax the muscles in your neck, in your shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, feet, then completely dissociate yourself from the human body aspect of yourself.
Now… Start to listen to the actual words one by one that the other person is saying… understand where from inside you, your thoughts are coming from and if they are 100% real, accurate and evidenced by you, in a way which is a fair and balanced version of the truth. Once you start to acknowledge this, then focus your consciousness on your emotion but from a completely dissociated place, don’t be the emotion, but merely watch it from afar and how it wants to behave, how it wants to be, which emotions it wants to be. Finally, now, feel your body, feel what it wants to do, is it a light feeling or heavy feeling, feel where in your body it is and if it is comfortable or does it leave you contorted and in pain if left that way. This is acknowledging that the shadow exists inside you, this is acknowledging once what was not always seen, to come this far is to know you have created within you a new path of understanding yourself, a path that can create positive change.
Removing the shadow
Whether you’re a shaman, singer, janitor, office worker or pilot… it makes no difference, you’re a human being, you have a beating heart and as such removing a shadow requires the same process. Once you have acknowledged your shadow, you can start to pin point its specific patterns and behaviours, such as in which environments or when specifically, you start to have those thoughts, those emotions and when you start to create those actions.
Look at what those thoughts are specifically, again the same should be done for the emotions and the actions. Example if you are having an argument with someone, are you thinking ‘I want to tell them to shut their mouth’ or are you thinking ‘I want to walk away from here’ both these things are separate and specific thoughts and carry their own lineage within you. Look at when you can first remember ever having those thoughts, those emotions, those actions, you may find that they are not all linked to one event and that each one (thought, emotion, action) has its own source from a different life experience. It is that experience usually that has created this particular part of you and followed you through life to this moment where you are starting to finally recognise it.
It is important to look at the broader scenario of what happened during that time, as you did when you acknowledged this specific shadow, and to know that what happened, happened for a reason, this can be uncomfortable to look at or acknowledge, but the truth is that this experience in the past, has happened and nothing can ever change it, the good thing is that it has passed and you are able to bring love, peace and forgiveness to it. Once you start to understand that, maybe the way someone acted or said something against you forced you to have this feeling or emotion or action, that, in this moment you can bring love and light and I mean vision a strong bright light from the sky and put them or the situation in it, put yourself in it, forgive them, forgive the situation and forgive yourself for what you may have misunderstood from this situation. Forgive yourself for acting out a repetitive pattern to keep protecting yourself. It’s time to understand, it’s time to forgive, it’s time to let go.
After you have done this, you can expect to feel clearer in the head, you can expect to feel less emotional within these types of situations and you will find your actions will also follow suit. You can also expect to feel physically lighter as what you are doing is also letting go off physical manifestations within the body and also of energy within your body. You will start to feel a reduction of the unwanted thoughts, feelings and actions within similar situations and as you enter into these situations more and more you can start to grow and build your light again.
Echo’s of the shadow
Sometimes these patterns are from a long time ago, sometimes these scars are deep, removing the shadow is real, it’s a process that connects every part of your essence together to overcome adversity, but from time to time, especially near situations where the shadow was once very strong, we can feel in doubt or vulnerable, this is called the echo of the shadow. It is important to remember when you have these thoughts or feelings arise, that they are now in the past, that what you are feeling after letting this go is just an echo. Its not a case of ‘don’t think about it, don’t think about it’ and sort of create a pattern of being in denial about it. Echo’s are real, they exist, its important to remember at this stage that the initial trauma or experience had its messages to give you, to remember those messages at this time and that anything else has passed into an echo state.
I hope this article gives you some knowledge and wisdom about an aspect of shadow work, there are of course many other aspects which you will find in upcoming articles.
Maq Umaqe is the Co-Founder of Sumaq Healing a spiritual healing project aimed at bringing awareness and healing to people within this ever-changing world. The aim of Sumaq Healing is simple, to bring people a true understanding of themselves, to love, to healing and to peace, so we can bring this forward for future generations whilst at the same time taking our part in healing mother earth. www.www.sumaqhealing.com