How do you do shadow work?
Question from a reader:
That’s such a big question! But I’m glad you asked it.
“Hello Ash. How do we do this shadow work? I’m am aware of plenty of traumas in my past but I struggle to break the habits and patterns I have developed. Are there any tips or advice on where to begin? Journaling? Specific meditations? I’ve read a lot on your site and I really enjoy your ability to cut through the bullshit, while holding to the mysticism. You talk a lot about shadow work, but where do we start?”
Going to therapy is shadow work. Self-reflection is shadow work. Energy healing is shadow work. Anti-racism is shadow work. Examining our own cultural biases is shadow work. Examining our political beliefs is shadow work. Anywhere that we hold unfounded fears or subconscious beliefs that are detrimental to our own well-being and that of the collective is a part of our shadow, and any tools that we use to to start questioning and deconstructing those fears, beliefs, and biases are a part of our shadow work.
Where you begin really depends on where you’re starting from.
I would recommend beginning by setting an intention to heal and asking to be guided to the sources that will be most relevant to your needs. You’re already here, so that’s a good start!
You can begin by following trauma-informed therapists on social media for your personal healing. I recommend looking for people who specialize in your specific situation.
I know a lot of people don’t really know what that is until they’ve been able to recognize exactly what the trauma is and where it comes from. A great book that I recommend to a lot of people on their healing journey is Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith. It was a catalyst for my own understanding of my specific trauma and put me on a path of healing.
Once you understand where the primary sources of your trauma lie, you can find content and articles that are specific to that situation, like relational trauma, or addiction, and also look for a good therapist that specializes in those areas.
As the book I recommended will make clear, it’s good to include a holistic approach to your healing. So you want to treat the mind, body, and the spirit. That means looking at somatic therapies that can help release trauma from the body. Other types of body work like yoga can be helpful, and then there’s energy work like reiki and acupuncture.
Journaling is an excellent tool. So is dreamwork! The important thing is to go at your own pace and don’t push yourself harder than your nervous system can handle.
As far as the beliefs and biases are concerned, find some activists who educate about certain topics that have societal impact on marginalized communities, learn the history behind systemic oppression and the mechanisms that are still being used and understand how your own beliefs and choices may have contributed to these. There’s so much to unlearn!
I wish you luck!
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