Shadow Work

Healing The Sacred Self

Our capacity to make peace with another person and the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves. If we are at war with our parents, our family, our society, or our church, there is probably a war going on inside us also, so the basic work for peace is to return to ourselves and create harmony among the elements within us­our feelings, our perceptions, and our mental states.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist monk and peace activist

Oftentimes it’s a disaster, divorce, disease, or indeed a death that breaks our heart open. More recently there has been an additional catalyst; twin flame relationships that have been decimating people’s lives. Finding yourself bereft of meaning in your life, confused and in a state of despair, you tread a new path: searching for meaning and a structure of which to make sense.

Recently, I revisited a book purchased before I had children in the early 1990’s, Spirit for Change, Voices of Hope for a World in Crisis. I read several chapters at the time and I remember being eager to return to it, but life took over. Its reappearance led me to contemplate whether there has been much change in the last thirty years. The voices of hope in the book speak with the same urgency that I am reading about today. And, I wonder what level of catastrophe it will take for us to awaken to the crisis before us: to collaborate to make an active effort for change, to heal our collective shadow, and to acknowledge and accept what lays ahead for humanity.

Know Yourself

Although I have always had an interest in spirituality and the environment, it took absolute heart break to propel me to look within and begin the healing chapter of my life. Best-selling spiritual author and teacher Caroline Myss advises, if you ask God “What is my purpose?” you indicate you are ready and “an inner earthquake begins to split the landscape of your life.” I had asked the universe that exact question, and six months later my life turned upside down.

When I was piecing my life back together there was one strong message embedded in all texts I read; both ancient and modern: know thyself, heal thyself. If you are reading this, it is likely that a catalyst has driven you to search for answers also. I found that after a time of reflection, healing, nurturing, and acceptance of love for myself had ensued, the answer to my question “what is my purpose” became clear. This rite of passage is true for everyone. Being of compassionate service to all others and the Earth is the humble role bestowed upon us all. However, without doing the inner work, of realising and appreciating your unique sacred self, your efforts will be marginal because you will continue to see the world through a skewed and muddied lens affected by your shadow.

Spiritual Healing

We are complex beings. We have looked outside of ourselves to understand who we are and created our perspectives about our world from the teachings, validation, and criticism from our parents, friends, family, and peers. Some of these influences that have etched us muddied our lenses; they have created hidden aspects of ourselves that psychologists call the shadow. In truth all our answers lie within us. Now is the time to look within and heal your sacred self. This intimate heart-healing time takes effort and patience, solitude and self-nurturing.

A movement of change is needed to engage in raising and expanding our consciousness. A global call has been made, and on some level you have heard it. The Shift is a spiritual buzz word and refers to a global rise in our consciousness needed to achieve a tipping point for change. You are vital to humanity for this changing time on Earth. You are a divine spark of energy created from Source or God, you chose to be here at this specific time in humanity’s history. This is your time to shine, to be the change you wish to see, and to realise your role in healing humanity.

“Search out the inner wisdom of your heart.”
There is no doubt that you are witnessing the chaos around us: environmental, political and societal collapse, tension between countries, flood, drought, and famine. Many thousands find themselves in your shoes, questioning whether we are too late, and asking: what can I do? First, and arguably the most important, you must invest time doing the inner work. Healing the shadow is exciting but confronting. It is essential and the greatest work that you can do. Theologian and author, Matthew Fox, shares the teachings of the 12th century mystic, Hildegarde of Bingen, who says: “Search out the inner wisdom of your heart.” The renowned spiritual community and ecovillage of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland teaches its students to begin each day by listening within to know how to proceed through the day: “listen within—then act outwardly.”

Shadow Self

All souls choose to be incarnate as human beings on Earth and engage in our “system.” We choose the family and situation we are born into. We all experience a childhood that creates wounds of some sort or another. These may be inflicted by family members, teachers, or peers. I am not suggesting abuse, although this of course occurs, but reprimanding, humiliation, or teasing for example, all of these actions do have an impact. Wounds are crucial to the work of our evolving soul, which aspires to unconditional love and compassion for self and others. Many of these hurts are layered upon as we mature into adulthood. The same patterns can be seen occurring in your life over and over, the shadow seeking to be acknowledged. This is the crux of the shadow; shadow work unveils the pain hidden in your heart, due to an inflicted wound; the subsequent patterns of your behaviour continue to illustrate this wound.

The behaviour of others triggers our own shadow. Our shadow contributes to our outlook, our perspective, our lens. Listen to the phrases that you often repeat, notice patterns that regularly occur. Recently, a friend was forlorn, bemoaning his apprentices: “they always turn on me in the end.” He recognised a pattern that had repeated itself over decades, and he expressed the phrase repeatedly, but he had only seen himself as a victim of this pattern, rather than appreciate he was the creator of it. Somewhere fifty years earlier something hurtful happened to my friend that sowed the seed for this patterning. The shadow needs to be acknowledged for the pain to subside. Our subconscious behaviour, some would argue our soul—our energy, will elicit people to trigger pain within us by their actions or words; they reflect to us our own repressed shadow. We may feel physical pain in the chest, a constriction of the throat or gut, I used to feel a sensation in my head like steam coming out of my ears, all these triggered feelings are connected to shame, hurt, or anger.

“It’s Not You. It’s Me.”

Too often we misunderstand the role others play; we tend to blame and judge others for hurting and triggering us. The gold lies in realising that these triggers are our reflections, they are the key to understanding ourselves, acknowledging the need to re-integrate and love all aspects of self. Pain weighs down our consciousness and makes us feel heavy in heart and mind. The healing of our individual shadow is pivotal in raising and expanding our personal and collective consciousness.

We are all interconnected, joined together in a web. Just as each unique wave is part of the ocean, part of the Whole, so are we. We are a whole united collective, some people call this the One, and talk of Oneness. Our thoughts and behaviours impact the One, the Whole. Jung wrote extensively about the concept of the collective unconscious; that we are netted together, our thoughts, our shadows are influential. Thomas Merton, mystic, social activist and poet, in 1968 said, “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.”

Vibrational Frequency

Our world and the universe beyond are entirely made of energy. Humans are made of energy, we are beings of light. We and all that surrounds us vibrate at different speeds. We each have a unique frequency, a signature. Our senses perceive physical matter rather than realise it is our human interpretation of energy patterns. Like the space in the honey comb, we focus on the form rather than the formless. We have created human constructs for mass, yet the magic is in what we cannot see, the formless.

Law of Attraction

Our thoughts, words, and actions are energy. Thoughts from our mind are electrical and they generate feelings that radiate magnetic energy from the heart, this is the Law of Attraction. We draw to us experiences which evoke corresponding feelings: heart centred: love, awe, and joy; and shadow centred: fear, greed, and aggression. Each feeling has a corresponding frequency. We can correlate their vibration by how they make us feel: high or low. In working with our low vibration shadow, acknowledging and releasing our past wounds, we raise or increase our level of vibration and find peace, harmony, compassion for others and decrease conflict in our lives. We lighten our spirits.

Shadow Work

Our influence on the collective shadow is rarely discussed. As I wrote earlier, thoughts and words emit energy. We are highly creative beings, whose dark, negative, unkind, prejudiced, villainous thoughts toward others have a powerful impact. Energetic thought forms are magnetised to other thought forms of the same vibration. Bad vibes and good vibes influence us; we’ve all felt it. Unconsciously we have all been contributing to the collective world shadow. We all blame and point the finger at others but we must become accountable and responsible for the thought forms that we create every day. Shadow work releases the lower vibration, expands our consciousness, and increases our rate of vibration.

We can understand the vibration of the collective by witnessing the behaviours and actions of the One, the play for power, prejudice and fighting. You may believe that President Trump has caused a divide when in truth the divide already existed in the consciousness of the collective; Trump is a manifestation of the myriad of thoughts, words, and actions of the collective.

In 1973 Dr EF Schumacher, the initiator of the Green movement, wrote Small is Beautiful, a study of economics as if people mattered. He was asked by many, “What can I do?” He wrote the answer in the epilogue of his book: “Work to put our own inner house in order.” This call to action is now being echoed by contemporary spiritual leaders Thich Nhat Hanh, Matthew Fox, Carolyn Baker, Andrew Harvey, and Caroline Myss, to name a few. It makes perfect sense that the route to heal our humanity must begin with the healing of our individual and unique sacred self.

Lighten Up! For Humanity’s Sake
If you found this information interesting or useful, you might be interested to explore the concept further in Jessica’s first book, “Lighten Up! for Humanity’s Sake.”

I'd love to hear

how this has helped you and what else you’d like to read about

f

Join

the conversation

You might like

other articles on this topic