It started years ago, with a fear that my heart burn was stomach cancer. This wasn’t the first time that I had convinced myself that an ailment was cancer. This time, I was really gripped by this and sought out my Ayurvedic Practitioner. She predicted, correctly, that the reflux would soon settle but suggested that this powerful fear could be looked at more closely with something called Shadow Work. Thus begun my fascinating journey into the world of shadows.
What a journey it has been. Through exploring the hidden or repressed parts of me, I’ve shone a light not just on that particular fear but on many other emotionally charged areas of my life. In no way am I exaggerating when I say it has been truly transformative. The effects of my self-exploration through Shadow Work have trickled into all walks of my life; my relationships, my parenting, my self care, my ability to serve my clients.
So life-changing was it, that I started up the long path to becoming a Shadow Work facilitator. Which is why now, I am so thrilled to be a certified one-to-one Shadow Work Coach. This allows me to bring another tool to my work, exploring the (ever present) emotional basis of physical and mental symptoms. I work in partnership with Waqar Siraj, also a certified Shadow Work coach; see if you can spot some of our personal experiences as well as those of our clients, scattered throughout.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow Work is a deep-dive personal development process. It is a powerful experiential method for exploring your inner mental and emotional world, allowing you to rediscover hidden parts of yourself and shift patterns which no longer serve you.
It can be an intense and incredibly rewarding journey creating profound shifts in behaviour, spirit, attitude and emotional well-being. This is carried out by highly trained facilitators in a slow, safe and deliberate way.
It works with the idea of exploring your shadow.
What is a shadow?
“I’d placed spontaneity and playfulness in shadow. After exploring these internalised messages, I now find that these qualities can be expressed, allowing for more freedom, fun and passion!” Kate
Our shadow is the collection of those parts of ourselves that we hide, suppress and deny either consciously or unconsciously. These are attributes, behaviours or feelings which we learned we should not have in everyday life. We banished these parts to the shadow when we found they didn’t fit in with the way those around us expected us to be.
We may have been belittled for crying, punished for being angry, told off for being loud, shamed for being quiet. Displays of big emotions such as anger, fear, grief or even joy may not have been received well by those around us. We may have then supressed those emotions or aspects of ourselves.
The shadow is made up of all kinds of facets, not just those we see as ‘dark’ or ‘negative’. There could be some ‘positive’ parts of ourselves that we have exiled to the shadow, parts which we may find to be full of power and creativity but that we have thought too risky to see or show. We may have hidden our assertiveness, our confidence, our joy for life.
“ Kate took me on a journey to discover my inner world, the voices, the characters, and how they interact. It was an incredibly reflective, emotional and empowering voyage of discovery and I am still learning from it. I highly recommend her pragmatic skills in facilitating this Shadow Work. ” EJ
Why should I explore my shadow?
“I found I had placed love and caring for myself in shadow. This meant I felt stress and pressure in my working life and unease in my close relationships.” Waqar
We all have a shadow and it will have come into existence to keep us safe, loved and valued in our early lives. The problem with our shadow arises when it starts to get in the way of how we want our life to be. We can spend a lot of energy keeping things hidden in shadow and run out of energy for other areas of our life. We may find ourselves missing some of the more valuable aspects of the shadow. We may find there are aspects of our behaviour over which we have no control, these will be in found in the shadow.
It may be time to look at our shadow when we feel stuck in a pattern, unable to be our true selves or incapable of being fully free and connected with ourselves or others.
“My Shadow work session was deeply transformational on many levels. I felt able to freely express myself and felt held in the beautiful space that had been set up as well as feeling held by the process. Standing ‘next to’ and sometimes ‘facing head on to’ aspects of myself was both daunting and liberating and speaking from my true power was indeed powerful. What a way to spend an afternoon! Highly recommend this to anyone looking to expand and grow.” RW
How can Shadow Work help me?
“I lived a life of mostly ignoring my feelings and inner knowing. When, in a Shadow Work session, I found out why I was doing that and was able to let that go, I felt a huge freedom to listen to those neglected parts.” Kate
Everyday life isn’t always the best place to explore the shadow. Delving into a repressed way of being either at work or at home may not always turn out well. With Shadow Work, we offer a safe space to explore the shadow slowly, deliberately and safely in a shame-free setting. You can peek into the shadow and see what needs to stay there and what needs to come out. You can try out new ways of being. You can build a new pattern and from then on choose which pattern to adopt at any point.
Exploring your shadow can help you:
- Discover and build on lost strengths and powers
- Regain control over parts of you that currently have control over you
- Reclaim confidence and self esteem
- Dip into the shadow for blocked or lost energy
- Make changes in your life
- Move on from old patterns of behaviour
- Connect better with yourself and others
- Express and release emotions
- Come to terms with something
- Find happiness, peace and fulfilment
- Feel more whole
You don’t need to know what you want to work on before coming for a session, just that you want something to happen!
“The session was immensely insightful. Kate is an incredibly understanding and pragmatic facilitator and I would highly recommend shadow work with her as a way to make time and feel comfortable enough to dig a little deeper to understand yourself better.” VH
Is it safe?
“The open listening and acceptance enabled me to make a connection with the vulnerable little boy inside me who stood at the door watching my father leave.” Waqar
We, like all Shadow Work™ facilitators, are trained to a high level and are committed to conducting Shadow Work in a way that is free of shame, blame or judgement. The exploration of your shadow is kept safe in three main ways:
- We follow you, we never direct or force you in any direction. You choose every step of the way. You explore any risks and decide which, if any, you’d like to take in order to get what you want. You control how far you want to go.
- We help you break things down into manageable parts so that you keep perspective.
- We work with our own shadows to ensure we have integrity. As qualified Shadow Work coaches, we are required to (and want to!) continue to do our own growth work to maintain our certification.
What does a 1-1 Shadow Work session look like?
The session, with one Shadow Work coach, usually takes between 4 and 5 hours, including a few breaks.
We’ll begin by getting clear on your goals, what you want to accomplish relating to your issue. Then we build your issue symbolically and experientially, discovering and stepping into parts of you, experiencing what energies are found in each part and allowing for any emotional catharsis.
There will be times of stepping back and viewing the symbolic scenario objectively and moments of choice and deep inquiry. We may help you to step in and experiment with energies and aspects of you that have become difficult, allowing you to test new ways of being.
Come, explore your shadows, it’s great fun!
Until next time, take care of yourselves.