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What is Shadow Work?

Working with light is a beautiful process that brings up elevation, upliftment and healing. Hence why there are so many lightworkers helping people to heal and uplevel! The other side of light work, however, is shadow work and all the same important as bringing in the light! In fact, shadow work and light work cannot be separated from each other. They are like twins and each of them takes on the role of the good and evil twin at alternating times.

If we only focus on working with light we tend to end up being blinded, spiritually bypassing, stepping in spiritual superiority and avoidance from real life situations at hand. If we only dig around in the mud in shadow work, we forget to see the light. Therefore, a healthy balance between these two modalities is important.


Shadow work places emphasize on the uncomfortable, disowned and abandoned parts of self and the accompanying emotions that come with it. It’s about the unseen parts of us, the unrecognized emotions and the unfelt feelings. It has a lot to do with acceptance and feeling, from which we usually run away: guilt, shame, fear, vulnerability, being seen, unworthiness and self-abandonment. It stems from wounds of childhood that haven’t been healed yet and that are usually uncomfortable to look at. Apart from that these unhealed parts of ourselves usually don’t show up fully in light work modalities such as Reiki, which is based on relaxation and releasing stuck energy. It oftentimes does not access the deepest root and therefore the deepest emotions and beliefs of surface level problems.

Shadow work instead digs deep. It has a lot to do with opening up to unconscious beliefs, behaviors and communication patterns that are not conducive to the growth of the person and their Soul. It is based on accepting all that shows up, especially emotions which are usually being avoided, to integrate unhealed parts of the inner child and wounds which stem from the past.

Deva Dwabha, a presenter at Bali Spirit Festival this year, explains it very accurately here:

Furthermore shadow continues there, where energy work ends. It’s consciously acknowledging where we carry negative beliefs about ourselves and our life, consciously change old stories into positive thoughts that reflect what we actually want to attract into our life, and embody that which represents us a whole human being.


Therefore shadow work has a lot to do with embodiment, as it takes not only the energy into account, but also the emotions and feelings which show up on a physical level, once we drop into the depth of an emotional wound, which is connected to the subconscious mind, the energy field around us, and the energy that moves through the body. Oftentimes it even helps to bring parts of ourselves alive, which have previously been numbed and closed off. And that can be on a physical as well as on an emotional level.


What shadow work also does is to allow the armor to come down, which we usually carry with us, when we are trying to protect ourselves from feeling the pain of old wounds. Most of the time this armor is held up unconsciously, but often appears when we try to present ourselves differently than we are, hide parts of ourselves which are more vulnerable and only allow positive emotions to surface. The armor also shows up when we are constantly trying to people please, adapt our own needs to the ones of others and have trouble setting clear boundaries.

Since shadow work is centered around exchange, speaking about true feelings, looking deeper into where things might come from and allowing all parts of oneself to be seen, very deep transformation happens.

It is exactly in these moments, when we open up fully and let the emotions flow, allow ourselves to feel all the feelings and see where the inner child needs some reparenting. The parts of our Soul usually hidden in the dark can be integrated. And that´s where wholeness comes from.

In comparison to light work, or let´s say energy healing modalities that are based around channeling light and uplifting affirmations, shadow work can seem to be daunting to some, but it is the medicine that the modern world needs the most. When light work brings momentary relief and relaxation, shadow work brings lasting change.

And both together work well as complimentary practices. But there is no yin without yang and no yang without yin. Oneness comes through the integration of opposites.

And where the light shines on the shadow and the shadows are revealed in the light, body, mind and spirit are integrated and find peace, harmony and balance.

written by Anna Sofia


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