After I look again on my life, I understand that shadow work was at all times there. I simply did not see it as a result of I had tunnel imaginative and prescient. After I studied cognitive neuroscience and psychology in undergrad, I realized a lot about Carl Jung and his work with the unconscious thoughts. It got here up once more whereas I used to be engaged on my grasp’s diploma and later once I was instructing programs as an adjunct professor at Penn State. In consequence, I understood the impression of the unconscious on our physique’s physiology and feelings, however I’ve by no means thought to make use of this data for myself.
Nonetheless, as I used to be researching the simplest methods to cope with stress, shadow work was staring me within the face once more—I took it as an indication that I wanted to study extra and actually attempt it for myself.
I ended up reaching out to UK-based shadow employee Allison Kelsey, and I booked an appointment along with her for the very subsequent week. Kelsey and I did periods collectively weekly or biweekly, for a yr.
For a bit extra context, “shadow” is simply one other time period for the unconscious thoughts, which is on the deepest degree of your psyche. It is the moments that make up your persona. It is the issues that form your worldview; it is what makes you who you might be as a human being.
For lots of us, these unconscious processes are traumas. The explanation this occurs is one thing referred to as a unconscious suggestions loop. Each expertise that you’ve is sensory—as you absorb these senses, it internally creates a chemical response, your feelings. These feelings create a bodily response in your physique, which can be chemical, and that bodily response sends a chemical response again as much as your mind within the type of a thought—that loop repeats again and again.
As an illustration, many individuals are triggered by the vacations and spending time with their household due to disagreeable previous experiences from childhood. That’s your shadow: You might not even bear in mind precisely what reminiscence is triggering, however your physique remembers.
Shadow work is the method of mentioning these recollections slowly and deliberately, often by means of meditation. Then, you’re employed with a practitioner to interrupt that unconscious suggestions loop and change how this reminiscence exists in your mind. A technique to do this is thru breathwork as a result of your breath can cease a few of these chemical compounds from producing and interrupts that suggestions loop in such a means that it may change the neural pathways in your mind.
Throughout my very own journey with this work, I launched a lot trauma and I realized extra about myself than I may even start to place into phrases. I used to be a unique particular person inside weeks. And by the top of the yr, I did not even acknowledge the individual that I used to be earlier than.
After this journey, I began to shift my very own apply to concentrate on shadow work. Now, I work with 1000’s of individuals each single yr by means of group programs that I host, I converse all around the world about it, and I just lately wrote a guide referred to as Shadow Work. My life is now utterly completely different from what it was earlier than my prognosis. So whereas most cancers is, in some methods, the worst factor that occurred to me, it’s concurrently the perfect.