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What is Shadow Work?

So, my spiritual journey began around when I was 16 years old and started meditating regularly. But it truly began long before that, since my childhood and perhaps the beginning of time. As a child we’re all born with a connection to spirit and already in contact with it, but as we grow that connection is covered over and protected in order for us to be able to immerse in the physical “3D” world.

My childhood was very complex: on one hand, I felt deep connections with nature and magic because I grew up on an island and my imagination was given plenty of room to roam free. I built fairie houses, pretended (remembered) being a mermaid, had vivid dreams of star beings, and communicated with spirits and other realms in an easy yet disconcerting way. But on the other hand, I grew up in an abusive household. My parents were constantly fighting and sometimes violent with each other, and their mental illnesses kept them from being able to provide my inner child with any real support or sense of safety. I learned to withdraw to imaginary realms, bury myself in books, and find comfort in being by myself or with the beings and energies constantly surrounding me.

But as I grew, and as the layers of trauma were programmed and embedded into my physical being, that connection closed off more and more. This actually happens for our own protection. In order for us to truly have this human experience, we must experience the illusion of “disconnect” in order to return to our true state of connectedness.

The ego comes in to provide a sort of barrier and separation between our most pure inner self and the harshness of the outside world. Often it solidifies to the point where we start to identify ourselves as this ego and think that the characteristics and thought patterns that we picked up are truly who we are. In reality, who we truly are is that pure child, connected to Source and complete unity, but experiencing this physical reality through the container of the human body and 3D world. Our “likes” and “dislikes”, habits, proclivities, and identity are actually a result of the programming we received in life through our parents, peers, education, and media. Not to say this is bad, our ego is here to protect us and help us navigate the outside world. But be careful not to let the ego rule you and your essence, because you are truly much more than what your ego wants you to believe. This world is designed to keep us small, thinking inside the box, and following the rules, in order to maintain the structure of society. But to truly dismantle that structure of society, to throw away the box altogether, means dismantling and picking apart your own ego. To truly understand the ego, you must also understand the different parts of the ego and the “self” that each play a different role in our lives.

As you grow and move forward on your spiritual journey, an important piece is to simply start observing and questioning yourself and the world around you. Question your mindless habits, your likes, and dislikes, your fears, and insecurities. Ask yourself where they come from, what part of your life they’re connected to, and what they are here to serve or protect. The fears and insecurities we have are often a subconscious way of wanting to protect us from the pain that a younger, more vulnerable part of you went through. But looking at it from the perspective of someone wiser and hopefully more mature, you can reason with your fears and explain to them that they are appreciated but no longer necessary.

This is where shadow work comes in. Whether we realize it or not, an incredible amount of negative beliefs about ourselves are embedded into us as children.( Especially if we grew up in a tumultuous household, or had parents who were absent or emotionally unavailable, that can dictate our attachment style for the rest of our lives. Receiving love conditionally or being forced to work for it, can breed an unhealthy attachment style that unconsciously affects every one of our adult relationships. (

If you experienced this as a child, don’t worry, you have the ability and potential to heal and develop a new attachment style. This takes time and hard work, but the results are so worthwhile. When it comes to dealing with childhood trauma or any trauma for that matter, we must emotionally connect to the part of us that experienced that trauma. This is parts work, as originally explained and used by the Soulful Heart Collective ( ), the theory that parts of us are created in response to a trauma that is so intense it causes a “split” in our personality.

To give an example, we have a myriad of different parts of us: the inner protector, who is often a masculine-type energy that serves to protect us and keep our soul essence safe, often the defensive part that reacts in a dangerous setting to save us. The inner protector can also be the guardian of our traumas and innermost memories and can manifest in dissociation when we try to access these more sensitive areas.

This is a meditation to connect to that part:

Another part would be the inner child, the part of you that experienced life as a child, and may still be stuck there in a permanent trauma loop. Your inner child can still be living in fear, even as you grow and mature into adulthood. On these planes, time doesn’t exist, and when that part is formed, they are living in an endless loop of re-experiencing what happened to them over and over again. Your inner child can have visceral reactions to things in life that don’t outwardly appear so scary, but that trigger or touch upon something that your child fears. Your inner child also holds the gifts of magic, creativity, and wonder, that can be freely expressed once the trauma layers surrounding them are healed. This can be a complex process that takes a lot of time and layers to work through, and sometimes traditional therapy isn’t enough. Somatic therapy, alternative holistic therapies, or sessions through the Soulful heart collective can be an effective way to feel and heal on a quantum level this complex energy.

I recommend starting with this series of meditations from the Soulful Heart to get started with your journey of meeting the various parts of you and beginning your journey of quantum healing:

Shadow work is, essentially, feeling, loving, and transmuting the energies of ourselves that are kept hidden away in fear or pain. It is about bringing light to the parts of our psyche that have been covered in darkness because they don’t fit the image of what is deemed “needed or useful” in society. Shame, darkness, pain, regret, loneliness, and self-hatred can all live in the depths of our subconscious, subtly influencing and directing our actions. Shadow work is the process of bringing those pieces to light and exposing them to the sunshine. This can be done through meditation, journaling, self-observation, and self-awareness. It’s not a process that happens overnight, it takes time and dedication, and an ever-expanding awareness of self-love.

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