Integrating the Shadow

Spiritual Awakening and Shadow Work

We believe that integrating the shadow is fundamental and one of the fastest ways to unfold spiritually, and reduce our suffering.What Freud called the subconscious and Jung called the shadow are the buried aspects of our psyche that became suppressed due to our family and societal conditioning. One aspect of spiritual awakening is making this unconscious aspect conscious.

Transforming the shadow into a fully integrated human being is what medieval alchemists referred to as turning lead into gold. We can consider it top-quality psychic composting.

It’s important that we are clear and honest: by its very nature, shadow work is not fun or pretty. It takes courage and fortitude to see parts of our being that are not like we wish them to be, and to dedicate one’s energy to transforming that.

Shadow work is also something that is exponentially easier when supported by experienced mentors and a spiritual community. (You might like to read our tips for building conscious community).

Integrating the Shadow: Doing Your Shadow Work

The shadow has a deceptive quality: whatever its nature, we tend to want nothing to do with it.  The shadow often shows up as unconscious issues with money, sex and power. Somehow it’s all repulsive. Couldn’t it just go away?

Leaning into What Repels Us

However, beneath that repugnant exterior, when we have the courage to lean into the shadow, tremendous amounts of positive energy become available to us. That quality that bothered us in others becomes integrated into our own personality, in a much healthier way.

And once we decide to change, the shadow’s darkness moves towards greater and greater light. That is both beautiful and exciting.  Then we get to understand the true purpose of spiritual practice – to discover what human consciousness is capable of.

Working with Money, Sex and Power

Three areas that tend to pushed into the shadow our money (survival), sex (identity) and power (control over our lives). These can be very strong unconscious forces at work in our lives that affect our personalities.

Money, sex, and power are juicy areas of exploration for all of us, fraught as they can be with conditioned emotional baggage and ego insecurities, and often with hidden unconscious views.

It’s incumbent upon all of us who seek transformational change, greater awareness, and spiritual awakening to investigate these foundational realms of human experience with valor, intellectual rigor, and emotional integrity.

To read more about how we work with this, see Money, Sex and Power.

Video: What is the Shadow?

Four Approaches to Spiritual Awakening

Our mandate is supporting as many beings as possible to experience spiritual awakening in this lifetime.  Read about our overall approach to the the spiritual path, and the other three approaches to spiritual awakening here:

I greatly enjoyed the class on “the shadow”. If you need to shine a light on your “shadow”, or better yet a spotlight, Dharma teachers Doug and Catherine will help you charge up the currents of mindfulness. Check them out. They are definitely masters on working with “the shadow!”

Brendan Ries

Life coach, teacher & artist

The Hero’s Journey retreat helped me to access both my strengths and my dark shadow side that interfere with my reaching my fullest potential. Now I am able to better integrate these two parts of myself, allowing both to unfold, rather than one suppressing the other. Making both sides more explicit, more conscious in this retreat, I lost some fears I didn’t know I had, and I continue to use the tools today, a few years later.

Lisa Feder

(PhD) Professor of Anthropology

I attended two retreats led by Doug Sensei. Both were life-changing experiences. During the retreats I was led to confront hidden parts of myself, unaware that they were affecting me so deeply. Shadow work helped me accept and integrate parts of myself that I had rejected, and also to acknowledge new strengths and wisdom that were within me all along. After each retreat I left feeling freer and more confident about my spiritual practice.

Shant Dolbakian

Video producer