While the road in and out of your Shadow can be intimidating or even downright scary, the benefit of incorporating the lessons you learn along the way make it entirely worth any temporary discomfort.
So you’ve made the brave and important decision to start doing Shadow Work but you aren’t sure how to begin. This article will cover the very basics, but don’t underestimate the challenge or the impact. Journaling your thoughts, feelings and reactions can change your life, but it will take some time. Thank yourself for getting started now.
What is Your “Shadow”?
Our Shadow is any aspect of ourselves that resides in the subconscious. This relates to actions we take without being fully aware of why we made that choice or emotional states that seem sharp and reactive in response to situations that trigger us. This can also be aspects of our true or authentic self that we keep hidden in order to stay safe or feel accepted.
Our shadow can also be seen as the part of us that we’d rather not explore or the voices that we wish you could just silence because they don’t feel like they fit with who we think we need to be. The truth is, the Shadow contains important parts of who we really are and getting to know it is essential to being our true and full selves.
What is “Shadow Work”?
Shadow Work is the practice of taking time to understand the aspects of ourselves that we don’t control directly and tending to those parts. Oftentimes this involves processing trauma, addressing critical self talk and healing our relationship with situations that leave us uncomfortable or overwhelmed. One of the key elements to this tending is learning to show ourselves unconditional curiosity and compassion. Being able to stay calm or return to a state of peace after experiencing a “trigger” is just one goal of Shadow Work. This ability comes from being okay with ourselves and feeling safe in our own bodies as well as trusting our ability to make good decisions that are aligned with our morals and values.
Shadow Work can also include the process of welcoming all of our authentic parts into our lives and showing off our true personality no matter the context or situation. This is especially true for those parts we hide for different reasons such as to fit in or to protect ourselves from harsh, judgmental or even dangerous people and social situations. While we can’t always be our full, unedited self in every situation, the goal is to know ourselves well and make active, not reactive decisions of how we act.
How Do You “Do the Work”?
While your Shadow Work practice can include many elements, the core habit will be journaling so that is where you should start. It is traditional to buy a paper journal and to do your writing and reflecting in that style. Other options include using a digital document such as a Google Doc, which can make it easy to journal at different times in different places or to record your thoughts as voice notes. It is most likely that you won’t ever want to share these recordings with anyone, but the podcast app Anchor is great for recording your voice for later reflection. What’s important is that you have a place to document your thoughts, feelings and reactions that you can return to for later review and reflection.
This article outlines the basics and gets you started on your journey. There are other elements that can be helpful as you continue your work, but this will take you far. Be kind and patient with yourself. Be proud that you are setting aside the time to do this work at all and know that it will take time. The process of healing, of tending to our sorted past, is not a linear process but progress is possible and you will make it.
Need More Help?
If the process of doing your journaling practice feels akin to drowning, you are experiencing increased stress or other intense emotions or are struggling with flashbacks and nightmares, it may be time to seek additional help. Booking a Discovery Call with Shadow Work coach and teacher, Thomas F. Webber is a good place to start. In your call you will have an opportunity to ask questions, feel heard and see if Thomas is a good fit for your goals, timeline and budget. If he is not right for you he will connect you with additional resources so you can continue on your journey to a life after living with an untended Shadow.
To book a call you can either email Thomas as ThomasFWebber@gmail.com or find a time on Thomas’ Calendly scheduler. Discovery calls are always free!
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When you can't get to a Reiki Practitioner for a personal session, check out these Reiki ASMR YouTube channels for any-time healing and relaxation!
While nothing is quite a replacement for a personalized Reiki session with a practitioner fully focused on you, prerecorded Reiki videos are a good option in a pinch. These are just some of the amazing Reiki Healers who have gifted us with recorded sessions on their YouTube Channels. Everyone will resonate with different healers, there are simply my go-to's. Again, this list does not represent all Reiki Healers on YouTube so please look around for more that you can utilize in your energetic health management plan. I find new channels all the time!
Reiki YouTube Channels
Sarah Louise Tilsley - YouTube Channel, Website
Tip of the Moon (Bre) - YouTube Channel, Website
ediyasmr (Ediya) - YouTube Channel, Website
Wildfire ASMR - YouTube Channel, Website
Sunna Friðjónsdóttir - YouTube Channel
Healer Genevieve ASMR - YouTube Channel, Website
Silver Hare (Tyler) - YouTube Channel
Healing with Love (Marcy) - YouTube Channel, Website
Rest Relaxation Reiki (Lourdes) - YouTube Channel, Website
Spirituality Found in Brain Circuitry Supports Health Interventions that Include Faith Based Practices
by Rebecca E. Webber
New study lends evidence to idea that combining spiritual practices with modern health and wellness interventions can help any recovery journey be all the more effective.
“A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital takes a new approach to mapping spirituality and religiosity and finds that spiritual acceptance can be localized to a specific brain circuit.” (ScienceDaily) This research study helps add substance to the idea that a productive spiritual practice can have a positive impact on one’s ability to heal.
Our faith in “something more” than ourselves is a very old human trait. Brighman and Women’s Hospital’s study compliments this understanding of human development by providing evidence that the “brain circuit for spirituality is centered in one of the most evolutionarily preserved structures in the brain." The latest paleoanthropological findings indicate that very early humans shared in group meals, spiritually laden storytelling and collaborative art (Neuendorf). These hyper-social activities ultimately gave us a leg up over our Neanderthal cousins who were less likely to share resources, mythology and build large communities (Out of the Cradle).
In my work as an energy management coach and Reiki practitioner I combine modern neuroscience with old world healing methodologies every day. I also personally use and teach “magical self care” techniques which combine practical personal bodymind healing techniques with fun and habit-forming spiritual practices. For me, healing is all the more potent when we use the entire toolbox from cutting edge research to tried and true kitchen garden remedies.
One could argue that self healing activities such as breathwork, yoga and meditation successfully straddle the line between the spiritual and secular. Though there is much controversy surrounding the appropriateness of disconnecting these historic practices from their religious roots, there are endless studies to prove how effective these acts are even for non-believers (NCCIH). However, those who practice these healing modalities connected with their spiritual associations have access to a deeper and more potent set of experiences to aid them in their personal development.
Brighman and Women’s Hospital’s study also lends to the possible assistance spirituality can have on not only physical healing but recovery from mental and emotional pain associated with trauma as well. The “brain circuit [associated with spirituality] is centered in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brainstem region that has been implicated in numerous functions, including fear conditioning, pain modulation, altruistic behaviors and unconditional love.” Because these functions are physically linked in this part of the brain, one can argue that our faith can help alter our lived experience beyond the trials of post-traumatic living. When working with clients who have experienced trauma, we at Sapient Living spend the majority of our facilitated time helping individuals evolve the way they perceive their experience and how it affects their actions today.
There is new evidence that combining spiritual practices with modern health and wellness interventions can help any recovery journey be all the more effective. More research needs to be done to determine what the best way forward for implementing this in a clinical setting would be as well as the appropriateness in different environments. That being said, for those of us already practicing in both realms, this finding only supports what we already know to be true.
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When you choose to buy one of these products or any other items during your shopping trip, this helps support our work. Thank you!
Top Books for Trauma Treatment and Recovery
All Titles Available on Amazon and Bookshop.org!
101 Trauma-Informed Interventions: Activities, Exercises and Assignments to Move the Client and Therapy Forward
"This is an imminently practical workbook that shows a variety of invaluable techniques to get centered, calm and organized. An effective and enjoyable guide to help you feel in charge of yourself." -- Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., Renowned trauma expert, author & psychiatrist
Trauma Competency: A Clinician's Guide
It is a user-friendly, accessible but comprehensive manual that should be in the library of any therapist who works with trauma, and in the library of the client themselves. Those who use it will soon find it full of yellow stickies, folded page tips and highlighted sections of print, so it should also be within easy reach. --Robert C. Scaer, M.D., author of The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease
by Rebecca E. Webber
The impacts of Covid-19 on those left behind are far reaching and often immeasurable. Those in the funeral industry are doing all they can to meet the need for closure in new and unique ways.
Through the small amount of research I have been conducting over the past few days I have learned quite a bit, but mostly about what is not possible or not happening. From this video I learned that even several weeks ago when numbers weren’t so high and concentrated, it was already difficult to get a priest in to give Last Rites. I was also made aware that families cannot touch and say goodbye to their loved ones who are infected which is having a devastating impact on those left behind. Here in Washington State we already have a ban on funerals. As of 3 days ago the BBC was reporting that all of Ghana has gone into mourning.
All of this has me thinking, with a collapsing social structure, what will be done in the short term to meet these needs and also how will this sift death rituals in our societies forever? I have been reaching out to funeral experts who say they are not yet sure what will come next, but something has to. I asked them what new traditions are taking over and within the last day I have been told that nothing has really taken hold yet, but an attempt towards virtual services is being made. A new friend of mine who is an operations manager at a local synagogue shared with me that the virtual community gatherings that she is already facilitating are in part being hosted to get people comfortable with connecting in that way. She anticipated losing more members to the virus, as they have already lost one member, and she wants everyone to be comfortable with Zoom and the like for when they have to start hosting memorials electronically. Here is an article about how this is already taking shape in California - Death during a pandemic: virtual shiva and funerals without mourners.
I was taught by the funeral directors that currently the fear is surrounding safety and proper handling of the bodies which require additional photographic documentation due to no next-of-kin being able to identify them and witness where they get buried or cremated. Everything is still very mathematical, strategic and impersonal which makes sense because there is just no other way right now. At this point there is more concern about keeping people alive, not about the dead and their communities. But the directors were hopeful that a combination of new virtual traditions and the possibility of hosting gatherings at a later date would be sufficient. I have been speaking to green or natural death service providers and I am inspired to think about all of the possibilities available. There are so many ways to honor the dead and in the West we are just getting started down the road to creating ceremonies that we truly benefit from. There is a lot to learn from each other and this is as good as time as any to take by our end of life traditions, move away from Victoriana options that don’t usually allow people proper grieving anyway and move forward to a better relationship with death and loss. Here is a great Tedx Talk where Claire and Ru discuss the beautiful experiences they have been creating for people - Death, grief, ritual and radical funerals | Claire & Rupert Callender | TEDxTotnes
Along with the change in funeral traditions, I keep thinking about how inevitable the PTSD following this collective trauma appears to be. If people do not have healthy ways to express their feelings, especially fear and loss, there will be long term consequences. How we navigate these times as one human family is going to make all the difference to how we remember it. I have hope because people are often resilient and creative, adaptable in the worst of times. If we can come together, create new traditions and honor our experiences we just might be alight in some ways even though we can never bring back those we will lose.
I don’t know exactly what will happen next, mostly because I am new to this subject but also because no one really knows much about anything right now. What I am sure of though is that there are a lot of wonderful people right now who are doing everything they can to provide dignity to the dying and support for those left behind because that is what they do, it is what they have done and will continue to do. As for me, I will continue to watch what happens, talk to my current contacts as well as make more and maybe create more content. I have thought about hosting a group chat with various people from this industry. I have also thought of hosting some sort of online non-denominational service of my own for those grieving so I became a certified minister. Only time will tell.
If you have any thoughts on this subject, would like to be in the future group chat or have resources and answers I can add to this article people email me at RebeccaEWebber@gmail.com.
Claire & Ru from The Green Funeral Company
Rosie from The Natural Death Center
Morgan at Kadima Reconstructionist Community
Why we need end-of-life rituals
Five death rituals to give you a new view on funerals
Coronavirus is posing special challenges for those trained to help the dying and their families
Grieving alone — coronavirus upends funeral rites
Funerals Must Change In This Time Of Social Distancing
Virtual Memorials | Encyclopedia of Death and Dying
Coronavirus: Funeral homes adjust to smaller ceremonies
Death during a pandemic: virtual shiva and funerals without mourners
Virtual Memorials and No Hugs: The Funeral Industry Prepares for Coronavirus
Fast forward 4 months. At this point I've already decided that I was not going to go back to the first dentist because they said they took my insurance but I still got a huge bill ($350 for the x-rays, cleaning and exam). They told me that they were in my network and the appointment would be covered, but it wasn't. Regardless of all that confusion, I still thought I needed all the work done at this point I was thinking about it all the time.
Eventually I plucked up the courage to call a new dentist and made an appointment, this time for only x-rays and an exam for $19 cash. I went in and even though I didn't have the language myself, they made sense of the fact that I needed a second opinion. They did the x-rays and the dentist comes in, performed the exam and tells me that he can only see one spot that could use repair right away. It was a crack on a back molar. He recommended a filling where as dentist #1 had wanted to do a full crown. Dentist #2 said that in his opinion I didn't have any teeth that would qualify for a crown and he only saw a few other spots where he could do fillings, but they were only dark spots that may never become cavities and I certainly didn't have any cavities at the time. He refereed to himself as a rather conservative dentist and preferred to do as little as possible.
I was honestly shocked. $3,000+ worth of work vs $112 and I wasn't failing my teeth! Dentist #2 said that my teeth were very healthy, very low risk for any issues. He even showed my my x-rays and explained that my teeth were about as strong as they come. Yes, I have some fillings, but only on the top of my molars which apparently is a very good thing and was inevitable based on the shape of my teeth. Two days later I got a cleaning and a filling so now I'm all up to date for another 6 months!
That long story was basically to explain why I would write a whole article just about my teeth. The truth is I care a lot about my health, teeth included, but I felt like I was doing something wrong when dentist #1 wanted to do all that work, so I didn't want to share my routine. Now that I know that how I take care of my teeth is actually working great, I feel confident sharing my personal recipe for success. Also, now you know that you can get a second opinion and maybe you should!