Should I meditate before shadow work?
Yes, it helps to meditate before shadow work. Meditation allows you to clear your mind and focus inward. This makes shadow work more effective and will help you discover your innermost truths.
Before I tell you why you should meditate before shadow work, let's make sure you understand a few key ideas.
What is shadow and what is shadow work?
The shadow is the side of yourself that's disconnected and unfelt. It's the part of yourself that's been rejected since childhood and you have no awareness of.
Shadow Work is integrating the entire spectrum of your being. It's the intentional process of admitting the parts of yourself you've ignored and repressed.
The shadow is the embodiment of potential that you’ve cast away and now need to integrate.
Admitting you have an unconscious shadow is the first step to be able to “see” it voluntarily.
Integrating the shadow, without biting off too much, is the real challenge. You want to start cultivating these shadow qualities in a safe and ritualized way in your waking life.
Should I meditate before shadow work?
Understand that your body is a compulsive thing. One moment it's hungry and you move towards food. The next moment it wants to be stimulated, so you pull out your smartphone and go on TikTok.
Meditation is refraining from all of these compulsions. Including the compulsions of the mind.
Typically your thoughts enter your mind compulsively. These thought compulsions are stemmed from bodily or deep-rooted desires.
For example, using myself as an example—
When I meditate, thoughts will compulsively appear in my mind. According to my meditation journal, in moments of silence I have thoughts with two reoccurring themes:
- Thoughts where I speak to people and share my knowledge (a deep-rooted desire for attention and/or admiration)
- Thoughts where I am provoked and allow myself to get aggressive (qualities I've buried in the past, and have currently found a place for expression)
These compulsions run on your fleeting, persistent, or even unconscious, desires.
Meditation is the practice of seeing your compulsions and managing the underlying desires.
(The inability to sit down for twenty minutes and giving in to your compulsion to do something else can say a lot about a person.)
Meditation is essentially putting all of your goals on hold. Desire management. And being in the moment because it can't be more than what it currently is.
Over time you learn to "reel in" your desires so they no longer keep you in the personal hell that is your unattained expectations of self.
"Reeling in" your compulsive, desiring mind allows you to also channel it inward instead of outward.
This means you can channel your desire to do inner work. Making it much easier to do inner work, such as shadow work.
Remember my example from a bit earlier? It took a bit of intention to do that. Which required rechanneling my desires inward.
How to use meditation for shadow work
Here are a few counter-intuitive ways to do shadow work that might surprise you.
I'm already going to assume that you are in a quiet place, relaxed, and with no distractions.
Since this website is intended to utilize shadow work as "advanced self-development", the shadow work techniques below are intended to address two of the three pillars I use for shadow work.
Taking back your PROJECTIONS
Understand that when you are triggered into loathing someone, or enamored into admiring someone—
There's a very high chance that you are projecting your unowned qualities onto that person.
Don't focus on the person, so much as the quality that affects you.
Imagine a person acting out the quality. Then think back to all of the times you suspect you were expressing this same quality in your own life.
Ask yourself why you demonize this quality? Why do you hate it?
(You only disown the parts of yourself that you hate and are ashamed of)
If you look into your own past deep enough you may find the root of it.
Then start saying the following:
"Deep down I am [quality]!"
Recite this until you feel a sensation within your body.
Understand that these sensations are evidence of your inner truths. Because the truth is sensational.
Pay attention to where you feel these sensations.
Over time as you slowly own this quality via meditation and practice, the quality will no longer trigger or be a source of admiration—
Because it's within you. You've integrated the quality back into yourself.
It no longer has to affect you for your attention.
You can learn more about the specifics of triggers and projections in the following articles:
- Projection Psychology: Shadow Defense Mechanism
- Shadow Work for Relationships (Projections, Inner Wounds, etc.)
Embracing your SADOMASOCHISM
This meditation is fairly similar to the last meditation. Except instead of focusing on a quality, we're going to focus on your current way of life.
Ask yourself what current aspects of your life do you wish to change but are seemingly stuck in?
Maybe you're tired of being poor, of never sticking to your diet, or falling for people who are unavailable.
Assuming you don't need professional help, these should be aspects of your life that you know you should change (for your own betterment), but you keep repeating a cycle that keeps it in your life.
For example, if you find yourself falling for people who are already taken or unavailable, then say this aloud:
"I love [pattern]!"
Having is evidence of wanting.
In this case, you have a thing for unavailable men/women.
But that's not the deepest truth!
You see, you tell yourself that you want a relationship. But the truth is that you don't.
Deep down, unconsciously, you don't.
Otherwise, you'd be able to manifest what you say you want.
This is evidence that your unconscious, or your shadow, will always overpower your conscious desires.
So how do you change these unconscious desires so you can manifest what you think you want?
You honor your shadow desires and admit the truth:
"I love [pattern]!"
It's gratitude for your current life that you give your unconscious mind the acknowledgment and closure it needs.
After genuine appreciation for who you truly are, you can then have your unconscious mind come into agreement with your conscious desires and manifest something different.
You can learn more about your sado masochistic nature, the acceptance of all sensations, in this article here.
Active Imagination for EMOTIONAL MATURITY
You have all the answers you need within yourself.
But sometimes there's too much noise for us to know the next direction on our life's journey.
My preferred method for self-consultation is "active imagination" meditation.
Only because it's very easy to put out your intent and for your mind to organize itself and retrieve an answer.
All you have to do is get relaxed. Close your eyes if you can think in images. If not, you can keep your eyes open and focus on your "inner speech".
State your intention aloud.
If you are a visual thinker, allow yourself to conjure up an image of a being that can reply to you. Let your mind give it a form, then let it speak on its own accord.
This is your unconscious attempting to bring you the answer you are looking for.
(Remember earlier on when I mentioned your compulsive desires are also a source of your thoughts? Right now you are channeling your desire inward and leveraging it.)
If you aren't a visual thinker, then you are relying on an "inner voice" to give you a response.
Expect to feel sensations and even exhaustion after you've conversed with your psyche. By then you will have an answer to your question.
This is a very effective way of consulting yourself. However, this works best with those who have built up an intuition.
A quick note:
You can actually organize and process your thoughts and emotions by talking to another person instead.
But in case you hadn't noticed from the previous two sections—
The subject matter tends to get really personal.
When it comes down to it, shadow work works as a confessional. So it's not uncommon that you will reveal parts of yourself that you wouldn't want other people to know about.
What you learn from your inner work is very personal and it will bring the worst (and best) parts up to the surface of your conscious mind.
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work Course is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost. Learn more here.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.