Are you wondering what is the best way to do shadow work?
The best way to do shadow work is by performing Active Imagination. There are many ways to do Active Imagination, but I’m going to show you how to do it via inner dialogue. It’s the easiest and most convenient way for anyone to do Active Imagination.
Before I get more into how to perform active imagination for shadow work, let’s make sure you understand a few key concepts.
What is the 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.
What is Active Imagination?
Active Imagination is a form of meditation that gets your conscious in touch with your unconscious.
Your unconscious, in this context, will include archetypes such as your shadow, inner child, anima/animus, etc.
The best way to perform active imagination is through inner dialogue. But there are other ways to connect with your unconscious, such as dancing, painting, sculpting, sandplay, etc.
You can read more about Active Imagination in the following articles:
Where does Active Imagination Come From
Carl Jung came up with active imagination during his four-year journey into his unconscious.
But most people will come across active imagination in the book Think & Grow Rich.
The author Napoleon Hill was a huge fan of Jungian Psychology. His entire book called Outwitting The Devil is actually a long session of active imagination.
And very early on in Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon mentions that there is a secret hidden within the book. After all these years nobody has been able to find it (other than assuming it was a sales copy to get people to purchase his other books).
The secret is that he is mentioning all the Jungian function stacks, with the intent that you will notice the functions you are greatly neglecting, but need.
When I say function stacks, I’m referring to MBTI. Which many people scoff at, but keep in mind that Hill and Jung are from a much earlier era.
These functions refer to the following: extraversion, introversion, judgment, thinking, perceptive, intuitive, sensor, etc.
Active Imagination is meant to help people who are intuitive or people who will benefit from being more intuitive.
In Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon tells the reader to imagine a council of people. Each of whom you allow to act in your imagination on their own behalf.
This is essentially the inner dialogue form of active imagination that I prefer.
When you allow your imaginary material to act on its own, you’re giving your unconscious a form in which it can communicate with you.
Your unconscious is limitless, and it picks up any information that your limited ego isn’t aware of.
Your unconscious also contains your inner child, shadow, and other archetypes, which are connected to your higher self. Meaning that they are what give you your intuition.
Does this all sound ridiculous?
As a society, we have come to put logic over everything else. Science and logic have their place, but they’ve also become the new God.
In the far past, humankind used to be much more superstitious and archaic in their beliefs in how to world works.
Now we are in an era of worshipping science and logic.
However, some people need to adopt more spirituality. Give irrationality a place in their lives.
Give ideas like synchronicity and Oneness a place in their lives.
Some would say this is foolish. But understand that anything that determines measurement and context is completely made up.
Yes, materialistically it matters. But the meta of it all is equally important.
As the world becomes more open to psychedelics, consciousness, and decentralization (you crypto people know), the world will open up more to these post-rational concepts.
People will no longer identify with their nations because they will become free and sovereign, both physically and mentally—
BUT, I’m getting waaaayyyyy ahead of myself. Back on topic:
Active Imagination is a technique where psychology meets spirituality.
You are much more than you think you are. Like we mentioned in the beginning, there are lots of parts of yourself that you’ve disowned while growing up.
Until you become aware of these parts of yourself, they will control your life and you will assume that it’s fate.
All the repeating issues in your life are because you don’t know yourself. You lack the maturity to look within.
Active Imagination is going to help you do that.
The best way to do shadow work with Active Imagination
When I perform active imagination as an inner dialogue, I will try to reach out to the following archetypes:
- Inner Child (dialogue with a younger version of myself)
- Anima (dialogue with woman image of my unconscious’ choice)
- Shadow (completely inner dialogue)
- Council (dialogue with image of group of men )
You can check out my most intense inner child active imagination session here.
You can check out the time I met my shadow here.
The following is an example of trying to communicate with my psyche’s image of “woman”, or anima.
You must form a healthy image of your anima/animus because any distortions you have of it in your psyche will be projected to the men or women you meet in your life.
Understand that your psyche’s image of man or woman is intended to evolve and mature alongside you.
Early on in life, both sexes want to get very attractive partners to have sex with. Over time, personality starts to become more of a factor of attractiveness. From physical attractiveness to accomplishments, to intellectual maturity, and so forth.
Your tastes will change over time.
Here is my dialogue with my anima image
My goal is to communicate with anima to see how I can improve my relationships with women in a romantic sense. The responses you see are my own. I speak both to the recorder (you) and to the image. You’ll have to intuit what I “heard” between my lines of dialogue.
Alright, here we go. I want to talk with my anima. My inner woman.
I’m waiting for an image of a woman to pop up in my mind.
My intent is for a woman image to appear in my mind, and keep it there if it feels right for me to keep it there.
After anima gives itself form, I’m going to let it act on its own behalf.
I can talk to it at that point because it means my unconscious has taken form.
I intend to speak with the inner woman and embrace the relationship that I have with it. Because when you improve your relationship with your inner woman, or inner man, depending on which sex you are, you influence how you interact with your contra-sex in real life.
Read more about how the man and woman images in your psyche have been conditioned here.
The qualities you’ve appointed to your inner man/inner woman image will develop more within yourself as you improve your relationships with the anima/animus image.
This allows you to see the other sex more accurately—as human beings. Not like some other type of creature, like people sort of like to imply when they talk about the other sex.
“Hey. So is there anything you want to say to me?”
“Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of women. But there’s just something in me that doesn’t want to reach out as much.”
“And honestly, I think there’s a part of me that feels like I don’t measure up.”
[Now I’m waiting for a response from the image. It sucks because if you consciously want to hear something, you might try to voice the image with your ego’s voice.
That’s basically like putting your hand in a puppet and making it say what you want it to say.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that you want your unconscious to put its hand in the puppet. So it can talk to you.
So that the other side of your personality, which you’re not in touch with, can speak to you.
Because your unconscious is always honest and it knows better than you.
It’s the ego that lies.]
(It starts responding again)
“So, yeah, I feel like I don’t measure up. I also feel like I don’t want to put in the effort.”
“I know that I have no idea what’s going to happen unless I do it.”
“It’s some sort of fear of going through all that trouble, and not being able to connect. I feel there’s a gap in my chest. Not that I need it to be fulfilled. But it’s the part of me that’s supposed to connect romantically and it doesn’t.”
“It doesn’t want to connect. Because, at this point, it doesn’t want to be let down.”
“Thing is, I want sex more than I actually want the connection.”
“Does it bring me fulfillment? I mean, it does build a little bit of self-confidence. And seeing what I can do, or what I can pull, gives me the confidence to try to pull something that I really want.”
“Another thing is that I’m afraid to connect to a girl that I actually, genuinely don’t want. And I’d be forced to connect out of guilt.”
“There’s also the complete inability to idealize. There are potentials that I can’t believe are in a woman, and because of that, I cannot idealize her.”
“I cannot see my potentials that I’d be able to see by idealizing a woman. In this sense, I can tell that I fucked up my psyche.”
“Because of my own selfish, manipulative past behavior.”
See how I have a conversation with an inner voice? Active Imagination is very much a way to organize your thoughts with the help of self-confrontation. The honesty I provided is what you can expect when you perform active imagination with your shadow. Except your shadow is much more likely to be emotional and cathartic.
Active Imagination with your anima (if you’re a man) or animus (if you’re a woman) is more about mending the way you relate to your opposite sex. Meanwhile, active imagination with your shadow is about improving the way you relate with yourself.
Hope you enjoyed it, I need to edit this in the future because it’s a mess 8/5