We all have it ... those inner voices of pessimism and optimism ... an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. In fact, global religions throughout time have long attributed spiritual titles to these forces, often seeing them as external forces that affect our inner lives.
Everything from angels to demons can be subcategorized based on these opposing forces that influence the patterns of our thoughts, speech, and actions. Regardless of culture, many spiritual people meditatively journey into their own shadow and light in order to understand the extent to which they are “self” and the extent to which they are “other.”
In many ways, the origin of our shadowy and light selves is of little importance. It’s most important to know that they exist in our psyches, and to know that we can do something about it. We get to choose which frequency to step into at any given time.
Sitting with the Shadow
In this exercise, you are encouraged to meet an aspect of your shadow. If for any reason you feel as if you’re not ready for it, that’s okay; there’s no pressure.
For those of us who have endured deeply traumatic experiences throughout life’s journey, any type of shadow-work is best performed with a professional therapist, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical professional counselor. If, however, you feel like going on a simple journey to meet your shadow, please follow the steps below.
I should also mention that, in the scope of shadow-work, this meditative journey is quite minimal. Depending on how well you “know” your shadow at this point, this exercise may be very easy or may give rise to difficult emotions.
Please be your own judge, take it at your own pace, and choose to meet the shadow on your own terms. After all, you are not defined by your shadow, and you are the one in control.
1. Get comfy in a meditative position and dim the lights. You may wish to light candles or a beautiful all-natural incense (I recommend incense from India or Japan). Ensure that you are comfortable enough to relax all of your muscles for the exercise, even if it means lying down on a plush surface.
2. Anoint your Ajna chakra (third-eye or brow) with a sacred powder or oil, in order to provide additional energetic protection. Please to get creative here. Personally, I like to use chandan paste (sandalwood), vibhuti (holy ash), or kumkum (vermillion powder) for this purpose. If you do not have these Hindu supplies on hand, feel free to use anything from powdered sage to an essential oil such as lavender or tea tree. Follow your intuition.
3. When you’re ready, take a series of deep breaths in through the nose and out the mouth. Pay attention to your breath and your heartbeat. Allow yourself to slip into a meditative state. Allow your mind to calm down and your body to become fully relaxed. Even if it takes many minutes, ensure that you feel comfortable, safe, and will not be disturbed.
4. In your mind’s eye, envision yourself surrounded in darkness. As you look closer, you can make out small specks of light ... stars! You are floating in empty space, surrounded by a silent serenity. Take some time to sit with this comforting feeling of being embraced by the vast expanse of the Universe. Allow it to remind you that you are a sacred starchild who is borne of cosmic dust and shall one day return to the source.
5. See yourself slowly moving forward in space, and then faster. As you pick up speed, you notice a structure in front of you. It appears to be a small building. You slow down in order to approach the structure. As you get closer, you stop in front of the structure and notice big swinging doors alongside a neon sign that blinks “café.”
6. After taking a few deep breaths, you make the decision to step through the large doors. When you enter the space, you notice that no one else is present; it’s only you! You notice that the café is decorated in gorgeous décor from around the world. The hardwood tables throughout are accented by velvety couches and plush chairs. The smell of sweet coffees and tea invade your senses. You feel at peace; at home.
7. As you seat yourself on one of the chairs or sofas, you mentally order herbal tea for two. These large cups of steaming beverage appear before you effortlessly; one in front of you and the other in front of the adjacent chair. Sip your tea and relax in the present moment. You are expecting a guest.
8. You feel the presence of your guest appearing. This guest does not enter through the swinging doors; instead, it slowly begins appearing before you in the adjacent seat. You recognize that this figure is part of you ... something deep within you ... your shadow self. You begin to perceive the figure.
9. Take note of how the shadow appears to you; perhaps it appears as a silhouetted doppelganger, or simply as a shifting blob of matter. Whatever the case, allow your shadow to appear before you. Invite it to join you for tea. This particular aspect of your shadow is connected to your own self-limiting beliefs; to your past. This aspect of shadow remembers emotional imprints from your past that have led to anxieties and insecurities at the present time. Accept this. Honor this. Know that you are safe.
10. As you sit down for tea with this part of your shadow, you feel a sense of compassion and forgiveness radiating toward it. This shadow is a part of you, but its downfall is that it thrives on experiences of the past. You sense that this shadow feels wounded, scared, sad, angry ... you feel compassion toward this.
11. You may wish to engage with your shadow by asking it a series of questions. If this communication does not feel comfortable at this time, it is okay; simply feel present in the space. If you choose to engage the shadow, feel free to gently ask it questions that may give you insight into your emotional wellness. This may include inquiries about its origin: how old are you? When did you become more pronounced in my life? Which experiences in my life created your presence?
12. If you receive responses from this aspect of your shadow self, acknowledge these sensations and send them light. Allow a feeling of empathetic compassion to surround this shadow. Tell the shadow that you appreciate the role it has played in your life. It has helped teach you many life lessons. You understand that this shadow has manifested as a way to emotionally protect you.
13. Next, come to terms with this darkness. Inform the shadow that you are thankful for its influence in the past, but that you are ready, able, and willing to handle your life at the present time. Ensure it that you are safe, and that you have both matured and evolved into adulthood. Tell the shadow that you are confident and capable; that its energy is respected but that it exists in the past. Tell the shadow what year it is and how old you are. Tell it that you are safe and that you are now choosing to embrace the light of hope.
14. When you feel at peace for now, smile to the shadow and give it blessings of light with namaste hands. See the shadow fading into the background, and take another sip of your tea. Mentally give thanks while the shadow fades away. You also feel called to leave the café, with the knowledge that you are welcome to return at any time.
15. As you gracefully exit the building, you find yourself once again surrounded in spacious cosmic bliss. You see yourself accelerating through space. Finally, you return to your physical body and become aware of your senses. Slowly awaken from your meditative journey by wiggling your fingers and toes, slowly moving your arms and legs. Taking deep breaths, you become aware of your physical body and can open your eyes to reenter your sacred space here on earth.
16. As you come to a standing position, conclude by verbally giving thanks for the experience. You now feel more at peace with your shadow and have gained some insight into its role in your past. Your spirit celebrates the fact that its role is now able to change, as you have now grown to a place of greater confidence, strength, and trust. You acknowledge that you can chitchat with the shadow again in the future, but for now you are filled with a radiant light of reassurance and fortitude toward whatever life has to offer.
©2019 by Raven Digitalis. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Llewellyn Worldwide (www.llewellyn.com)
The Everyday Empath: Achieve Energetic Balance in Your Life
by Raven Digitalis
Enrich your knowledge of empathy and improve your empathic abilities with this captivating, easy-to-use guide. The Everyday Empath offers a well-rounded view of what it means to experience high levels of empathy in daily life. Featuring exercises, examples, and insights, it's an essential resource to have on your shelf.
About the Author
Raven Digitalis (Missoula, MT) is the author of The Everyday Empath, Esoteric Empathy, Shadow Magick Compendium, Planetary Spells & Rituals and Goth Craft (Llewellyn). He is the co-founder of a nonprofit multicultural temple called Opus Aima Obscuræ (OAO), which primarily observes NeoPagan and Hindu traditions. Raven has been an earth-based practitioner since 1999, a Priest since 2003, a Freemason since 2012, and an empath all of his life. He holds a degree in anthropology from the University of Montana and is also a professional Tarot reader, DJ, small-scale farmer and animal rights advocate. Visit him at www.ravendigitalis.com .