Shadow work is the art of tracking and sharing the parts of you that you’ve kept hidden or denied. As we share these parts, we build another level of intimacy with others and come deeper into connection with our authentic selves.
During the Heart iQ Challenge, you will learn how to safely share these parts of you in the presence of others.
Through the Eyes of a Student
By Shalini Tewari
I’m in a small breakout room with two other participants on the 90-Day Challenge. It’s our weekly informal circle where we practice the exercises outlined from the week prior.
This week’s practice is based on shadow work. Shadows are the parts of us that we either hide or deny for fear of being judged, shamed, abandoned, or rejected if exposed.
One of the participants begins the process starting with the stem ‘what I don’t want you to know about me’.
Our shares are light to begin; a few idiosyncrasies warm us into the exercise. We have never met one another in person, but we’ve created a container over the past two months that brings in a level of safety to explore these parts fully.
We take turns sharing and start with embarrassing habits – ‘what I don’t want you to know about me is that I enjoy eating junk food when I’m stressed or triggered.’
‘What I don’t want you to know about me is that sometimes I steal items from grocery stores.’
‘What I don’t want you to know about me is that when I work from home, I wear the same clothes daily without washing them.’
We are aware that the categories are going to be more revealing, so we welcome the light and fun parts being shared in this moment.
We move on to the next categories – actions that we are ashamed of having done to others, actions we are ashamed of others having done to us, and finally, sexual taboos.
Our shares become much more raw and vulnerable. With each person sharing, we listen with full presence and compassion. Sometimes a ‘just like me’ is voiced to express our solidarity and similarity.
It’s not an easy process, but the circle feels lighter even as our shares get darker.
There’s a sense of freedom and acceptance in openly confessing to those parts of us that we’ve kept hidden away deep in the recesses of our minds and bodies.
By sharing these parts of us, we feel another level of connection and intimacy fill the space. The more we open our hearts to the experience, trusting that we will be held in a loving space, the more we begin to open to receive all the different parts of us that we repressed, shamed, judged, resented or denied.
I can feel my body lighten and come more alive as we take turns to share these parts, each time going deeper and revealing more intimate truths that were kept hidden for so long. Layer by layer, our defense mechanisms drop as we shine the light of awareness and bring our full authentic selves into the space.
We close the circle sharing our medicine and recognition that the experience made us all feel much more connected to life, to all of who we are, and to one another.