Shamanic practitioner and regular FRANK contributor, Sjoukje Gummels reflects on the liberating power of embracing all of who you are, both light and shadow.
When we think of the shadow we associate it with darkness, something heavy, negative, that you’d rather avoid than invite, right?
It was not until I started training with my teacher Imelda Almqvist that the importance of shadow work came to the forefront.
I remember her saying that to be a safe practitioner we must do our shadow work to avoid the places where we fall into projection or judgements within our practice whilst working with our clients.
Yes, I had done loads of work on myself however shadow work was so much more. Let me tell you, everything was being highlighted and it was challenging not just for me but also for my family.
I could not have imagined the impact and insights that shadow work would give me and am forever grateful for Imelda’s part in this. But it wasn’t an easy ride. I had a lot of unresolved shit that needed shifting – but they made way for many treasures.
What is our shadow? It refers to those parts of our personality that have been rejected out of fear, ignorance, shame, or lack of love. The shadow is the person you would rather not be, the one you judge. Elements cut off from consciousness within the shadow may exert an enormous unseen influence in our lives and relationships.
To find out whether you hold a shadow around certain things, look at what gets you wound up. Where do you get emotionally triggered or charged? Where do you hide from expressing a part of yourself that is somewhere itching to break free but has not quite been given the space to do so?
The shadow has us tapped into old stories that are now being played out and we are the lead characters. It’s easy to look elsewhere, to blame others for the state our world is in, or the state we are in, maybe blaming things on our parents.
Hence we are where we are.
Shadow work is not about becoming squeaky clean or full of light but it does ask you to take responsibility for yourself, your actions, your thoughts and your words.
Dr Hew Len, who teaches the forgiveness practice Ho’oponopono, said, “Isn’t funny that whenever shit hits the fan you are always there?” He means there is no separation from what’s happening in our outer world to what’s going on within us. What we perceive is ours!
Whether we recognise that is a different story but once you do you can’t go back. You see, part of shadow work is having the courage to take 100% responsibility for everything that you notice.
The Shadow also holds the ‘Golden Shadow’ – your constructive talents and strengths that were not valued, were shamed by people in our lives or which we have disowned.
By actively engaging in shadow work you will find that you won’t notice certain things you noticed before because they have lost their grip. It is in balancing and accepting all of who you are that the emotional charge disappears. By coming to a place of self-acceptance, you will also truly accept others for who they are and their quirks. It releases the hold and energy becomes available. The amount of peace that it brings to the mind, body and spirit is immense.
There are some great books on working with the shadow. Here are some of my suggestions:
“The Darkside of the Light Chasers” by Debbie Ford
“Zero Limits” by Dr Hew Len and Joe Vitale
“Feeding your Demons”’ by Tsultrim Allione
Working with the shadow is incredible work. It’s continuous but it’s liberating and necessary if we want to see changes for ourselves or the world.
Sjoukje Gummels is a Shamanic Practitioner, model and mother of two. She leads guided meditations, Full Moon Circles, online courses and one-on-one healing sessions. Find out more here. Sjoukje encourages people to use their imagination and senses to actively explore their inner landscape for guidance and healing. Join her in deepening your connection to Nature, developing your intuition, and remembering the gifts and strengths that run through you.