Starting on the shadow


If there’s nothing the past year, including a first pass through Religion of Tomorrow, has taught me, its that there’s some serious shadow work to be done — that’s looking like the next chapter of my adventure.

How do I start this process? I can feel my resistance and avoidance already. How do I start looking for a therapist / counselor / coach? I don’t even know where to start or what questions to ask as I start to look for professionals in my area.


Dr. Keith Witt has a great book (and workbook) on Shadow work. “Shadow Light: Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness.”


Thank you for the suggestion - it has been ordered!


While you’re reading new books and looking for new therapists, you can always experiment on your own. If there are people in your life, or groups in the news, that regularly trigger you with an excessive charge – this is a great place to start. Feel the subtle provocation that moves through your body in a characteristic fashion. Perform an imaginary internal dialogue in which you first tell these people how they make you feel AND THEN try to answer yourself back from their perspective. There are a thousand improvisational variations on how to integrate the perspective of a rejected Other. Once we have found an Other that provokes us a little too much. We don’t need to ultimately agree that they are correct but we do need to “take over” the energy that is stored away from our “I” in the form of our recurring perception of irritants. Good luck.


Thanks for the topic. It’s one that I have more recently realized that it’s the next deep area of exploration. While the 3-2-1 Process has been interesting I have stumbled on The Work by Byron Katie and found it to be simple and yet deeply powerful in developing insights of where my shadow exists and opening up some great areas to continue to work on. It’s also deeply cathartic. There is free stuff on her website to get you started. Let me know your thoughts.


Yes, I’ve been concerned about shadow work too. There’s much talk about spirituality, transformation, higher consciousness, philosophies, and all the rest but not much is said about shadow work which is needed for growing up.
I often get a emails from spiritual retreat centers that stress meditation, tai chi, and other practices but nothing, as far as know, about the means by which we can outgrow our unresolved inner conflicts, pent up unresolved feelings, and neurosis that prevent us from waking up. I would think that integral psychotherapy already has a specific kind of therapy but of what good would it be if most people can afford it? And while books and lectures about shadow work have their place, no amount of it will free us from that which binds us.
As most of you may know, among those on the spiritual path, some are prone to spiritual bypassing because they fear - consciously or unconsciously- that if they allow themselves to bring any repressed feeling into awareness -going as far back as childhood- it will be too much to bear. Well yes, it will hurt. That is inevitable.
However, by freeing ourselves from repressed unresolved feelings, it has a cathartic effect. Carl Jung refers to it as as legitimate suffering.. It’s the kind of experience you wish you had taken on long ago and while it can be painful, the psychological redeeming effects it provides you is immeasurable.


Hi, I too have found that more emphasis on what, and how, to work with when dealing with unresolved past issues.
I am not sure that the link between evolving consciousness and the impact the past has on this, has been fully grasped by the mainstream spiritual community - yet!


Hello codedward, here’s my two cents: just look for 3 or 4 coaches or therapists in your area/city (google, Yelp, other, …) and ask all of them for a free initial consultation. You are in the driver’s seat. It is your life and your shadow. You need to choose the one who feels right to you. Specifically ask for someone who is experienced in shadow work. Ask how they do it, what methods they use, ask anything you need to ask. Become informed. Ask for 3 references. Call/check the references and get an idea of what it is like to be coached or helped by that person. Ask all the questions you want before choosing someone you feel you can trust. Then when you are ready pick one and just relax and go to the sessions. You will have previously decided with the practitioner how many sessions per month feel OK to you (your budget also counts but remember you will be investing in yourself - a good practitioner is not cheap but you can find reasonably priced ones). A good practitioner knows what they are doing. They will ask you the right questions. I personally prefer coaching but if you can afford it you could have both a therapist and a coach. There are good and bad coaches. There are good and bad therapists. A good practitioner will let you quit whenever you want if you are not happy. Hope that helps. Good luck!


Thank you! Your suggestions point out to me that most people I’ve interacted with in this type of relationship like my mentor at work or the therapist I was referred to in college were pretty much assigned to me without much room for my input.

The idea of seeking them out and interviewing in the way you describe is both daunting and refreshing.


Yes! They are supposed to provide you with a service and you are paying them. You want the best. Oh… and don’t forget that they too have a shadow. We all have one. We are all human beings. Nobody is superior to you. They are just a tad more experienced in looking into the shadow and knowledgable about the topic… A good practitioner will be humble.


Hello, codedward, you don’t need to engage a therapist / counselor/ coach in order to get started on shadow work. there are a number of DIY methods out there. Here are two that I can heartily recommend from my own experience:

  1. In the recent book “Integral Life Practice,” co-authored by Ken Wilber and Terry Patten and two others, there is a whole section on shadow work, including a technique you can easily make part of your daily practice if you wish.

  2. The company Sounds True publishes many excellent books and CDs. Among them is a 6 CD set by Robert Augustus Masters titled “Knowing Your Shadow.” I cannot recommend this too highly. BTW one of its six modules is on spiritual bypassing.

Best of wishes to you in whatever way you pursue your shadow work. IMHO this kind of work is essential for those of us who are consciously trying to move “up” in our states and stages. There are so many painful examples of leaders who have taken their shadows with them up the states and stages, with tragic results for many beyond themselves.


Are you familiar with the following techniques: Focusing (Eugene Gendlin), Image Streaming (Win Wenger) and Unified Mindfulness (Shinzen Young)?
Improving inner skills helps dealing with inner problems… Also they can help you to be less overwhelmed by things that may come to light. And they can be integrated with each other!
Hope this is of some help, good luck on your adventure!


I highly recommend Dr. Mark Forman, an integral psychotherapist active in this community. I’ve been working with him for quite a while, and I find him to be incisive, thoughtful, and able to meet me at my level.
Best of luck on your journey!


I can vouch for Focusing in that it has been great for dissolving that feeling in your belly when something isn’t right, It helps point out what exactly is going on to make you feel like that. However, for me it doesn’t go on to deal with the issue that you’ve picked up on. That’s still there. But it does open up a space where it was contracted before. It’s then your choice to go into the space and work out how to live your life differently.