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In this article I aim to guide you into how to do shadow work. I have breifly listed below some important themes that helped me as well as my own step by step process that works really well for me! I hope through my own experiences that this method can empower you with your own healing too 🙂

What is Shadow Work

Our shadow self is anything that we are unaware of about ourselves, that which remains unconscious such as our feelings, needs, desires, fears and parts of ourselves that we conceal, reject or are ashamed of. This can also include the pieces of ourselves that we do not want to acknowledge or do not know how to integrate.

Well over 70% of all our thoughts, words and actions are carried out by programs in our subconscious mind that were set during childhood, the environment and the society and culture we grew up in.

Shadow work is when we consciously gain access to our subconscious mind and listen to what message wants to come through. I would argue that shadow work alongside meditation is the most important and powerful spiritual practise that you can do as it increases self-awareness and consciousness greatly. We walk around holding onto dense vibrational energy formed from unresolved emotions, get trapped in cycles of thinking and behaving in ways we don’t understand our whole lives unless we revisit and enlighten these emotions and events causing the blockages within.

These heavy emotions act as a filter by which we perceive reality and if these filters are distorted then the perspective of reality will most likely be negative or even toxically positive. Shadow work helps to cleanse these filters helping us to observe and see more clearly from a higher perspective.

Each time you delve into your own subconscious, you basically become a detective and a truth seeker. There are so many clues and pieces of the puzzle that fit together to make up who you are. Exploring the internal world will help you to gain a deeper innerstanding of yourself and who you truly are. Shadow work takes courage but the more you practise and devote yourself to yourself on a regular basis the less your shadow self will have control over you and the more you become a master of your emotions. The more you step into the power your true authentic self.

Important things to know

Before beginning shadow work there are some important things to know to help you along your journey into the depths. A lot of sources online portray shadow work in a fluffy all ‘love and light’ way. In reality shadow work is intense and can be terrifying and painful. It can leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, disorientated, frustrated, raw and broken. It can either make you feel more energised as you release heavy energy or make you want to stay in bed all day.

You may find from your shadow work process that you feel extreme emotions and are very anxious or depressed. Know these states were already within you and are surfacing because you are ready to innerstand them, take your time and be gentle with yourself. Dark, painful things will come up and you will feel as though you are taking huge steps back in your healing journey but really it means that you are ready for the realisations and transformation to heal them.

12 things I found significant on my own internal journey:

1. Ego vs Soul

The ego is your whole identity, who you think you are, your name, your physical body, your likes and dislikes, your cycles of behaviour, your programs. It is constantly running with thoughts, gets quickly agitated, is unstable and reactive. The ego is there for survival purposes, to protect you from danger. But sometimes it is too protective and causes us great suffering. We need to establish a healthy relationship with our ego to be more conscious and grounded in the physical reality as it essentially acts as a map that you use to interact with the world. For example, without a name how would anyone be able to get your attention or connect with you?

Differentiating between your ego and your soul is very helpful for shadow work. Your soul is a pure state of awareness, energy and stillness. Your soul is your divine authentic self. When you innerstand that you have an identity but that is not who you truly are, you can begin to let go of the dependence and identification with the ego which connects you more to your soul and authentic self. Your authentic self will help you with your shadow work way more than your ego ever could. The ego is finite and the soul is infinite.

A way to grasp this concept is by seeing your ego as the actor who plays the character in your life and the soul is the script writer of your life. When you are in your ego the character will ignore the script writer and play out the script it wants to, which is really just the script that was programmed into the character by the environment. When you connect more with your soul you are able to see things from a greater perspective and can start writing the script that you want your ego to play.

Mentally ask yourself whether you are feeding your ego or your soul. Try to feel the difference between these two perspectives. Your ego hates and does not want you to go into painful emotions. Your soul loves and wants you to feel everything deeply.

2. Ego Tricks

Your ego will do anything in its power to stop you from truly feeling those painful emotions because it perceives them as dangerous and wants to protect you. Some tricks it plays on you is blaming others, victimising yourself, guilt-tripping yourself or others, projecting your unprocessed emotions onto others, avoidance, narcissism, distractions such as food or fidgeting, boredom, lying to yourself, gas lighting yourself, shaming yourself or others and self-sabotage.

Try to learn more about these tac tics by researching them online if you are unsure of what they look like and how they show up in your own life. Being conscious of these will help you to identify if you are stuck in your ego state which will really help increase your self-awareness and healing.

Something to also be aware of is ego backlash. This is a normal ‘fight back’ process from your ego that happens when you start healing and transforming your traumas and heavy emotions. The ego is extremely resistant to change and so when you start to connect with your authentic self and align yourself with your divine purpose it will start lashing out towards you because it fears the changes. If you’ve been a certain way your whole life and you begin healing, it is likely your ego will try to pull you back into those old ways of being.

You may be doing consistent healing, eating healthier, keeping up with your spiritual practices and regularly connecting to nature yet still you find yourself being unhappy, depressed and basically just not feeling good in yourself. This can last for a few days or even a few months. Try not to control these emotional states, just observe and know that it is your ego backlashing and resisting the changes.

For me I kept getting caught up in cycles of self-sabotage, punishing self talk, depression and hopelessness. It takes time to transform these things but you will eventually have to confront these emotions, traumas and belief systems to take your power back from your ego.

3. Meditation and the Observer

Meditating connects us to the infinite stillness and energy of our soul which I mentioned above as the authentic self also known as the observer. Some call it the higher self but I personally prefer to say authentic self as the term higher self suggests of something outside of yourself, when really it is you. Meditation is extremely powerful alongside shadow work as it helps you to identify the ego because when you are in the observer state you can recognise and observe the ego program playing out.  Meditation also helps to improve your concentration levels and focus which is a skill that will make shadow work a lot easier for you.

For me currently, it takes about 25 minutes to truly still my mind during meditation because in that time my thoughts/ego are feeding me information about my past, my experiences, anxieties about the future, insecurities, beliefs I have about myself. However, depending on what I am going through on some days, being at peace within during meditation can take a longer or shorter amount of time than usual. Meditation is a skill to learn to observe the ego from the state of the soul without getting carried away by the internal chatter or identifying too much with the ego. Meditation will relax your brainwaves, your body and get you more in tune with your true nature and thus grant you more access to your subconscious.

4. An Emotional Ride

Feeling is the main component of shadow work. Emotions are energy. In our energetic field we have an emotional body which is where all the trauma and heavy emotional energy is stored. The only way to truly access and release them is to feel. When you tune into the feeling it unlocks more information to you. Information can come to you in the form of thoughts, feelings, memories, images, flashes, clarity or even just a knowing. This is why it is so important to get into the observer state because what comes up is mostly related to the feeling and is a message from your subconscious. It’s very healing when you can observe and be consciously aware of these clues to help with your detective work.

Notice where in your body the feeling comes from, the sensations of the feeling and identify what the feeling is. Bring your awareness to the feeling and tune into it just as a radio dial would tune into a specific channel. Your ego may try to work out what the feeling is cognitively or logically so watch out for that. Remember this is a feeling process so keep practising feeling into things. Your emotions should be leading the way and your thoughts will naturally follow.

Our emotions are layered so it is usually easier to start feeling into the top layers first and then the layers beneath those will be unlocked to you. This is done by tuning into whatever feeling is there presently. You can go into shadow work with a specific thing you want to innerstand more about such as how you feel about a particular person or event or you can go into it with pure curiosity not knowing what will come up. Even though the emotions may feel painful, no emotion can ever truly hurt you. If you are unable to determine what emotion is showing itself, keep feeling and tuning into it. It is important to be completely open to the emotion with non-judgement, compassion and acceptance so that it feels safe and secure and unlocks more information for you to follow to the root.

Sometimes you do not even have to do any detective work to release an emotion, just the act of feeling into where the pain is coming from is enough to release the emotion for good. You will feel it move up your chakras and out of your crown. That is how powerful this technique of truly feeling is. As long as you totally surrender to the feeling and let go of any resistance. Resistance feels like swimming against a strong current. When you let go and surrender you’ll flow with the current to where you need to be.

If you are stuck in the emotion or feel frustrated that you are unable to get more information about the emotion or you are overwhelmed by the emotion then you have to feel into the stuckness/block/frustration/overwhelm. For example, in my own shadow work process, I thought I was feeling into grief but I would get stuck there and I wouldn’t get any more information on this which would immensely frustrate me. I then really tuned into my feelings and realised that there was a level of frustration I felt towards myself for even being frustrated at all. So there was a layer of frustration over the frustration already there for having the grief in the first place. The ego may trick you into believing you are feeling an emotion but really you are just cognitively thinking you are. Thoughts are really helpful for us to connect to an emotion but thinking cannot release the trapped emotion, only feeling them can.

Another thing to be aware of is numbness, dissociation, distractions and forgetting what you are doing. In my own shadow work process I would occasionally dissociate when trying to go into something and then I would get so lost in my thoughts that I would forget that I was even doing shadow work. Know that when this happens you have probably hit a motherload, so stay as present as you can and patient with yourself until you can get underneath that layer of dissociation or numbness.

Some traumas come from many different times and events so have many layers. These can take more than one session to clear. So stay open and patient when you find something very big and heavy. Feelings such as anger, resentment, hate, annoyance, frustration tend to be in the higher layers and are there protecting you from having to feel those deeper layers which are perceived as too painful such as hopelessness, sadness, grief, loneliness, shame, abandonment, powerlessness etc. You’ve got to feel all the layers to release them so tell yourself you are brave and can do this.

5. Squeeze Mula Bandha

The Mula Bandha is also known as the root lock and is connected to your root chakra. Squeezing Mula Bandha is a technique widely used in Yoga but it is also very powerful when used during Shadow Work. This is because some of the deep fears and traumas cause us to come out of our body, dissociate or disconnect from any feeling present whatsoever. We want to feel deeply in Shadow Work and so a way to help us do this when we struggle to access the feelings is to ground ourselves back and be present within our body. When we activate Mula Bandha throughout the inner healing process it helps to bring us back to ourselves and to ground us, helping us to truly feel what is there.

It invovlves focusing on your root chakra, squeezing your genitals and anus while at the same time taking an inbreath pulling energy upwards then holding your breath. Hold the root lock and your breath for around 10 seconds or as long as you feel. This will redirect and pull energy up your spine and ground you into your body. Apply this technique as many times as you feel during your Shadow Work process or whenever you are finding it difficult to feel deeply into an emotion/time in your life.

6. Emotional Release

The most powerful emotional release is crying. Crying is so incredibly healing so if you ever feel the need then let it out. As emotions correspond to water this is literally your body releasing those emotions. Suppressing any crying can cause more blocks.

In my shadow work process I actually had a massive block to crying which caused so much frustration and annoyance with myself. After getting past those layers and being more accepting and kinder to myself the deeper layers showed me times in my childhood where I was told off for crying and I learnt from a young age not to cry in front of other people as I felt too vulnerable. It took me some time to even feel comfortable crying in front of my boyfriend. The frustration and annoyance I directed towards the block was protecting me from feeling that vulnerability I/my ego did not wish to feel. As well feeling into the vulnerability, I took my inner child to my created inner safe space and comforted her, letting her know that she is safe to cry with me, listened to her needs and validated her emotions.

You can also release the emotions through laughter, screaming, moving, dancing and shaking. Or any other way you find that helps you to release.

7. A Safe Space

Create a place in your minds eye that you can go to whenever you are carrying out shadow work. Some of the traumas and emotions we go through make us feel very vulnerable and unsafe. Creating a place where you feel good, comfortable, safe and relaxed will help you to open up knowing that nothing in there can ever harm you.

This also helps to exercise your third eye as you use your imaginary and visualisation skills which will help you to connect more with your authentic self. Get as detailed and as creative as you want!

Here is where you connect with your authentic self but you can also bring your inner child and characters from your life here to talk to them. If you are dealing with unmet needs from childhood then meet those needs for your child self in your safe space. For example, say you grew up in a family with not much money and money was a constant stress and you as a child rarely got any treats or presents, then take your child self shopping where they can have anything they want, let them choose and spoil them. Or say as a child you grew up lonely and your family did not play with you much. Bring them to your safe space if thats what they want and play with them yourself or a loving character that they feel safe around. Or introduce them to an imaginary character that will always be there with them outside of the safe space to play whenever they want. Here we are healing and transforming unhealthy core beliefs that the child has around certain things that were brought into adulthood and currently is causing stress and suffering.

8. Aspects

Our consciousness has been fragmented from childhood and so we have many different sides to us. Some we accept and some we reject. These aspects are created when for example, our parent or caregiver tells us that something we are doing is wrong and as a child we take it as ‘I am wrong’. So we reject and push that part of ourselves away in order to survive and to get love and support from the parent. When we can bring awareness to the different aspects, we can communicate with them and find out what their wants and needs are. A lot of the time the aspects will have different needs and may be opposing and arguing with one another.

An amazing technique is to identify as many of your different aspects as you can that you feel are involved in a situation you want to enlighten. You may have 2 or you may have well over 20 or more. Bring them all to your internal safe space and create a heartfelt sharing circle. You are your authentic self playing the role of peace maker and mediating between them. Take into account and listen to each one of them. Make each and every one of them feel safe, heard, loved, validated and accepted. This helps you to feel more whole and grounded when you make peace between your aspects.

What really deepened my shadow work to another level was taking everyone in my reality as an aspect of myself. This really helped me to innerstand that we are all connected and everyone has something to show you about yourself no matter who comes into your reality. There were many people who I struggled to accept and give love to but now I realise I was only really struggling to accept and give love to that part of myself that I saw in them.

You can try out this shift in perspective for yourself, depending on how much self-truth you can really handle, because this for sure keeps you ego in check. Write out a list of all the negative traits in a person you struggle to accept and then do the same but positive traits in someone you admire and look up to. The negative list is really a list of the traits you dislike and struggle to accept within yourself, your shadow, and the positive list are the traits you desire to have within yourself but already are within, also your shadow.

9. Ancestral Emotions

I believe that it is important to mention that not all the emotions, thoughts and behaviours you have come from just you and the life you have lived. Some get passed down to you through your DNA. Basically any traumas that your parents, grandparents etc suppressed and did not deal with gets passed down for the next generation to heal or the cycle continues. Knowing about what my ancestors went through has really helped me to heal many traumas and heavy emotions as well as tapping into my gifts and strengths.

For example, I am half Irish and had ancestors that survived the potato famine, my grandma was Austrian and lived in Austria during the Second World War where rations were scarce. I had a deep sense of insecurity of not having enough food and almost feeling ‘irrationally’ desperate if I felt that the food stock was lacking. Luckily, I always had enough and never truly felt what starvation was like but I was still terrified by having to feel it. When I tapped into what was stored in my energy field and felt the pain of the starvation that my ancestors experienced, I cried a lot and released much emotion. It was very heavy and intense but I came out of it feeling way less afraid of food scarcity as well as taking on their strength and endurance with me.

10. Triggers

Even though triggers at the time can feel like the most intense and worst thing ever, they are actually gold nuggets within your psyche that you want to look out for. Triggers literally act as a key into parts of your subconscious that you would otherwise struggle to gain access to.

When they come up or you are out the other side of a trigger, make a mental note to go back into what happened. Being more optimistic and curious about your triggers will really improve the relationship you have with yourself as you get to know yourself better. Triggers really are your allies on the internal journey.

11. Embody your Authentic Self

When going into shadow work it is essential to embody your authentic self as much as you can. Your authentic self accepts and loves you unconditionally and wants to mother and nurture you as you go through the process. Bring in these attributes your soul embodies during shadow work:

  • Self-compassion- in order to truly feel and release the emotion you must be unconditionally accepting and loving towards yourself and all your aspects, especially the parts of you that you have labelled as ‘bad’ or ‘unworthy’.
  • Empathy-is a mega cheat code to innerstanding yourself, others and the world on a deeper level
  • Acceptance– you must accept everything that comes up otherwise there will be resistance and you will be unable to release the emotion
  • Non-judgement– be conscious of your thoughts, emotions and sensations with complete openness. Know that every aspect of yourself is necessary and divine
  • The Observer– you are connected to your authentic self and you are able to witness your thoughts in a neutral, non-judgemental and non-attached state. Moment by moment you observe and accept all sensations, emotions and thoughts as something that is not who you truly are
  • Self-truth– be completely honest with yourself about how you truly feel no matter how shameful or upsetting.
  • Responsibility– to take responsibility for your actions and how that may impact yourself and others, to admit you were in your ego and not blaming others
  • Patience– take your time with this process, rushing or being in a ‘get it done’ mind set will take you out of the present moment and disconnect you from really feeling, make the time for yourself so you can be as relaxed as possible
  • Curiosity– being curious about discovering more about yourself will help to motivate and keep you excited about shadow work. You are now a truth seeker and want to get to the truth of who you are.

12. Consistency is Key

You will get the most out of shadow work by keeping up a regular practise. Healing takes place over a lifetime in a spiral motion. Things will cycle back around for deeper innerstanding and healing. Each time you level up. You do not want things to all come up at once because it would just be way too intense and at best you would end up in a psychiatric hospital. You want things to come up little by little so that you can take your time integrating and transforming these emotions, making sense and use of them.

For me, whenever a feeling comes up or I get triggered I try my best to feel into it straight away. This is really because my sensitivity to my own emotions is so high now that I struggle to function if not dealt with ASAP. Usually I will do shadow work as soon as I wake up when I remember my dreams which give me helpful insights or before going to sleep as my consciousness is naturally more connected to my subconscious at those times.

Shadow work is a process that takes time and the more you practice the better you will get. Try to make it a daily practice. Stay consistent with it and you will for sure begin to connect to yourself on a much deeper level.

How I do Shadow Work

Here are some steps I take in my own shadow work process that may be helpful for you. You may find that once you use these steps, you will experiment and tweak them for whatever suits you best. Let your intuition guide you. I either lie down on my bed or go sit by a tree in nature (weather depending). Sometimes I journal as I’m doing the process either on my laptop or diary but usually I prefer to do this after to help integrate what came up for me.


1. Find a place where you can relax fully and be in your own energy, where you will not be disturbed and are in no rush. Make sure you have some tissues next to you as you may feel the need to cry at any point during this process.

2. Set an intention that you will connect with your true authentic self to help guide you through whatever comes up. Intend that you will stay strong and be there for yourself no matter what. Intention is so powerful so remember this step.


3. Lie down in Savasana Yoga pose (corpse pose). Or sit where you feel comfortable. You want your body language to be as open as possible as this helps with the unlocking of and flow of blocked energy through your chakras.


4. Stay in this position for at least 10 minutes relaxing, meditating, regulating your breathing and calming down your nervous system as this will help you better gain access to your subconscious. I highly recommend breathing into your belly as much as you can for the duration of the process. The in breath your diaphragm and belly should naturally be pushed out and on the out breath your diaphragm and belly should fall inwards towards your spine. Belly breathing deeply relaxes you as well as activates your pineal gland which will be very helpful during your healing practise.


5. Once you feel more relaxed, go to your internal safe space where you can meet with your authentic self.

6. Know that you are not alone. Your true authentic/observer self is there to guide and nurture you just as a loving mother would to their child. They love and accept you unconditionally no matter what and you may communicate with them through feelings, a knowing, hearing, seeing or embodying them. Know that your authentic self is who you truly are. You are essentially guiding yourself through this process. You heal yourself.

7. Now you are aware of being fully supported by your authentic self and feel safe with them in your safe space, feel deeply into whatever emotion presents itself to you or say a trigger word of something you want to innerstand more and observe what comes up.

8. Examine the emotion. Where in your body is this feeling present? Can you identify which emotion it is? Does it feel heavy/ tight/tense/stiff/contracted/weighing on you/twisting/pulling your body in a certain way/make you want to close down? Really feel into the energy and the sensations. What motion is the energy taking?


9. Talk to your authentic self about what you are feeling and thinking. Ask questions such as what do you need, how I can help heal you, where did you come from, who caused this and any other questions you feel to ask and you will receive answers. Keep asking ‘Why?’

10. Allow yourself to feel. How do you feel about the feeling itself? Are you accepting of it or are you annoyed/judgemental towards it? If there is not acceptance then there will be resistance and you will not be able to release the energy. Surrender to and embrace the feeling. Bring it in and want to feel into it. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly into your belly and keep your entire body fully relaxed. Resistance creates tension and blocks so try to find out why it is there.

11. Remember to squeeze Mula Bandha if you are struggling to feel the emotion.


12. If a feeling comes up and it is too painful to deal with, completely relax your whole entire body and breathe deeply, telling yourself that you are strong and can handle anything that comes up, remember that the feeling cannot really hurt you. Your ego tricks you into thinking the emotion will cause too much pain as it is programed to protect you but your authentic self can handle it.


13. Bring up that same painful feeling again and relax into it fully. Keep bringing up the feeling and relaxing any tensions it creates, each time it will get better and easier when you bring up the emotion. This is to rewire your brain so that now you associate the painful emotion with relaxation and without tension.


14. If the feeling really is too much then I would suggest lying down on your front. This will put your body weight onto the area the feeling is coming from and will help you to cope with the intensity of it better.


15. Bring in the light. Talk to your past self and help them to process what happened. Make them feel validated, accepted and loved. Let them know you are there for them. If any other characters are involved such as aspects or people then bring them into the safe space, if it feels safe and try to innerstand from their perspective with the empathy and compassion of your authentic self, knowing that they are a part of you.

16. Stay with the process for as long as you feel.

17. No matter how you think the process went, cheer yourself for even trying, really give praise to yourself and let yourself know that you are proud of yourself for taking the steps inwards. This step helps you to build up love, worth and validation in yourself.

18. Write out or meditate on your experiences after to help integrate what came up and how you felt. You may feel raw afterwards but do not worry this is a normal part of healing so go easy on yourself. A physical wound can still hurt even when its healing, the same applies to emotional wounds.

19. Write out a checklist/mentally note and mark off how well you applied these attributes (a-c) on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being that you struggled to tap into this frequency and 5 being that you embodied this frequency. This will help you to stay conscious during shadow work and rewire your default mode to fully embody these attributes.


a) Compassionate

b) Non-judgemental

c) The Observer

I hope that this article can help you in your own journey of self-discovery. Shadow work can be scary but also so rewarding when you begin to connect more with your true nature as you will become way more in tune with yourself and your feelings.

When you take the leap to discover what’s within, I am proud of you and congratulate you for wanting to know and heal yourself because it takes true bravery to go into things the programming within you does everything it can to stop you from doing so. Working on yourself is the most selfless thing you can do because it enables you to rise above the programs, shine your light brighter and to be there more for others and the world.

If you want any help with your own shadow work process then you can connect with me and I can aid you through the steps via video call.


Hi, I'm Lily, and I am a multidimensional being dedicated to seeking truth and freedom. I am very passionate about helping others to heal, integrate their souls and activating their divine spark within. 🌟 As part of my mission in life, I'm here to help empower you with your own healing. I offer deep, therapeutic and soulful True Sidereal Astrology and Tarot readings to bring you more self-awareness and clarity for your greater purpose in life. I always create an open, warm and supportive space where you can safely share your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. If you're ready to find the answers you have been seeking, book your Astrology or Tarot reading with me today. I am so excited to support you in discovering the power and potential within you 🌸

1 Comment

  1. Hi Lily,
    Thanks for sharing this article! Its a lot to read, but worth it. I feel that its something quite useful to improve my shadow work. And especially to recognize whenever my ego is chatting, playing games, etc.
    Big hug!

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