Ayahuasca speaks of shadow work: If you don’t know darkness, you’ll always chase the sun.
Let’s take a further look at how we can use shadow work in the world of Ayahuasca.
What is shadow work?
Polarity has never been a space we fancy, so before we go on with talking about light, darkness, and shadows, you are invited to remove the polarity between them.
Yes, you can think of light and dark as two different species of birds, both unique and standalone.
By “not knowing your darkness” we mean not knowing what you’re made of, how you function, and what makes you, YOU. That’s primarily what Ayahuasca teaches us during ceremonies.
And with “chasing the sun” we mean seeking to be enlightened by others. This is actively choosing to be pulled in by others, into their way of life, and their beingness, as well as their designed paths.
A shadow then becomes a personal need, desire, or want, that one fails to see when directing attention to an external sun.
Let’s take a further look at how we can use shadow work in the world of Ayahuasca.
How to do shadow work? Where to start?
Can one get to know their darkness, thus their shadows? When should you start?
The answer is right now, right where you are with setting an intention.
Out loud or within your mind, say this:
I (say your full name), born on (state your birthday) am willing to know what makes me me and thus live in a state of discovery rather than chase.
Great! Now, here are the next steps. You are to implement them over the next weeks, or months, or maybe for as long as you live. Make them your go-to every time you breathe.
- Notice your thoughts. You can do that by designing a place in your mind you see fit for observation. It’s all in your mind, so design it as you please. It can be a greenhouse, a lighthouse, a mountain peak, or a place you feel comfortable with receiving others.
Every time you become aware of a thought, take yourself to your place of observation and listen to it. Can you imagine the thought of being a person you welcome into your space of observation? Would your behavior and conversation differ if you envision it so?
- Make a list of what you think others should be like, give to you and become around you. Add as many details as you can.
Here’s one example: I want others to be kind, give me compliments and feel nurtured around me.
An extended version of that would look like this: (and please allow yourself to be honest, no one but you will ever lay eyes on what you’re writing) I want others to be considerate, affectionate, patient, and polite. I would love to receive love in the form of objects gifts, experiences, and physical touch. I wish others would feel at ease, free to be themselves, and happy around me.
Now that’s great. Can you feel a certain acknowledgment as you write this down? If you catch yourself judging, drop it. Keep going and extend it more, adding more “hows”.
So round 3 goes like this:
I want others to surprise me with gifts all the time and be considerate towards me by asking about my needs, all while respecting my privacy and rhythm. I want others to allow me to change my mind about things without blaming past choices or comparing me with my past self.
I would love to receive love through flowers, travels, books, tasting new things, kisses, hugs, golden jewelry, cars, a new home, and a playing budget.
I wish others would feel accepted and loved around me, free to share their curiosities with me, and love and ease when it comes to me and my presence.
See how this can be extended for quite a while, right? Feel free to do so.
Put discomfort aside and be super honest while adding all the details you can about what you want from others. This is a subconscious list you’ve been making since childhood through everything you’ve seen and experienced.
- Acknowledge that this list revolves around every aspect of your life.
Your child self, your adolescent needs, your femininity, your masculinity, your role in society, your purpose, your values, your soul’s identity, your career, and your family design, all of that and more is hidden behind your needs.
- Give yourself all that.
The hardest part of shadow work is giving yourself everything you need, thus fully trusting that you can and will be capable of doing so.
Your shadow self is not hiding behind your needs. It is your need.
Knowing your needs is knowing darkness. Designing your life to cover your needs as they come is teaming up with darkness, thus with your shadow self.
- Acknowledge that your needs are the only thing you have, thus the only real thing you can do something about.
That’s right! Shadow work is acknowledging what can be controlled and getting on with it.
Useful shadow work exercises
Get to know your needs, all the time, as intimate as you can. Here are a bunch of tools, as not all will be easy to understand right away (and not all of them will walk into your observation room and start freely talking to you, at least not at the beginning):
- Get into journaling. Make it creative by adding stickers, colors, cuts, glue, sparkles, and anything that makes you return to it daily. Find out what you like by trying every form of it you can imagine. There are countless versions of custom-made journals designed to help you detangle and understand your shadow self.
- Make a fool of yourself. Seriousness kills many of the doors we have with the most innocent parts of us. Dance on the street, do jumping jacks instead of walking, skate, play with dolls, buy toys, and read fairytales. All this will call in the playfulness of your inner child, and maybe, just maybe, he/she will start talking to you again.
- Go on dates. No matter how things ended up in the past, find a serene curiosity about meeting others over and over again.
- Adopt an attitude of kinship. No one above or below. No “I told you so”, no classic parenthood of strategical push and pull, no learning through hardship. Gentle all up; you’ve got your time in your hands. Meaning nothing and nobody has a direct impact on your rhythm.
- Choose to trust what comes from inside above all. There is no disconnection between you, the observer, and those who reach out from within. They know more than you do through all senses, not just sight, as you primarily do.
- Focus on the larger schemes rather than on the individuality of each need. And while you’re at it, learn everything you can about the place it’s coming from. Most important is recognizing where in time is coming from, as your first step is knowing who is addressing you. Is it a 5-year-old that needs to understand love or a 60-year-old? Your approach should take that into account. This practice will lead to a sensitivity that can later serve you not only for your own well-being but for others as well.
- Stay open to listening. This is the hardest one and by far the most important thing you can learn from shadow work. You will go from an exciting “let’s do this”, to shouting angrily “I don’t want to hear this”, for a while, because of the intensity of certain needs. Know this: you can’t stay angry forever or hold onto any feeling in particular. What you can and always will do, as long as you’re alive, is listen. Listening is your identity, explains your purpose, and is proof of both your individuality, as well as your connectivity with all. That leads us to shadow work’s most important tool – meditation. Any kind of activity that allows you to listen and be present with yourself intentionally, is meditation.
Can others support one’s shadow work?
Yes! Shadow work is an invitation for self-discovery through oneself and others. Fortunately, even if contextually, although we live different stories and have different needs, we do share common spaces. These spaces are created by those on their path to embodying their shadow self. They are extensions of them and usually serve as all sorts of therapies and techniques that not only mirror one’s journey but also stands as a story of hope.
At Avalon’s Ayahuasca retreats in Europe, you will find a family of souls that have chosen to share the space they have become on their way to embodying their true selves, a space of love and compassion for all those embarking on this brave journey.
We would love to be part of your beautiful journey! Check out our future events and keep breathing; all is good!