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How to do Shadow Work to Heal

Mansurat is a certified meditation teacher and shadow work guide. She writes articles on meditation, shadow work and self-healing.


All of your emotions, feelings, attitudes, and patterns have a source. Shadow work is the process of observing yourself, retracing your patterns to the source, understanding, accepting, healing, and growing out of the cages of the experiences that negatively affected you.

There are defined ways to do shadow work and heal but you can find your unique approach. Before learning how to do shadow work, understand and know why you want to start it. What exactly do you want to heal from? Do you want to experience life in a different and more fulfilling way?

5 Basic Steps on how to do Shadow Work to Heal

Understanding and knowing the reason why you wish to embark on your healing journey will serve as a motivation to keep going as the array of feelings you will come face-to-face with may be difficult to deal with and work through. It's advisable to work with an experienced shadow work guide or professional with expertise. This will be immensely beneficial to you in your healing journey.

However, if you wish to do this on your own, you'll need a few tools before you start. This includes:

1. A pen and book/journal

2. The strength and motivation

3. An open mind

You need the above tools because you may want to pause at some point. Writing down details will ensure you do not lose them. Sometimes, trauma makes us recall events way different from the way they occurred. Certain details may be recovered in the process of doing shadow work.

It's obvious why you need strength and motivation. Note that it's okay to get tired and want to pause or rest. Then you can continue when you feel like you have processed the new details enough. Also, you do not have to be scared of feeling emotions that may be overwhelming. You'll learn skills that will help you accept everything without getting drowned. Shadow work requires patience and it's a step-wise process.

You need an open mind. If you are overly fixated on your current self-image, it may be difficult to relate to and fully see younger versions of you. Again, you do not have to worry about this. Some exercises will help you work on your mind.

Now, over to the basics on how to start your shadow work journey and heal.

1. Practice Meditation

Meditation will help you become aware of yourself. It will also help you with acceptance. It's okay if you find meditation boring, long or unnecessary. Chances are, you have not had an awesome teacher guide a session you engaged in. And even if you have, this time, you can do it your way - yes, integrate your style.

The easiest way to meditate is to do breathing exercises. Focus your attention on the beat of your heart like it's all that matters. You can do this while lying down, sitting down, in the half lotus or quarter lotus position, or whichever way you are comfortable. It's normal for your mind to wander away, just lovingly bring it back and do this for at least ten minutes, or more, or less - depending on convenience.

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Just observe, do not interfere. Try to feel at home with yourself and the universe. Just see. No judgments.

This will help you become more aware of the feelings that run through you especially if you have been disconnected from yourself for a long time.

Another simple meditation exercise you can try is mindfulness meditation. This can be done at any time regardless of where you are. If you are walking, for example, fixate your mind on the sensation around your leg. Bring your mind back every time it wanders. You can do the same with any part of your body: hands, eyes, upper back, and so on.

These exercises will help ground your mind and help you better process information from your body.

2. Find The Trails

As you get better in your awareness of yourself, pay attention to things that make you uncomfortable. These are trails to the lost and abandoned areas. Do not fight the feeling, accept it. Write down how you feel if possible.

3. Visiting Your Young Self

This trip will start and end with your mind. It's going to be like a meditation on the affairs of the past. So, pick the first on the list of things you have observed and allow your mind to think about it. Try not to interfere. Focus on seeing, feeling, and hearing. What event rears its head in your mind? How many events?

The most important thing at this point is staying calm. The child or younger self you see is not you. They need soothing. Remember when you wanted a superhero to come save you? You can be the superhero. What do you want to tell her/him? Say it. What does (s)he want to hear? Tell her/him.

4. What is Left?

Many people would run back from this visit to the past. It's okay. Doing shadow work to heal does not necessarily mean you have to relive it. Reliving it may create fresh detail and insight to work with but it's not a must.

The goal of shadow work is to grant you knowledge of yourself. Now, you pick up all that's left and try to create a new track to the present and future.

5. Acceptance

It's easier to accept a part of you when you know where your pattern is stemming from. Knowing what you needed at that moment and what you wanted then is part of the manual needed for rewiring.

Don't try to change everything. We all know how impossible such a mission can be. Start with the simplest and move up the change pyramid.

For example, if it's a fear of vulnerability, treat your adult self the way the child in you desires. Not just that, but be open to learning about who you are and how you want to be treated. Affirmations work well if you commit to them. This phase is about accepting what has happened and committing to change for the better.

You can do it. I'm rooting for you.


The process of doing shadow work to heal involves meeting your shadow, accepting it, letting go, opening up graves, taking off masks, embracing uncertainty, and doing previously scary and unsafe things.

Some moments may feel rough but you have a brave heart and it will guide you through your healing process.

© 2022 Mansurat Zakari

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