What Is Shadow Work in Tantra?

Shadows exist within us as unconscious aspects of Self. They are created through the compartmentalization of unprocessed energy from past trauma and manifest as thoughts, emotions & behavior. Shadow work in Tantra is the process of expanding awareness to these unconscious aspects of your psyche. Becoming conscious of shadows can trigger self-judgment and fear of rejection.

You may get the idea that it's wrong to feel or think this way. It's totally common to reject, condemn and deny the shadow because the Ego considers these aspects undesirable. Yet in the Tantric perspective, shadow work includes cultivating acceptance and compassion for your shadows instead of repressing or judging them. Learning to love the shadow is a Tantric practice.

Often, shadow may be a result of an experience where a need was not met or when we felt abandoned by our parents or our community. When you have the internalized feeling unsafety, sexual shame, or guilt about something you've done or not done or the concept that you are unworthy of feeling pleasure or receiving love, these ideas may manifest in your reality as shadows. Societal, religious or cultural pressure may condition us to believe that we are only good people when we showcase positivity.

However, I believe that humans are complex beings. It’s absolutely natural to have experiences ranging from anger and apathy to joy and bliss. When we believe that  perceived negative experiences are bad, we limit ourselves from full expression of our emotional experiences. These repressed emotional energies can become shadow aspects in our unconscious and can cause internal discord.

To become aware of your shadows, practice observing what triggers emotions. Do you allow yourself to fully feel this emotional energy? Or is there an automatic reaction to repress or reject the emotional experience?

Your self-awareness is what determines how you speak to yourself internally, and how you treat your body. As you practice integrating shadows from your unconscious into your conscious awareness, you will become more aware of your internal narrative and how you treat yourself, both mentally, physically, and perhaps, spiritually. Shadow work is for healing, empowerment and personal growth, which naturally influences your relationship to others.

Because we do not always have sight of our own shadows, working with a practitioner can support you in seeing what we can not see for yourself. Working with a Tantric practitioner can offer the perspective that all aspects of your being are an expression of the Divine, universal creative energy. A Tantric expert will support you in repatterning your mental framework to recognize that every part of you deserves compassion and will also offer a practical skill set for shadow work.

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