Getting Started with Shadow Work

Jonquil Reiki, Teachable, 2022

Shadow Work Course


A lot of people are discussing Shadow Work these days. If you are not sure what it’s all about, read on for Five Big Answers About Shadow Work.

What is Shadow Work?

The Shadow Self is the difficult part of ourselves where we hide our most destructive emotions such as shame, guilt, grief, and fear.

There’s no reason to sugarcoat it…

Shadow Work is a hard and sometimes painful experience.

It involves a deep level of introspection and allowing yourself to feel these tough emotions. Working through these old wounds will allow you to release them and begin healing.

Why Should I Do Shadow Work?

If we are burying these emotions already, why can’t we leave them there?

While that feels like the easiest course of action, this option has a shelf-life. Before long, the shadows start to creep into other aspects of your life.

Have you ever ignored something only to have it come back and bite you later?

This is one of those things.

Your Whole-Self health depends as much on your emotional body as it does on your physical, mental, and spiritual bodies. When heavy emotions start reaching into the whole-self, they can form blocks in your energetic system. This can lead to dis-ease in any part of the self.

Doing Shadow Work and experiencing painful emotions allows us to heal our energetic blocks and begin to come into balance – the state in which we experience joy.

When Should I Do Shadow Work?

There are three answers to this question:

  1. Anytime is a good time
  2. When you are feeling like you can
  3. During a waning season

Ultimately, any time is a good time for Shadow Work. You do not have to wait until a special time to do this important emotional work – do it when you need to.

It is important to only do shadow work when you are feeling like you can. Did I mention this is tough stuff? If you are feeling energetic and happy or slow and sad, it may not be the best time to do shadow work, because you are feeling the extremes of your emotional state. Try to do shadow work when you are off-center but not at your best or worst, as it may be able to detrimentally influence your mood at these times.

If you like to time your personal work by the Moon phases or seasonal cycles, aim to address your shadow work during a waning season. This could be the waning phases of the Moon or the waning months of the year.

The waning phases of the Moon are Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, and Waning Crescent. At the Dark or New Moon that follows the waning phases, consider your work and release what no longer serves you.

The waning months of the year are October, November, and December, as they occur between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This is the time of year just after day and night meet equal length. Darkness takes over as the nights grow longer and longer. If you wish to do a ceremony to release what no longer serves you, do it near the Winter Solstice, when the light returns after the longest night of the year.

Where Should I Do Shadow Work?

You should do your shadow work in a place where you feel safe and where you will not be interrupted. If this space for you is at home, but you live in a busy household, consider scheduling DO-NOT-DISTURB times on your family calendar.

Somewhere outdoors would be a great place to do shadow work. Natural surroundings provide healing for our bodies and our souls. Being outside provides us with gentle support from the nurturing Earth, aiding us in digging deep within ourselves.

How Do I Do Shadow Work?

There is not a single “right way” to do shadow work. Before I get into discussing some available methods, I want to share the three rules I adhere to when doing shadow work to keep myself healthy. No matter how you pursue shadow work, consider these three rules:

  • Be gentle with yourself. This is tough work that can be deeply transformative.
  • Show yourself compassion. Work towards allowing your self-talk to uplift you as you learn to give yourself the caring words you would give to a friend.
  • Be willing to stop. Personally, I am goal-oriented, and it can be hard for me to put something down in the middle of it. In this case, however, it is important to stop if your discomfort level becomes too great.

To get started, I would suggest that you seek out a guided program. This could be a workbook, online course, journal prompts, videos, meditations, etc. Later in your journey, you may be able to design your own shadow work process without additional guidance, but that is not important to the effectiveness of your shadow work.

However you choose to do your shadow work, there is a general form to follow:

  1. Use tools to create a comfortable environment. This can include incense, candles, music, a journal, colored pens, a warm blanket, a cup of tea, etc.
  2. Ask yourself a tough question. If you are using a guided program, approach each question this way.
  3. Answer honestly. No one will read this but you. Complete honesty is necessary in order to grow and transform from the process.
  4. Sit in the emotions that manifest. This does not mean that you need to wallow in sadness over everything. Mindfully examine what you are feeling in the present moment, accept it, and let it go.
  5. Ride the wave of emotions. If you are able to sit in the emotions for some time, the negative emotions will start to dissolve into calmness. Then you are ready to continue.
  6. Repeat steps 2 – 5. Follow this format until you decide to stop the shadow work session.
  7. Take care of yourself. Right after stopping your shadow work, take a moment to check in with yourself on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Spend some time on self-care to replenish your energy.


In this course, you learned:

  • What is Shadow Work? The definition of shadow work and its purpose for growth.
  • Why Should I Do Shadow Work? Burying emotions does not resolve them and leads to greater pain.
  • When Should I Do Shadow Work? Any time is a good time for shadow work.
  • Where Should I Do Shadow Work? In a place where you feel safe and will not be disturbed.
  • How Do I Do Shadow Work? Work your way through difficult memories and emotions.

Regardless of how you choose to work with your shadow self, remember to be kind to yourself and kind to each other!