Many people carefully build their lives around emotional obstacles, in order to avoid the things that make them uncomfortable. But in order to be truly free, we need to face the discomfort head on and see what wisdom is hiding underneath. This is often referred to as “shadow work,” because it helps us to seek out the proverbial monster under the bed in order to set ourselves free from the fear of it.
While shadow work can require some bravery in the moment, it helps us to feel lighter, more open, and more alive once it is resolved! Try this exercise as an introduction to the soul healing of shadow work:
Choose a room of the house that can be completely dark-- no street lights visible out the window, and you might even wait for a new moon so that there won’t be moonlight, either. Take a single candle with you, and a very large piece of poster board (or several notebook papers taped together.) You’ll also want a writing utensil; perhaps a sharpie, artist’s charcoal, oil pastels, or even crayons.
Enter the dark room with the lit candle and drawing supplies at a time when you know you won’t be disturbed. Notice how the darkness makes you feel. See if you can sit with those feelings. You are safe here; it is safe to allow yourself to feel these emotions.
When you’re ready, begin to draw. The light will be dim, so it doesn’t matter how well or how poorly you draw. You might write words, or draw pictures, or patterns & doodles. It doesn't matter. Just keep the pen moving across the page until the entire paper is filled. Let this unrestrained movement of the pen be an outlet for whatever thoughts or emotions surfaced when you entered the dark room.
When the page is full, fold it up and tape or tie it closed. Use the candle to lead you out of the room, then blow it out and go hide the folded paper somewhere it won’t be disturbed. You could bury it in the earth, tuck it in a sock drawer, or lock it into a filing cabinet, whatever feels safe to you.
Put the activity out of your mind for one month. On the next new moon, retrieve the paper and read it by yourself, somewhere where you won’t be interrupted. You might take notes in a journal about any insights that come as you reflect over your drawings and doodles. When you are finished, burn the paper or otherwise safely dispose of it, making sure to destroy it completely. The action of destroying the paper will symbolically clear your mind as well, letting go of anything that no longer serves your highest good. Enjoy the release!