Shadow Work is Hard

#katerinasatori #spiritualgrowth #shadowwork #wisdom blog May 03, 2022

Someone asked me recently, “How do I begin doing shadow work?”

And the deepest answer came after I sat and looked straight into my own shadow.

“The bigger the tree, the bigger the shadow”, he used to say to me.
My lover, one of the biggest teachers since a beloved can reach the core of your soul with truth like most people won't be able to. He was helping me understand the power of the shadow and its total naturalness. 

He was one of the first to show me what unconditional love from one imperfect human to another feels like. 

I always fell hard for men who loved me without judgment.
Who accepted me even at times when I could not accept myself.

“The bigger the tree, the bigger the shadow, baby,” he’d say to me.

And what I heard between the lines was, “You are safe to be YOU with me.
There is nothing to hide. There is nothing to prove.”

Shadow work is HARD. There are layers to it. 
Layers upon layers of disowned parts of our psyche.
The parts of ourselves that we do not want to reveal;
And if it gets revealed, we feel exposed in our wounds.

For years, perfectionism was my defense mechanism to hide my biggest wounds.

I was blind to it, thinking that I was driven by excellence and the desire to achieve my potential.

As I later learned, perfectionism is rooted in judgment. Self-judgment, first and foremost.
Then that self-judgment is often projected on other people. 
And shame is always around the corner when we are in judgment. 

It's easier to hide all of that than to look at the feelings of inadequacy and dare to feel them. 

Shadow work is the inner turning from hiding to revealing.

It is uncomfortable AF.
The ego wants to run, get busy, get distracted, and feel important.
To feel ANYTHING but to look straight into the shadow self.

The grace of the divine is that it is a PROCESS.

It is a gradual process of seeing your deepest wounds.
It is gradual healing.

It is a gradual realization that we are simultaneously both:
Whole And Wounded.

The most stubborn shadows that I keep finding on this path are the following:

1. Judgment
2. Righteousness
3. Vanity

When lockdown in 2020 first happened, I struggled the most with the first two.
My mind would get very judgy about how things ought to be different than they were.
I had a very hard time accepting What Is.

Frankly, I had no apparent reason for all that resistance that was coming up:
I was safe, I was healthy, and I had everything I required to be at peace.

And the shadows kept coming up to the surface to be SEEN.
That is the only way we can ever receive the gifts that they carry within them.

Byron Katie's work was a lifesaver for me.
Looking into the agitated mind, examining the judgy thoughts one by one.
I walked outside in nature for hours, listening to her audios, and questioning my negative thoughts. "Is it true? Can you be absolutely sure it is true?" 

Then there were waves of righteousness.

I watched the “Becoming Nobody” documentary with Ram Dass in April, in the thick of the pandemic, and I received a bucket of cold awakening from one phrase that he said:


Holy s**t, I thought to myself.
I never saw my tendencies to be righteous so close, right in my face.
Again, the lockdown and everything that came with it, was what helped me see these shadows in myself.

I knew that the collective was going through a massive shadow purge.
What took me by surprise, even though I knew that I was a part of the collective, a collective is my larger body, the amount of shadow work that was required from ME in the first three months of the lockdown.

Yes, there was rest.
Yes, there were sprints of highly creative energy.
Yes, there was productivity, service, holding space, and cultivating love and light.
And the DEEPEST growth came from seeing my shadows and not running away from them.

Seeing my shadows and choosing to turn towards them by embracing them. Holding on to a liberating phrase by Richard Rudd: “Every Shadow Contains A Gift”. 

Vanity, as I observe, is the subtlest of all shadows.
The most difficult to see in yourself. The easiest to see in others.

When vanity grips you, wisdom leaves.
I want to tattoo this on my arm.

“Vanity can sneak up on you through your spiritual ego, Katerina.”
(I say this to myself until never forget).

When you begin to think of yourself awake, and quite progressed on the path of consciousness, and wise, and powerful, and almost perfect…
And fall on your ass, and see your own arrogance. 
How deep you are still wrapped up in the illusionary self,
So deep in the grips of Maya, so deep in your own forgetting…
And only by the act of Grace,
Your shadow, as big as your tree,
Is what opens your eyes in the midst of all that forgetting
And helps you see the big cosmic joke in all your striving,
In all your achieving, rescuing, and doing…

That is the moment you begin to VALUE your shadow,
And you bow down to it in true humility.
As when you see that your wounds are what makes you human.
Your wholeness is what makes you divine.
And both, your wounds and your wholeness are what make you a Divine Human.
A holy sacred mess.
A masterpiece of all you survived, transformed,
Alchemized, revealed, witnessed, endured,
And surrendered.

So yes, the deepest work is the shadow work…
And how do you start? By being willing to SEE.
By asking your Higher Self to help you see what is still very difficult to accept within yourself.
I see awakening so much differently now. It is a process of radical acceptance.
Becoming more and more EMPTY from beliefs, ideas, concepts, and identifications.
Becoming more and more gentle with your own hard edges, with the misfirings of your defense patterns, and the constrictions of wounding.
Becoming more and more open to seeing the beauty of this wild journey, of walking your life as a process of returning to your original innocence.

What I am here to share is that every time I fall on my ass, doing the shadow work,
What I find is that a touch by Grace always finds me.

Grace alters you. Grace is the breath of the Divine. Grace helps you find your ability to laugh again at this one big cosmic joke. And Grace helps you get up, and carry on. Chop wood. Carry water. Play your part in the Grand Theater. Completely whole. And completely wounded.

With a smile on your heart and freedom of realization that perfection was never required and wholeness is what you already are within.

With love, 

Katerina Satori. 

Books on shadow work That I love:

  • Romancing The Shadow
  • The Pathwork of Self-Transformation
  • The Way of Mastery by Christo Foundation
  • Polishing The Mirror by Ram Dass

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