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Shadow Integration

Cory Muscara






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Shadow Integration

In this meditation, we do the deep work of befriending and integrating the parts of ourself that we most resent, facilitating an internal peace.

Hi, I'm Cory Muscara.

This meditation is going to be an

11 step shadow integration practice.

The same one that I discuss in my

book, Stop Missing Your Life: How to be

Deeply Present in an Unpresent World.

We all have parts of ourselves

that we resent or suppress.

These could be emotional experiences,

parts of our personality, or anything

we feel that's getting in the

way of the life we want to live.

Our typical response is to cast these

parts of ourselves into the shadows

of our awareness, which is why Carl

Jung referred to them as shadow parts.

However, the further disconnected

we get from these parts, the

more anxious, depressed, low

energy and disembodied we become.

This 11 step sequence is designed to help

you befriend, integrate, and actually feel

empowered by your shadow parts so that

you can move to a greater experience of

wholeness, peace, and deep fulfillment.

So let's get started.

The first step is to find

a relaxed, seated posture.

If you'd prefer to lie down and

think you can do so without falling

asleep, then that's fine as well.

The primary thing here is you want to feel

comfortable and safe for this meditation.

So you can use pillows, blankets, or

even stuffed animals as a way to help

you feel more settled and grounded.

You're welcome to pause this meditation to

set up your space before we move further.

Once you set up your space,

you're welcome to close your

eyes, if that feels comfortable.

Knowing that at any point

in the meditation, you're

welcome to open them again.

And if you'd prefer to do the

entire meditation with the

eyes open, that's fine too.

Step Two is going to be identifying the

shadow part that you'd like to work on.

So what's a part of you that

you struggle with or don't like?

What's something about yourself that

you resent or hide from other people?

Or even hide from yourself> take

a moment to reflect on that.

And if you need more time to

contemplate, you can pause.

But once you've identified this

part, see if you can feel where you

experience it in your mind and your body.

So you're getting a sense of this

part's presence, the shadow's location,

its boundaries, its qualities when

you start to really sense into it.

In other words, when you contemplate

this part of yourself, when you sense

into it, where does it show up for

you in your internal experience?

And just start to get

acquainted with it in that way.

And once you have a sense of

your shadow, the third step

is about giving it some form.

So if this shadow were to be a

particular color, shape, sound or

substance, maybe like a dark cloud or

a yelling voice, or even a flimsy reed.

What would that be?

It's okay if an image or character comes

to mind like a mangy dog or a child.

Just start to notice what form this

shadow part manifests as for you.

And the form doesn't have

to be perfectly fleshed out.

But as much as you can, really

getting a sense of its color or its

shape, its character so that you

can sense its presence more deeply,

because the fourth step is about

creating trust with the shadow part.

So once it has some form, you're

going to imagine that you're

sitting down and meeting with it.

You might imagine an actual bench in

your mind that you and the shadow are

sitting on, or you can imagine that

the shadow is sitting in front of you.

Whatever the arrangement, make sure both

you and the shadow feel comfortable.

You may need more or less

space from each other.

And let the shadow know, through words

and body language, that you are not

here to hurt it or get rid of it.

Rather, you want it to

feel safe in your presence.

You might feel some resistance because

chances are, you've spent a lot

of time resisting the shadow part.

But as best you can trying to make

it feel safe and really letting it

know that you don't want to hurt it.

You're purely coming from a

place of interest and openness.

In Step Five, we're going

to move a little closer.

So becoming curious about the shadow.

And you can ask it, what

is it like to be you?

And see what arises.

And then ask, what is something

about you that I don't know?

And you can ask any other question to

the shadow, just simply becoming curious.

There's no agenda to get

any particular answer.

You're just trying to get to

know this part of you a little

more deeply and intimately.

Once you've gotten a little more

information and you feel more familiar

with this part of yourself, Step Six is

going to be about specifically exploring

the shadow's positive intention.

We go into this, acknowledging

that every part of us is

trying to help us in some way.

There's some positive intention.

So let the shadow know that you

trust it is trying to help you in

some way and ask it if it could

share its positive intention.

Maybe saying, what are you trying to help

me learn, to understand, or experience?

How are you trying to serve or protect me?

And see what the shadow has to say.

I'll give you some space in silence.

And remember, you're just listening.

We may sometimes have the tendency

to be resentful or combative.

Instead, see if you can just come back to

an open space of curiosity and interest.

Once you've heard the response

from the shadow, Step Seven is

just to show some appreciation.

All of this is in service of

creating more of a relationship.

So you can think to a time in your life

when you tried to help someone, but you

felt like that person dismissed you.

This often feels painful, but this

is also how the shadow must feel.

On some level it's trying to help

you, it's trying to participate,

it's trying to share something

or help you experience something.

And chances are your relationship

to it is to dismiss it as either a

frustration or something getting in the

way of the life you're trying to live.

But now that you can see more clearly

that the shadow does have more of a

positive intention, if you're willing

and ready, see if you can thank

it for doing its best to help you.

Even if you don't fully understand

its motive, what would it be like

to open your heart to some gratitude

toward this part of yourself?

See what that feels like.

And if it feels okay, we'll move

on to Step Eight, which is to

make a connection with the shadow.

Specifically of physical connection,

from a place of compassion.

This is the first step toward feeling what

it's like to actually embrace one another.

So you can imagine giving the

shadow a hug or holding it gently

in your hands, or whatever sort of

touch you feel inspired to make.

It's okay to go slow.

Remember, you've spent a lot of time

avoiding this part of you, so it might

feel difficult to get close at first.

You don't need to rush.

But see if you can slowly start to make

some physical connection and embrace.

Now that you've moved closer,

we can move on to Step Nine,

which is to make an offering.

So here, you're going to ask

the shadow, what do you need?

How can I help you?

What can I give you?

And see what comes up in response.

Once you get a response, imagine

yourself offering this to the shadow.

Whatever it is the shadow wants, see

yourself offering this as a gift to the

shadow, in whatever capacity you're able.

And then watch the shadow receive this

gift from you and watch what it's like for

the shadow to actually receive something

rather than be resented or shunned.

Now that we've made an offering and

really let the shadow know that we're

here for it, we're here to understand

it, and we're here to take care of it

in the best way we can, we're going

to move on to Step Ten, which is to

invite the shadow into the light.

So as you rest here, imagine the many

different parts that create who you are.

The parts that are loving,

positive, protective, sad, curious.

A whole community of parts,

all with different forms.

And notice how most of those

parts of you are in the light.

They're able to be seen and

understood and respected.

But the shadow part remains in the dark.

As a community, imagining all

of these different parts of you

inviting, embracing, welcoming

the shadow part into the light.

So that it can be accepted in the

community of you to be appreciated,

understood, and welcomed.

This embrace comes from the recognition

that who we are is multi-dimensional.

There are many parts that contribute to

our sense of ourselves, our wholeness.

To dismiss any part of it is in

some way, dismissing the whole.

So we're welcoming this part back into

its place in the wholeness of who we are.

Recognizing that just like any other

part of us, it just wants to be loved,

it wants to be seen, and it has the

potential to transform and become more

of your ally rather than your enemy.

In the final step, Step Eleven,

we will move to integration.

So once the shadow has been welcomed

into the light, imagine all of these

parts, desolving into one, creating

an embodied sense of wholeness.

There's no longer separate parts.

There's just one

substance, one experience.

And let the fullness of that envelop

you and might have a corresponding

color or texture or temperature.

Letting yourself feel what it's

like to rest in this wholeness.

Breathing it in.

And exhaling, as you

soften and relax into it.

Just taking some time in silence to

feel and experience the fullness of who

you are, the oneness, the wholeness.

All of these parts

contributing to one being.

Feeling the ease that comes when

we're no longer fighting ourselves.

And with each breath in, feeling

the fullness and the lightness

that comes with this unity.

And with each breath out, letting

go of any residual resistance

or tension that might be there.

In the last moments of this meditation,

see if you can offer yourself some

gratitude, some appreciation for doing

what can sometimes be painful work.

It's hard to be a human and it's hard to

embrace all the dimensions of ourselves.

And in this meditation, you made a

little more progress in that direction.

So just thank yourself for

that intention, that effort,

that willingness and openness.

And when you're ready, you

can slowly start to reorient

yourself back into the space.

Getting some movement in your body.

And allowing your eyes to open again.

So great job.

You just went through the 11

step shadow integration process.

This can bring up different experiences.

Sometimes we feel light and

at ease at the end of it.

Sometimes we might feel a lot of energy

moving, like something shifted and opened.

Make sure you prioritize

your own self care.

If you need some time to be still

or walk outside, try and give that

to yourself and really continue

to reinforce self-compassion.

I can't overestimate the importance of

that when doing this deeper kind of work.

As I mentioned at the beginning,

this 11 step sequence comes from the

shadow integration section of my book,

Stop Missing Your Life: How to be

Deeply Present in an Unpresent World.

If you're interested in continuing

the exploration that you started

here, that book may be a helpful next

step and provide the extra support

that I might not be able to offer

in just a 20 minute meditation.

It was great to walk you through this.

I'm proud of you for making it to the end.

And if you'd like to continue to stay

connected through audio, you can find

me on my podcast, Practicing Human.

I'll talk to you soon.

And until then, take care.

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