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Coaching Healthy Lifestyle

Shadow Work: Claim Your Freedom of Expression

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Shadow work comes from the concept of the shadow self, which originates in Jungian psychology.

According to Jung, a personality consists of the following:
a) the persona, which is the personality that people reveal to the public, and
b) the shadow self, which a person does not like to reveal.

One way to understand the shadow self is to think about the concept of the psyche, which includes both the conscious mind and the unconscious mind:
The conscious mind is the part of us that is aware and in control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is the part of us that makes decisions and choices.
The unconscious mind, on the other hand, is the part of us that is not immediately available to our conscious awareness. It is the part of us that stores our memories, our emotions, and our unconscious thoughts and beliefs. This usually operates outside of awareness unless we have an insight or revelation.

The unconscious mind is often referred to as the “shadow,” because it is made up of the parts of ourselves that we have pushed into the shadows. This may be either because we are unaware of them or because we are avoiding dealing with them. These parts of ourselves can include our fears, our insecurities, our anger, our shame, and our repressed desires. However, they often also incorporate more positive qualities, such as our creativity, our compassion, and our sense of humor.

The collective unconscious also influences this shadow. The collective unconscious is a Jungian idea that refers to the collective memories and impulses of society as a whole. This means that the shadow self also includes racism, prejudice, and other systemic mindsets and responses.

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Three Steps to Working With Your Shadow

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Shadow work is the process of exploring and understanding the unconscious parts of ourselves that we typically keep hidden or repressed. It involves bringing these unconscious thoughts and feelings to the surface and learning how to integrate them into our conscious awareness. Shadow work can be a powerful tool for personal growth and transformation, as it helps us become more self-aware and better understand and manage our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

The concept of the shadow was first introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who believed that the shadow represents the unconscious aspects of ourselves that we tend to reject or disown. These may include aspects of our personality that we deem as negative or undesirable, such as anger, jealousy, or fear. By bringing these unconscious parts of ourselves into the light, we can gain a better understanding of how they influence our behavior and learn to integrate them into our conscious awareness. This means that they no longer are experienced as difficult to handle and give us access to a full richness of experience as well as the full power of these elements of our nature.

With trained support or through individual inquiry you can approach shadow work through the steps of identification, exploration, and integration.

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Opposites: Finding the Power in Polarity

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There are opposites in our thoughts (Success – Failure) and our emotions (Happy – Sad). We often think of them as antonyms and independent and contrary to each other. However, they are actually connected because the way in which they are relative to each other is essential to our understanding and experience of each pole. This relationship also means that each one is not definitively good or bad.

This is often represented by the concepts of Ying and Yang ☯️. According to this ancient Chinese philosophy opposite forces are seen as interconnected and counterbalancing. 

In opposites, each is partially defined by the other, which means you get a greater sense of meaning from considering them together. Doing so is also motivating and empowering.

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The 8 Limbs of Yoga

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The 8 Limbs of Yoga that comprise today’s branch of Ashtanga Yoga are taken from the Yoga Sutras. Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras around 400 CE as a synthesis and organization of yoga from older traditions.

The 196 sutras (some say 195) are made up of short simple verses compartmentalized into four topical books:

Samadhi pada (What yoga is)
Sadhana pada (How to gain a yogic state)
Vibhuti pada (Benefits of practicing yoga regularly)
Kaivalya pada (Liberation or freedom from suffering)

Ashtanga yoga is distinct from the Ashtanga Vinyasa style developed by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century. This is also derived from the 8 Limbs of Yoga but synchronizes breath with movement as a flow (vinyasa).

The 8 Limbs of Yoga described in the sutras are Yama (abstinences), Niyama (observances), Asana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption).

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It’s a Gift: Gratitude Brings Awareness to the Love in Your Life

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Many people have a regular gratitude practice. It could be a daily meditative check-in, journal entry, or exchange with family/friends.

Gratitude is an emotion that connects you to your essential being. Vibrationally it is the receiving aspect of love. This means you can use thankfulness to experience more loving energy in your life.

“The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne is a great resource that applies this aspect of the Law of Attraction. The exercises in this workbook direct your attention to all the experiences, things, and qualities for which you are thankful.

You can be grateful for every aspect of life. This includes your thoughts, feelings, actions, responsibilities and property, and even the things that you dislike. When you are appreciative “I’ve got to” switches to “I get to” and you switch from identifying with lack to claiming abundance.

What are the five ways to leverage the gift of gratitude?

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