Shadow Work and Ayahuasca Explained

Published: Feb 11, 2023
Edited by: Team TB

Shadow Work and Ayahuasca Explained

You will often find the term Shadow Work in relation to the Ayahuasca experience. Nevertheless, Shadow Work is not something specific to Ayahuasca, but a commonly acknowledged perspective in modern analytical psychology.

Shadow Work means working with your unconscious mind to reveal parts of your being that you repress, that is, make them conscious. This may involve working through physical, emotional or sexual trauma, fears, shame, or through other parts of your personality that you find undesirable or painful and subsequently subconsciously hide.

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But first a remark about the difference between repression and suppression to avoid ambiguity: now, repression involves unconsciously blocking unwanted thoughts, feelings, or impulses, while suppression is voluntary and involves deliberately (consciously) blocking or forgetting painful or unwanted thoughts and emotions.

Shadow Work then is about developing self-awareness, knowing your (complete) self, and knowing what “drives” you. It’s also about self-acceptance, self-love, changing things in your life, empowerment, emotional liberation, and improving your wellbeing. You can do this alone, but it’s sometimes better to seek out a professional therapist for treatment to help you “face your shadow” and work through your traumas and inhibitions.

It’s true that Ayahuasca ceremonies (or other types of psychedelic medicines) can work as a “mirror” or “spotlight,” prone to throwing light on unconscious parts of/in yourself. As such you will often find the allusion to Shadow Work in relation to Ayahuasca.

In fact, Shadow Work is considered an important activity and specifically belongs to the aftercare and integration process you will typically engage in during (and after) your Ayahuasca retreat.


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