[Self Discovery] Embrace Your Authentic Spirit Through Shadow Work

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 51

To be on a constant quest of self discovery is the most human thing there is, and it seems like for the past year and a half we’ve all been thrust into the soul searching world of personal development – whether we’ve wanted it or not. With the societally imposed downtime that COVID and quarantine have given literally all of us, it’s been the perfect occasion to dive deep and discover your unique truths. In my personal quest to appreciate, understand and evolve – I’ve found that it’s not always easy to love myself completely, in my entirety; for all my cracks and flaws, all of my shadows, have given me moments of pause, potentially even moments of discomfort.

In my darkest times, it felt disheartening; as if I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did. A walk of emotional shame from an expectation hangover, where I was picking up bread crumbs to skeletons in my mental closet that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. It wasn’t until I fully committed myself to shadow work that I understood how fundamental it is to not only address the places within me that contain resistance, and parts of me that have been hurt in the past – but how I can hold space for those memories, observe them from a birds eye view, and then create a kinetic, positive feedback cycle to replace my old thought patterns.

Shadow work has helped me overcome my imposter syndrome, and catalyze a newfound growth in self confidence. But more than that, shadow work has helped me love myself in my entirety – and that’s something I haven’t had in a good, long time. So, let’s dive in and understand what it’s is all about, and maybe (hopefully!) shadow work can help you as much as it’s helped me.


“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” 

Nietzsche

So, what exactly is shadow work? It’s a hot topic, a buzzword you’ve probably heard tossed around more times than ever in the past year – especially if you’ve dabbled in yoga, meditation or the transformation communities.

If you’re familiar with the philosophy of yin and yang, then the principles of shadow work will feel like a lightbulb moment; a modicum of thinking that we’re now able to put a name on. We all, as individuals, have an ego, a side of ourselves that we consciously display to the world, as well as ourselves. It’s the side of us that we’ve been constantly mastering our whole lives – building it up, and tearing it down wherever we’ve seen fit. As true as we can be to ourselves, there are things that we repress, resent and shudder away from that are true to who we are; there are facets of our personalities that we brush under a rug or hide in a closet in the corner of our mind. That is what creates the ego – the shadow of the ego is, in a way, the entire contents of that closet. It’s what happens when you take your demons out and acknowledge them as a gestation of your being just as much as the events or memories worn proudly on the sleeve of your soul.

The shadow self, then, contains all the parts of us that the ego eclipses; parts that go unseen to the conscious, or awakened, mind. It’s our unexplored; our uncharted waters and undiscovered emotional depths. Stemming from Jungian psychology, the shadow encompasses traits, feelings and emotions that are ‘unknown’ to an individual either through active or passive repression. If we are balls of clay, and society is molding our ego into the personality we externally display – our shadow side is the culmination of all those chisels into our soul. Negative experiences, expectations, interactions – if we are unable to deal with them as they are when they occur, they build up into our shadow self bit by bit.

“There is nothing scarier than facing the deepest realms of ourself, but there is also nothing more rewarding than that”


To commit to ‘shadow work’, then, is to do the mental and emotional ‘homework’ to bring your shadows into the light and out of the darkness; by acknowledging yourself as a dynamic presence, one that truly does contain multitudes, you’ll be infinitely closer to loving every fiber of your being as you authentically are. You’ll discover incredible personal growth because you’ll be able to see yourself for all that you are to the point that scars of the past will become tattoos and stories to muse over. While doing the work, it’s important that you really hold space for yourself and your growth as you re-experience dissonant events with new eyes – and remember, the point is to uncover discomfort, so be kind to yourself along your path into the light.

There are some fabulous creators out there who have done wonders to create templates and journal prompts for this very task, here are a few of my favorites:

[Unrefined Prose] 50 Shadow Work Journal Prompts to Help You Realize Your True Potential

[Seeking Serotonin] 31 Days of Shadow Work Journal Prompts For Healing, Self-Awareness & Growth

[Scott Jeffery] A Definitive Guide to Jungian Shadow Work: Shadow Work Exercises

My personal recommendation is to get a journal for shadow work and self reflection; it’s a calming and cathartic way to compartmentalize, and put to bed some feedback cycles and habits that I’ve held onto and the perfect litmus test for my temporal dexterity. But for all it’s worth, you could grab scrap paper or type it into the notes application on your phone. The important part here is that you do the work, not how you do the work.

I’m in much more of a mental flow state once after getting my mindset right – that includes yoga, breathwork, meditation or some combination of the three. For you, it might be as simple as right after your shower or after a good workout. If I have time in the morning before work, I’ll try and sneak follow it up with a gratitude prompt; but, if there isn’t an open chunk of time for my mental gymnastics, then I’ll use this as a wind down activity late at night as I’m getting ready for bed.


Have you had a chance to delve into shadow work before? What are some tricks or tips that have helped you embrace the totality of your being and process your past trauma? Drop me a line in the comments, looking forward to reading what y’all have found to be personally useful.

“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”

— Carl Jung

The Shadow: what you do behind your own back |Jungian Analysis

[Self Discovery] Manifest Mindfulness in Your Morning Routine

When I was younger, I thought the idea of ‘waking up on the wrong side of the bed’ was a silly notion; but thanks to 2020, I now know that one can wake up on the wrong side of an entire year. Not to say last year was pure chaos, dissonance and struggle – but, between COVID and quarantine, racial injustice, protests, the dissolution of the office of the 45th President, and three surgeries to recover from – I’d be remiss to think that I was in any way grounded in the present moment, nor efficient at using my time wisely.

Waking up and taking charge of your day is a powerful feeling; when the world feels out of control, doubly so. The fact of the matter is, the only thing we can personally control is ourselves; our mental space and mental dexterity, our boundaries and desires, our emotions and how we react. This year, I’ve recommitted myself to some necessary changes and have noticed my mindset shift by leaps and bounds, simply by implementing a solid, consistent and fulfilling morning routine.


Let’s start with something basic, but vital to this conversation: why should you create a dedicated morning routine? Besides being able to set the tone for your day, it let’s you control the clock and gives you some personal power back in your pockets. By choosing where we place our focus from the start of the day, we can both harness our potential energy and turn it kinetic, in addition to being able to attack the tasks at hand, schedule our time better and raise our productivity levels. I’ve honed in on some fantastic methods that have my mind, body and soul set right over these last few months and can’t wait to share them with you – so let’s jump into my morning routine!


Yoga on Gaia

Notoriously not a morning person, creating my morning routine literally took me 36 years. And it actually starts the night before; call me silly but I set the autodrip on our coffee pot and have it go off at the same time as my morning alarm – that way, the second I get up and at the day, there’s a fresh cup ready for me (because let’s face it, we all need caffeinated reinforcements!).

Then I head to the living room, get my essential oil diffuser kickin’ with an invigorating fragrance (more on aromatherapy later!), roll out the yoga mat and get down to business with Gaia. I’ve tried a few different yoga and workout apps for AppleTV, Gaia is hands down my favorite – probably because it’s so much more than just yoga; they really have things for the mind, body and spirit. Whether it’s an illuminating video on a variety of transcendental topics, diving into one’s meditation practice or browsing through their immense catalog of instructors and classes. Classes range from 10 minutes to an hour, at a variety of levels with instructors from every walk of life I’ve become quite fond of everything they offer, and even have a favorite yoga instructor (Tiffany Bush, you give me LIFE!).


Once I’m limbered up and a sweaty, happy mess of a human – I bust out a gratitude journal and my Animal Oracle Cards and take my metaphysical temperature for the day. I tackle ideas like what am I going to work on for the day, where in my spirit do I place my personal focus, and what tools do I need to become the best version of myself. One thing I’ve learned about gratitude journals, is that there is one for literally every personality – do you want one without dates, or with them? Do you want a full year of journaling or to jump in on a whim?

Tiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal

Keen on my personal evolution, I decided to splurge at the end of last year and am currently juggling between three different gratitude journals and three planners, that each offer something different and unique. To be fair, some I think are better for work life, like the Passion Planner, while others like the Writual Planner with daily, monthly and weekly Tarot spreads for self discovery are keen for those of us who have committed to the spiritual side of life.

Now, for the morning – I love setting my mind right by working with the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal. The prompts are thoughtful and poignant, and if you’re like me and love a good doodle sesh – there’s plenty of space to both color, draw and explore. and jump in there a few times a week. Once I’ve given grace to the day, I’ll set up my Spirit Animal Oracle Cards, get into my Moonology Diary, and write a bit about how the card I’ve pulled relates to the moment.

The Spirit Animal Oracle: A 68-Card Deck and Guidebook: Baron Reid,  Colette: 9781401952792: Amazon.com: Books
Animal Spirit Oracle Deck

The Wild Unknown on Instagram: “Holy 🌈🌈🌈! The archetypes deck has  obviously landed at @solar_return 👽👽👽” | Wild unknown tarot, Wild unknown,  Tarot decks
Wild Unknown’s Archetype Deck

Just like there’s a vast variety of journals and diaries, there’s no one right oracle, deck, Tarot Deck or runes stones. These things aren’t one size fits all souls; we each have a preference for what calls to us innately, and how the world resonates with us. Personally, Colette Baron-Reid’s deck is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever owned. Each card is embellished with impeccable, incredible detail.

If you’re looking for something a bit edgier, Kim Krans’ The Wild Unknown has an incredible set decks – whether you want Animal Cards, Tarot Cards, or my personal favorite from their assortment – the Archetype Cards; plus, their journal is super fun and open form. Some people still have a preference for old school tarot decks, and I’ll use those some mornings as well. I have several different tarot decks of my own, from a Thoth Tarot deck (technically, two of them) to the Rider-Waite Deck, my Cat Oracle Tarot cards and the circular Tarot of the Cloisters. Just like the animal cards, there are also tarot decks for every person. Don’t worry if you found this paragraph confusing, I’ll dive more into Tarot (a true art and love of mine) at another time.


Science of Meditation |Dhyana - Isha

Last but most certainly not least, after set my intentions and tone for the morning; I give myself a few minutes locked in Meditation. When your brain more closely resembles a web browser with dozens of tabs open (a la, mine), meditation becomes a great way to settle into your breath and the present moment. Some days, I’ll take it to the shower or bath – others, I’ll go back to my Savasana and marinate in the moment. Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase circulation, and boost mood and mental health. Gaia has been a fantastic resource for guided meditations, as well as applications from Calm to Headspace.


What tips and tricks do you have for settling into your morning and manifesting what you need for the day?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] The Power of Meditation

Breathing in – I know I am breathing in;
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

With the calamity and chaos in the world at large, intrinsically we have to understand that the only control we ultimately have in this world is of our own emotions and reactions. The best way to be able to control those are to understand our true nature, and that’s our nature without external stimulus – it’s the you at your core, without thoughts, without emotion – the you that just is.

Breathing in, my in-breath has become deep.
Breathing out, my out-breath has become slow.

It’s a simple task, but it most certainly doesn’t come easy; all it requires is you to be fully present in the moment and within yourself. That proverbial it that I speak of, that transcendental feeling you get from meditation. Whether you’re looking to expand yourself inward and engage in a personal evolution, or revolution; focus your mind and sharpen your mental state, or simply reduce your anxiety – finding time in your day to work in even a five minute meditation practice has proven mind and body benefits that permeate far more than just that moment.

Breathing in – I feel calm;
Breathing out, I feel at ease.

If you’re a morning person – when you wake up, grab your morning coffee, tea…wine…whatever, and start with just five minutes as you’re easing into the day. If you’ve got a yoga routine, meditation is like the icing on the cake at the end of your practice, simply add five minutes at the end of your yoga session to settle into yourself. If you’re a workaholic – schedule time in your phone or your planner, put a five minute meeting into your Outlook or Google Calendars. If you’re a writer – find a cute meditation journal for daily reflections. And if you’re like me and can’t sit still, get oustide and take a brisk stroll through the world while letting each of your senses become engaged with your surroundings. Either way you spin it – you most definitely have five minutes somewhere in your day to spare – so find it; I promise, you’ll be better for it.

Breathing in – I smile.
Breathing out, I release all my worries and anxieties.

The best way to start is to just…well, start; and start small. Find a comfortable spot with soft light, where you can sit tall and be at peace – whether you’re sitting cross-legged on the ground, or are propped up slightly with a meditation pillow. Let the moment wash over you as you focus on your breathing; marinate in that feeling as you notice the tightness in your chest and back, the restlessness of your lower body and weight of your head. Now, your mind – it’ll wander and wonder, but the point of meditation is to acknowledge when your mind is manifesting anything. You can try counting to ten slowly, or counting your breaths, or – using this poem that I learned from the book You Are Here by the esteemed Thich Nhat Hanh.

Breathing in – I dwell deeply in the present moment.
Breathing out, I know this moment is wonderful

The internet is a wonderful repository and I’m thankfully there are tons of digital resources available and at the tips of your fingers. If you feel strange about sitting with your own thoughts at the beginning, or simply don’t know how to begin or where to go with your practice – there are ample resources for guided meditations throughout the internet to help you find your moment of zen.

Here are some of my favorites.


For Beginners

Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Challenges + Guided Meditations

21 Day MC Creating Abundance - Chopra Center Download with Chopra ...

Whether it’s his 21 Day Meditation Challenges, or his guided meditations, Deepak Chopra has amassed an incredible amount of resources for the spiritually inclined. For those new to meditation – every few months the website offers a new 21 Day Challenge that intently focuses on one of many core emotional tenants. By the end of the challenge, you’ll be marinating in your mindfulness as you reap the positive benefits of meditation on the body, mind and spirit.


There’s an App for That

Headspace logo

There are a ton of different smart phone applications for those looking to take their meditation practice further. I’ve toyed around with both Headspace and Calm; and personally like the fact that both apps can be either iOS or Desktop based. But, a new favorite is Simple Habit – which is a free app, that you use for five minutes a day *ding ding*. Honestly, I enjoy what they all have to offer in terms of both length and type of meditation, but if you’re in the mood to shop around – here are a few other options that I’ve discovered:

Oak: Meditation and Breathing
Mindfulness: Meditation and Relaxation
10 Percent Happier


Go One Deeper with Spirit Daughter Moon Workbooks

Scorpio Full Moon Workbook from Spirit Daughter

For the astrologically inclined, I’m a die-hard fan of the Full Moon and New Moon workbooks from the mindful mavens at Spirit Daughter. Each one comes ripe with information about the celestial seasons, and have incredible resources for those wishing to either begin a meditation practice or develop theirs further.

With various subscription levels, including paper based versus digital, and monthly packages versus either their seasonal full or new moon books. I’m a bit old-school in that I love having things hand written, but I’ve heard fab things about the digital version as well!


Try Meditative Tarot

At the end of the day – each of us is going to have a mindfulness or meditation practice that is as unique as they are. I’m more of a yoga-journal-active meditation type of gal; I like to be more engaged than simply ruminating in the feeling – I also seem to have the attention span of a goldfish. So if I’m going to sit and journal my meditations, I eventually start bringing out either my tarot cards, spirit animal cards or rune stones; the whole practice brings up ideas, patterns and emotions that I’m more open to exploring with a clear head – often leading me to an existential epiphany that brightens my mood, day, or both.


What are some of the most useful tips and tricks you’ve learned that have helped you with your meditation practice?

[Traveling Tales] Drink In Oregon’s Willamette Valley: Wine, Spirits and Cider – Oh My!

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If you’ve been spoiled on the finer things in life, chances are you were raised in California.  From the weather and the weed to the wine and the women – the Golden State more than lives up to the golden standard. But for those that choose to venture outside of the luscious landscapes and rolling hilltops of California, our neighbor to the north has a whole hell of a lot to offer.

Though it’s not the same as the Mediterranean climate of the Californian Coast, some (including myself) could make a convincing argument that the Oregon Coast boasts  equally beautiful conditions. The persistent Winter (…Fall and Spring…) rain paves the way for gorgeous green valleys with trees and wildflowers as far as the eye can see, a perfect pairing with the belated sunsets the Summer months offer.

If you rack your brain for the best in micropubs, I’m guessing San Francisco is one of the first – if not the first – city to come into mind.  But the reality is that Portland has more microbrews than any other US City.  Though the Willamette Valley isn’t exactly Portland’s neighbor, the gorgeous countryside is only a hop, skip and an hour drive away – and offers has so much to offer in the way of delicious distilleries and wonderful wineries.

The Hard Stuff

For the longest time, I thought that Wine Tasting was the only sort of alcohol tasting one could do – so when I discovered that distilleries also had tastings, I’d colored myself fascinated.  Oregon’s climate provides great opportunities for home grown spirits, and these are some of my favorites.

4 Spirits Distillery

Ever since a very memorable night my Freshman year of college, I’ve been convinced beyond belief that I’m not a rum girl; no way, no how. Enter, 4 Spirits Rum. For the first time in over a decade, I’ve not only drank – but enjoyed the flavor – of a variety of rums.  I’m also a sucker for a business venture with a community service flair, and 4 Spirits meets that mark – a portion of the proceeds of every bottle go to the Wounder Warrior Project.

Website | Facebook 

Vivacity

Ever hear of a spirit that’s been distilled hundreds of times?  How about thousands? Chances are, there’s still a ton of sediment in them; it’s why when you drink shitty alcohol, you feel shitty at the end of the mind.  The genius minds at Vivacity have their cauldrons set to be constantly distilling – almost infinitely, if you will. They’re distilling all of the toxins out and leaving you with the tastiest, cleanest, crispest gin I’ve ever tasted.  In addition to their gins, they have a kickass Coffee Liquor and a smooth as all hell vodka.

Website | Facebok

Spiritopia

Half science experiment, half distillery and all the fun – Spiritopia offers a fresh take on specialty liqueurs.  As we toured the facility and learned about the process of producing their delicious drinks, I browsed through the lab equipment in the warehouse and quickly reassessed why I’d switched my major from Biochem in the first place. The Apple and Pomegranate Liqueurs are dare I say perfect, but I have a major penchant for the Ginger.

Website | Facebook

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A Little Bit Softer Now

Liquor tasting is all fun and games until someone gets too drunk, if you’d like to err on the softer side of alcohol tasting – the Willamette Valley also offers a great variety of local wines and ciders.

2 Towns Ciderhouse

For the last decade, beer has almost become a sub-food group for me – it’s been delicious, it’s thirst quenching and yeah, I love a good tipsy feeling.  But, over the last few months I’ve felt a shift in the tasting wind if you will and have been etching over to the cider side.  Granted, I could kill a whole bottle of Martenelli’s Sparkling Cider to my face and have no thoughts about it – it’s no wonder I’ve found a new affinity for cider.  What I didn’t know until recently was just how many flavors of cider exist – all the varieties of apple, Wildflower, Elderflower, Marionberry, Ginga Ninja (a personal fav), Hollow Jack (a pumpkin cider), and so many more; and for $4, you can get a flight of four. Located in the heart of Corvallis (which, mind you, isn’t all that big), 2 Towns is open 12-7 Sunday through Wednesday, and 12-9 from Thursday through Saturday. The Ciderhouse is also featured at many local grocery stores.

Website | Yelp

Airlie Winery

Perfectly poised on a beautiful hilltop in the sleepy town of Monmouth, Airlie Winery has been a staple of the Oregon wine scene for over 30 years.  A female owned and operated venture featuring a few adorable dogs and a wide variety of wines to imbibe, Airlie features awe inspiring views and delicious wine, served with a smile and warm conversation.  For  a $5 tasting fee – which is donated to local food banks – you can tantalize your tastebuds with everything from roses to reds and whites, and my personal favorite – pairing consecutive years of the same wine to understand the nuanced differences a season can make. Airlie is open to the public Thursday to Monday from 12 to 5pm.

Website | Facebook | Yelp

Cardwell Hill Cellars

Just one glance at the landscape of Cardwell Hill Cellars would turn any average wine drinker into a full fledged oenophile.  Sitting in the shadow of Mary’s Peak, the highest peak in Oregon’s Coast Range, Cardwell Hill has been perfecting the art of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for the last 16 years. In addition to their wide assortment of award winning wine, Cardwell Hill also offers a picnic area and boche ball court in addition to winery tours.  Each taste is $1, and the tasting room is open daily from 12pm until 5:30.

Website | Facebook 

What’s your favorite city for trying out new drinks?  Discover anything recently that you’ve fallen mouth over mind for?  Let me know in the comments below!