5 Underrated Books About Shadow Work For Deeper Self-Awareness

Books about shadow work – from overcoming addiction, to learning how to fight fair, & from grieving death to being prepared for it. Read this!

It took me a while to understand the difference between shadow work and light work healing. This year, after a fantastic guest post on the subject, I became curious! And so, I began looking for books about shadow work, to help deepen my own understanding.

At the same time, I wanted to talk about the lesser known ones through this post. They brought enormous value to my relation with my shadow self, and I hope they help you too!

From overcoming addiction, to learning how to fight fair in relationships; from grieving death, to being prepared for it; there’s a good mix of emotions covered in each of the recommendations below.

Alongside reading these books, I highly recommend trying out these self-reflecting questions to deepen your understanding of your shadow self.

#1 – Healing through the Dark Emotions by Miriam Greenspan

Miriam’s book made my heart explode open (and waterworks flow) while reading her personal narratives around child loss. Her story is one of great strength and perseverance.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not limited to maternity. That was just one small yet powerful angle to break the ice on a much deeper subject.

Embracing our dark emotions.

And it really puts things into perspective – how can you trust the very God that stands quiet as you suffer personal loss?

therapist comforting patient, grief, healing through dark emotions, books about shadow work

This is a bold writing that challenges many psychiatric theories, written by a psychiatrist herself! And I love her spiritual reflections, incorporating ‘unverified’ topics like the dark night of the soul and enlightenment.

Through this book, Miriam introduces her readers to the term emotional alchemy – the ability to transcend our emotions, by working through them. And in that, she talks about rebuilding your faith. Her idea is to stay open to the doubts and work through them into a healthier spiritual life.

Of the many tools and tips provided in this book, I like her simplified acronym, ABS.

Attend.
Befriend.
Surrender.

To? The emotions in your body, in order to experience healing fully.

In a world where we hide emotions and don’t really know who to deal with grief or a lost sense of identity, Miriam teaches us of vulnerability. All gently yet boldly explored through many real-life stories and her clinical work.

Takeaway: This is one of the books about shadow work that teaches us how to observe and navigate through our emotion-phobic culture. The author’s strength is in subjects of grief and how to hold faith in testing times, without losing sight of your spiritual journey.


#2 – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté

We all have some form of addiction.

This book was eye-opening and a big reality check – exploring the darkness of human vices. It begins as a reflection on dozens of cases from Dr Maté’s clinical work in Vancouver. And in no time, meshes into his personal accounts and self-reflections about his addictions. And in effect, yours!

Maté makes you realize that even if you don’t have a drug or alcohol addiction, you could be a workaholic, shopaholic or sugar addict. And that’s no better. Every addiction is a form of escapism from one’s shadow self.
person smoking cigarette, book about shadow work, gabor mate, healing dark emotions

This book is another magnificent writing that really works through the psychology of patients. And it also gives you a candid insight on the the nature of therapy work behind closed doors.

Takeaway: Ofcourse this is perfect for anyone overcoming a personal addiction. And it is also essential to read for anyone that is supporting a loved one through their addictions. It also teaches you compassion and helps open your mind, giving you a chance to self-reflect and overcome your own addictive behaviors.


#3 – Radical Compassion by Tara Brach

This was one of the books that kept coming back to me, through Instagram posts, and so I finally ended up buying the audiobook.

Compassion has been a keyword in my journey this year, and the title compelled me to give this book a chance. And why I immediately liked it right off the bat, was because Tara Brach shares Buddhist teachings in a modern way, to help deepen our compassion.

compassion, love, self awareness

Radical compassion talks about a four-step process, with an acronym RAIN, to build our compassion muscles. This acronym stands for –

Recognize.
Allow.
Investigate.
Nurture.

As you can tell, each step allows us to expose ourselves to dark emotions like anger, resentment, bitterness and so on. We aren’t being told to suppress or shame ourselves for feeling a certain way. This is the fundamental of any form of shadow work.

At the end of every chapter, she walks you through beautiful meditations on each of the four steps. That’s why I recommend the audiobook version!

Though the idea of pausing and ‘thinking before we speak’ isn’t new, when you use her formula to practice RAIN, it becomes more doable.

Takeaway: I highly recommend reading Tara’s book for anyone that might feel like their emotions take over them and they lose sight of themselves, or that need to work deeper on self-love and compassion towards oneself as well as those around.


#4 – Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

I read this book nearly 5 years ago, long before my spiritual journey started. And yet, it felt as if it were preparing me for the ultimate Truth, much in advance.

Being Mortal is written by a renowned surgeon and writer. It talks about the taboo topic, death. His writing is revolutionary, in that it breaks many of our bubbles around the notion of dying through the beautiful mashup of science of philosophy.

death, dying, books about shadow work

And with it, come a large number of self-reflecting questions; all leading to one bigger question – what quality of life are you living, so that you’re ready to die when it ends?

But what – why would anyone want to read about such a morbid subject? Because this is one of the key books about shadow work that address our biggest fear as humans. Dying.

And time and again, other popular books like Sadhguru’s book, Death and Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying teach us the same message.

We cannot understand life, until we prepare ourselves for death. And we haven’t done our true shadow work until we begin to walk on this path.

Takeaway: If the topic of dying and death makes you uncomfortable, I would recommend starting with Being Mortal. It will open your eyes.


#5 – The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner

I had mixed feelings about this book, because unlike the other books, there weren’t really any fancy acronyms or tools – just simple story-telling and case study discussions. But it sat with me months after reading it.

And I remember even replaying one of her stories in my moments of anger, recently! So that’s why, it makes a show here afterall. 🙂

The Dance of Connection is a perfect introduction on how to channel one’s shadow emotions into something more constructive. Not only does it discuss conflict management in friendships and marriages, there are stories that reflect on parent-child dynamics, amongst other things.

angry couple, conflict, book about shadow work by harriet lerner

Feeling hurt translates into many emotions – anger and sadness being a few of them. However, growing up, we’re taught to look at these as taboo.

So having grown up, it’s high time we learn how to express ourselves when we’re feeling hurt. Without hurting another person.

Takeaway: This is one of the simpler and shorter books about shadow work that will give you a new lens for your day-to-day conflicts. I recommend reading this if you, obviously, want to be more fun to have an argument with. 🙂


Concluding Thoughts

As you explore the idea of normalizing emotions like anger and grief, it becomes easier to embrace our lesser ‘approved’ side. For instance, anger isn’t a big deal anymore, and it’s completely fine if you take ‘too much time’ to overcome a loss.

We cannot embody the divinity, the Light within us, until we learn to embrace our darkness. And in this, we can transmute it to attain higher levels of self-awareness.

Let me know if you have other suggestions, or enjoy reading any of these books about shadow work. I’d love to know! 🙂

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no added cost to you, every purchase you make through these links brings a small commission to my blog. This helps support my work. Thank you for your consideration! Here are other ways to support and help this blog grow.

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Workaholism : Spiritual Tips to Step Away From Your Desk

Is workaholism a real problem? Why does it happen in the first place? And how can we overcome our addiction to work? Here’s my story, tips & insight.

It’s ironic that when I worked in the corporate, I was NOT a workaholic. I was proud of myself, for maintaining a strong work-life balance. It wasn’t until I became passionate about something, that my passion became an obsession. And that obsession became workaholism.

I remember that one year, back in the summer (of sixty nine?), I was walking with my friend, along the peripheral of her apartments. Giving her, Deepti, a healthy dose of right and wrong. As good friends should, eh?

friends, chit chat, conversation, car pulled over, relax, vacation, long drive, coffee

Her entire focus throughout the day, was work. It was beginning to effect her physical and mental health. And it made no sense to me because there was much, MUCH more to life.

Then how was it, that 3 years later, I was in the same boat, unable to see anything beyond my work, my blog?

The next irony was that the very thing that I preached about being wary of, spiritual vices, became a hidden one for me too. I became addicted to writing about Spirituality, finding countless ways to bring the truth to readers.

But when did it all begin? And, why?

And more importantly, how can you and I outgrow our workaholism tendencies? Let’s address this together.

How Workaholism Grows

One theory is that wherever you put your attention, your energy begins to harness in that direction.

Seems true when I reflect on it. Because as soon as I start writing, my thoughts jump from one idea to the next. I end up saving draft after draft, of what I’ll share at ‘some point’.

The more I take Julia Cameron’s advice to “show up and just write“, the more my mind runs. It has become a machine of countless creative ideas!

ideas, workaholism, write, notes, post its, brainstorm, brain dump

It took me a while (and then another while) to realize that I only have a dedicated reserve of energy every single day. And I was beginning to spend it all on one chakra alone – my sacral.

As the ideas churned out, I felt satiated with the satisfaction of being able to do what I love.

But now, I noticed how little time I had for friends. Or family. Or to make a phone call to my husband without still being on the laptop, half-distracted, doing something.

I felt guilty about it. But not guilty enough to stop.

Those were my defining moments. Workaholism was the choice I was making.

Is Workaholism Even A Real Problem?

When all the energy and time is consumed in one task, there’s little room for anything else. That’s the obvious statement. But think about this.

When we stay in that same zone day after day, month after month, our energy stops moving to the other spaces of our existence.

Our neurons begin to rewire themselves. They get retrained to do something that only serves the space they’re confined to.

So, scarily enough, even if we do make time for friends, family and leisure, our mind still makes it all about work.

You might think that isn’t the case for you – but read these examples.

If you’re a housewife, you’re no longer able to sit and talk when somebody comes over. Because you’re either making your loved ones the next snack with their coffee, or you’re cleaning the aftermath.

As a businessman, you look at even the most irrelevant interactions as a “great sales pitch”. Or as an inspiration, maybe some lesson, that you can take back to work tomorrow.

workaholism, men working together, friends, coffee table

Or if you work in an IT job, then every argument reminds you of the karmic battle with your boss. And you either classify your relationships as “this relationship is like the one with my boss”, or that “this one is thankfully so different”.

If you’re a social media influencer, artist or writer, you start seeing everything as inspiration for your next post.

Guilty? I know. Me too. But the guilt isn’t enough to make us choose otherwise.

We’ve been in that zone for so long that we find nothing seriously wrong with it. Our trade-offs can’t be that bad, can they? And that’s when we know that workaholism is a real problem.

Everything becomes transactional, or is pushed to adjust itself around work.

So, we forget how to love without checking our phone.
We forget how to eat without talking to someone on the other line.

We forget to be where we are, because we bring our ‘zone’ with us, wherever we go.

What Now?

It’s not a quick fix. I’ve been aware of my tendencies since over a year, and I’m still working on it. Just like every other karmic impression, this vasana too is tough to overcome.

But there must be a way. And I’m trying to find it. So far, this is what I could come up with based on what has made workaholism a little less predominant in my life.

#1 – The Essentialism Approach

When I first read case studies from CEOs and highly successful businessman that talked about how relieved they were to do less, it felt counterintuitive.

And yet, isn’t that what we’re ultimately aiming for in our spiritual journey too? Less doing, more being?
To stop chasing the external, and to go within?
To uncover our true nature through self-reflection?

Ofcourse, as long as we are alive, we cannot stop action (karma) altogether. But it’s becoming apparent to me through my own problem, that workaholism is just one of many ways in which our karma is becoming futile.
workaholism, shocked, surprised, working hard, laptop

What is essentialism? It’s a specialization for what our modern generation calls minimalism. It’s about doing less. And how can you put essentialism into practice? Here are my tips:

  • Have a fixed set of tasks for the day. And DON’T add more to your list before you tick everything off first.
  • Use a planner or journal to monitor and maintain your progress. When we are able to visually see how much work we’ve done, we feel contentment and appreciation for how far we’ve come. Versus chasing more.
  • Reprioritize your tasks to always do what’s the most essential first. If something isn’t important enough, find a way to get it off your plate. That’s where the term essentialism comes from.
  • Spend less time making it perfect, and focus on getting the task done. In other words, strive for quick wins by breaking down each task in many small tasks.
And most importantly, have a planned day off. Make it a habit to unplug, and to NOT always be in the zone!

This not only makes you more effective (because now, you only work 6 days a week), you’re able to refresh and reprioritize your tasks better.

I’ve adopted the concepts of essentialism from the author Greg McKeown, from his work Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.


#2 – The Mind-Body-Spirit Approach

I recently talked about the 5 metaphysical layers of our body, and it holds relevance in today’s post.

When we are work-oriented, we are using our physical or gross body, and mental plane or a part of the subtle body, to achieve outcome.

man at work, stress free, work life balance

Now, I’m not saying renounce work altogether. But in what ways can you nourish the workspace by nourishing your other layers?

  • For instance, if you practice mindful breathing (pranamaya kosha) everyday, you won’t feel so anxious and worked up when work got stressful.
  • If you create a small Meditation ritual (vijnanamaya kosha) before work, you’ll have the chance to quiet down and receive more wisdom from within. Versus hitting your head for solutions. You’ll even be able to trust your instincts more and get yourself out of tricky situations faster.
  • And if you work with awareness of your 3 gunas (rajas, tamas, satvik), you can change the actions which were of ill-intent to produce action of higher karma.

The purpose is to identify blocks in every layer, every kosha. And then to target those spaces through a simple spiritual practice. See if you’re able to identify your blocks and find a few practices worth incorporating in your life?

Ofcourse, as a workaholic, it can seem difficult to make time for anything else. You might wonder how you’ll bring more on your plate.

Well, remember point #1? If you practice essentialism the right way, you will actually have a lot more time. And many things you can do, that aren’t about work.


#3 – Redirecting Your Energy Into Other Spaces Of Life

While briefly talking about the reality of workaholism, I hinted at energy being restricted in my sacral chakra.

For other people, your reason to work could be different.

You might get a sense of accomplishment and want to consistently chase that feeling (solar plexus). Or you might be money-oriented (root chakra) and be seeking affluence.

No reason is better or worse. They’re all bad, because they’re all in excess.

workaholism, workaholic, achievement, success, goal-oriented

So my third suggestion is another application of the Chakra System in daily life. Here are some tips you can follow, to push your energy into other spaces of life.

  • Identify what chakra gets fueled the most when you’re working. It could be one single Chakra, like some of the examples I listed above. Or you may notice a combination of these and others.
  • See what Chakras need your attention, and how you can balance them outside the space of work. This series is a good starting point for tips.
  • While at work, be aware of the energetic “high” you’re experiencing and investigate deeper as to why you always seek this high. How? Try journaling or meditation.

Investigate your life through the energy centers of your energy body, and you will find that most of your blocks will automatically free away. Consequently, freeing you and empowering you to live a more balanced life.


Concluding Thoughts

Workaholism is one form of escapism that so many of us are dealing with. Using the solutions above, I’m hoping you can conclude with me that,

  • One, we need to be mindful of what we work on each day,
  • Two, we need to challenge our need to work so much by investigating deeper through our subtle body’s blocks,
  • And three, we need to redirect our energy to flow across every dimension of life, without letting it revolve around the very thing we’re taking a break from. Work!

You might also enjoy reading 5 Tips to Achieve Work-Life Balance.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that at no added cost to you, every purchase you make through these links brings a small commission to my blog. This helps support my work. Thank you for your consideration! Here are other ways to support and help this blog grow.

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5 Ways Your Logical Mind Can Sabotage Your Spiritual Growth

In what ways does the logical mind misguide us in our spiritual evolution? How can we retrain our mind to see the magic of the Universe?

When my spiritual journey began in 2017, I was a left-brain dominant personality. I would operate by logic, and I looked for reasoning in day-to-day life. While living practically is important so that we’re not taken over by emotions, there’s a lot that happens in the spiritual realms, which may not necessarily be explained by our logical mind.

Whether you’re new to the world of spirituality, or you’ve been around for a while, the logical mind will continue challenging your faith, holding you back ever so often. This creates mind blocks that can prevent us from progressing on our spiritual journey.

What kind of thoughts can be detrimental in your spiritual growth? Here’s a list of some of the most common ones. 

Note : I’ve been guilty of these at some point or the other. No judging!

#1 – Don’t trust the unseen.

The ego mind, the left-brain centric thoughts compel us to figure everything out, so that we can avoid surprises. Change makes us uncomfortable, and can even become numbing when we’re forced to think through unfamiliar situations as they confront us. But why? 

It can be scary to step out of our comfort zone. Especially when surrounded by chaos, it might even feel impossible to imagine a better reality. It takes courage. But we don’t need to know the whole journey – we just need to be able to take the next step. And then the next. And then, the next.

Think of it like a Rubik’s cube – where even though at first the colors seem complicated, with a few twists and turns, they begin to fall into alignment.

rubik's cube, alignment, logical mind, puzzle

It is delusional to think that things will remain the same, in a universe where change is the only constant! Then, it becomes imperative to trust this universe, as it reveals its unpredictable yet magical self to us. 

My takeaway is that we need to learn to believe in the unseen, and allow ourselves to embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable, as one change after the other enters our life. Resisting life or denying the power of the unseen will not get us anywhere, but only enhance our suffering.


#2 – It’s all a coincidence.

I’ve worked with countless individuals, who in the initial stages of their spiritual awakening have told me things like, “maybe it was a coincidence”. Or that they “got lucky”, that one time something good happen to them.

The good in our life, the grace, is not a miracle, nor a coincidence. It is Divine Intervention.

dreamcatcher, divine intervention, spiritual healing, sacred space

The Universe is always there to take care of us. And the magic is at play whether our logical mind can successfully spot its presence or not. But when you’re undergoing the initial stages of a spiritual awakening, it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea that you really are being divinely guided. 

And yet, the sooner you can embrace this magic, the easier it will become for you to work with this mystical energy and bring lasting change. So, take a moment to acknowledge the divine in your life. Slow down and observe the many wonders that life has to offer. 

My takeaway is that the Universe is always speaking to us, if only we could listen. So, we need to give ourselves the permission to talk to the Universe, asking it to reveal itself to us in our daily life. Infact, we should expect it. Demand for it to happen. And then watch how the Universe shows up for you every single time!


#3 – There’s a right or wrong way to be spiritual.

This is a trap we all fall into, and perhaps the most recurring one. 

The logical mind is used to categorizing and compartmentalizing life, to make things predictable and easier to process. And in that, some things are categorized as spiritual, whereas others are not.

So when someone acts outside our definition of spirituality, we blast them with our judgement.

ego, right or wrong, boundaries, opinion, judgmental, logical mind

Everything that has happened, and that will happen is a part of spirituality. How? Because we are spiritual beings, here to have a human experience. We are meant to make mistakes. So many times, it’s a part of our soul contracts to hurt someone, or to be hurt by someone.

It is all a part of the grand scheme of things. And if you can’t see how, step back and look from farther away.

My takeaway is that sometimes even the wisest souls can mask their progress and sign up to give us a tough time. But our journeys are much more intricate than our human mind can perceive. We must learn to look for the lessons in every interaction, and practice non-judgement towards those that don’t fit our idea of how life should be lived. On the other side of this journey, we are all One. Beings of Love and Light.


#4 – You deserved better.

In the face of adversity, our pain is at its peak. And it makes sense to be angry, to feel helpless and want something better for ourselves.

But don’t let your adversity define you. Don’t let yourself believe that the reason something bad is happening to you, is because you are unworthy. Neither let yourself get into an inner conflict, that if you’re a good person, why would something bad happen to you.

And most importantly, don’t fall for the victimhood archetype. Its the very thing that prevents us from being accountable and truly making the changes we desire.

logical mind, sad, upset, deserve better, emotional man sitting on bench

It can be tough to grasp this, but there’s nothing personal here. It’s all a part of the process, and everything that is happening is needed for the collective consciousness’ evolution.

We all signed up for this, whether we remember it now or not. Infact, not remembering was also a part of this process. It’s what makes this journey so exciting!

And as a soul, we can never die or be born. We can’t be hurt. Nothing can be taken away from us, because we are everything, and we are everywhere. But as humans, we undergo such a wide range of events and emotions in order to experience different expressions of reality. 

My takeaway is that we must always remember that we have a choice. Whether you choose to undergo life’s experiences as a victim or as a warrior, life will happen. We have very little control. So choose the thoughts and actions that empower you, and strengthen you to see the bigger picture. 


#5 – The universe doesn’t want the suffering to stop.

The idea that we must suffer through our life because we’re reaping what we sow, is outdated. What about all the good that happens to us?

It’s in our heads, to either negate the positive, or acknowledge it and let that become our focal point of attention. 

angry man, logical mind, acceptance, surrender

And suffering? It comes from the unceasing train of thoughts, of how things should have been. That life should have given us more money, less heartbreak, better health, a nicer family, a bigger house, and then some. 

For instance, if you don’t like the rain and it rains, you might feel like your entire day is ruined. Or you could just accept that it’s raining, and get on with your day, without taking it so personally.

My takeaway is that it’s all in your head. Whether you choose to see things for what they are, or form your opinion of how they should have been, is a choice you get to make. If you practice acceptance, you transcend the misery, into a joyous way of living.


Concluding Thoughts

It’s important to get out of our own way. To stop being overly cautious and listening to every single thought the logical mind feeds us.

We need to stop micromanaging life, and to simply BE.

The spiritual journey asks us to step out of our cocoon and really look at the world, and ourselves, for what it is, for what we are. But we can’t do that, until we change our mindset, and allow ourselves to be vulnerable as life unfolds for us. 

So my question to you is, are you willing to let go of these negative thoughts and become more satiated in your path to self-realization?

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