Transmuting Shadow Work into Shadow Play: The Relationship Between Movement and Personal Power

By Clara Fortuna Sol   

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Most of us probably aren’t workaholics. We reset our alarms and procrastinate on projects. We prepare quick meals and delay social plans, sometimes ghosting friends and family.

As we neglect ourselves, we sometimes use others to get what we want, treating them as resources rather than people. We choose instant gratification over long-term commitment. We repeat destructive patterns that feel good for a time, knowing we’ll feel worse about ourselves later.

People are broken, abusive, selfish, and sinful. It comes with the territory. After all, we’re only human.

Oftentimes, we unconsciously act from our shadow. Neglecting the shadow is like letting your passenger grab the steering wheel for you while you look down to respond to a text. Trust and recklessness shouldn’t be so easily confused.

We have opportunities to grow by shedding light on our blind spots.

Instead, we run, hide, and reject. We project, conform, and look away. We expect we’ll get used to it—the darkness. The pain. The suffering. The confusion.

Dismissing our reflection is easy when the lights are off. Defaulting to fear is second nature when faced with the unknown.

Maybe we have more options than we realize.

What happens when we push past our fear and dance in the moonlight?


Showing Up to the Mat: The importance of Movement

“Go to the mat” is an idiom that essentially means, “Show up and do your best, regardless of the outcome.” Some of the most admirable yoga instructors I’ve practiced with have started their sessions by saying, “You’ve already done the work by showing up to the mat.”

I’ve tripped and fallen hard while chasing a bus to reach the yoga studio in time for class. I’ve apathetically clocked out after a challenging day at work, wanting nothing more than to curl up in bed and shut out everything. I’ve checked into a yoga class feeling physically or emotionally defeated as I entered the studio plenty of times. Once I heard the words, “You’ve already done the work by showing up to the mat,” I’d take a deep breath and let everything negative I was holding onto fall away.


Stepping Outside of Your Role

The late, great novelist, Ernest Hemingway, famously said, “Never mistake motion for progress.” For those of us that are always on the go, this quote is worth sitting with. Getting into a routine can be a trap if your day-to-day actions are detrimental to your growth.

Objectively acknowledging how your actions lead to suffering is essential to creating space and experiencing joy. Therefore, knowing how to slow down is important. Stillness engenders an exchange of gifts between your ego and soul. It allows you to catch up with yourself and recover the pieces you didn’t know you were leaving behind.

Paradoxically, meditation is movement. Quieting the mind, letting the body be at rest, and allowing the air to flow through you is deeply rewarding. When you physically slow down, you give yourself a chance to truly observe how you’re feeling.

Who are you? What expectations are you allowing to define you? What are you clinging to? Where are you overexerting yourself? How can you soften? What unfavorable circumstances are anchoring you to fruitless patterns? How do you break your chains and illuminate your shadow?

Your answers are inside.


Auditioning for Authenticity

In stillness, observable thoughts come and go between silence. Through metacognition, you can take a step back to analyze your thought patterns. Understand them, release them, and expand your consciousness. This process invites in the next best thing by clearing out what is no longer serving you.
Our external realities have a way of shaping us into socially acceptable people, snuffing out our truth by superimposing cultural narratives and shallow values onto our egos. If we spend too much time looking outside of ourselves, we may end up playing a role decided by the world instead of our soul. 

Release the version of yourself you think you’re supposed to be if that person is sculpted through the eyes of those you want to impress. Withdrawing from the outer world to discover who you are inside is liberating. 

Your personal power can never be taken away. Look inside for your truth and connect with your soul. Lovingly offer yourself the opportunity to recognize and integrate your shadow. Righteously choosing Love over fear and authenticity over vanity is the secret to stepping into a new and improved you. Recognize the role you play in your pain and your love to effectively take center stage in your story with gusto.


Transmutation Through Personal Practice

From the perspective of the soul, life is a dance, a balancing act, and a theatrical odyssey. Every experience, negative or positive, is there to teach us and help us grow. We are all divine expressions of consciousness and beings of light.

Left unchecked, our shadows can become akin to personal demons. Validating our dark parts creates space for more light to illuminate our true path. As life teaches us, we either work for or against ourselves, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Transmute shadow work into shadow play by soulfully engaging in activities that bring you joy. Spend time in nature, whether it’s a day at the park with friends or a strenuous hike through a majestic forest. Think back to your childhood hobbies, like dancing, roller-skating, biking, and swimming. Consider revisiting those simple pleasures and reconnecting with your inner-child.


Cultivating Your Gifts to be Shared with the World

Hone new skills that support your physical and mental wellness by studying mind-body practices, like yoga, qi gong, tai-chi, and flow arts. The goal is to enter a flow state and seamlessly connect your inner being with your outer world. The love you cultivate through expressing your personal power can bring light into the lives of others, serendipitously helping to heal our people and our planet.

As you gain momentum, your shadow will come out to play. Sometimes in the form of an old habit that proves to be a stumbling block. Sometimes through tired connections to people that aren’t serving your highest good. Instead of feeling like life is working against you, play along and mindfully choose whom you want to be. The lessons repeat until we pass the tests.

In any case, don’t stagnate. Move into your power by advancing through practice. It may feel like work at times but stay playful and your soul will guide you. Allowing yourself to flow will eventually feel effortless. The thoughts that keep you spinning through negative cycles will turn to upward spirals as you find healthy outlets. In the words of the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, “Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.” 

Journaling is also a form of movement. Whether you lay down your thoughts with a pen and paper, reflect and illuminate by keeping a digital journal, or share creatively in groups, stagnant energy is released through journaling and creative writing. Allowing that energy to move is part of Shadow Work, or rather, Shadow Play if you’re a hobbyist.

Begin Journaling Here

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