Updated: Apr 12, 2022
Do you feel let down by your sex life? Or do you feel like it controls you? Do you feel like there’s gotta be something more? There is. And it’s in your shadows.
Sexual Shadow Work illuminates your limiting beliefs & deepest desires for presence, pleasure, and purposeful relating. It addresses deeply rooted limiting beliefs, shame, guilt and fear around sexuality and our bodies imposed by society and institutions. Shining light in your shadows empowers you to reclaim your eroticism.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow Work is a term that we use in the healing modalities and in psychology, which relates to the working parts of ourselves that we deny or disown. This concept was coined by Carl Jung, Swiss Psychiatrist. He describes the shadow as the qualities in ourselves we see as undesirable, and therefore, are not fully accepting or consciously working to integrate.
These beliefs and patterns linger in our subconscious and are often unconsciously projected into our lives, affecting our ability to maintain healthy relationships, take action in times of opportunity, and tackle our greatest obstacles in soul expansion.
Similarly, in Tantra, we say that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. Our inner world is composed of thoughts and patterns creating stories in our mind, some of which we are conscious of, but most of which we unconsciously allow to control our ability to see the world in presence and neutrality. It is the human default to react to the world around us based on the stories in our subconscious, instead of being fully present to consciously take action based on our highest truth.
The magic ingredient in bringing light to the shadows of our subconscious is intention. Intention allows us to acknowledge how deeply embedded trauma and conditioning shapes decision making process and reaction. With this awareness, we are able to expand beyond them to write our own narrative. Without this awareness, our inner world is often framed by inherited limiting beliefs and traumatic early experiences, leading us to make decisions not in alignment with our deepest desires or highest truth.
But what does this have to do with my sex life?
When it comes to intimacy and sexuality in the modern world, it is nearly impossible to grow up without some kind of sexual trauma, which may take the form of limiting beliefs, guilt, shame, or fear. Even those with incredibly evolved parents who offered a love and trust based sex-education, can not escape the fear-based or hyper-eroticized narratives offered by entertainment, the media, religion, porn, school sex-ed, and our peers. These are often so deeply rooted in our subconscious that we aren’t aware we are allowing these limiting perspectives to rule our intimate lives.
And yet, with awareness we are empowered to use limiting beliefs, triggers, and traumas as gateways into ourselves. Tantra asks us to integrate and bring unconditional love to all parts of our human expression, including our shadow. Doing so leads to more profound states of being. The deeper our self awareness, the further we can expand outwardly - as above, so below.
When you shine light on your shadows, you take full stock of how your traumas are keeping you in a state of fear and how your fears and limiting beliefs are hindering you from capitalizing on your greatest opportunities for growth. Shadowwork allows you to recognize how these traumas helped you grow or how these fears or limiting beliefs helped you survive. While also acknowledging that the patterns that helped you survive are not the same ones that will cause you to thrive.
In this way, you learn to love each past iteration of yourself, including any perceived trauma or regrets. You find peace in the realization that your shadow is what makes you a whole person. It's what makes you relatable to someone. It's these characteristics that allow people to see themselves in you - and this inspires co-creation to grow together.
Conscious co-creation is intimate. It takes vulnerability to bare your triggers, open up about your deepest desires, and share your intentions. The tantric perspective teaches the individual to take full responsibility for their pleasures and their triggers. We fear owning our pleasure and our fantasies because they are often demonized or taboo. Yet, sacred sexuality asserts there is no “good” or “bad” intention or desire - there is only the awareness of whether it is in alignment with your highest truth. However, a lot of our sexual behaviors are shrouded in elements of fear, shame, and guilt, limiting our ability to even become intimate with our authentic truth.
When we do not own our desires and our triggers, we often project them onto others. This may look like blaming your partner for not intuitively guiding you to peak orgasm… or judging another for their fantasies or preferences… or withholding love and affection out of fear of abandonment or assault.
So how do we bring light to our shadow? Doing so expands awareness of ourselves, while simultaneously bringing depth and “true” love to our intimate containers.
4 Ways to Integrate Your Sexual Shadow with Awareness & Intention
Observe your emotional reactions without judgement. Be curious about your triggers - they are usually direct projections of your shadow. When someone does something that causes an intense emotional response, see it as an opportunity to ask yourself why it bothers you SO much. Usually there is a part of you that fears the uninhibited expression someone else offers or you see an ounce of truth that threatens your own egoic beliefs. Your relationships are mirrors for what’s going in your shadows. Example: Your partner tells you they really want to try anal penetration. You are immediately disgusted and judgemental. Ask yourself why it bothers you so much that they want to try it. Is it just because you don’t want to? Or is it because sodomy has long been chastised by religions and governments across the globe? Or is it because your Mom said never to do that? Or maybe you were penetrated anally without your consent in the past? None of the above is “wrong” or “your fault” - but they may be limiting your ability to truly assess this desire from neutrality. Take this as an opportunity to really see where this belief is coming from.
Be conscious of your internal dialogue. Does your inner critic or ego come out when you fantasize? Are you unconsciously judging yourself or others? Or letting opportunities pass you by because of limiting beliefs? Do you shut down before you allow yourself to explore the depths of the human experience? Usually this happens so quickly and stealthily in our subconscious that we don’t even realize it. Set the intention to be more aware of your thoughts. Example: You see a tantra festival in your area. You really want to go, but your internal dialogue immediately offers all the ways it feels impractical. It’s an unnecessary expense… you don’t have the confidence… you are afraid the teachings will change you. With awareness you can use your internal dialogue to expand beyond these limiting beliefs. Quiet the critic by invoking your highest self, who may suggest taking on an extra shift to cover the expense, asking a friend to join you, and being open to change that facilitates deeper presence and growth.
Acknowledge your “light” qualities, while seeing the opposite in yourself as well. We live in a world of duality. To abandon one side of yourself, is to abandon the fullness of your humanity. Let go of your ego and allow yourself to come home to the gift of a balanced soul expression. Example: If you see yourself as a giver in the bedroom, question your ability to receive? Maybe you struggle with fully receiving because your shadow says you must prove your worth by giving! You are inherently worthy of love and pleasure - owning this expansive belief leads to the embodied reaction of receiving with ease.
Embrace Sex Positivity. Encourage yourself to decide what it means to be sex positive and respect all others for their own expression of sex positivity. Create spaces to communicate and to admire others for their expression. Adopt the attitude of, “Good for them, not for me,” whenever you feel triggered or judgmental of another’s eroticism.Example: For you, sex positivity is fully owning your queerness, while pursuing a sacred container in the form of monogamy. Your friend has an explicit Only Fans and is in a polyamorous relationship. You applaud her full expression of sexuality, while also honoring your own needs, preferences, and boundaries. You remain open to these qualities changing over time as you step in more alignment with your highest self.
Applaud yourself for taking accountability for your sexual shadow. It can be incredibly complex and challenging to face these parts of ourselves. There are depths of experience waiting to be discovered, as soon as you decide to do this "inner work". It is a matter of the cost of inaction - this is not meant to scare you, but only, to point out that doing this work is inevitable to live an expansive and abundant life.
Our dreams are FOR US - why wait to claim them? Our intimate shadows and the current landscape of our subconscious manifest our reality. When we work through these opportunities and challenges related to the most powerful energy in our bodies, we begin to see each element of our lives evolve grandly... our problems become our greatest tools for self-remembrance.
Are you ready to let go of limiting beliefs, shame, guilt, & fear so you can alchemize your pleasure for healing & manifestation? Receive a free Sacred Sexuality & Pleasure Positive Guided Meditation.
For 1:1 support in integrating your Sexual Shadow, apply to Work With Me.
If you'd like to dive deeper into the Sexual Shadow listen to this podcast episode now: