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New Book by Philly Therapist Wants You to Explore Your Dark Side

Q&A

We chatted with Danielle Massi — founding father of The Wellness Collective and Self(ish) Philly — about her new ebook Shadow Work, which comes out right now.


Shadow Work by Philly therapist Danielle Massi is all about discovering the hidden elements of your self. / Pictures courtesy of Danielle Massi; writer photograph (proper) by Nichole Howard.

In one in all her lesser-known (however completely underrated) songs, “Darkish Aspect,” Kelly Clarkson sings a couple of “place that I do know / It’s not fairly there and few have ever gone.” I used to be all the time struck by the synthy, semi-spooky pop tune, however by no means actually understood what Clarkson could be referring to.

Till I learn Danielle Massi’s new ebook, Shadow Work, that’s. In it, Massi — licensed marriage and household therapist, founding father of Middle Metropolis-based (now digital) holistic therapeutic heart The Wellness Collective, and creator of native self-care convention Self(ish) Philly (going down on October 2nd) — goals to assist individuals entry their shadow: the hidden or repressed a part of ourselves that, when not addressed, is commonly the foundation reason for inside and exterior issues, in line with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who coined the time period.

The over-100-year-old idea went viral on TikTok final yr, as increasingly more millennials and Gen Zers sought new-to-them methods for self-discovery and self-awareness — particularly in an age the place persona appears to rule (ahem, social media).

For Massi, although, shadow work — the method of participating with info buried deep inside the unconscious — turned distinguished in her life when she was recognized with cervical most cancers in 2018, simply days earlier than her thirtieth birthday. By means of the physician’s appointments, hysterectomy, and despair that adopted, Massi turned to shadow work as a option to heal. “Over time, shadow info builds up and overwhelms the thoughts’s delicate stability … interrupting thought patterns and sleep cycles,” doubtlessly resulting in psychological and bodily well being points, Massi notes in her ebook.

In gentle of Shadow Work’s official launch right now, we chatted with Massi about her journey, her new ebook, and the way going through our “darkish aspect” can result in a fuller, more healthy life.

Be Effectively Philly: How did you get concerned with shadow work?
Massi: I went to Temple for psychology and cognitive neuroscience, the place I realized about Carl Jung, however didn’t actually give his particular theories that a lot thought as a result of we have been finding out so many others, too. The identical factor occurred after I went to graduate college and after I was an adjunct professor at Penn State Brandywine. Shadow work was one thing I talked about, however by no means actually delved into.

It took my cervical most cancers analysis in 2018 to make me begin to actually think about using shadow work myself. Up till that time, I had my very own therapist, and knew how I used to be speculated to heal. However after my analysis, I spiraled into a reasonably darkish place, and it was at that low level that shadow work got here again up for me. I made a decision to offer it an opportunity and booked a session with a UK-based shadow employee, Allison Kelsey. It modified my life. It was that second I spotted shadow work was the best option to get to the foundation reason for trauma.

What occurred throughout your first shadow work session?
My first expertise was over Zoom! On the very starting, we set an intention to get to the foundation reason for no matter was holding me again. She then helped me get my complete physique calm — which is so essential to accessing the unconscious thoughts (a.okay.a. the shadow) — by way of meditation.

She then had me visualize Earth spinning and advised me to cease it on the location of my previous life. Once I did, I began to drop down and fall from wherever I used to be in house to — what I came upon later — was Scotland. As I hit the bottom, I may really feel my environment: I used to be standing on a rocky edge, may really feel the wind by way of my hair, may odor salty sea water. Focusing my consideration on these sensory particulars allowed the entire scene to become visible. The reminiscence simply flooded again, as simply as remembering what I ate for breakfast this morning. It was essentially the most visceral factor I’ve ever felt — like a dream delivered to life.

As we walked by way of that second, I began feeling actually scared. My senses have been very heightened due to that worry. However feeling that worry, together with all the opposite sensory experiences, is how an individual is ready to change the way in which a second or a trauma exists in a single’s mind. It’s about interrupting the processes your mind undergoes so as to retailer away the trauma or ache — that’s shadow work.

Shadow work, auras, tarot, mediums, and many others. are nonetheless thought-about taboo, although I do suppose they’re all turning into increasingly more mainstream as time passes. Why do you suppose individuals have been/are nonetheless proof against something that falls within the non secular realm?
I used to be a type of skeptics. I grew up believing that science has to rule out the whole lot. My grandmother was truly a non secular healer and my mother and father thought she was a loopy individual and stored me away from her, which solely drove dwelling the concept you want onerous information to show something.

From my perspective, the information — the stuff we will show with scientific knowledge — give us consolation. The human mind prefers the recognized as a result of it helps the mind to kind out info. There’s a degree of ease that comes with with the ability to take info and put it right into a psychological field and say, “That is one thing I perceive and have reference factors for.” As we do that, we restrict ourselves enormously as a result of not the whole lot can match into that field. We have now opinions and experiences that counter these authentic beliefs.

As a tradition, extra individuals are having experiences that break exterior the “norm” or make them really feel like that field they’ve created internally for themselves doesn’t match the complete image. That’s why I believe we’re seeing extra of an growth of non secular practices as a result of extra individuals are witnessing or listening to about their optimistic outcomes through social media. I believe the extra we name one thing “woo woo,” the much less probably we’re to be totally profitable as a result of we’re not utilizing all of the instruments we have now in our pure toolbox — and extra individuals are catching on to that.

And now you’ve written a complete ebook about shadow work!
Writing a ebook wasn’t one thing I initially got down to do. I had an Akashic Information session with practitioner Rebecca Lyons in spring 2020, and through that session, she advised me I used to be going to be an writer and that it was going to begin with a journal. I laughed out loud!

A couple of yr later, I created a shadow work journal stuffed with prompts as a result of individuals have been continuously requesting them from me on TikTok. I figured it’d be simpler to simply put them multi function place, and as soon as I used to be completed compiling them, I self-published the journal. It blew up. Shortly after, Lyons known as me and mentioned, “So you probably did the journal, I suppose the ebook is subsequent.”

At that time, I assumed possibly that was a chance. For the subsequent three weeks throughout my meditation classes, I began fascinated by what the world could be like if extra individuals skilled the therapeutic affect of shadow work. At the start of July 2021, I received an electronic mail from Union Sq. & Co. (my ebook’s writer) asking me to put in writing — what they known as — *the* ebook on shadow work.

What was the publishing course of like?
Inside a month after my publishing firm reached out to me, I discovered an agent and the ebook was formally a go. I needed to have a completed draft by January of 2022 — so, solely about 5 months later. It was a really fast course of! I needed to make the choice to cease seeing shoppers one-on-one. I employed somebody to switch me at The Wellness Collective so I may concentrate on my ebook after Self(ish) Philly — the self-care convention I based — in October. I needed to offer Self(ish) my full focus, and I felt like the town of Philadelphia deserved that from me. Fortunately, I did have a top level view completed as a result of I needed to submit a ebook proposal, and that made it simpler to put in writing the ebook as a result of I knew the imaginative and prescient.

What’re the objectives of this ebook?
I needed to mix spirituality and science to assist individuals entry their innate therapeutic capability and perceive what precisely is going on to them internally as they bear shadow work. I additionally needed individuals to get out of their consolation zone, and reset their inside thermostat. For those who regulate your inside workings, you would possibly find yourself feeling so significantly better than you probably did earlier than. Anybody who’s concerned with studying who they actually are and finest assist themselves dwell in a means that’s wholesome and aligned ought to learn this. Shadow work is the one modality I’ve seen that will get to the core points and modifications them utterly to the purpose there’s a ripple impact on the physique. That in itself makes shadow work a necessity for all of us.

Since early 2020, we’ve gone by way of a shared, international trauma, which has wreaked havoc on so many individuals’s psychological and emotional states. Was the pandemic a motivator on your desirous to get this ebook out into the world?
I believe for me, this ebook was wanted, COVID or not. However the collective trauma put strain on shadow work’s function as a result of individuals both selected to cope with what was occurring, or repressed it — that alternative goes to create long-term ramifications. I do know that COVID was an enormous purpose my publishers needed to maneuver this ahead as quickly as doable and pushed the timeline an excellent deal. (The ebook wasn’t supposed to return out till 2023!) And I agree with that: The extra preventative we will be and the sooner we will assault our stressors, the better it’s to cope with them and optimize your well being.

On the finish of your ebook, you be aware that shadow work “goes to ship you right into a tailspin” as a result of it brings up all of the stuff your mind is defending you from for survival’s sake. What “security” ideas are you able to provide to somebody desirous to attempt shadow work?
What I’ve seen from individuals who have been hesitant to attempt remedy is that there’s this worry that it’s going to really feel unhealthy at first, however then worsen and points won’t ever resolve. That’s not true. In the identical means, although, shadow work will be tough at first, however it does get higher — it simply takes a little bit of belief. If you concentrate on onerous issues individuals do — like coaching for a marathon, for instance — they’re all the time powerful at first! And but, individuals nonetheless hold coaching and hold trusting within the course of, they usually run by way of the end line. Shadow work is like that: For those who can put within the psychological work, present up for your self, and really feel the complete breadth of feelings that you’ve locked away inside you, you’re going to get stronger and really feel higher.

Earlier, you talked about you considered what the world can be like if extra individuals practiced shadow work. How do you envision that world?
In an ideal world — one by which everybody tried shadow work in the identical means they take a multivitamin — I believe we’d have so many fewer arguments, each inside and exterior, as a result of pressure can be extra simply resolved. That’s as a result of shadow work goals to focus on the foundation reason for stress, ache, trauma, and the like. My shadow work shoppers have additionally mentioned they don’t really feel as triggered on a day-to-day foundation, don’t have hassle falling asleep, are capable of higher deal with conditions with extra grace and persistence, and have improved GI well being. Shadow work might help an individual really feel extra calm of their physique, and feeling rested and never so anxious on a regular basis contributes to good well being. Therapeutic is an important reward we may give ourselves.

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