The Hidden Gifts of Integrated Shadow

By Keira Louise Madsen at


May your awareness be relaxed.
May it expand to include the grace and beauty of life during these intensifying times.


Turning towards the increasing intensity of unintegrated/denied/frozen collective and ancestral shadow contains within in it a hidden gift—a gift beyond imagination, a pearl beyond price, a heart open to a universal and timeless belonging-intelligence. This may sound altogether too fantastical, but when a quiet experiential belonging-to-a-larger-flow sense begins to pulse  through our nervous system, the resting-in-what-is gifts of shadow integration become difficult to deny.


Paradoxically, it is a sincere willingness to turn towards the exiled and undesirable that expands our contact with life. As we learn to trust life, we begin to realize that we have the ability to slow down and allow shadow to be here–seen and acknowledged. Presence comes on-line with this willingness, and allows us to know experientially that life is a process we belong to, irregardless of what the experience is. “We are not seeing the world as it is, we are seeing a wounded world” says Thomas Hübl. Shadow’s trapped unintegrated energy continues to explode in the world because it has nowhere to land, and yet must land–consciously or unconsciously. As conscious beings, the choice is ours. An abandoned shadow lives in our world and is creating chaos. Our western lives are built upon the habit of “getting away from.” Many use their spiritual practice to in order to get away from embodied life; wanting the light but not the dark.


If we choose life through personal preferences that avoid shadow, the collective message is that shadow is bigger than light. We actually add to the accumulation of shadow, while making “the mess out there” someone else’s” fault. This certainly seems to be the reality of our shared world: lots of pointing fingers and few integrating ones.
Our fear of unintegrated shadow and its chaotic nature is a learned fear. Each generation reinforces the turning away paradigm. And yet, we are souls born for these times are we not? Are we really separate from our wounded world, and not an essential part of it? Do we turn away and try to live on top of generations of trauma shadow, without honouring shadow’s repetitious and intensifying call for attention? Shadow teaches us where we have separated from life and calls us back from unconscious shadow-habits. The light lives within our courage to explore and bring unconscious energy back into life.


An important question for each of us wanting to evolve and expand our life is to look at how we are “here” in relationship to life. Are we here only as the echo our familial/cultural conditioning? Or can we also sense that we are here as a soul, that there is a part of us that is not bound by our unconscious conditioning? Can our “here” include life as it is right now: shadow or light, pleasant or unpleasant, shallow breath or deep breath … without trying to change how it is? What do I experience when I stop trying to manage life and simply listen to how life informs me? What old patterns, friendships, contracts are naturally released? We must discover the integration process for ourselves because shadow’s gift is given through the intimacy of direct experience.


Our willingness to be with life’s wounded shadow-parts expands to become a movement of universal restoration. No longer limited to a few saints through history, embodying the light behind the shadow is like small orchestras-in-training. LIght’s healing power is listening with life, not managing over life. One is joy-filled, one is stress-filled, and our body will let us know where we are in the process. And yet, I cannot open to the light authentically unless I trust in something I don’t already know.
So how do we learn to trust?  Ah! There is the question! Just for a moment, try turning towards what you are experiencing right now with a sort of naked vulnerability–not a top-down inquiry from the mind–but through an aware sensing that is without agenda. Turning towards life without a personal agenda takes less than a second, but over time it can change the quality and course of your life. The deepest change-makers in life are those “being changed” by life.


Without deep connection to life as it is, our spiritual path is vulnerable to disembodied ideologies that further distance us from the hidden gifts of authentic connection. We each walk a unique path and yet we can support each other to walk that uniqueness into life more fully. Contrary to what we may have believed, discovering our “authentic walk” within unintegrated shadow is profoundly healing. Mental habits of projection and fixing begin to calm and relax as we experience being in deep relationship with life just as it is. In these moments of pause and embodied reflection, we might discover a precise and intimate felt-sense of our inner landscape—healthy or wounded, unbound or contracted, flowing or numb–and somehow, it all belongs. I am not meaning to imply that this is easy, only that the reward is implicit within the journey.


When finally seen and felt, we understand that all of life belongs, because the nature of life is light and shadow. When we see and feel the aspects of our displaced shadow-exiles  compassion naturally arises. We no longer need to resist or find fault with life when we engage with life on its terms. Within the depth of this understanding the wounds of the past have space to be welcomed into our consciousness. Witnessing the paradoxical miracle within this depth continues to be the blessed inspiration for my PhD studies, related ICM/UH groups, and sound healings. Making the hidden shadows more apparent and including what our ancestors and human collective have historically feared and rejected is a living and felt-sense in our nervous system. When trauma belongs more fully and precisely named and felt, we discover that we can be in life with more joy, spontaneity, and authenticity. We are free from the human wounded story because we have been brave enough to include it. In doing so, we make space for an authentic human story to awaken within us. We heal the world because we make peace with it. The war inside subsides.


For most of us, direct experiential contact with our historic, personal, and collective wounds occurs within a strong intentional group energy—that is, an open field of presence where we are not trying to manipulate or fix anything. Initially, we are simply being with our discomfort, but we stay with this because we honour where we are. The Tao reminds us that “we start the journey of 1000 miles beneath our own feet.” We learn to listen to how our discomfort informs our body, emotions, and thought patterns.
The intelligence of our nervous systems is universal and timeless. It also holds the unintegrated shadow patterns of our ancestors, our souls, and the collective. Many of us have experienced this wide-open relational intelligence as children, but exposure to the unintegrated trauma of our birth place/time/family caused us to protect ourselves from this deeply alive and universal connection to life.


Both the Fall Inner Constellations Workshops and Spring Universal Heart series have emerged through the grace of Thomas Hubl’s mystical teachings and trauma trainings. Following on the heels of ten years of exploring healing through Silence and Sound, Thomas’s uncompromising commitment to including trauma in our spiritual practice has been revolutionary me and the way I work with groups and individuals. I now understand that a grounded or embodied spirituality frees us from having to “wrong” life or each other in any way because we learn to be here for life and with life.
Practice groups willing to explore and embody shadow-inclusion expand our shared world. We know ourselves and each other from a more holistic and generous consciousness. Light flows more naturally and effortlessly through our nervous system. The soft trusting centre of the heart becomes the pearl beyond price as we learn to trust life through a deeply authentic experience of her in all her earthly human parts. With joy and an expansive sense of home coming we discover the life-giving gifts of integrated shadow.