‘The shadow’ is considered to be unconscious aspects of our psychology that nevertheless influence our actions and thoughts. Building a relationship with our shadow can help us move in the world with more understanding and awareness.
Kyle Buller is the co-founder of Psychedelics Today, long-time student and facilitator of breathwork, and a spiritual emergence coach. His academic background is in transpersonal and somatic psychology, and his clinical practice includes counseling at-risk young people and individuals experiencing an early-episode of psychosis.
In our interview with Kyle, that you can find below, we talk about how we can integrate our shadows both personally and collectively. What are the main kinds of shadow that we see in psychedelic industry, and how can we use psychedelics to address them?
Kyle’s interest in transpersonal psychology originated from a near-death experience he had as a teenager. He found it hard to integrate the experience of peace and belonging he had felt in the place close to death. After having a profound psychedelic experience some years later with magic mushrooms, he found some parallels between psychedelics and the near-death experience, that helped him begin the process of integration.
The shadow that Kyle confronted in this case was the idea that death is, in some ways, enticing. For other people, their shadow may be the overwhelming fear of death. Basically, your shadow is any unconscious component of your existence that strongly influences your behaviors and thoughts, which is often difficult to face. Kyle points out that the shadow is not necessarily negative or positive; it is just what we are not conscious of, and that we have to work to develop a healthy relationship with.
The shadow will always exist within you to a certain degree, as there is no way for any human to have no unconscious processes. But it is possible to develop a wider awareness of certain components of your shadow.
Identifying your own shadow is the first step in the process, and to do this it’s a good idea to find a qualified coach or therapist. Being curious about yourself, and working towards greater self-awareness, will help you identify how your shadow is influencing your life.
When it comes to using psychedelics as a companion in the process of shadow work, it’s good to remember that psychedelics have the potential amplify pretty much anything; so they can also amplify an avoidance of shadow. If you have strong avoidance or denial of an aspect of your shadow, psychedelics may not be able to help you break down that barrier.
While doing individual shadow work is an important prerequisite, Kyle also speaks about the need for recognizing the collective shadow of psychedelia. So many problems and challenges face us: the encroachment of corporate interests, the restrictive medicalization of psychedelics, racism in plant medicine ceremonies, the imbalance of access to plant medicines, spiritual bypass from important social issues… the list is long and we have a lot of work to do.
In this interview, you’ll discover:
- How the shadow emerges in psychedelic and psychedelic integration experiences
- How much the shadow of psychedelic healers matter for the healing of individuals who come to them
- How we can become aware of, and confront our own shadow, whether using psychedelics or common tools to aid insight such as curiosity and humility
About Kyle Buller
Kyle’s interest in exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness began when he was 16-years-old when he suffered a traumatic accident and awakened after a near-death experience. He went on to receive a B.A. in Transpersonal Psychology from Burlington College, where he focused on studying the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness by exploring shamanism, Reiki, local medicinal plants and plant medicine, Holotropic and Dreamshadow Transpersonal Breathwork. Kyle earned his M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis on Somatic Psychology. Kyle’s clinical background in mental health consists of working with at-risk teenagers in crisis and with individuals experiencing an early episode of psychosis and providing counseling to undergraduate/graduate students in a university setting. He is the co-founder of Psychedelics Today, an online media platform dedicated to exploring and discussing the important academic/scientific and other research in the field of psychedelics.
Where to Find Kyle
+‘Psychedelics Today’ on any podcast app
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