Aleksandra from the USA recently asked us:
I have tried meditation, but it hasn’t worked for me at all. Though I have made interesting discoveries using meditation in the past, all of them now feel too superficial, as if I’m barely scratching the surface of my wounds and shadow self. I want to be able to move deeper and discover my core wound so that I can begin the healing process.
Discovering your core wound is a heavy process and meditation – although useful – is limited in its ability to help us dig really deep. We’ll briefly explore why this is, plus alternative ways of doing shadow work below.
Meditation is Not Enough – Here’s Why
Sol and I have both written before about the limited scope of meditation. When we embark on the inner work process of inner growth it is very common for most of us to immediately incorporate meditation into our daily routines. Don’t get me wrong; meditation is extremely beneficial, particularly if we lack self-awareness and are trying to be more conscious in our daily lives.
But the reality is that meditation is not the be-all and end-all. Not only does meditation often become a dutiful tacked-on habit to our daily routines, but it can also perpetuate the myth that we are essentially divided into “higher” and “lower” aspects. When we focus on strengthening our “higher” selves without catering to the needs of our “lower” selves, we create an immense imbalance in our lives. And thus, we further fragment ourselves instead of creating inner wholeness.
As Sol wrote:
Unfortunately, the meditation practice — like many others — can continue the myth of the divided self; the inner duality that considers our basic human condition as sinful, flawed and not good enough. Thanks to the mindset that we should only focus on exploring our “higher selves,” we eventually start rejecting or running away from any part of us that we consider idealistically imperfect, continuing to fracture ourselves in the process.
This is why meditation isn’t an ideal way of digging to the depths of the darkness you harbor inside. And this is why we need to explore new approaches.
How to Find Your Core Wounds
I’m going to provide 3 suggestions here that you might like to try instead of meditation. Before that however, ensure that you are at a point in your life where you are not too stressed out, as this can exacerbate any of the uncomfortable or disturbing feelings, thoughts or core beliefs that you discover.
Also, before you explore your core wounds – or do any form of shadow work for that matter – you must have worked on developing self-awareness beforehand, otherwise it will be almost impossible for you to make any meaningful discoveries about yourself in the first place.
Additionally, (and yes, I know this is a lot of preparation!) you must be at a point in your life where you have begun to learn how to love and take care of yourself. If you haven’t, you might find yourself getting immensely overwhelmed, overburdened and intensely self-hating, which of course is completely destructive to the shadow work process.
If you’re confident that you are at a stable point in your life, I recommend reading the following articles as introductions to core wounds, core beliefs and shadow work:
- How to Discover Your Deepest, Darkest “Core Wound”
- What Are Your Core Beliefs and Why Are They So Important to Uncover?
- How to Change Your Core Beliefs in 9 Steps
- Shadow Self: Embracing Your Inner Darkness
After you have read these articles, you will have a good foundation of knowledge regarding how to approach discovering your core wound.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between core beliefs and our core wound. Our core beliefs are a series of deep-seated convictions that we have about ourselves that are self-destructive. Our core wound on the other hand, is the deepest, most profound source of pain that we struggle with. This might be the fear of abandonment, the pain of being abused and harmed, the feeling of being unlovable, irredeemably flawed, and so on.
For some people it is easier to confront their core beliefs before confronting their core wound (which is the root of all their negative feelings). So it is really up to you to decide.
Here are some alternative tried-and-tested ways of uncovering your core wound/core beliefs:
1. Using Your Feelings as an Anchor
One powerful way of uncovering your core wound/core beliefs is by using any negative emotion you feel in the moment as an anchor to draw you down inside of yourself. You can then examine what you are feeling, when it began and why you feel the way you do.
For example, if I was feeling great frustration in the present moment, I could use that feeling as a trigger to ask myself, “Why?” I might then like to mentally trace back the development of that feeling and discover that the feeling of frustration is a by-product of a deep sadness I feel. Then I could examine that deep sadness. Why do I feel that way? I might discover that this deep sadness comes as a result of feeling as though I had failed to get to work on time. Then I could examine why getting to work late makes me feel so bad. I might then discover that I feel like a failure, and thus uncover a core belief:
I am a failure.
This technique can be applied to countless feelings and after a while you might find a pattern emerging that will allow you to discover your main core wound.
2. Somatic/Bodily Mindfulness
Not everyone is able to become aware of what they are emotionally feeling in the present moment, which is where somatic mindfulness comes in handy. Somatic mindfulness is basically the practice of stopping throughout the day and scanning your body for tension and illness. You might like to create alerts on your phone or work calendar to remind you, or you might simply like to stop and assess your body whenever you feel discomfort.
For example, if I felt my heart pounding and my hands sweating in the presence of other people I might like to examine this feeling in the present moment, or later after the feeling has left. I might discover that my pounding heart and sweating hands was a result of my nervousness around others. I might go deeper and ask why I feel that way and discover that I’m scared of what other people think of me. Still, I might go deeper and ask why I am so scared of what they think and discover one (or all) of the following core beliefs:
I am stupid.
I am unacceptable.
I am embarrassing/shameful.
Somatic mindfulness is best practiced after learning how to completely relax your body, perhaps in a bath of warm water, or through a daily relaxation practice. Otherwise, if your body is constantly tense, you will find it difficult to be conscious of the physical changes that occur throughout the day.
3. Solitude and Introspection
This final technique recommend today is simple to do and only requires making time to be alone each day. You might even like to keep a journal and reflect on what made you feel unhappy throughout the previous or current day. This is a useful practice for visual and auditory learners as you can make use of the mechanisms of introspective writing, illustrating and brain-storming.
For example, you might like to write in your journal:
My friend made me feel really emotional without knowing it today when she said that I should dedicate more time to myself.
Then you might like to explore this feeling in the following way directed by the main question “Why?”:
“I should dedicate more time to myself” –> makes me feel embarrassed –> makes me feel ashamed –> makes me feel pathetic –> makes me feel unworthy = This statement from my friend reminded me of how poorly I feel about myself, that “I am unworthy” and that “I don’t deserve to be happy.”
There are an endless array of ways to dissect and dig to the depths of how you feel and what this means. You could use Venn diagrams, arrows, thought pyramids or any kind of visual structure that helps you to understand your core beliefs/core wound better. Alternatively, you might simply like to write freely until your thoughts begin to flow revealing interesting discoveries (this is good for auditory learners).
I hope these techniques help you to learn how to find your core wounds and/or core beliefs. Remember that there are many other techniques out there, but I hope these come in handy on your path of inner work.