Connie Zweig (Part 2) – Meeting and Healing the Shadow on the Spiritual Path: An Essential Practice for Awakening, Growth, and Healing

Connie Zweig Shadow Awareness

Connie Zweig, award-winning author, depth psychologist, master shadow guide, and longtime contemplative practitioner asks some good questions—and answers them too, with unusual clarity and deep insight born of long experience and a cutting-edge mind. Why is it that we meet darkness on the spiritual path? What do we banish into the shadow? How do we reclaim what we project onto charismatic leaders? Learning to recognize and resolve the shadow is a powerful practice, and one that is all too often overlooked in a time when psychology is focused on objective approaches, neglecting the fact and force of the unconscious. Cultivating shadow awareness, we can begin to look beyond projections and stereotypes, recognize the risks of black and white thinking, and learn how to reclaim what Carl Jung called the “unlived life.” Connie discusses the psychodynamics between spiritual student and spiritual teacher, and other situations where people have disproportionate power over others, shining a bright light of illumination on the nuances and complexities of these relationships.

This is an intimate look into the challenges of the spiritual path, where we need both psychological practice and spiritual practice to advance our awakening, and a very relevant, timely conversation with shadow currently erupting in our culture in epidemic proportions. Connie’s dedication to helping people find their way through the dark nights we inevitably experience on our spiritual journey comes through strong and clear. Her authenticity, caring, and wisdom is palpable, inspiring us as to how the lights really go on when we start to see the dynamics of our inner world and relationships with more nuance, deeper insight, and shadow awareness. Recorded April 5, 2023.

“Shadow awareness is a relative kind of waking up.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Let’s talk about awakening: it’s not just about meeting the shadow (01:25)
  • Connie’s intention is to help people move through and past the inevitable challenges on the path of spiritual growth (03:30)
  • Spiritual shadow work: how do we reclaim our projections & gifts that we tend to give away to charismatic leaders? (04:44) 
  • How do we uncover what we banished into the shadow? Bringing forth our “unlived life” (06:11)
  • Connie’s distress about the state of the field of psychology today: medicalization, the cognitive/behavioral/neuroscience approach, and a complete discounting of the role of the unconscious (09:12)
  • Ken Wilber’s work (and the work of A. H. Almaas) provides a bridge for integrating depth psychology and spiritual practice (12:02)
  • Importance of your own inner guidance: what feels right? (13:22)
  • Taking up a practice without taking on the whole enchilada (15:14)
  • What would an integrated spiritual regime look like? Contemplative practice, reflective practices, depth psychotherapy, group practice & relationships, study, and bodywork (17:23)
  • Lifestyle is another crucial element of a well-rounded practice (22:25)
  • Trump’s malignant narcissism is in some ways analogous to how spiritual leaders attract followers: appealing to our pre-rational selves (23:17)
  • How many teachers empower their students to leave the community and go teach? (28:20)
  • Cultural shadows: e.g., independent America’s shadow is dependence (30:32)
  • The concept of salvation in our spiritual sub-cultures (31:38) 
  • The #MeToo movement wasn’t extended into the spiritual arena; the complexity of the issue of consent (34:19)
  • Sexual relations with a spiritual leader trigger an identity crisis: Who am I? Victim, consort, special one? (40:50)
  • What is the shadow side of the #MeToo movement? (41:49)
  • Lonely spiritual teachers and systemic causes of abuse (43:07)
  • Roger’s summary of Connie’s new book, Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path (45:39)

Resources & References – Part 2

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Connie will be organizing spiritual shadow-work groups to readers of her new book. They are free and meet online to do practices in the book. Contact her at and write “spiritual shadow-work” in the subject line with your time zone.

Connie Zweig Meeting the shadow

Connie Zweig, Ph.D. is a retired therapist and co-author of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow. Her award-winning book, The Inner Work of Age: Shifting from Role to Soul, extends her work on the Shadow into midlife and beyond and explores aging as a spiritual practice. It won the 2022 Gold COVR Award, the 2022 Gold Nautilus Award, the 2021 American Book Fest Award, and the 2021 Best Indie Book Award for best inspirational non-fiction. Her new book, Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path: The Dance of Darkness and Light in Our Search for Awakening, will be available in May 2023. Connie has been doing contemplative practices for more than 50 years. She is a wife, stepmother, and grandmother. After all these roles, she’s practicing the shift from role to soul.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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