Jamila Anahata is the conscious, vegan, punk rock, holistic, lifestyle coach you didn’t know you needed. She’s an activist that focuses on uplifting marginalized people, but does so by covering ALL realms of healing. That includes shadow work.
Shadow work may sound scary, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. It goes deep into finding the root of the more “negative” emotions we experience, and why we experience them.
That way, we can break constant, self-destructive cycles way more effectively than just smearing positive affirmations on open psychological wounds of all types.
That’s where Jamila comes in. She does all sorts of personal development work, and even offers lifestyle coaching to help you decolonize your life through conscious living.
In this interview? We focus on spirituality, inner work, and dive deep into what shadow work is, and the benefits of it.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jamila Anahata from TheSoulfulVeganista.com! I am an activist, conscious lifestyle blogger, model, tarot card reader, intuitive reader, and a holistic lifestyle coach.
What I like to do is mainly help our people–mainly black, poor people–find the healer within themselves, also so they can finally live authentically. Just because of oppression, the things we’ve experienced, the things we’ve seen, the messages we see in media… we’ve internalized a lot of self-hatred. There’s a lot of prejudice against ourselves and our own people.
That holds us back from believing that we can do what we feel like doing, despite our marginalization. So my job is to hold our peoples’ hands so I can help them heal through shadow work, so that they can finally express themselves fully. Not even just through clothes or whatever, but through art, expressing their pain, not being scared to feel.
Oh and I forgot to mention! Mind, body spirit, is what I mean when I talk about holistic work. Eating well, exercising, meditation, mental health practices, spiritual stuff, getting into contact with the ancestors… Stuff like that.
Do you have a background in therapy?
That’s such a good question because I actually don’t!
My sister does actually; she has a degree in psychology. It’s also why I never like to call myself a therapist… I just like to use tactics that work within their darkness as an opportunity for growth. But I have always been into therapy and listening to peoples’ problems. Like, people have always come up to me on the bus, at school, at work and they feel like they can just dump on me!
… Not LITERALLY! *laughs*
But I have that type of energy with people I guess, where they feel like they can let their guard down and tell me about their life stories.
It doesn’t offend me at all, I do like giving people words of wisdom to make them feel better, and that’s just something I’ve always been passionate about.
Whenever I see someone feeling low or someone feeling disempowered or have come out of a really bad situation and don’t know how to deal with it, I like to be a helping hand and give them some words of wisdom so they can see it less as a burden and more as something that’s going to help them develop into the person they’re meant to become.
In a way, I guess it’s very inexpensive therapy? Like coaching-type therapy? I’d never call myself that because of the work of actual psychologists. And I’d never wanna diagnose people.
How did you begin to get in touch with yourself more spiritually?
Honestly, I almost feel like I popped out the womb almost feeling connected to things I can’t see.
And that’s not even in a religious standpoint. It’s more like I could always feel energies. I could always feel when someone was angry, I always could feel that I wasn’t alone in a room, if that makes sense.
Like I could even feel my spiritual team even as a child, because you’re more susceptible to that as a child. But when I fully gained awareness of it was shortly after I went vegan almost seven years ago, where I decided to go the yoga route.
Cause you know sometimes–not all vegans–but sometimes when you go vegan you kinda wanna go a little hippy sometimes, and my early twenties was me being a little hippy. I’m over that now, but because of that, I got more in-touch with chakras, yoga, meditation, getting in-touch with my ancestors, learning about energy… and it really benefited me because that’s when it really hit me! That’s where The Soulful Veganista came into play.
Because not only do I want to eat well and be compassionate toward other beings, I wanna tie that into my spiritual senses, and into that that we cannot see.
Just fine-tuning how I feel my purpose here on earth, in a way.
That’s when I started learning more about people’s life purposes, and that it’s more than just going to work and having children and buying a house… it’s literally what you internally feel compelled to do that’ll help other people.
Why is working on yourself something you consider important?
To me? There’s just no other way!
Cause how are we gonna develop? How’re we gonna grow? How’re we gonna share experiences?
You know what I mean? Like, a lot of people are very okay with being where they are, and I can’t knock anybody’s hustle… But like when you grow? You find yourself, you find your passions, you find what doesn’t work for you, you find what makes you tick, you find who you literally are!
What has developed you? What can you do to change yourself, attract the right people into your life, and the right situations and opportunities into your life? I feel like without working on yourself, you’re doing yourself such a disservice because everyone deserves to be better and everyone CAN be better. And without growth? What is there to look forward to?
What are your top 3 favorite “techniques” for healing and inner work?
Oh my God, there’s SO many! But I’d definitely say visualization, and affirmations for now… because meditation goes into shadow work automatically.
And same with visualization! You can sit there and daydream, but in order to visualize you’re gonna have to sit still and focus and do a little bit of deep breathing to make sure that the picture is clear.
Visualization can either be you visualizing what you want in your future or even visualizing yourself as a child from a traumatic standpoint… like a point of trauma that’s happened to you as a child, and then speaking to your inner child.
So when you visualize yourself talking to your inner child, or visualizing yourself as a healed person (because healing is an ongoing process)… and when you visualize yourself being healed and happy and doing what you feel, having your dream job, having your dream life… when it’s that clear where you can see it, taste it, and touch it? It’s just around the corner in that case.
Of course it takes your belief and your hard work, but then affirmations come into play because affirmations help you believe that.
You’re really speaking shit into existence! You’re reprogramming your subconscious mind to believe in what you want.
Our minds are programmable; our minds are computers! Like Instagram or YouTube, it’s like an algorithm. Which accounts you choose to see, which accounts you choose to look at and you like the pictures and engage with them… that’s what’s gonna pop up more on your feed!
Same with what comes up in your life: the more you focus on things–even sometimes subconsciously when you’re not realizing it–there’s eventually gonna pop up in your life in ways that don’t seem like they will. Everything’s not predictable, but we have to see that everything’s not just a coincidence.
When you affirm things, you’re telling yourself that you believe it! You know, like, “I woke up this morning, I’m happy. I am grateful today. I make millions of dollars a year. I have food on the table. I’m financially secure. I’m grounded.” Things like that… you can go on and on as long as you keep it in the moment. But that’s a great and inexpensive way!
And I guess we’ll get more into shadow work later, but the elevator speech to that is basically actually dealing with your problems and not seeing them as burdens, even if they feel that way. And on top of that, allowing yourself to feel.
Now, what we came for today… shadow work! What is shadow work? Sounds dark!
Yess, it sounds spooky! So shadow work is literally the process of making the unconscious, conscious!
So that is our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is the recorder of everything. Our conscious mind actively thinks.
It’s what we’re looking at right now, or what we’re thinking about right now.
Our conscious mind is behind us as a printer. It’s recording the fact that I’m smelling kitty litter! It picks up everything that we can’t really acknowledge.
So with that being said, the reason we always feel some type of way is because we are in sensory overload and we’re not being aware of our surroundings and how it’s affected us as children. So that when you’re reprogramming the subconscious mind and allowing yourself to look back at your triggers, your fears… you’re getting to the root of that.
So you can either monitor how you felt or you can work through those issues and then use it as productive energy.
So for example, I have a deep-seated fear of control. I can’t really pinpoint the root of that, maybe it was something that I experienced as a child, I’m not really sure. So my fear of not having certain control over certain things affects how I feel about being free.
If I feel really caged, I throw off a PTSD response, especially based on my marginalization. You know, it reminds me of whenever I don’t have a say over a lot of things that happen to me as a marginalized person.
But instead of looking at what I can’t control, I use that energy to focus on what I can control. Even though it comes from a place of darkness, I’m using that as my light.
So instead I’ll probably write to express myself. I’ll probably do my makeup a certain type of way. I’ll probably create a yoga routine. Those are the types of things I can control rather than focusing on what I can’t control, which can make me feel helpless.
For a lot of people, that comes from a place of trauma. And what they can do is realize that it’s not happening to them in the moment, that they’re still valid in feeling that way but as they go on in life they can monitor how they feel about that and remind themselves that, “Hey, I’m feeling really upset right now. Lemme figure out what I’m upset about. Oop! It comes from the place of trauma if I do my 21 questions!”
Cause I like to do that, I love getting to the root of it by asking myself a bunch of questions. Once I ask those questions and get to the root, I can be like, “Okay, so I’m feeling fearful about this moment right now because it’s something that’s happened to me in the past. I know that it’s not happening to me, I don’t have to be fearful of what’s going on in the moment. Whatever happened to me was in the past but it’s not happening to me again so I can take this risk. I can not feel held back about what happened to me in my past, but be authentic, finally.”
How did you get into and discover shadow work?
So it happened around this time two years ago. I got into a weird car accident, and I saw a psychic!
Like, for some reason, when I had that car accident, I was supposed to see a medium that night. I was gonna cancel it, but the people who set it up for me–who I’m very grateful for–were like, “Nah, we’ll have someone pick you up!” So I was like, “alright!”
So I went to go see the medium, and the medium suggested that I did a bunch of things in the name of building up my spiritual stamina. Because it was something that was always in me that I haven’t’ totally used in full-force. So when she told me all of this and I haven’t told anyone, I was like, “Oh… she’s real! She is REAL!”
So when I did that, I did most of what everything she told me to do. I started to want to watch certain YouTubers on YouTube and one YouTuber talked about shadow work very briefly and I decided to look deeper into it! And once I looked more into it, I realized that it was something that is SO beneficial!
It was like literally the top tier of what self-development is all about almost. And once again, I’ve always been someone who’s been into personal development almost my whole life. So let me look more into this. Let me help other people understand this better. Let me apply that to my life so I cannot feel as held back by things and live life on my terms.
And doing that so far has really, really, helped I really do shadow work all the time.
Do you have any examples of how someone would confront a need to do shadow work in their life?
I would say there are three ways.
I would honestly say write it down in your journal. By the time this comes out, it’ll be over, but I had a 10-day, Unpack and Unlearn Shadow Work Challenge! So I had a shadow work challenge on my private Facebook group, TSV Soul-Care Community, which has been doing awesome; and in that challenge, I’m was helping people learn about tactics and learn about the research behind it, like the things behind it.
The challenge may be over, but I’m not going to delete it so for anyone who wants to join they can totally check out the videos!
And the thing I always like to talk heavily about is journaling. People should always write down how they feel. Because when you just write word vomit onto a page and read it back, you’ll learn so much about what’s going on in your head that you can’t just think of consciously.
Sometimes even just focusing on shining a light on our thoughts don’t really do enough justice. Like sometimes, you’re writing it down and you’re like, “Oh wow, word, that’s how I feel?!”
So journaling is really good. You can write about tons! You could probably write down, “Why do I feel weird when I go to work?” You can write down any keywords that pop up in your mind of how you feel about working. And then you write down, “Where is the root of this?” And ask yourself mentally a bunch of questions and be like, “Okay, maybe it was because at my first job, I was ridiculed.” You know, things like that.
Like, “Why does it bother me that I feel incompetent and not intelligent?” You know? And then, you know, WHY is it that I don’t feel competent?” It just goes back and more and more. And writing down really, really helps you get through that.
Number two, I would even say, when you’re sitting in your car and you feel something… You know, trying to just be still.
So when you’re trying to be in the present moment–which is really hard for marginalized folks because being in the present moment, you’re basically conscious of the fact that you’re not always safe when you’re a present, marginalized person–but when we try to just focus on our thoughts rather than our marginalization for the moment? We have every right to think of that and realize, “Oh, why am I feeling some type of way? I feel like I’m not in a good mood. Why?”
So you could probably try to be conscious enough to think about what your thoughts are, to shine a light on your thoughts.
And maybe you’re thinking about how you didn’t like how somebody looked at you today. Like, “Mmm, I don’t like how this person looked me up when I was at Target yesterday… What was that about?” You know, I mean?
And you can do you 21 questions! Even when you’re driving in the car, even when you’re using the bathroom, you know? Like, “I don’t like how they looked at me. Why?” Maybe because I thought that they were trying to get froggy, you know what I mean?
You can use this especially since we don’t always have time to sit down and journal.
And the third one I will always say is to find a quiet little space to do some deep breathing and meditate, that’ll help you visualize better, that can help you be focused more, and that’ll help you relax a little bit.
Even though our minds are constantly racing, it’ll just help you center on why they’re feeling the way we are. And once again, it helps us create a picture in our mind’s eye of who we want to be talking to when talking to our inner child.
Even focusing more on affirming, like affirmations. But yeah, the shower doesn’t have to be fancy. You just have to really focus on how you’re feeling and what your thoughts are, that are making you feel that way. Because, as I always say, emotions are energy in motion and more and more of those feelings are going to pop up even harder.
And on top of that, our emotions are our physiological response to our thoughts. So we always have to trace back that thought whenever we’re feeling some type of way.
Should we be working to create a better balance in our lives? Is shadow work a way to recalibrate ourselves toward a mentally balanced life?
You know what, yes, I would say so, and because shadow work helps you realize that there is no dark or light. There is only is what is and it’s really our judgment that makes things dark or light. Because we’ve been conditioned because of organized religion to compartmentalize things in our psyche.
So when you recognize that there are, you know, things that can be considered light, and things that can be considered dark, we realize that we’re just born whole.
You know, there’s no real balance of it. It’s like the yin yang… You know, based on our judgment there’s good in the bad and bad in the good. But for what is bad for somebody else, is good for somebody else. So it’s really just our perspective that makes things dark or light.
So we have to recognize that our darkness isn’t out hurt us our darkness isn’t evil. It should not be demonized. And once we come to that conclusion based on our shadow work, based on decolonizing our minds, based on reprogramming our subconscious mind from the messages that we have internalized through media our whole lives… We’ll see that we can recalibrate our minds to see ourselves as whole, rather than split up from dark and light.
We just are, and it helps us express ourselves better. It helps us be our authentic selves to anybody without fear of judgment, and it helps us have more of a healthy mindset, and a healthy outlook on life, despite our marginalization.
How long does shadow work take before you hit a breakthrough as to how healing it can be for someone?
Oh, man! I’m always going to say that shadow work is a lifelong process because it’s just a term for dealing with our shit. I would say it can be for anywhere from like a day… to a decade. You know what I mean?
There are gonna be times where we might get to the root of our problem, but we’re gonna have to keep monitoring our PTSD responses to those things, and how we feel about our future… like our anxiety about future happenings about that same situation. So it’ll probably take a long time. It might take a short amount of time based on what we find at our root.
But I say that depends on the person, it depends on how dedicated you are to self-healing, it depends on how dedicated you are to deconditioning and unlearning… and it depends on how urgent it is for you to get to a better place.
What would you tell someone who’s newly getting into personal development and reflection?
Man, I would say mostly it would be… be patient. Be patient with yourself.
Think about what you didn’t know back in the day. Think about how long it took you to get to where you are now where you’re probably an expert on that topic. It takes some time and that is totally ok. Your process is your process, don’t look at anybody else’s. Stay in your lane, and I’ll stay in mine. Whatever happens in mine? That’s on me.
But focus on your happiness. Focus on your own growth because there is no one size fits all. So be patient and gentle with yourself. Don’t try to force yourself to do anything. If it hurts right now? Challenge yourself, but recognize the time. You know what I mean? If you know you’re gonna probably have a breakdown, try to save it for later. You know what I mean?
Just realize what you can and cannot do in the moment. And honestly, this sounds contradictory… but challenge yourself. Once again it sounds contradictory but if you’re gentle with yourself great, but just know that a time is gonna have to come where you’re gonna have to face that.
Or you are going to have to do said activity. And also, it’s okay to delve into darkness, you know? Just challenge yourself to unlearning because things are not as black and white as one might think.
Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to add about shadow work or personal development work in general?
Oh, I would say it’s a very highly necessary task that if people are able to do, should. I don’t want to assume that everyone can. People are going through therapy, people are not neurotypical all the time. So, I don’t want to use this as a prescription for people.
But I just think that this is a very necessary task in order for us to develop, be the person that we sought out to be, and to have a better mindset–a productive mindset. And that, I can help them out if they need help! I gotchu!
Where can we find you out in these interwebz?
I’m everywhere! Here are all my links:
If you’re as stoked as we are to start implementing shadow work into our personal development routines, reach out to Jamila above! And don’t forget we can live stream about it in the Quirktastic app’s podchats as well. 😉
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A mindset coach, foodie, writer, and creative coder that never "grew up" from her punk phase... or anime... or anything else epic like that.