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Tag Archives: Ashley Turner

The Beauty of the Darkness: Doing the Shadow Work

buddha shadow workWhat to do when you’re not the happiest person you know? What about when you’re depressed, fearful, anxious, jealous, greedy or angry?

Yesterday, I was working with a client who appears to be a huge success in the outer world. She’s a coach and inspirational speaker. She jaunts around the country inspiring hundreds of people, has a strong, supportive, sexy relationship with a gorgeous man and frequently gets paid to travel to exotic locations to lead corporate retreats. Her family is loving and close. She has an enviable following on social media and garners lots of press and media coverage.

Inside…she’s shaken and feels like a fraud. She carries over $20,000 in credit card debt and has little savings or retirement fund. Her financial house is weak and therefore her confidence wavers. She’s constantly comparing herself to colleagues and can never live up to her own perfectionism.

This her “Shadow”.

The shadow, a concept brought to light by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung –  is the part of ourselves we don’t want to look at – qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface.

In the spiritual and yoga communities, the emphasis is often on positivity. Sometimes called spiritual bypassing – this is the tendency is to overlook or minimize our very real human flaws. We are encouraged to “meditate our way out of” difficult emotions or habits.  The focus is on getting better, being happier, moving up and out of our current circumstance toward enlightenment, miracles, or bliss.

Moving forward is important, but we also need to honor the beauty of our darkness and not pathologize the troubling aspects of Self that may be holding us back. Taking the time to recognize the beauty of darkness allows for integration and reconciliation. We train our psyche to “own” those cut-off pieces of ourselves that we’d rather tuck away in a back closet. Instead of slapping a smile on and sitting in blissful (strained) silence – we learn to proudly integrate all the good, bad and ugly parts of who we are.

Shadow Work: The ‘F* You’ Letter

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung

The quickest way to see your shadow is to notice what qualities you tend to criticize or gossip about in other people. Look carefully as these aren’t necessarily “bad” qualities, but often masquerade as traits that society applauds such as the tendency to overachieve, project positivity or be a “Supermom”.

Once you recognize the qualities you criticize in others, flip it to see how they show up in you.

While my client exuded an outer confidence and success, inwardly she was ashamed and confused by her finances. She was in denial. To bolster her wavering confidence, she criticized friends and colleagues for being materialistic and shallow. It took her years to acknowledge the sobering reality of her financial disillusionment and irresponsible spending.

A great way to start to own these qualities in yourself is to write a “F* You” letter. If you have someone you’re angry at or harboring resentment towards, write a letter addressed to this person and tell them what pisses you off and why.

“Dear _____, F* you for_____ and F* you for______”. 

Be as specific, graphic and thorough as possible. List out the exact qualities or incidents that irritate you.

[Caveat: This language is strong. I have found that it is useful to get this raw to access the primal, emotional core that is hurt or afraid. If you resist writing such a strong letter to someone you love (your lover, parent or child) - know that this is only 1 voice of your psyche - not the whole story, but one that needs to be heard.]

Once the letter is complete, go back to the beginning and replace their name with your name. As you read through your letter recognize where these qualities show up in yourself, even if to a lesser degree. For example, how have you abandoned, betrayed or criticized yourself?

Practice Radical Self Forgiveness

Once you identify your Shadow, you can move from judgment to understanding by practicing forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human and experience the full spectrum of emotions.

In yoga and Buddhism, this is known as karuna or compassion and is the foundation of self love and freedom. Soften your perception. Breathe deeply into the sides of your heart to expand. Consider how such unsavory traits were necessary in the past as a coping or defensive mechanism. Be kind and generous of Spirit.

Compassion for yourself blossoms, breeding compassion for others. Everyone wins.

Only when my client released her perfectionism and forgave herself could she turn her full attention to cleaning up her financial house. She was no longer at war within. She got honest with her boyfriend about her credit card debt and quit feeling like a fraud. The bridge between our inner and outer worlds leads to an unshakeable confidence. We actually like who we are when we know we can trust ourselves to keep it real.

Nurture Yourself 

Nurture yourself as you begin to uncover your shadow and open up. Give yourself permission to process emotions freely. You may notice that it gets harder before it gets easier. You are bringing up unprocessed, repressed material. As your shadow rises, cummulative feelings of shame, sadness, anger and frustration may surface.

The irony (and beauty) is – you can turn this energy into fuel to fire for your passion and creativity. The energy you used to hold up a false self or hide out is now available to redirect.

Our vulnerability is the tender place where we have the most opportunity to crack open and experience deep unconditional love and authentic connection.

What are your shadow qualities? Please leave a comment below with a few of the shadow qualities you’ve identified.


being late

being competitive and jealous

perfectionism leading to procrastination that holds me (and those around me) prisoner




About our Guest Writer:

Ashley Turner brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern day psychotherapy intern with asoulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit.

See some of Ashley’s Retreats listed in our Retreats calendar.

-Ashley also offers workshops and events all across the US. Learn more about those classes and her other practices here.

If you liked this article by Ashley, you will also enjoy:  Find Your Inner Priestess.

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How to Form a Spiritual Mastermind Group

We’ve all heard the saying, “You’re only as good as the company you keep”.  With that thought in mind, think of the 5 people you most frequently surround yourself with.   If we’re honest, they are usually people that are readily or conveniently available, like co-workers, roommates, or classmates.  As our culture progresses in the digital world, personal interaction fades further into the background and it is important to reclaim time with loved ones and those we look up to, or who inspire us to be our best selves.

Trending in the socially conscious realm is the Mastermind Group. It is a diverse group of people who work together in harmony to help each other achieve personal or professional goals. Each participant contributes to the group while focusing on one member’s experiences and issues.

While a Mastermind Group works wonders in the business world, our spiritual realm can benefit from the pep rally, too. A Spiritual Mastermind Group recognizes the Divine Presence everywhere in whatever wisdom tradition makes sense to each individual participant. Members recognize Spirit in the form of affirmations, prayers, short meditations, or blessings throughout the meetings and provide spiritual support for any group member if they are in need. A Spiritual Mastermind Group usually discusses business and other issues, not just spirituality. It’s a wonderful balance of consciously creating what you want in conjunction with the Divine! A Spiritual Mastermind Group views their members as co-creators working together for health, healing, success, or anything else that provides meaning.

Ashley Turner is a psychotherapist who knows the benefits of a Spiritual Mastermind first-hand and offers us personal advice for building an intimate and strong network of spiritually oriented people who are passionate about personal growth.

Building Your Power Posse

by Ashley Turner

Somehow, sharing our stories, listening and feeling each others’ presence helps us feel awake and alive. We all struggle with similar challenges. We gain strength and feel good when we hear truth, offer an understanding nod, a quiet smile or thoughtful feedback.

Bottom line: We need to be seen, heard + felt. (everyday…people!)

Building a “POWER POSSE” will launch you towards your goals more quickly than almost anything else. When you build a solid support system you know you can rely on, the turbulence of life’s wild ride becomes much more manageable.

Who are your 2-3 most trusted friends? Who in your personal life inspires you? Is there an acquaintance you’ve wanted to spend more time with?

I first heard the term  ”Power Posse” from my soul sister and colleague Terri Cole“Power Posse” is a group of like minded individuals, seeking to better themselves, support and uplift each other by actively listening and offering honest feedback, encouragement, truth and unconditional love.

In business circles it’s called a “Mastermind Group”. In yoga it’s known as “Satsang” (sat = “truth”, sangha = “community”). Ancient tribes called is “holding council” or a “Moon Circle” – a group that helps you clarify and meet your goals, holds you accountable and provides that extra mojo when the going gets tough.


  1. Identify a core group of key influencers and trusted friends. Choose 1 – 4 other people who inspire you, who you have been wanting to get to know better, who are similarly committed to self-improvement (key word: committed). Ask them if they would be interested in meeting once a week, or once or twice a month.
  2. Commit to a consistent meeting time + place. (Every member of the group should be ready to commit and excited to build this circle.)
  3. At each meeting, have a grounding ritual (breathwork, short meditation, prayer, intention setting).
  4. Go around the circle once + allow each person to simply share what is going on for them, what’s “up” for them in their lives – personally, professionally… anything. Only the person holding the “talking stick” speaks. No advice, opinions or ‘fixing’ allowed. Just holding the space for everyone’s experience.
  5. After everyone has shared, ask if anyone would like feedback. If so, go around the circle again and offer honest feedback, suggestions, hold someone accountable for goals or desires they have previously stated.
  6. Ask any probing questions that might have been sparked for you as well.
  7. Brainstorm solutions to anyone’s problems (if they give permission). Use ‘group think’ to spark creative ideas and new insights. Good to have someone take notes for this one.
  8. Close by sealing in the energy with a short affirmation, prayer or ritual and offer the energy you have created up to the good of all.
  9. Don’t forget to celebrate! Fruit, chocolate, tea or a nice glass of wine are the perfect addendum.


* The best time to gather is the 3 days around the New Moon each month. This is the natural time of emptying out, simplifying, turning inward. The veil between the inner and outer worlds is thinned…more access to intuition and deeper truths. It also makes it simple to schedule a meeting at every New Moon.

* Avoid slipping into gossip or small talk. Keep to the ‘work’ of your group to sharing honestly, getting feedback, emotional support and insight.

* Keep your group small (3-5 is ideal) so everyone can share adequately.

* Everything held in strict confidentiality.

* You may prefer a weekly Skype session with a trusted friend or mentor. I meet every week with my colleague Terri Cole, not for professional planning, but for emotional support, venting, laughing and sharing. It’s one of my favorite hours of the week! (Good to do on a Monday and also known as “Self Care”!)

If you’re inspired, please post, tweet, pin + share.

Ashley Turner

Ashley Turner brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern day psychotherapy intern with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit.

See some of Ashley’s Retreats listed in our Retreats calendar.

-Ashley also offers her Urban Priestess one day events all across the US – she has upcoming events in Chicago, Charlotte and Nashville, learn more about those classes and her other practices here.


Please leave a comment telling us who your 3 key influencers and supporters are and what they offer you!

If you liked this article, you will also enjoy Ashley’s tips on how to Reveal Your Inner Priestess
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Create Magic, Reveal Your Inner Priestess

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “feminism rising,”  but there may be an even more sacred link to our feminine or Goddess self, another path to the divine feminine, to uncovering the spiritual power of women:  Within each of us lies a spiritual goddess known as an Urban Priestess.

The Priestess is an essential role of women, one in which we help create and maintain the psychic, energetic, and emotional landscape of society.   The Priestess was much revered in ancient times, and even still today in the spiritually dominated world of the East.  But her presence, this magical part of the Divine Feminine, has been hidden in our age of spiritual materialism – an age from which we are beginning to awaken.

I attended the most honest, love-filled, and joyful wedding I had ever been a part of in Santa Fe this summer.  It felt very much like seeing the true meaning of a wedding ceremony for the first time, and it was officiated by Urban Priestess Ashley Turner. is honored to share these inspiring words from Ashley on how to tap into and grow your inner Priestess:

Magic.  Mysticism.  Merlins.  Myth.  A Modern Day Priestess.

by Ashley Turner

Ten years ago, I read the epic novel Mists of Avalon, a retelling of the Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of the women of Avalon.  This was my first encounter with the term priestess.  Deep inside, my Presbyterian bones began to quake.  Intuitively,  I knew what a priestess was.  I understood her role in the world and knew it was mine as well.

Empowering the feminine always stirred my soul.  I studied feminism and geopolitical socioeconomic theory at University of Southern California in hopes of bringing more equality to the world.  I happily devoured Simone de Beauvoir while living in Paris in the mid ’90s.

After reading Mists of Avalon, I longed to attend a Mystery School.  How did these secret teachings relate to our modern world?  How could I translate them?

Luckily, someone passed me a booklet, and all the missing pieces fell into place.  A Guidebook for the Modern Priestess was written by my teacher, Ariel Spilsbury.

Upon reading the manual, I eagerly completed Ariel’s 13 Moon Priestess Training, an amalgamation of feminine spirituality, Jungian psychology, Tantra, mythology, sacred geometry, Celtic mysteries, and quantum physics.

To this day, people ask me more about my priestess work than anything else that I do.  The word holds a mysterious charge but is really quite simple:  By aligning with elemental forces, nature, and our intuition, we have more direct access to truth and love.

Here are some simple steps, carefully distilled from Ariel’s voluminous work, to help you on your path to becoming an Urban Priestess.

SLOWDOWN & BEGIN A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE.  The mantra of the priestess archetype is:  I amplify stillness.  True power comes from within.  Spend time each day in stillness ad silence.  Answers arise.  Intuition strengthens.

WORSHIP YOUR BODY.  A priestess knows her worth and chooses foods, relationships, and activities that support her highest good.  Eat well.  Exercise daily.  Practice radical self-care.  Pamper yourself.

START A MOON CIRCLE.  Honor the natural rhythms of life by cresting monthly rituals.  Gather a small group of trusted friends around the New Moon to sit in a circle, confidentially share, and create rituals to honor the seasons.

SET INTENTIONS.  Take an hour each week to meditate on and write out your deepest desires.  A priestess understands her power to manifest.  Journal to keep track of miracles and recognize synchronicity as it occurs.

PRESENCE BEAUTY.  Pay special attention to how you adorn yourself.  In each encounter, offer beauty- by how you dress, decorate your home, move, speak, and listen.

ESTABLISH RESONANCE.  For magic to occur, a resonant, coherent field is required.  Keep rooms and relationships orderly.  Use candles, flowers, sound, and lighting to establish resonance.  Listen athletically to align with another.  Instead of listening passively, listen with your whole body, your whole attention.  Notice sensations and subtle, unspoken cues to accurately meet another where they are.


Ashley Turner brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern day psychotherapy intern with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit.

See some of Ashley’s Retreats listed in our Retreats calendar.

-Ashley also offers her Urban Priestess one day events all across the US – she has upcoming events in Chicago, Charlotte and Nashville, learn more about those classes and her other practices here.

[Editors Note: This article was originally featured in Origin Magazine - one pub we LOVE!]:

Fill us in!  How do you practice evolving into an Urban Priestess?


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