Working with Golden and Dark Shadows

Shadow Retreat at Dharma Centre of Canada, Ontario

September 3 – September 9

Dharma Centre of Canada, 1886 Galway Road
Kinmount , ON K0M 2A0 Canada 
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Integrating our shadow may be the fastest way to unfold spiritually, and reduce our suffering. By its very nature, shadow work is not fun or pretty. It takes courage and fortitude. Once we decide to change, the shadow’s darkness moves towards greater and greater light in a process that is both beautiful and exciting.  Join Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat at the Dharma Centre of Canada in Ontario for this powerful five day shadow retreat.

Integrating Our Challenging Shadow Aspects

Toronto meditation retreatMost people are drawn to meditation and mindfulness for the bliss experiences. These bliss experiences spur on beginning meditators to stay with the practice. But as the practice of meditation deepens, darker arisings can start to manifest. Rather than being discouraged by these experiences, it is helpful to see this as an opportunity to integrate these dark shadows into conscious awareness so that we may be free of their control.

If you’ve had these challenging arisings during your practice, you may have been tempted to quit meditating, or try a different method or a different teacher. This is understandable, as facing these dark shadows can be scary and unpleasant. However, if you can lean into these dark manifestations and hold the space openly around them, there can be great release and transformation.

Recognizing the contribution of the golden shadow – our ‘better angels’ – also helps ensure the practice stays joyful and doesn’t descend into nihilism.

The Teachers

Doug Duncan studied with the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche from 1974 until the latter’s passing in 2003, received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978 and is a lineage holder in that teaching. He also received teachings from the 16th Karmapa and other Tibetan Rinpoches, as well as from the Ven. Sayadaw U Thila Wunta.
Doug has been leading retreats, teaching and training in universal practices of spiritual unfoldment since 1985, helping thousands of students in numerous countries liberate themselves from suffering. His teaching also draws on contemporary psychology and science.

Catherine Pawasarat became a student of metaphysics, Western spiritual traditions, and the ayahuasca sacraments in the 1990s, and has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She is a lineage holder of these teachings. She supports the spiritual underpinnings of social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship for spiritual practitioners with AkasaVision Consulting. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies and runs their PlanetDharma website.

Shadow Work with Experienced Guides

Leaning into shadow work requires an experienced guide, someone who has navigated the path themselves and who can inspire confidence and offer support. Dharma teachers Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat have been offering this guidance to students for more than half a century between them. Integrating the shadow is one of the 4 pillars of their approach to spiritual awakening that informs their organization, Planet Dharma.

This retreat will utilize various shadow work techniques such as dream recall (including lessons in lucid dreaming) and working with masks to explore the topic and connect with transformative experience.

Vajrayana Empowerment Wongkur: Yamantaka

Yamantaka Wongkur / initiation ceremony will take place on Saturday morning (8th September) at 8am. The ceremony is open to anyone who wants to attend.  Please arrive early if you are not part of the retreat.  A fee of $35 (plus dana to the teachers) for the ceremony can be paid at the door.  For more information about what a Wongkur is, click here.  For questions, please contact Linda Hochstetler.

Yamantaka is considered to be the “tool man” of Vajrayana archetypes, because of his many hands and implements. Another name for Yamantaka is the “slayer of death”, as his yab-yum form is a wrathful and extremely energetic form that works well with the forces of both the Dark and Golden Shadows. Yamantaka is the energetic manifestation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. Working with Yamataka helps to transform and is powerful enough to overcome and subdue even the most powerful negative emotions.

Register for meditation retreat

Course Outcomes:

  • Learn about the unconscious aspects of consciousness and how they influence our behaviours, habits and life choices
  • Better understand how these aspects show up as both positive potential (golden shadows) and challenging forces (dark shadow)
  • Learn practices for integrating you golden and dark shadow aspects
  • Gain confidence in addressing challenging aspects of your life
  • Generate more calm, concentration and joyful energy

Important Details

Please arrive on Monday, September 3 between 2-5pm. There will be an orientation at 5:30pm, and the first class at 7:30pm that evening. (We recommend arriving as early as you can to give yourself to fully land in the space.) The last class will be held on Sunday morning, September 9. The retreat officially ends around 2pm after lunch and a brief wrap-up.

Outline of a typical day at the retreat:

6:45-7:45am Group Sit
8:00-8:30am Breakfast
10:00-11:00am Group Class
12:30-1:00pm Lunch
3:30-4:30pm Group Sit
6:00-6:30pm Dinner
7:30-8:30pm Group Class

This not a silent retreat. There may be portions of the time in silence, but in general there will be mindful speaking and interacting with the teachers and other retreatants.


Full Retreat: $900
Weekend Only (7th to 9th Sept): $300
Yamantaka Wongkur / Initiation Only (8th Sept): $35


Register for meditation retreat