Profile Overview

Shadow and Integral Theory Fundamentals Self-paced Course


Led by: Michael Nelson (Doshin)


This course is shorter and less intense than our "Whole Spectrum of Shadows" course.  It focuses on the basics of shadows in the context of integral theory.  

In this course, we cover the nature of the ego and the formation of shadows, various tools we have to investigate and work with shadows, how to tell when we have shadows, and how shadows affect our relationship with ourselves and others.


If you are registered, you can access the course link, info, videos, and materials in the my profile section of the website.


Welcome and Introduction

Welcome to the Shadow and Integral Theory Fundamentals Self-paced Course!

This course is designed as a more gentle introduction to shadows and integral theory than our Whole Spectrum of Shadows Course.

After completing this course, you willunderstand the basics of ego development, shadow formation, and integral theory levels and quadrants.  You will be able to see the affects of your shadows on others, how their shadows affect you, and what integral color of development they emerge from.

This course consists of edited live videos of the original class, along with slides, notes, and homework. We have done our best to adapt the live class to a self-paced course, but some creativity will be needed to follow along with the exercises and homework review.

Session 1 - Foundation of Shadows

Foundation of Shadows

In exploring exactly what shadows are, we will first talk about the formation of the ego.  Then, we move on to how shadows are defined according to modern psychology:  personas/false selves, disowned subpersonalities, developmental trauma, and attachment theory.  We also look at the roots of shadows, including kleshas, insecure attachment/ parental bonding patterns, developmental traumas, and shock traumas.

Shadow Tools

There are a number of tools we can use to work with shadows, and we will cover a number of those including Mondo Zen, the 3-2-1 process, The Work, nonviolent communication, and conflict liberation.

How do I know I have a shadow?

Once we know what a shadow is and are aware of tools to work with them, we are left with the question "How do I know when I have a shadow?".  The answer is:  look at people who bug you.  When something about someone really bugs you, that's usually you projecting your own shadow onto them.

Session 2 - Feeling, Finding, Seeing, and Owning

In this session we go more in-depth about how shadows form and how we know when we've found a shadow. 

Shadow Formation

We will dive into the intricacies of the formation of sub personality structures and also look at how this formation looks through a 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person, etc lens.

Emotions as info

Emotions are an incredibly effective source of information about the existence of shadows.  When we are feeling strong emotions, it is helpful to look below the emotion and see what information that emotion is trying to communicate.  

When is it not a shadow?

It is also useful to know when something is not a shadow.  Just like they are our signs and symptoms of shadows, there are signs and symptoms of the absence of shadow.  

Session 3 - Colors of Shadows

In this section we will focus on some more integral theory fundamentals, using a "shadow first" approach.

Ego development

We will talk about how the ego develops and examine several researchers who have posited different theories of development, including Cook-Greuter, Maslow, Piaget, Kegan, and others. 

Quadrants and Levels 

Part of the foundations of integral theory are quadrants and levels (sometimes called stages).  We will talk about what these are, how they interact with each other, and how they are useful in explaining the world.  We will look at primary selves and disowned selves in terms of what level they come from.

Session 4 - Magenta, Red, and Amber Shadows

This session is an in-depth look at shadows using the "persona first" approach.  

Integral Theory levels

Infrared - InfantileInfant / Victim
Magenta - Pre-egoMagic / Shaman
Red - 1st personPower / Controller
Amber - 2nd personRules / Conformist
Session 5 - Orange and Green Shadows

More Integral Theory levels

Orange - 3rd personReason / Winner
Green - 4th personFeelings / Rescue


We will also point to an interesting dynamic that emerges at green and appears everywhere in the world:  the relationship between victims, rescuers, and perpetrators.

Session 6 - Review of this Course
Doshin reviews all of the material covered so far and takes questions.
Session 7 - End of this Course

Thank you for the hard work and discipline needed to make your way through these last six sessions.  This is not easy material, and remember to leave yourself alone:  you will get what you need and let the rest of it go.

Here are some things you might look at next:

  • The only person at Integral Zen who is paid is Doshin.  He has put many hours into creating this course, and if you feel it was of value please consider a donation to support our efforts.  
  • We welcome feedback on the course at [email protected].
  • The next class to take after this one is The Whole Spectrum of Shadows - Level 1, which is a more advanced series on the same topics.
  • Also, don't forget we have live Dharma talks every Sunday, morning meditation sessions, saturday Chi-gong, and priests available for 1 on 1 meetings to help with your meditation practice.

Deep gratitude to you all.