The Monster Celebration is perhaps the most famous guided meditation comes from Amanda Owen’s book, The Power of Receiving, and it comes to me via my cherished friend Steph Cowling. I really dig visualization exercises such as this because in addition to being powerful and effective, they are also fun and surprising. Yes, this is a really fun way to do shadow work. (Personally, I found talk therapy to be incredibly important foundational work, but fun? Not so much.)
Owen’s hypothesis is that standing between us and whatever goals we’re struggling to achieve is at least one “monster”—her word for inner demon. In spite of the name, this is not an “evil” or “bad” aspect of the self. To the contrary, she holds that our monsters are likely outworn beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve us (e.g., the Rebel or the Good Girl). Monsters are thus the rejected or misundertood parts of ourselves that continue to haunt us precisely because we refuse to know them more intimately and accept them with unconditional love.
If we want to live our lives in wholeness and integrity, it makes perfect sense that the task ahead is to know and integrate every aspect of the self, including those that we wish did not exist. The magical thing about healing—alchemical, really—is that observing any aspect of the self in loving attention transforms that aspect into gold.
With this in mind, Owen has come up with a playful solution to facing the most feared aspect of the self: throwing it a celebratory party! What better way to embrace someone we’ve ignored or rejected for so long? The Monster Party is a way to establish and maintain a relationship with each of your monsters. She cautions people to bring out only one monster at a time per party, lest we get overwhelmed. She also recommends a time limit of 12 minutes if this is your first time throwing a monster party.
Remember that beginner’s mind is the key to success when it comes to any sort of energy work, including visualization exercises. When we “open the door” to our monster, it’s best that we not have any expectations about who or what it might be. Nevertheless, Owen suggests we play along the lines of Maurice Sendak’s wild things, while another healer I know prompts us to expect a “muppety monster.” I suspect these recommendations are so we don’t get so wound up about being frightened beyond our wits before the exercise properly gets off the ground. So along those lines, the only guideline that I will give is that you can expect your monster not to look like something out of a horror film.
Below is an adaptation of Owen’s Monster Celebration. Enjoy!
- If this is your first time throwing a monster party, or you’re worried about being overwhelmed, set a timer for 12 minutes.
- Turn inward and do whatever you need to do to feel supported and protected (grounding, centering, and shielding).
- Think of a goal you’re currently working on but are having trouble reaching. Set the intention to meet just one monster that is standing in your way.
- Begin to set up for the party. Where will it be held? (You’re in control here: you can have it somewhere familiar, somewhere exotic, or some place that exists only in your imagination.) Who is there with you? (Again, you can invite your loved ones; your ancestors / spirit guides; any teachers in your life, whether they know you personally or not; or any historical or imagined figures you would want to be there.) Is the place decorated? Is there music, food, and drink?
- When you feel you have finished setting the scene, find a closet door. (Don’t worry if this doesn’t logically make sense in your setting.) Take a deep breath and open the door to welcome your monster.
- Observe your monster. Do you recognize it immediately? What does it look and sound like (or smell, taste, or feel like)? How does it behave in the party? How does it all make you feel? What do you do in relation to you monster? How do others react?
- Ask your monster if it wants to tell you anything.
- At the end of your twelve minutes, or whenever you feel ready, begin to wrap up the party. Thank your monster for coming out to meet you and let it know that although you will be putting it back into the closet, you will continue to be there for it. You can throw another party any time either of you wish.
- Place your monster back in the closet and come back to the room.
- Jot down any notes. What did your monster’s behavior teach you about yourself? What did your behavior (including how you chose to set up the party) teach you about yourself?
This practice can be very informative and powerful on the first run, but it definitely enriches over time. Here are some suggestions for further practice:
- Deepen your relationship with one monster by throwing it multiple parties. You would set the intention of bringing out the same monster as before.
- Open yourself to learning about a new monster in relation to the same goal. You do this by following the protocol above and remaining in beginner’s mind. Be open to working with either receiving a new monster, or working with a familiar one. Either experience teaches you something about yourself!
- Work with a new goal in mind. Again, be open to receiving either a monster you are already familiar with or someone totally new!
Questions, comments, or shares go below!