Many of you with expanded New Age thinking and vocabulary are probably familiar with the term “Dark Night of the Soul,” while others who are just beginning to dabble into their spiritual practices are wondering what I am talking about.
The Dark Night of your soul is a very real and arduous experience that can last for days, weeks, months and even years. “The Dark Night of the Soul” has been referred to since the 16th century, when the poem of the same name was penned by Saint John of the Cross. The treatise (theological commentary on the poem) was written in 1584-1585 explaining its meaning by stanza. The poem reveals several steps into this “night.” The main idea conveyed is the painful experience that people endure as they seek to grow in spirituality and strengthen their union with God.
The Dark Night of the Soul relates to and is best described as
a spiritual crisis, not an identity crisis.
The “Dark Night of the Soul” can happen at any point in our existence.
It usually occurs when we feel we have hit our bottom.
It may begin from one devastating blow or a series of endless misfortunes. The nature of these struggles that prompt the Dark Night can include situations or interactions in your personal life, dealing with a health crisis (mental or physical), the dissolution of finances, and/or the death of a loved one. “The Dark Night of the Soul” may be triggered by one of these or a concoction.
Extreme hardship can rock our world. It can crack our foundation and leave us feeling shaky and unsure. Ultimately you feel defeated. You think that ALL hope is gone and you couldn’t possibly spiral down any lower.
Your main thoughts are:
Why? Why? Why?
What have I done to deserve this?
Is this Karma?
Am I being punished?
Is there a God? Has he abandoned me?
Where are my gatekeepers, guides and guardian angels?
Will I survive this?
Why do I feel so alone?
You may feel like no one understands what you are going through. If you have entered this hopeless state of “I don’t know, I don’t know anything. Nobody cares, nor do I,” you may be deep in the Dark Night.
Even when our closest friends and family extend compassion and are vocal with their concerns, our being is not penetrated. They seemingly are unable to reach the depth of our despair.
The Dark Night of the Soul is a profound purification process.
It is not just that things are unraveling. It is not a bad mood, a touch of depression, a disappointment or emotions of anger because life is not going according to your plans. You are devastated by feelings of abandonment, loneliness, grief and suffering. Every moment of the day is steeped in pure survival mode.
There is no way to manipulate your way out of the Dark Night of the Soul. Remember, everything happens for a reason. Your course is set. You may not have a clue of what and why but the universe knows exactly that which you need to propel you through the cosmic door of awakening and bring you closer to your divine purpose.
These horrific experiences are lessons learned upon your journey that create a better you.
Now as far as your ego is concerned, that is a different story. Your spirit may know to surrender to the process, but the all mighty ego isn’t willing to give up its dominance. The ego strives and fights to maintain control. This is when the true battle begins. Your soul has made the commitment to evolve. Your ego is determined to stay fully intact and as such, it will continuously throw curve balls your way.
The deep workings of the ego try and convince us to stay the status quo and hold onto what we’ve got. The familiar, the known. Even if it is not serving you well.
The ego may even lead you into thoughts and actions of escapism. This translates to any method that alleviates the uncomfortable, undesirable, and threatening nature of your reality.
No one wants to suffer. At some point we will all experience varying degrees of suffering. It is a normal, natural and universal phenomenon that we cannot escape from nor should we expect to. Sometimes that which has the power to destroy us also brings clarity, opportunity, courage and insight.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Once you realize that these methods are tactics of the ego’s survival and not the inner voices of your soul speaking with divine guidance, you then and only then will agree to release.
The relief that we desire comes when we are truly in the space of surrender.
When you stop resisting the Dark Night and surrender, you create conditions for the cleansing to begin. This is a complex movement into pure consciousness. Your attention is diverted from getting rid of your discomfort and pain. Your energy is redirected into your transformation.
We begin to see ourselves emerging from the ashes. Our thoughts have shifted away from doubt, fear and anger. Our awareness allows redeeming qualities of our nature to rise to the surface and be noticed. We reach deep within to search for and activate those aspects of who we are and our purpose.
The beauty of our soul takes on wings to fly like that of the cocooned butterfly breaking free.
We have broken through to the other side and there is light at the end of the tunnel. When we have willingly surrendered to this evolutionary process, we realize upon reflection that the Dark Night literally destroys what we had become and demanded that we discover what we ought to be.
With this newfound knowledge we can accept and embrace the fact that the things we feared most of all actually assisted us on our journey.
We are able to exude gratitude for our experiences instead of hatred. Our struggle has developed our insight, delivered direction, strengthened our beliefs, increased our wisdom and molded our conception and understanding of the meaning of life.
One Woman’s Journey Through the Dark Night of the Soul
Approximately five years ago I was in the midst of my own Dark Night. On my quest, I reached out for and sought out any and all information, guidance, techniques, modalities, talismans etc…you name it, I tried it. Some eased my pain, while others were virtually useless to me. One day I happened to read about some letters concerning Mother Teresa, which were released in 2007. The article led me to believe that she had struggled with one of the longest recorded cases of the Dark Night of the Soul. The letters revealed that Mother Teresa battled from 1948 almost up until her death in 1997 with very brief interludes of relief in between.
This information was quite unfathomable to me. I will admit that while I was making my way out of the darkness and into the light I had the lingering question of “Why?” It continued to dominate my thoughts and I couldn’t shake it off. I was consumed with knowing the answers. I spent every waking moment contemplating the reasons. I realistically was aware that something so Earth-shattering to my existence could heavily imprint on my soul, leaving me with this unsettled feeling of non-resolution. To make my shift into peace complete, I knew I must transition out of uncertainty into understanding.
Somehow reading about Mother Teresa’s struggle put my unanswered questions into perspective. I got off the merry-go-round of why and replaced it with a statement of fact,
“There is no progress without struggle.”
This became my mantra and I repeated it frequently. I began thinking about this pious woman and her life of service to humanity. Why me? Why her? Why anybody?
I came to the conclusion that the Dark Night of the Soul comes because without struggle, there is no progress. Without experiencing difficulty and adversity, what kind of people would we be?
We must be forced to examine what we have gone through and how it has profoundly changed our being.
Have we grown?
Have we expanded our capacity for compassion?
May we possibly be a beacon of light for those who feel they are drowning in despair?
Could the walk of torment traveled be the tool that inspires others during trying times?
I no longer view the Dark Night of the Soul as a curse but instead as a gift. I view myself as the new and improved version of my authentic self who is truly blessed and highly favored. My knowledge has been greatly expanded. My skills have been sharpened with precision and my desire to help others has multiplied exponentially. I am positive that there is a light beyond the darkness. If you find yourself in the Dark Night, I suggest that you hold on tight and prepare for a bumpy ride.
I promise that if you embrace the process, the rewards will outweigh the pain when you break through by discovering your true self.
About the Author
Kaylee is a co-founder of Mind Body Spiritual Awareness. She has been mindfully aware of and practicing her psychic abilities since she was a child. Led by her spirit guides, Kaylee has obtained a vast wealth of knowledge and experience with the ethereal realm and alternative modalities of energy healing. Kaylee is a shamanic healer and New Age artist.