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The Dark Night of the Soul

As I traveled through my last and most recent "dark night of the soul," Spirit gave me some personal insight. Below I share what it feels like, as well as the meaning of this journey we all will find ourselves on at various points throughout our lives.

The great mystic St John of the Cross wrote a poem, although he didn’t title it, it is called ‘The Dark Night.” He explained that the soul is on a journey in communion with God. The first verse:

“In an obscure night
Fevered with love’s anxiety
(O hapless, happy plight!)
I went, none seeing me
Forth from my house, where all things be quiet be”

Imagine looking at your image in the mirror.

Mirror reflecting the forest.

Your mirror image reflects to you by speaking. She says, “You will be going through a life changing transformation.” You say, “That sounds great.” Your image responds, “It will feel like you want to swim in the ocean but instead you will be walking in mucky waters. You will feel like you want to feel the warm sand under your bare feet as you walk freely along the shoreline. No, you will be in a dark cave climbing over rocky terrain in boots. You will wonder if you are going to die. You will not. But you will die a death of who you thought you were.” I say,” I may pass on this.” Your image says, “You signed up for this earthly existence and this is part of the experience of your soul’s rite of passage.”

Having gone through this recently, what comes to my mind is that of a bear in hibernation. Secluded in a dark cave, seemingly for a purpose, before emerging once again into the light. It's like being in the womb where you are awaiting birth. The darkness surrounds you and sounds are heard, but you are not participating in the life of a newborn.

As Joseph Campbell writes,

“The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation when everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”

So really, to further ask, why even go through this intense extensive time frame which can be experienced more than once in a lifetime? I mean, why not baby steps?

Well, it is said that in loosing our old identity and patterns that no longer serve us in which the ego holds onto, brings us to an awakening of new consciousness. Perhaps we recognize our soul’s purpose and allow more guidance from our soul, both during the process and afterwards. But to do this may comprise of a period of shedding and letting go that needs to be done somewhat alone. So, in the aloneness of self we can shift or transform into our new self. Perhaps with compassion and no expectations. Having expectations is part of our suffering, right?

Being used to sharing and participating in ‘normal life’, we might find ourselves in a fog or in a dreamlike state. There may be a feeling that we are lost and wandering. When we go through this length of time in ‘the dark night of the soul’, we may feel we are in survival mode. And as with any day of our lives, we may experience mental anguish, physical pain, and emotional distraught.

The power we have is to refocus on what is good and right about our lives, body mind and soul. To remember we will get through this one! We feel what is happening and we pray for more insight and we relax into our breath as best we can. We always can be grateful for something! Breathe the breath of life because it is what we have to carry us through.

It seems to me that we become somewhat invisible to others and have a more difficult time relating.

It feels like being in oblivion. Strange as it is, it also feels very different afterwards. I have concluded it was worth it.

My friend sees it likened to ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’

Psalms 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” - Revised standard version of the Bible

I point out to myself that not only myself but the ‘we’ are going through it, and making it through it; all in our own timeline. It is what it is. In essence it is a death of our known self, awakened to our known renewed self.

Eckhart Tolle explains that going through ‘the dark night of the soul’

Gives meaning to life, yet not a conceptual meaning that can be understood. There comes an awakening of deeper connectiveness.

He calls it a RE-BIRTH.

Well, whether we embrace the dark and light, resist it or try to be above it, we all go through a period of time, when we experience this. We may not be aware we are going through it. I thought I was just going through a tough time for eight or nine months.

Then Spirit said to me, “I am coming out of the dark night of the soul.” What?

I had been in it and not even known.

I admit I did get glimpses of it, which I rejected.

Yet, I felt very different afterwards, like a cloak had been lifted from me.

I felt more aware of who I was.

I felt supported and visible again.

Regardless, of whether or not it is a time of personal struggle for an individual or collectively and empathetically - feeling the distress of the world, or going through ‘the dark night of the soul,’ we can remind ourselves to share with a trusted friend and process what we are experiencing, as well as do our spiritual practice. We do well to remind ourselves to bring ourselves back to the present moment because the past haunts us and the future is grasping for hopefulness while we take this journey.

The good thing is, we all will survive!

Michael Singer reminds us to ‘surrender to what is.’ To be true to ourselves, as the mystics have practiced, all who have deeply experienced ‘the dark night of the soul.’

Emerge like a butterfly and spread your wings!

Live well and breathe fully!

Much Love & Light, Merrilee


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