The Dark Night of the Soul; What it is and How to Overcome It
The dark night of the soul is a process that many spiritual seekers encounter at various aspects throughout their lifetime. Although the dark night of the soul is not mentioned in many mainstream spiritual texts and teachings, it has been alluded to by well-known spiritual teachers such as the Buddha, the master teacher Jesus, Lord Krishna, and many more.
So what exactly then is the dark night of the soul? And more importantly, how can you overcome it? The following article will not only give you a quick and easy explanation about what the dark night of the soul is, but will also give you three powerful tips to help move through it with peace, and grace.
What is the Dark Night of the Soul?
The dark night of the soul is a very natural, and beautiful experience where a persons ego self is basically “dying” to their true spiritual essence which is Love. This process can occur several times throughout one’s lifetime such as after a death of a loved one, or a relationship breakup, however it usually emerges after a process of deep spiritual growth.
But regardless of the triggering point, during the process the spiritual seeker is suddenly faced with the knowledge that his or her old way of believing, seeing, and thinking no longer exists, or no longer fits in with their understanding of how they believe life works. A new truth emerges, which is often frightening to the ego persona because it in some way it conflicts with old truths that the ego mind has put in place to protect you.
At this point in time an inner conflict emerges making it feel as if the process is scary, difficult, and crushing. This is why the process is called the dark night of the soul; because during this time of inner spiritual conflict with your old belief structures, you often feel stuck, in the dark, and feeling as if you’ll never see the light again.
It’s Not Your Fault
What is important to realize when going to the dark night of the soul is that you have done nothing wrong. I like to think of it somewhat as like a snake shedding its skin, because essentially what you are doing is shedding your old beliefs and ways of doing things, for new, untested, and not yet known ways of thinking, being, doing, and believing. To the ego mind this is like walking a tightrope without a safety net.
Some of the symptoms of the dark night of the soul include confusion, emotional heaviness, guilt, shame, frustration, helplessness, anger, and loneliness. It is good to remember however, is that these emotions are your allies and not your enemies. The emotions that present themselves to you are gifts because they are trying to get your attention. But often times we mistakenly push our painful emotions back by trying to suppress them.
“There is a season for everything under the sun—even when we can’t see the sun.” ― Jared Brock
How to Overcome the Dark Night of the Soul
What I find really interesting about the dark night of the soul is that it is quite like the process of giving birth. What do I mean? When the fetus is in the womb the environment feels safe and familiar. However as the time of your emergence as a human being nears the environment begins to become more volatile.
Contractions began to occur inside the womb, the protective shield around us finally bursts and we then find ourselves in a tight constricted tunnel, being pushed from our familiar safe haven into a long, dark tube; then finally after much effort we emerge into new, and unknown territory.
In the physical journey of our birth we emerge from the darkness of the birth canal into the light of an entirely new world. In the dark night of the soul this process is similar. But fortunately, because you and I are not spiritual infants we are able to systematically push ourselves through the spiritual birth canal with conscious clarity. Here’s how . . .
1. Stay present by honoring your emerging emotions. Discover what’s really going on. Staying present means to look at things as they truly are, and not as you believe them to be. This means that you must consciously shine the light of truth on all the feelings that are pushing their way to the surface instead of stuffing them away.
The sooner you are able to face these emotions and look at them for what they truly are, the sooner you will be able to move forward to embrace the newness that awaits you. And the most effective way to do this is to give yourself permission to experience each emotion while you notice what each is trying to express to you.
Jot these emotions down in a journal or notebook and allow yourself a short period of time to just rant. Writing rants help you to not only vent your pent up emotions, but to also get a clear picture of what the ego mind is fearing.
The next part of this process is extremely important. Once you have written down all of your emotions you need to consciously ask yourself, concerning each emotion, the following question:
Without any thoughts, judgements, feelings, criticisms, projections, or anything else, what is really going on here?
What you are looking for are just the facts and nothing else. What arises at this point more often than not is fear of the unknown, fear of taking the next step, or both. Fear is a natural outcry of the ego mind which will go to great lengths to try to keep you connected to the status quo.
2. Be good to yourself. Give yourself plenty of self-care when going through the dark night of the soul. Meditate, drink plenty of water, exercise, and don’t take yourself or the process too seriously.
Remember that the dark night of the soul is a natural process that is designed to help move you towards something bigger and greater for everyone concerned. Remember also that you signed up for this life with all of its imaginary foils and foibles so this too is just part of your life’s growth plan. Most important of all, never forget that the Universe always supports you and will never give you anything in life that you cannot handle.
3. Make a choice to move forward. Once you get to the real truth underneath all of those erratic emotions that are basically the ego persona having a tantrum due to feeling frightened by the next step in your life’s journey, the next step is to make a conscious choice to move forward despite your fear. Make a solid and conscious commitment to yourself and to the Universe to move forward and through your fears – no matter what.
This step takes a lot of courage, and a willingness to stick it out until you emerge on the other side, but the fresh and new beliefs and perspectives you will glean are well worth your efforts.
4. Appreciate the process. Appreciating the process means to be grateful for all of the life lessons that you are learning right in the midst of the turmoil. Napoleon Hill once said, “Through every adversity lies a greater seed of success.”
What is good about the situation you are encountering; or what could be good about it? What has the situation or circumstance taught you? What are its gifts?
What has the situation or circumstance taught you NOT to do? How has that made you a better person?
What is your next best course of action now that you know the real truth underneath the situation or circumstance?
An attitude of gratitude coupled by a few powerful and illuminating questions does wonders for the body, mind, and soul and is one the fastest way to help you emerge through any emotional pain that attempts to rob you of Divine Peace.
In closing, be courageous and do not give up. No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. No matter how dark the night, the sun will always rise. No matter how cloudy the night, the moon will always illuminate your path. Trust the process of life and know that this too shall pass.
Are you going through the dark night of the soul, or do you have any tips you would like to share that helped pull you through a difficult period in your own life? Let us know by commenting below.