Dark Night of the Soul (Spanish: La noche oscura del alma) is the title given to a poem of the 16th-century, Spanish poet and Roman Catholic, Discalced Carmelite mystic, priest, and Doctor of the Church St. John of the Cross, OCD.
Learn How To Transcend The Darkness Before The Light
The metaphysical process known as the ‘dark night of the soul’ may sound like the chilling title of a thriller, or an uncomfortable subject to explore; but the actual process is life changing. Extensively written about, the first time I learnt about it was while reading the Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden and it landed on me like a huge ‘AHA!’ moment.
A dark night of the soul is a time in one’s life when we are drawn into a situation that represents what, for you or me, are our worst fears.
– Gregg Braden
No Control Over People, Places Or Things
A dark night happens at a time when we think everything is going fine in our life; a time we feel we have a solid grip over everything, confident that all is under control. Only then does everything start to unravel. The disruption can manifest in one or several existential areas: health, relationships, career. The proverbial earthquake erupts, emanating shockwaves that reverberate, crashing the tower we have built that encases our expectations, sense of self-worth, and ego. Smashed under the rubble, it’s impossible to understand what is happening, let alone why it’s happening. We have been taken by surprise and our ability to react is annihilated.
The analogies for this quintessence of human suffering are many: walking in a thick fog with no sense of direction, feeling pushed down into an abyss, engulfed by darkness, shattered into a million pieces, thrown into the jaws of the unknown with no hope of resurrection. Consequently, despair is all that remains.
We don’t have the luxury to choose or not to go through our dark night of the soul…it is given to us like a psychic slap-in-the-face. It is a wake up call, and a sharpening of our perception. We have no power over it and we cannot fight it, because painful events do happen. It can be the loss of a loved one, the sudden serious illness of your child, going through a divorce, getting betrayed by someone you cherished and trusted, a bankruptcy, or the loss of a business, as a result life changes irrevocably. It is as if fate had pulled the rug from under our feet and we landed harshly on the ground, face-down in the mud. The way you perceived life and the meaning of life had just collapsed forever.
However dreadful the process may be, it is comforting to know that once we have checked ourselves onto that dark night ride, we are en route to the ultimate journey of self-transformation. If we make it through that journey, we are changed for the better – with a new meaning to life, a deeper sense of purpose, and, in conclusion, a more refined wisdom that settles within.
Dark Night Of The Soul Happens Day In Day Out
Once, during a conversation I had with a maintenance guy in my building, he shared the odyssey of his four-years old daughter’s battle with leukaemia. He spoke about the agony he had to go through watching his child suffer such a horrible illness. But his words held an unexpected level of calm and peace. He explained that going through such pure horror changed his view on life and on what is important in life. He brought tears to my eyes when he told me how only love matters and how perfectly we are all inter-connected through love. His voice was deep; his face was glowing. Every word he said was authentic, coming from a place of enlightenment. This man standing before me was one of the wisest people I had encountered in years. He was a living example of the perfection we find in our most imperfect human experiences.
The rewarding end-result is comforting to hear but surviving this crossing is the tricky part. How can we reach the exit point of one of the darkest tunnels of our life? What shall we do to re-emerge victorious after our personal doomsday’s trip?
Exploring Our Dark Night Survival Gear-Kit
Surrender and acceptance are our only wise choices. Imagine being thrown into a river, luckily, we find a tree bending over the river-bank so we hold on tightly to one branch trying to stay alive. It’s strenuous to resist being taken by the current. Time passes; we are feeling weaker, struggling to sustain the pressure on our arms. Our only chance of survival is to let go completely, abandon yourself and trust. The current will take us to a safe shore, therefore, surrender seems like the only sane option. In that resides our victory. Of course, in such moments all your emotions get entangled… Anger, pain, fear, sadness, hope, despair and everything else in between. What keeps us sane is the knowing that we will be fine again. No matter how long that might take our crossing will come to an end.
Trusting is key to moving towards that new beginning, as well as keeping the focus on the now. Don’t try to figure things out, simply be with it and in it. In it, the same way a baby in his mother’s womb patiently waits for his birth, accepts the darkness that surrounds him and embraces the gestation period as a precious preparation to his coming birth…to his life.
Fortunately, we may find that during an existential crisis is when we feel most connected and aligned with a Higher Power. The sharpness of the tragedy pulls the wool off our eyes and we see clearer. Every single dark night of the soul transforms to the core, paradoxically, making it our greatest gift. So, we can resist it and collapse, or learn to accept it, to surrender to it and trust that it will come to an end and change us for the better. In life, nothing happens by coincidence. Everything we live is carved in our own book of fate; a divine curriculum extended to us to fine tune our abilities to express our highest potential.
Marianne Williamson on Finding Peace with Lewis Howes