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What is the dark night of the soul?

The dark night of the soul is where we learn who we truly are and what we are capable of. It can come in the form of an illness or the end of a chapter in one’s life. We all know too well what it’s like when a relationship or a job has run its course. We feel numb because we’re just not aligned to it anymore and it no longer serves a purpose.

It is, without a doubt, a time of fear, a time of helplessness and a time of uncertainty. It’s a calling to heal the wound. It’s a sign that one must change their ways of working or escape their comfort zone.

Essentially, the dark night of the soul is a transformation – the process of shedding away the old to allow the new to come through.

You know when you are going through the dark night of the soul. You may experience a sense of loss, sadness or unworthiness, feeling condemned to a life of emptiness. That can be very scary to admit and then do something about it.

You must see it for what it is – a transition. It’s a death. Not a physical death, but the death of the ego, of one’s life experience. It’s the death of the old self and the birth of the true self, no matter how painful the journey may be.

The dark night of the soul is the onset of a new identity.

It’s a spiritual awakening

A spiritual awakening to your true nature is like a gentle hurricane. You have no idea where it started or how it found you.

You just wake up one day with a burning heart filled with ambiguity, only to realise that you are not a mere guardian or administrator of your life. Instead, you are your own Co-founder, CEO and Chief Executive Creator.

Nobody and nothing owns you.

Every experience is a spiritual teaching that points you to the possibilities at the end of suffering.

And the biggest teacher of all is the dark night of the soul.

The desire to know your own soul will end all other desires

When one makes it a desire to recognise and appreciate a profound, meaningful relationship with their soul, one may just experience a complete collapse of a perceived way or purpose in life. There is an explosion into a life of unknowingness, where nothing makes sense anymore, but where everything is possible.

Out of that emerges a transformed state of consciousness.

Life has a deeper, connected meaning. The soul has awakened into something that is no longer based on concepts in the mind. A stronger sense of purpose or unity with a greater life takes its place, together with a bountiful and incomparable state of happiness.

Doesn’t it make you wonder why we resist this blissful experience? Why we hang on to things that no longer serve us with all our might? Because we fear the unknown?

If we allow ourselves to go through the motions and give in to the pain of feeling powerless and hopeless, we will be amazed at our true capabilities.

The dark night of the soul provokes deep questions

If you are experiencing the dark night of the soul, investing time with self is essential. Practising mindfulness and meditation really helps you get out of your way and allows you to build your relationship with your soul.

Accept and spend time with the self. It’s absolutely fine to be doing nothing. Take time out, relax, journal, surrender. View it as a time of incubation, initiation, hibernation, just like a seed under the dark soil of winter, waiting for the right time and strength to push up through the earth into spring.

In this time of balance, one must develop the muscle of saying ‘no’, to create strong boundaries so to nurture the mind and body. You have to be kind and compassionate to your needs.

Personally, I like to read uplifting, thought-provoking books or listen to a podcast. You can go into a meditation with a few questions, one at a time. There are four questions, in particular, that really help you gain a new perspective and understanding of what inspires you and blocks you from deciding on a specific goal to move you out of the dark night of the soul:

  • What wouldn’t happen if I did…?
  • What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t…?
  • What would happen if I did…?
  • What would happen if I didn’t…?

The wound is the place where the light enters you

Rumi says the cure for pain is pain.

Hand on heart, I have to agree. It is through my pain, my suffering and the hardest moments in my life where I have grown by leaps and bounds.

Owing to those experiences, I am now able to see clearly and look at certain events, struggles or people with a deep sense of aliveness. I am utterly grateful for each experience because I see it not as a punishment, but a preparation for the bigger plan.

Don’t get lost in your pain. The more you thank life, the more life gives you to be thankful for.

The dark night of the soul is an overall dazzling experience, even though it is a very delicate and sacred process. At the time, it can be perceived as extremely difficult, especially when you are in the thick of it. But the rewards are immeasurable.

Therefore, if you are in a job, relationship or situation that is no longer aligned with your values right now, don’t wait for it to come in another form. Act today and be patient with yourself. It’s a journey that can be made easier by the reassurance that others are there, without judgment, patiently waiting for the transformation to complete itself.

When the dark night of the soul is calling, don’t fight it. Surrender to it and know that there is light at the other end waiting for you.