Experiencing a dark night of the soul is a life-altering occurrence that many of us will go through at some point in our lives. While the occurrence may not be visible to others on the outside, beneath the surface there is a transformation of self taking place.
In this article, I'm going to discuss the meaning of the dark night of the soul, what is ultimately gained, and four coping skills to help navigate your way through it.
Dark night of the soul meaning
A dark night of the soul is essentially when a person loses their connection to everything they once believed, to the Divine. It is a spiritual crisis of sorts, an intense, dark period of questioning what is real, who they are, and why they're here. It usually precedes a profound spiritual awakening.
It can be sparked by something traumatic that happens in your life, but not always. It's as if the rug is slipped out from under you and you aren't able to find your footing again. You're alone in a dark room and just can't seem to find the light switch.
A dark night isn't limited to any time frame, as it can last for a short amount of time or longer. I am just coming out of it and it has been almost two years. I feel as if I'm still in a dark hallway but can see the light at the end of it.
Mine was initiated by a health scare, but I couldn't seem to come out of it. I've stated before here on the blog that it felt as if I was in the "upside down", in another dimension where everything I thought I knew felt stripped away.
Everything I believed before seemed too simplistic and even silly. It felt too easy to believe in and lost its value to me. It has been very unsettling, especially since I strongly feel called to serve others through writing about spiritual topics.
What is gained from a dark night of the soul
While a dark night of the soul feels terrifying and frustrating, there is always a purpose for it. Despite the countless days and nights I have felt disconnected and lost, I wouldn't take it back. It has brought so much depth and understanding to my awareness and state of consciousness.
There isn't anything that you go through in life that doesn't serve you in some way. There are no wrong decisions, "bad" thoughts, or mistakes. As one of my favorite teachers Abraham Hicks always says, "You can't get it wrong because you never get it done."
Your soul is on this infinite path of unfolding, realization, and learning. What you deem a mistake is gold for your soul. Think of anything that was hard in your life, and then think of what you walked away knowing or understanding because of it.
We incarnate here to make these mistakes. Our souls even set them up beforehand! The big stuff in your life is usually always planned by you on a soul level before you get here for the expanded awareness it will bring you.
The dark night of the soul is an intense period of spiritual growth that expands and transforms your being.
Much like the energy of the dark moon or winter, the dark night of the soul is not the time to force or push things. You can't run through it in order to get out quicker, or thrash and kick your way out–you will need to learn to float.
This is a time of deep inner transformation, and a kind of death in the egoic sense. You are going through an awakening process, and while that looks different for every person, there are some timeless coping skills that will serve as life rafts when you feel lost, afraid, or overwhelmed.
A dark night of the soul is unsettling and causes much unrest within you. You may feel as if there's something you need to fix to make it all go away, but it remains elusive and ever out of reach.
Surrendering to what-is is one of the best ways to float through a dark night. You continually accept whatever it is that is causing you unrest. You say:
- I surrender to not understanding
- I surrender to not knowing
- I surrender to allowing the answers to come to me in their own time
- I surrender to not seeing the path right now
- I surrender to just being
You can't thrash and stay afloat. You can't run in darkness. The solution lies in being still, accepting what-is, and being okay with things not being figured out right now.
There is nowhere you should be. There is nothing you should be doing. You just have to trust that where you are in this moment has to be okay.
2. Be present
A dark night can bring about regret from past decisions and fear of what the future holds. This is exactly what a dark night is here to guide you towards: the present moment.
It's like climbing something very high–there is temptation to look down, but if you do you might lose your footing. During a dark night, it's very tempting to look back into the past or forwards into the future, but neither hold the key that will open the door of light.
You will learn to bring yourself into the present moment because it's the only place that holds any light.
When you are fully present and aware of just being, there is a deep sense of Divine knowing within you, even if you can't really put your finger on it. It's as if you're a tree and the wind is blowing through you–you are aware of the beauty and life in the present moment.
Go outside and just sit. Feel the breeze on your face. Listen to the birds. Watch the shadows move as the sun makes its way across the sky. Whatever has happened or will happen is okay, because you flow, surrender, and accept it.
All is well in the present moment. I highly recommend reading Eckhart Tolle's book to really understand how to come into the present moment.
3. Ask this question
I was listening to another one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Dr. Michael Beckwith, and he was talking about the importance of quality, growth-consciousness questions to ask yourself when going through difficult periods.
This one really stuck out to me:
- What within me needs to be birthed, in order for me to have peace of mind, if this situation were to last forever?
That question literally elicits that which your soul is wanting to evolve towards. Rather than try to just survive a dark night, or push it away in the hopes that one day it will be gone, asking yourself this question will help you to practice and develop a conceptual framework that will serve you for the rest of your life.
For me, the answer to this question is surrender. I have spent so much of my life trying to not let any of the pieces fall and running from things that terrified me, so to surrender to what-is has been life-changing for me. I practice it on a daily basis now.
4. Follow the crumb trail
Your emotions serve a very important purpose, and that is to let you know where you are in relation to where your higher self is. In this way, you can follow a beautiful crumb trail set up by your soul that will always lead you to where you most want to be if you choose to follow it.
This not only helps you to stay in the present moment, but takes you down the most efficient and beneficial paths for you personally.
What you do is ask yourself as often as you can throughout the day: what would feel good to do right now?
What could bring you relief in this moment? Pleasure? Excitement? Ease?
This is one of my absolute favorite techniques to utilize as often as I can remember to do so. When you do this, you will literally move closer to who you really are. Things will begin to flow, and you will be more relaxed and present.
It's essentially like playing Marco Polo with your soul. Call out "Marco" as often as you can remember every day, and listen to where you hear "Polo".
Maybe it's calling you to take a long bath, to go for a walk, to call a loved one, to go to bed early, or to make a good dinner for yourself.
When you practice listening, you'll find that you are led towards everything your soul is wanting you to explore, to that which you are ready to perceive and understand.
What I learned from my dark night
A dark night brings you closer to where you need to be, wherever that might be. It will look different for every person.
One thing I had always pushed away was death. I was also unaware of how future-focused I always was. I had really delved into the excitement of becoming aware of my thoughts and beliefs and how those manifested into reality. That was really fun. But I was never present. I hadn't learned the art of surrender and just being.
My dark night forced me to acknowledge death in all of its many forms. It forced me to shed former beliefs I held around death and control. It invited me to step into the present moment, and to see that there actually is no death, only transitions.
It taught me to surrender to the unknown. To let go of attachments I have to others, places, and things. To feel the immense beauty and love in the presence of just being.
The terrifying darkness illuminated so brightly the light, so that the darkness didn't feel terrifying anymore. I felt safe in both. I became aware that when I'm present and accepting, everything just flows to me...I don't even need to try.
I really can't put into words how it changed me, because it was so profound on a deeper level of my consciousness. I'm walking away with a different understanding and perspective. I feel more me, more whole, and more free.
A dark night holds so much value and purpose when we can pull ourselves back, be still, and reframe our perceptions. It's normal to thrash, to lose hope, and to be afraid. Transformation couldn't come without it.
Practice. Forgive. Open up. Surrender. Let go. Love. Repeat.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article and found something to take away with you.
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Jessica Dimas is the author of Sacred Self-Care for Your Chakras.
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