The Dark Night of the Soul
11th January 2022
‘Spirituality’ is such a broad umbrella. The ways in which we can indulge our personal spirituality is limitless. Whilst some awakened souls may choose to practice ‘spiritual hygiene’ on a daily basis – whether it be through meditation, journaling or setting intentions with crystals – others may turn to tried and true techniques when intuition leads them to, on an ad-hoc basis. A wonderful thing about the shelter that the spiritual umbrella offers us, is that you are free to walk in the rain whenever you choose.
As varied as our individual experiences of awakening may be, it is few who are kissed gently on the forehead. Being aggressively shaken from a terrible dream is perhaps a more befitting description of this particular return to consciousness. Fear becomes confusion, then relief and the realisation – you’ve woken up in a different reality altogether. And you feel groggy.
Everything appears to be the same, but your senses are changed. Certain foods don’t taste right anymore. You think twice about where you spend your money. Your best friends endearing little quirks grow increasingly irritating. Or your spouses irritating quirks, increasingly endearing. What was once black and white is now grey. And this is the dark night of the soul.
There is no stopping your journey through the darkness. It can be tempting to pull the duvet over your head and go back to sleep. That nightmare you were having is your lived trauma. It’s dark there too, but at least you knew your surroundings well enough to navigate with trepidation. The violent shake that forced you to open your eyes, was at the hands of your very own wearied soul. And together you will step into the shadows, where nothing at all is familiar.
There are no unhealthy coping strategies to take on this journey. You quickly realise the only tools at your disposal are intuition and blind faith. At first you stumble at every turn. You trip over your insecurities, and crash head first into the sources of your pain. Round in circles you go, revisiting mistakes from the past. The sky falls down around you, along with your long held beliefs.
Illusions taunt you as your eyes adjust to the dark. Invisible forces pull at your clothing and cling to your ankles – your vices, habits and faulty thinking. Obstacles spring out in front of you. A call from an abusive ex partner, perhaps. The ground disappears from beneath you. You didn’t get that promotion at work. And you reach dead ends. Rejected by friends and family you’d hoped would be by your side.
In seemingly divine timing, your soul and faithful traveling companion alerts you to a glimmer of light ahead. Intuition and faith tell you to be still, and to focus intently upon it. And you realise the dark and difficult road you’ve been navigating is the only way. There is no short cut to healing deep wounds, and you’ve endured many more painful injuries on this treacherous path. Stillness may once have felt like a lack of progress. In this moment, it is an opportunity to find your internal compass and align. No more going round in circles.
The light is not yet constant, but it graciously offers a window of opportunity to plan your next steps. You move forward with more confidence, even as the light fades again. The illusions of the dark were exposed, just enough to create a map within your mind. And you notice your soul is less wearied. Energised by the glow in the distance.
You continue forward now. Daring to be hopeful that the hard part is over. Small, methodical steps will get you to your destination. The fear of that being just another illusion leaves you now. Intuition talks to you in a louder voice. It tells you it has always been with you, it is only now that you choose to hear. In perfect trust, you step forward. And tumble as the earth at your feet cracks wide open, swallowing you whole.
A personal disaster. A bereavement, a bankruptcy, a diagnosis. Your old reality would tell you how dreadfully unfair it all is. Your past would comfort you with a bad habits and escapism. But this place between your old reality and the new, insists that you take another approach. The darkness whispers to you that nobody is coming to save you. Your intuition confirms it is telling the truth. Your soul drops you a rope and you know that your only option is to climb. As you gather your strength, it occurs to you that this is the ultimate test. And with tremendous effort and a fresh smattering of cuts and bruises, you ascend. Your most prevalent thought is how grateful you are for the rope.
Your soul cheers for you as you emerge at ground level. And with that, the light returns so that you can see to clean your wounds. It is closer now. There is warmth in it’s rays. It stretches toward you, almost touching, and you lean in the rest of the way. You feel the peace and comfort it is offering to you – a gentle kiss on the forehead. You slept in your old bed for the last time when you were at the bottom.
The dawn sends dappling light across a vast horizon. It sparkles on opportunities and twinkles over acceptance. Tall and robust pillars of strength permeate a landscape of hope and possibility.
As you take the last of those small, methodical steps, a light rain and cleansing rain begins to fall. There is no fear of an inevitable soaking. No scanning the skies above for grey clouds or bracing for the rumble of thunder. Instead you are refreshed and renewed. What a joy it is to walk in the rain.
In another moment of stillness, you look around this place and decide where you’d like to start exploring. A kind soul catches your eye. And smiling broadly, extends an arm, to offer you an umbrella.