Dark Night of the Soul Experiences

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The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self.  Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.
— Eckhart Tolle

Thomas Moore was the first author who allowed me to read words that closely resembled what I had experienced inside of me.  His book, Dark Night of the Soul; A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals, brought solace and understanding to a seemingly unendurable process.

The term dark night of the soul is now widely used to describe a state which is a stage of spiritual development amidst painful human occurrences.  In short, it is a lengthy and profound absence of light and hope. Within one’s dark night we feel deeply alone and unbearably an outsider – and yet the irony of the experience is, that we are seemingly alone by our own choice.  A client used the descriptive term “tormented” when she shared memories of her own dark night of the soul.  With purpose, she alienated herself from others, and shut parts of herself off during her experience.  I have no doubt that we are observed and loved from our soul-team across the veil within these painful durations of time, yet our vibration may be so low so as to curtail our own ability to feel their presence.  Some experiencers designate the term “initiation” to its design. A preparation time for a whole new cycle within a higher level of existence.  It is as if all the old must be burned away within the heat of the experience, so that newness can be activated in rich fresh soil.

There appears to be no words that satisfy us when we attempt to explain to another what our experience encapsulates.  Even more challenging is our attempt to access understanding from our close friends and family.  We have no answers to their questions.  We are in our own quandary as to what is unfolding within us.  There is no rhyme or reason to the timing, because it occurs within divine timing[LL1] .  And yet we undeniably know that it is the right time, and we allow nothing to get in its way of unfolding.  We have a deep knowing that this is supposed to be.  Like being blanketed with the thick heavy winter snow that insulates the earth, we are also insulated from the frenzy and expectations of the mundane world within the capsule of the Dark Night.  We simply care no longer as to what is occurring in the outside world.  We instead go deep into our own emptiness, searching for answers to why we have had this grand visitation which the others surrounding us perceive as worrisome and unremarkable.

The un-awakened and impatient members of our family simply call it “depression”, yet when we are enduring it, we comprehend acutely that there is so much more occurring within the depths of us.  It cannot be diagnosed.  It is a most personal and persistent experience.  It moves at a timing of its own, and will not be avoided or rushed.  Even our ego, who is programmed to assist our avoidance of such ordeals, simply goes offline for awhile, as if to cooperate with this scheduled, most-important event.  We feel ego-less during this time, which renders us also unprotected.  Yet the experience requires us to surrender and be unprotected.  To be raw, peeled and open to what ever steps into our field to teach us on any given day.  It is a most fantastic, yet unfathomable event.

We are in essence – between paradigms.  We feel caught between our old ways of living, our old understandings and tendencies and with such yearning do we look towards the seemingly unreachable realm of the divine higher consciousness.  We are in a void of nothingness which does exile us from both places. The old represents the past, which needs to be finally released.  Perhaps we had ways of numbing things out so that we could somehow fit-in, feel needed or accepted. Perhaps we had mechanisms or strategies to keep things controlled and manageable.  Those strategies – suddenly – cease to work.  The perfect storm gathers and often erupts in various areas of our life, just prior to entering the dark night.  Former roles that seemed to be who we were, drop away from us.  Roles of significant others seem to alienate and abandon us. It feels tremendously personal, yet the absence of these others are necessary to place no barriers between us and our engagement with our Creator force.  Our need to regulate our life evaporates at the same rate that disillusionment surrounds us.  We couldn’t care less, and our need to be our prior identities melts and vanishes away.   Yet we cannot see or comprehend who are or what our future holds for us.  It feels like stuck-ness mixed with intense emotions.  Many questions with minimal ability to receive inspired answers.  Pertinent information is dropped to us randomly, like puzzle pieces and they come at their own leisure.  Never do we receive answers from our rantings and wales of human impatience. Those are times of release; of opening the pressure cooker to release hot steam so that we can find relief and some semblance of balance.

We observe as our friends and family’s attempt to show concern for us. They may try to cheer us up or attempt to take care of us. Their words of kindness are valued while their well-intentioned advice most often agitates us.  We are not able to respond well in either situation.  Many of us perform our day-to-day duties fairly well, despite the deep emptiness and darkness we feel inside.  Time has no meaning for us, so we work at the oddest hours, while finding rest or sleep for short and scattered intervals.

Night times are especially challenging.  When we sleep, this is a time of intensive growth and many downloads of insight and wisdom occur during the night – while others sleep. We can find connection to high realms when our energy is able to vacate the body.  Yet there is so much happening within the many layers of our body, that we cannot sustain a restful plateau for very long.  Many of us begin waking up at the very same time each night, seeing synchronistic time patterns, such as 3.33am.

Our bodies become extremely sensitive to artificial-light, sound, smell and touch.  Certain fabrics or constrictive styles of clothes cannot be tolerated. Our body temperature cycles from feeling cold, stiff and achy to being flooded with heat and sweat.   Ringing in our ears occurs constantly and we often lose interest in food.  It is easy to lose track of time; forgetting what day or month it is. Time becomes meaningless.

As we experience pain, we also experience a gradual opening inside of us similar to an aperture opening within the lens of a camera.  This opening nurtures a profound compassion for others.  It is indescribable, and yet it is the soft tender companionship of this aspect that allows for us to finally surrender and accept where we find ourselves.  It’s like we correspondingly cultivate a compassion for ourselves. From this experience, we also more keenly discern when others have entered their own Dark Night, and we hold compassion for them without interfering. We hold space for others and send them prayers towards their personal healing.

Others – as well as our own inner observer – notice that our intuition and mastery, expands quantumly in areas of interest.  Whatever we do, we observe new and advanced ways which emerge forth with ease. It appears that we have gained confidence, but in reality, the ego that has kept us small and in the place of fear is absent.  We simply don’t care what others think of us anymore.  We begin experimenting, using new methods with curiosity and without an agenda for an outcome.  We are more real and honest.  We have more presence.

Even so, our sense of separation and alienation intensifies. As we let go of our past inadequacies, the ego, in its place, moves our focus to our future, where we do not know what to do next.  It is such a cunning strategy and it often cycles us back into our impatience.  There are moments where ego appears to return and fights to maintain its role of keeping you as you were. It is impossible to grasp all the subtle nuances while going through it.

Within the fullness of our isolated state, we also feel completely stranded.  We become unsure of where we are spiritually.  We feel separated from the Divine in a way that we never thought was possible.  Separation from Source Energy is amplified by our feeling of isolation from others. We believe that others are incapable of understanding what we are feeling or knowing about what we are moving through.

While in a Dark Night experience, I began to recognize that what I was going through was a very private matter. I found myself functioning well with clients and within my teaching situations.  Very few knew that I was accomplishing every-day functions while feeling the constant waves of inner suffering.  Colleagues and acquaintances did not suspect this state.  Only those to whom I felt close, did I share my confusion and pain.  Only a few could recognize where I was, and they only entered my field when I allowed them to.

Many times within this state we do consider what it would be like to find ourselves back in our Spiritual home across the veil – away from our present suffering.  These thoughts are far from ideations of suicide, and yet we instantly understand that we have indeed chosen suicide for ourselves before – as a result of finding ourselves in this exact place.  Out of us emerges profound compassion for those who do choose suicide as an exit, yet we have grown beyond that response within our own private agony.

There is a time when we enter the midnight portion of the process; the greatest intensity of our Dark night.  It is here where we become our own authority within the process. This is always a precious moment. It holds the recognition that no one else will take us through this dark night except ourselves.  Our peace must come from a deep place from within ourselves.  We know that this is a time to forgive ourselves and enter a state of complete self-love. We decide to simply abide within this condition and accept wherever we are.

Understanding why we are there becomes less important.  We have a knowing that it is merely the human part of us that yearns to identify what is happening.  Yet we comprehend that this is a soul experience, so understanding from a human perspective is no longer relevant. We learn to patiently wait.

There are times when we feel like we will wait forever, and yet we continue each day, doing the things we need to do, and limiting our associations with anything outside of necessity. We recognize that inner peace will stabilize us so we prohibit anyone who may knock us off our fragile steadiness.

The declaration “things are always darkest before the dawn” comes easily to my mind when I consider this juncture.   Recollections of the births of my children vividly assured me that being close to delivery also brought me into the most intense and painful duration of labor.  And yet, a birthing always does occur.  The veil is parted and new life enters.

It will look and feel differently to every one of us, but it is unmistakable when it happens. For me, there was a hallowed presence which enfolded me.  It was sweet, soft and full of visual metaphors and symbols.  Others describe it as being filled up with light, love, warmth and intelligence.  We find ourselves permeated with the softness of peace and it moves through our entire body – all the layers of our body.  There is a gratitude that accompanies this place and a deep comfort that covers us like a warm duvet.  We are raw and sorely affected therefore sharing our experience with others renders us truly vulnerable.  We are often not ready to share, and really… how could we? Once again, there are no words.

Even so, there are some of us who do attempt to journal this moment. We deeply understand that a transformation is occurring.  The fearful and egoic self is falling away and we stand in a new place of feeling free and ever so loved.

Journal Entry at 3.30am

The darkness can be like a time of incubation.  It is, in fact, the energy that keeps me protected and covered.  It knows that there is a seed inside me that has been ignited into gestation.   The seed was activated after death and loss which occurred within me.  And this kind of death and loss is often subtle and seemingly invisible.

There is a young impatient part of me that is screaming at me to push through the darkness and be birthed fully into the light.  “It is time!!” she says.  And yet the seed that is preparing to be birthed is a result of endings… of death and loss.  Yet there is always life after death, is there not?

Pain does not have to be ugly and shaming.  Pain can be beautiful too.  Pain is such an insightful observer, as well as a creator of inspiration.  The difference occurs from where one sits and observes while being in the companionship of pain.  Trying to push darkness and pain away takes so much of our energy.  We drain ourselves with our “fight and flight” response.  And yet sitting with the pain and listening to the wisdom it imparts allows me to look around me and see the magnificence and beauty that surrounds me. 

This world is ever so beautiful and my eyes willingly spring tears forth in response to such loveliness.  How often we walk hurriedly upon our planet’s surface without connecting with her and really feeling her Being-ness.  Even her weather fluctuations are such a miracle.  Her moodiness reminds us that this reality is all about diversity.  We know that staying in one place brings us to such a state of boredom and apathy.

And so… let me be gentle with where I find myself right now.  It is like I am in the gentle rich earth that enfolds and holds me.  There is darkness all around, but it is a nourishing darkness.  It is in fact so laden with nourishment, and then suddenly… there are moments where I see glimpses of sunlight.  It warms the earth that covers and surrounds me.  What relief it brings.  And when I feel that warmth… see glimpses of the light, I feel such love and gratitude.  I realize what a gift it is to be in a place of utter safety and nourishment. To have this place wherein I am being gently held until I am strong enough to push through the earth and show myself in the light.

Too much light, too soon… can burn a tender seed to oblivion. The darkness is therefore part of our growth.  Our self-care and self-love expands naturally if we give ourselves permission to “just be” in our temporary place of darkness for a while.

How different would our world be if all of us had magical eyes that could see when another needed to be covered by thick nourishing darkness – which does insulate us from the private silent deaths which occur within each of us.  Just imagine… if we were able to gaze upon one another with our spiritual eyes of understanding and to just know.  Would we not give each other a gentle smile, nodding our head almost imperceivably with shining eyes of praise?  We would know that the soul before us is experiencing both vulnerability and courage in tandem.  So many of us have been in these places of darkness!  The times when a sacred seed is activated within – and such rawness accompanies the newly activated seed.  It is in fact so raw, that within the stillness of night it does willingly perceive the heartbeat of all things.

Within each death and loss, another birth also transpires.  We are really loved by the Divine that much.  Each challenge… each painful loss brings with it something priceless that we add to our energy field of learning and wisdom.

It brings such relief to surrender into the darkness.  I invite darkness to even take up more space.  It has never-before appeared to me to be so loving and generous.  And it is really all that I am longing for during this stage of human growth.  To be in self-acceptance and even more, to nurture exactly where I am and not feel pressured to rush through it.

The Universe and all the planets have aligned to give to me this time and space to commune with the richness of the darkness.  I am being prepared to enter the light much more fortified.  And just because the light is not presently front and center, does not mean that I don’t feel it’s warmth and comfort.  I am so loved!  So “known” from where I now find myself.

And all is well with me.

The dark night is all about transformation. Moving through our dark night develops within us a higher self that takes up more space in our day-to-day world.  We have sloughed off our false sense of self.  We experientially feel we are different from who we thought we were.

Moving successfully though our dark night experience, we enter a higher realm of wisdom and consciousness.  We have purged deep seated wounds, events, illness and most of all, who we thought we were. Inner conflict and doubt no longer have control over us.

Emerging from a dark night is not an exact science.  My experience was nebulous. Some days it felt like the new butterfly which moments before – emerged from their chrysalis.  I was raw and my wings were still wet.  I had no balance in my new standpoint and my legs were wobbly. Even so, there are some common themes amongst those who know where they find themselves.  We begin walking through our lives noticing all the beauty that surrounds us.  We see light and glory within all other living beings.  We are less concerned about our future in this lifetime nor are we concerned about small minded worries that surround most people. We are much more serene and in curious wonder each day.

When we live through such a death, we are more accepting of our true nature; more in alignment with the highest part of us. Henceforth we walk our path with eyes anew. We see all things from a fresh and broader perspective. Our words and actions are also changed.  Responses become more careful and compassionate.  We can receive inspiration with ease and find ourselves expressing to others in a manner that brings wisdom and comfort, without crossing another’s boundaries.

Our dark night experience is remembered always as our time of developing acceptance, forgiveness and self-love.

Roger Mutimer