What is the "Dark Night of the Soul"?

“The dark night of the soul is when you have lost the flavor of life but have not yet gained the fullness of divinity. So it is that we must weather that dark time, the period of transformation when what is familiar has been taken away, and the new richness is not yet ours.” –Ram Dass

 

The road to self-actualization and spiritual awakening is not a straight path. Many times as we sit on the brink of the next level of soul awakening, the soul, mind, and body must pass through trials of transformation that are difficult and discouraging, with no sign of the light. In any lifetime, there are days or times of sadness, grief, longing, or fatigue. Sometimes, however, it goes deeper and lasts longer and often with no apparent cause. When this occurs, we could say we have entered “the dark night of the soul.”

If the soul is that which animates our being in this experience of life, our individual flame from the great fire of the divine. When we enter the abyss of the dark night, it is as if we are divided from the light and fire of our soul, our connection to source, and ourselves. These periods can bring long-lasting waves of depression, anxiety, or regret to crash on the shores of our being. With a typically low period, we can usually identify what is eating at us. Perhaps, in this case, we suffered a loss, a failure, or are feeling remorse for a misstep we have taken.

Yet there is a time of darkness whose source seems obscured from view, like the sun in an eclipse. And in this eclipse and our separation from the light of our spirit, we can be reborn with fresh skin. Instead of being consequence-based, the dark night may be initiated when your soul is ready to come alive through you when it is time you truly embody your essence. When this breakthrough begins, all the familiar things to which you have become accustomed may grow rather stale. You may find little satisfaction in your previous activities and relationships as you are yearning for more meaning and expression at a soul level.

While the experience may be painful, it is a necessary archetypal leg of the soul’s journey, and the brilliance possible on the other side makes imbues the journey into darkness with meaning and value. What, then, identifies the dark night of the soul exactly? Here we’ll review some of the common symptoms and signs that you may be traversing the dark night of the soul.

Confusion: Who Am I?

The first, most common symptom of the dark night of the soul, is a general sense of confusion—confusion about who you are, what life is, and what to do next. As you awaken, you may not be drawn to the same people or activities anymore. What used to bring you fun, seems like it is missing something.

This happens because when you live an “un-awakened” life, it often means you are drawn to things that do not serve you; that does not make your soul happy and fulfilled. As soon as the dark side of the soul begins, you start to question your whole life, and it suddenly becomes
unsatisfactory.

Emotional Overload

The dark night of the soul could be understood as a journey, and all journeys involve movement, change, and transformation. With movement and transformation, things held stagnant within are shaken loose and old traumas, programs, and beliefs float to the surface of our awareness for review- ready or not, here they come.

When processing past experiences or latent beliefs and feelings, live, and vivid emotions will naturally be triggered. Often in our time of darkness and transformation, so much may come to the surface at once that we can become overwhelmed and exhausted or even question whether something may be wrong with us. Yet the purging of no-longer-useful emotional and programmed content is necessary to reach the other side of the valley of darkness in a refreshed and empowered state. These things must be processed for the soul to shine through.

Constant Change

Because you will be changing, your life must transform on many levels as a reflection. Everything in your surroundings will start shifting to meet the needs of your new self. This can become overwhelming if your previous life was far from your mission. If you lived a life that did not nourish your soul’s growth and evolution, nothing is off-limits, anything from your place of living, your job, your romantic partner, your friends, and so on may change.

You have to remember that in the end, this is great news. Everything that leaves your life will open doors to new opportunities for you to get aligned with things and people that are on your path. While stepping into the unknown is scary, this is an invitation to conquer that fear and look at it with excitement and faith instead.

Life is Happening too Fast

The constant changes likely occurring in your life during this phase may not only be overwhelming in their sheer volume, but it may also feel as if life is speeding up and that you are struggling to keep up with your own experience.

The sense that life is moving much more quickly is a reflection of the intense and fast growth you are going through at this time. In ordinary times where we are consciously or subconsciously holding onto an old and familiar way of life, there is a sense that the pace is
regulated and dependable. Yet with everything seeming to shift in a short period, the sense of time is warped. Many years of change may seem to occur in the wink of an eye.

Feeling Physically Drained

The dark night of the soul can also feel physically draining in nature. As your body is adjusting to all the growth your spirit is doing; you may experience fatigue or sleep disturbances—insomnia or sleeping too much. Any other unexplained bodily symptoms can also
be possible such as pain and odd illnesses.

Though we often think of the soul or the spirit as distinct components of who we are, separate from the physical, this is merely a convenient way to refer to our multifaceted selves. In reality, the soul, the body, the emotions, and thoughts are an integrated whole, and the expansion happening from the perspective of the soul must also settle into our cellular and metabolic realities. Your biological body must be re-wired to run the new frequencies you are integrating.

As your body goes through these changes, be patient with it; be kind to it as it is doing what it needs to do.

Experiencing Difficult Life Situations

As you get deeper into your new awakening, life may bring you difficult experiences—money troubles, relationship issues, trouble at work, or challengers with your car or house.

This is not happening to punish you but to awaken you. Not everyone goes through this, but if you are the one who does, it means there was a huge obstacle in your life that you were not seeing or addressing, and only though serious situation(s) was life able to make you understand. These difficult experiences bring out the deep issues you need to realize to grow.

New Spiritual Experiences

Soon before or in the early stages of the dark night of the soul, you may encounter spiritual experiences or breakthroughs that give you a glimpse of what is coming after this challenging
period of your life is over. These experiences may be peak spiritual experiences or realization, perception, guidance, or even bliss.

It happens to remind you that no matter what is happening and how it feels—physically, emotionally, or mentally raining—the experience is a gift from your soul self. The outcome will be a renewed sense of the truth of who you are.

Paranormal or Scary Events

Part of the new spiritual experiences may be paranormal in nature. People report unexplained encounters, seeing entities in their dreams, out of body experiences, and even scary occurrences with the spirit world. It is normal for fear to come up during these experiences.

The dark night of the soul has an archetypal value, meaning that it is a universally symbolic journey that speaks to the psyche and soul-self of all people on some level. Naturally, a journey into the dark level of reality can involve experiences of facing energies, personalities, and forms of consciousness aligned to a state of darkness. Such experiences can reveal your unique psychic gifts.

Inability to Escape Your Own Mind

Finally, the last symptom is the inability to escape your own mind. Like previously mentioned, you will experience a lot of emotions, serious life events, and many changes.

It is a habit to try to escape these things or how you feel about these things through watching tv, surfing the internet, shopping, or using alcohol and/or other drugs. Outer methods of avoidance and distraction will cease to be effective, however. Because the awakening is an
internal personal journey, so too the alleviation of the struggle must be sourced within yourself.

If you find yourself in the dark night of the soul, do not despair. Take good care of yourself, body, mind, and spirit and stay on the path. A great Rufus du Sol lyric comes to mind, “Even when the light can’t find me, I know that the sun keeps shining.” Indeed, no matter how dark or how deep the valley, it doesn’t stretch into forever. The other side of darkness is always light, and on that other side is a great treasure- yourself, living more in the truth of your soul than ever before.

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