By Kim Hutchinson
The phenomenon known as the Dark Night of the Soul is something which many spiritual seekers experience on their journey to re-enlightenment. It can be a painful and frightening process, but it can also be liberating and empowering. It all depends on your perspective and your ability to remain detached.
Peeling the Onion
The word ‘night’ is misleading. This is a process, and thankfully so. I doubt you would want to experience the purification process all at once. My own Dark Night journey began in 1994 and culminated this year (2013). While that may seem like an inordinate amount of time, I didn’t go through the process continually, thank heavens, but rather in stages. The length and intensity of the process is determined by the degree of purification one requires.
Think of this as peeling an onion. Each layer you strip away brings tears to your eyes. You stop for a while in order to recover, and then you proceed to the next layer. Once you reach the core, you are at the heart of your angst. This is often the toughest part of the process which is why it comes last. You build up your strength and your ability to face your core issue(s). Your higher self will not let you access this core until you are ready.
The good news is you have already faced the worst. Nothing that you unearth during this process will ever be as bad as the original pain you experienced. You were strong enough to face it once, so you are more than capable of releasing it now. And, once it’s purified, it is gone for good.
Essentially, the Dark Night of the Soul is the death of the (malignant) ego. I say ‘malignant’ because the ego is not inherently bad or in need of extinguishing. The ego provides the soul with the illusion of separation so that we may explore creations that differ from the unified field of Love from which we originate.
The ego in its present form, however, is overly dominant. We live in an egocentric era. The Cult to Self is celebrated through our worship of celebrity, fame, fortune, superficial beauty and power. Narcissistic behaviours are often rewarded in this ego-driven climate. The external world is a projection result of the malignancy of our collective ego state.
Needless to say, the ego does not take kindly to the awakening and enlightenment process. It sees the spiritual awakening process as a threat to its very existence and, in many ways, it is right. As you begin to remember more about your spiritual origins, the allure of ego lessens. This eventually breaks ego’s hold over you, and the ego begins to shrink away.
From the ego’s perspective, this equates to death. It, therefore, isn’t going to surrender without a fight. The key is not to resist the ego. That being said, non-resistance is not easy. In fact, your ego will do everything in its power to cling to the old, but your higher self knows better.
As we awaken from the shadows of our dream life on Earth to the limitless, formless, eternal nature of the Soul, the form and thought-based illusions of our life begin to dissolve. The very foundation of one’s human existence crumbles, leading to an existential crisis of faith.
- Deep introspection and angst
- Questioning the meaning and purpose of life
- Feeling that life is meaningless
- Isolation; feeling alone, cut off from others
- Facing mortality
- Feeling empty, devoid of joy
Your existential crisis can cut you off from others. The battle you’re fighting is internal. It’s akin to depression, except that it is spiritual rather than mental in nature. The ego is fighting for its life, and thus it resists the purification process.
Remember though, these symptoms stem from the ego’s perspective on life. The soul knows that everything has meaning, pleasure and beauty. Once you supplant your ego with your soul, life becomes vibrant again.
Purification by Fire
As your ego’s domain is dismantled, your external world will reflect this internal process. That which does not serve your highest good falls away. While this stage may seem destructive and painful, it is actually helping to break ego’s hold over you by forcing it to surrender everything it holds dear.
It’s like the old adage says: “Beware the man who has nothing left to lose”. That man is absolutely fearless. When you lose everything your ego values, its fear-based hold on you shatters.
Please note, I’m not advocating that you must lose everything. I’m just explaining what sometimes happens during the process. For instance, if you find yourself facing loss (i.e. divorce, job loss, and bankruptcy) know that this has helped to shatter your ego’s hold over you. The more dramatic the loss, the more rapid the purification process.
As you empty yourself of ego/fear, you create more room to house your soul’s love, light, wisdom, beauty and joy.
The Phoenix Rises
At this point, things may appear bleak and hopeless; but, to quote another old gem, “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. I liken this to sinking into the murky depths. You feel like you will never see the light of day again, and that all is lost. Then, suddenly, your feet touch ground and you are able to push off the bottom giving you the momentum propel you back into the light.
You’re almost through this learning curve, and when you emerge on the other side of the Dark Night, you will rediscover the joy and beauty of the world. You are the phoenix, being purified by fire. Once you have rid yourself of the ego fears, you will be ‘reborn’ or transformed as a freer, happier higher-vibrational version of you.
- Higher Perspective: Understand that darkness, fear and ego are all illusions. You’re a child of Love and Light. Your current experiences are simply a dream that your soul is having. It wants to better understand Love and Light but it cannot do so without contrast. Since the ego isn’t real, try changing its nature from a narcissistic dictator to a small, frightened child. Then, when it acts up, love and nurture it instead of fighting it or being controlled by it.
- Non-Resistance: Do not resist the process. The greater the resistance, the more painful the symptoms. Remember, that which you resist persists. Don’t give your ego anything to push against. Just go with the flow. And remember, the ego is fighting for its life. Rather than seeking to destroy it, love it instead and teach it to trust your spirit to keep you safe. The ego can be retrained.
- Non-Attachment: Release everything that no longer serves your higher good. No matter how scary it may seem, until you let go of the old ego-based elements in your life, nothing new and spiritually-uplifting can come in. Think of it as cleaning house. You’re ridding your vessel of darkness and density to make way for lightness.
- Spiritual Guides: Enlist the help of the spirit realms. Call on your spirit guides; soul family; soul group; departed loved ones; the angels; ascended masters; animal totems; Mother Earth; Father Sun; the Creator/God/Goddess, and with whomever else you resonate. Be open to receiving help in all forms.
- Kindred Support: Find like-minded souls with whom you can share your experiences. You are not alone. There are many others who are currently experiencing, or have recently gone through, the Dark Night of the Soul. Ask your spirit guides to help you find these people, or they you. Then, pay attention to the messages you receive intuitively. If a stranger stops to talk to you, s/he may be a kindred spirit.
- TLC: You need extra love and gentle care right now. Be your own best friend. Talk gently and lovingly to yourself. Release obligations and commitments that are draining you. Set healthy boundaries with others. Treat yourself with kid gloves. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of pure water, sleep when you’re tired, and practice mindful exercise such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong. Energy medicine can also help alleviate the severity and duration of the symptoms. Above all, never forgot, you are a precious child of the divine.