The dark night of the soul is a confusing, unsettling, and often difficult phase of inner transformation.
When we’re in the midst of it, we feel like we’re in the dark woods with limited visibility.
The truth, however, is that the dark night of the soul is not some random experience that happens to us. It’s a spiritual process that is intended for us to develop new capacities and awaken within us our true nature.
It’s part of the process of transformation that when navigated in a wise and compassionate way becomes a threshold for a new, more integrated, and authentic way of moving through our lives.
In a previous post, What Is The Purpose Of The Dark Night Of The Soul?, I provided an overview of the dark night of the soul (DNOS) and included an interview with a Psychologist who shares her journey. If you haven’t read that post or listened to the interview, you may want to start HERE.
I share my own personal journey through the DNOS in the book, Awakening A Woman’s Soul: The Power of Meditation And MIndfulness To Transform Your Life.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing folks who have gone through the DNOS. A number of the dark night of the soul truths have emerged from these wayshowers, and I’d like to humbly share them with you here.
By sharing the dark night of the soul truths, it’s my intention to help you see the bigger picture of your dark night of the soul journey.
For some of the wayshowers, their DNOS was triggered by a crisis of some sort, for others, it was a slow withdrawal of energy and a sense of something missing in their life. It was really common for the people to find themselves questioning, Is This Depression Or Am I Experiencing a Spiritual Awakening?
If you’re in the midst of it, I sincerely hope that hearing about the dark night of the soul truths, as shared vulnerably by the wayshowers, will give you hope and leave you feeling that you’re not alone in this mysterious journey.
The following are the themes that emerged from the interviews with direct quotes as expressed by the wayshowers.
The dark night of the soul truths:
The DNOS wakes us up to the ways we’re not living in alignment with our soul’s unique expression.
“I was a sensitive person working in a left-brain environment. It just wasn’t a fit. I just didn’t know what that meant. I came to the edge and I knew that I was cracking and that I needed to change and to do something different.”
“I always had a belief in something greater than myself, but the way I was running my life and pursuing things was very success and ambition driven. I wanted to be a scientist, I was logical and in my head and what mattered to me was a success. When I had the accident and was in the hospital bed my mom called up everyone that I knew and they all came to see me. I was really moved and had the realization that what really matters is people. That was a big shift in how I saw the world. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a counselor and more specifically guide people to the light- out of the darkness and into the light.
The DNOS shifts how we make decisions and navigate our lives.
“I see everything in my life as guided by Spirit. My ego gets in the way but when I listen to the profound place within and live in alignment, I’m guided to exactly where I need to be. Even when I know that there have been times I’ve gotten off track and slipped back into the need for external validation and recognition. It hasn’t turned out very well but I needed to experience that to learn something. Even though it’s agonizing, there’s been a lesson I was meant to learn.”
“I’m not planning anymore about how I see my life unfolding. I’m just going to respond at the moment on a day-by-day basis with what feels right. I have a very profound understanding that I need to always be in alignment and listen.”
“I have a sense of a new beginning. Of leaping into the unknown again and again – allowing and having faith that the right circumstances will present themselves with some effort. I can’t just sit on the sofa but I also know it’s not for me to do anymore. That I’m co-creating with a force that’s in all of us.”
There’s a wise way to be with the suffering that arises during the DNOS.
“The more present you can be to the experience and the suffering, the more you are going to get out of it as it deepens you that much more. It feels like it just continues to free you, is the best way to put it.”
“It was so painful that I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day. There was something in me that trusted that I was going to get through it and be better on the other side, and that’s exactly what happened. I look back now and I can see it was a purification process. Like going through the fire and making me more dynamic, interesting, and authentic. Nothing else could have brought about that kind of change or transformation in me. That’s why I really think the DNOS is the ultimate gift – but they’re hard as hell!”
“My experiences with suffering have deepened my relationship with myself. A new self is born. The old self has to die. It just has to.”
When we’ve come through the DNOS, we feel more integrated and have a sense of lightness, courage, and inner peace.
“I’ve felt like it’s coming home to the truth of who I am and what life is about. It’s not bells and whistles, bright light type of thing rather a sort of gentle thing. I’ve said ‘hello’ to me that hadn’t existed – it’s a very strong and profound feeling.”
“It feels like I’m at the start of another phase-experiencing myself standing up tall and courageous saying this is how I want to live. Realizing there’s more to life than the 9-5 and security. In some ways it’s exciting and in some ways, it frightens me to death as I glimpse my bigger potential.”
“I’m a different person. It was the shedding of my skin and so much has changed. I always had a lot of anxiety, perfectionism, and people-pleasing and now I don’t have the old patterns. I don’t have the inner anxious feeling. I have a feeling of inner peace and calmness. It’s a lightness of being.”
“It’s going to sound cheesy but the DNOS shows us the true meaning of life – which is to know thyself, and to become the best version of yourself that could possibly exist. There is only one of each of us and it’s a lifetime of work to uncover who that is.”
The DNOS is an inner journey with an outer impact.
“The big change was in my relationships. When this starts to happen to you, you’ll get people looking at you as if you’re wearing two heads. They don’t recognize you anymore. They worry about you. They want you to change back so they’ll feel comfortable. I started to feel awkward in certain relationships and I learned that those weren’t the ones I wanted to focus on. They naturally began to fall away. You’ll have lifelong friends that may listen to you but will say, ‘good luck with all that.’
“After the DNOD so many things changed. My marriage ended and I left my traditional health care job because it wasn’t fulfilling my soul.”
“I had people questioning how I could be leaving a 6-figure job. What about your family? I spent my whole life getting to this point and now I’m leaving. I knew it was going to create a lot of change.”
The DNOS involves navigating the energies of the old and the energies of the new at the same time.
“I think if people can embrace not recreating the old, that’s the key. That’s the whole point of all of this. A life force trying to renew. Trying to birth something truly new and truly life-sustaining for all of us in every way. The power of the old is so strong that people get sucked back into spinning out what they spun out before.”
“I felt very lost. The happy me I’d known was replaced by a loss of identity. Up until then, I was academically capable. I sort of worked hard and performed in the oil industry, drank lots of beer, had a good time and that was it. I had two conflicting views. One saying do what society expects of you, the other saying follow your soul. What Joseph Campbell says about following your bliss. There was also a constant inner tension which gripped and filled me.”
There are tools and practices that are helpful for the DNOS journey.
“I started meditating every day and that’s when the powerful changes really started. That’s when the healing began and spirit could work through me because there was an opening there. I had 30 years of reading books and knowing the next steps but now things began to change.”
“Meditation was the gift of the dark night of the soul.”
“Learning, whether it’s books, podcasts, movies, mentors, coaches, counselors. Always learning, because somewhere in there you’re going to recognize yourself, get normalization, validation, and tools.”
“We have to go through experiences that allow us to surrender and learn how to let go. The suffering is more a choice of how we interpret what is going on – we don’t always know that we’re evolving.”
One final message that sums up the dark night of the soul truths: “You need to trust that there’s a greater plan for you. You don’t have the foresight or knowledge to anticipate it and you need to trust in that. That you are always held. You’re not going to be okay; you’re going to be better than okay.”
In the following interview, I speak with one of the wayshowers, Sharon Stopforth about her experience with the dark night of the soul. Sharon has been a counselor for 23 years and I love how she shares so vulnerably about her journey. She’s a wise soul and I was grateful to interview her!
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