I woke up in the middle of the night totally disoriented and not knowing where and who I was.
What was clear was the pain that I was feeling.
The urge to run for the bathroom as diarrhea was threatening to explode and the gag instinct about to make me throw up.
I was trembling and my legs were too weak to move.
My heart was pounding so fast and so hard, I was sure it was going to come out of my rib cage.
As I started crawling toward the bathroom, I was sure that I will not survive this night.
I was sure I was going to die tonight.
No one could possible survive this raging pain and panic.
Then I recognized the symptoms of a dark night of the soul.
What is that?
Why do we go through it?
How to cope?
What Is A Dark Night Of The Soul?
“The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.” ~ Joseph Campbell
That night was the beginning of a very dark night of the soul for me.
I don’t exactly remember what triggered it. Something about my beloved dog not feeling well and me worrying about him.
But what was happening to my body when I was so violently woken up, had nothing to do with my dog.
In a nutshell, my physical world and my persona started to separate from my true being and it was fighting with all its might. My ego created an image of myself and the world I live in, but now the process of undoing that began.
When I was firs awoken, the pain I felt I cannot explain. Everything hurt but nothing specific. My whole body was violently trembling and I thought that I will never stop trembling again.
The more physiological urges took president and I tried to get to the bathroom to allow that ho happen.
As I laid there on the bathroom floor, I knew that I was going to die. The pain would kill me but at that point I almost welcomed it because that would make the violent trembling stop.
I spend that night on the cold floor of my bathroom, as my dog and cat and the other members of my family slept peacefully.
I was cold, but cold distracted my a bit from the trembling and the pain.
I felt like I was the only person left in the world and that nothing will ever be ok.
At that point, I wanted it all to end.
There was also some other kind of deep pain that I can’t even try to explain. Something inside of me was breaking into a million pieces and it was hurting so much.
I did not think that I would be able to put those pieces back together ever again.
In the morning, when I was quite shocked that I did not die, I started understanding what was happening.
My persona, the person that I build in my head and I think is me started to separate itself from the real me. That fake, but oh how still so dear illusion of me, started falling apart, piece by piece, making me feel that I will die with it.
Even now, as I’m writing this article, I am mourning the beloved persona that I put so much effort into building for over 40 years and now she was dying, or fading away because an illusion cannot die. Tears are pouring down my cheeks and my heart is asking for the identity that I thought was me for the whole time.
I am lucky to understand the process as I was guided to books and other teachers to learn quite a bit about it. But when it actually happened, I felt so unprepared that I did not recognize what was happening until much later.
A dark night of the soul is a painful process that the separation of the illusory self starts to disassociate itself from the real essence of the self. This is a very destructive and painful process as every untruth that you were taught or you believe has to identified and, often quite painful fall away. This is a journey of become undone. Undone of all the illusory ideas and believes that we have abutted ourselves and the world.
This is how Eckhart Tolle describes dark night of the soul. He said that he has experienced it himself. He calls it a collapse of a perceived meaning in life, an eruption of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner experience of it in some cases could be conventionally be described as depression. Nothing make sense, there is no purpose to anything. What is collapsing is really the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your life has given it. It often results in a very dark place.
But after a while, often people who have gone through a dark night of the soul awaken into something much deeper, something that is no longer based on concepts of the mind. They awake with a deeper sense of purpose of connectedness with a great life that is not dependent of explanations or anything conceptual. Eckhart further explain that going through a dark night of the soul is a kind of re-birth. It is kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self. Of course this will be painful, death always is, but nothing really has actually dies there, only the illusory identity. Often, this is a part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.
What Triggers A Dark Night Of The Soul?
“And through a dark night of the soul, I came to realize that salvation happens through a mysterious, indefinable, relational interaction with Jesus in which we become one with Him. I realized Christian conversion worked more like falling in love than understanding a series of concepts of ideas. This is not to say there are no true ideas, it is only to say there is something else, something beyond.” ~ David Miller
For me, this was a conscious decision.
I already realized that the world that we are living in is not the real world.
Life does not die, but in our world it does. Either life is not life or there is something wrong with the way we are perceiving this world.
I of course believe in love and life, and I know for a fact that this current perception that we hold of this world in not real. It’s an illusion. It would be great if it was a beautiful illusion, but it’s not. We have glimpses of beauty but they are fleeing and everything else is death, destruction, pain, misery, fear.
I do not want to live in a fake world like that.
So I searched and searched and when I was ready the right teachers appeared to show me glimpses of the real world.
A world where death, fear, and paid do not exist. A world where nothing ever dies and everything is beauty and love.
I want that world, but I do not want to go there alone. I will stay in this world with pain and misery until we all can cross over the bridge to the real world. No one left behind.
So, in a nutshell, I know my mission and I know what I need to do.
I was also expecting the dark night of the soul as I understand for the new world to appear I have to give up everything that is not real, everything that is a dream and an illusion. the person that I think I am is an illusion. But when the time came to start the process of disassociating from the illusory from the real, I did not expect the internal fight that took place.
It felt like there were two sides fighting in my mind and my body. I was the battle field in the middle of the night on the cold bathroom floor trying not to throw up again and not die in general.
I am terrified of this happening again, and yet I’m sure it will. I am sure the process is not complete as I am still here and I very much so identify with my persona.
When is it going to happen next?
A week from now?
A month from now?
Or maybe every night from now on?
I am so scared of going through this again but at the same time I know I have gone too far.
There is no turning back
I know too much.
I don’t want to turn back
I want to go to the new, real world and take everyone with me.
Why We Go Though A Dark Night Of The Soul:
“In the process of discovering our true nature, the journey goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. We move down and down and down, and with us move millions of others, our companions in awakening …Right there we discover a love that will not die.” ~ Pema Chodron
#1 the dark night of the soul is essentially the death of your ego. It is painful as you are attached to your ego. But the old needs to go to make a room for the new.
#2 you are ready to meet and become the higher self. In order to do that you will have to shed what no longer serves you to meet and become the higher self
#3 you know too much and cannot live in this old world anymore, but to go beyond it, you need to transcend it
#4 you are spiritually evolving but reluctantly and that’s why you are experiencing so much pain. Surrender and the pain will lessen.
Symptoms Of A Dark Night Of The Soul
“The term “dark night of the soul,” coined by sixteenth century poet-mystic St. John of the Cross, refers to the kind of spiritual crisis that leads us from profound unknowing to radiant transformation.” ~ Mirabai Starr
you suspect you or some you know is going through the dark night of the soul, below are some of the symptoms you might be experiencing.
- You feel scared and fearful. Nothing makes sense like it used to. You lost faith in everything.
- Body pain that you cannot explain or understand
- Feeling depressed and anxious
- Terrible mood swings
- A sense of hopelessness and helplessness arises
- You feel confused, lost, powerless, scared, lonely
- There is no joy in your life
- You feel like you want to disappear
- You have no idea what your purpose is
- Nightmares, trouble sleeping
- The desire to withdraw from social relationships
- Feeling of emptiness
- You feel like you never be happy or ok again
How To Cope?
“There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.” ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan
If you are currently going through a dark night of the soul, most likely you will be searching for answers and how to ease the discomfort. The below suggestions have worked for me.
1. Remember that there are happy days ahead
2. Remember this will not last forever
3. Don’t blame others and events that led you here – you are here with your issued and problems to transcend them and teach yourself and others the power that you have to do that.
4. The darkest hour is always before the dawn – understand that and don’t lose hope
5. Be patient and trust the process – believe in this process. You are not here by a chance. This is exactly where you are supposed to be right now.
6. Meditate – tune the world out as much and as often as you can. This most definitely will give you some relief. Practice until you are able to focus on your mind not the world around you.
7. Preserve your peace of mind – temporarily stay away from everyone and everything that threatens your peace of mind
8. Don’t resist – surrender – this is not random, this is happening because you have made the necessary spiritual advancements and your are ready for this next stage of the journey.
9. Practice solitude – be alone as much as you can.
10. Understand that you do not have to do anything. You do not have to look for a way out or solve this problem for you. The process has started, it will be “done unto you”. Just focus on breathing and being as easy on yourself as you can.
Not everyone goes through the dark night of the soul. I did, it was extremely painful probably because I was fighting it and resisting it. In case, my transition is not complete, I will try to remember next time is happens to surrender and not to resist.
“The dark night of the soul represents this time of being “in-between” worlds; it marks the always “in the dark” transition that takes place as the consciousness of the seeker of truth moves out of one order of existence, and into another (higher) one.” ~ Guy Finley
I hope this article has been helpful to you. Even if it’s just to know that you are not aloe should help. I would love to hear your experiences. Please leave questions, suggestions, and comments below.
***If you have spotted a spelling error or an inconsistency, please contact me so I can fix it.***