A dear friend of mine and I were talking about our “dark nights of the soul”. We'd both experienced them fairly recently, and the emotions were raw and the memories still fresh.
The dark night of the soul feels like a bottomless pit of despair. For me, I lost my desire for the main things that brought me joy. I was wracked by anguish. Would this pain ever end?
Strangely enough, both my friend and I reported being grateful for our experience. Hers brought her to a fresher place, a place where she could act with confidence in the face of fear. The dark night of the soul, for her, seemed to give her renewed strength.
My dark night forced me to look at beliefs and thoughts I had not examined before. Thoughts came to the surface that I had not even realized I'd internalized. Strange, ugly beliefs challenged me. In a life that I've worked to make more peaceful, joyful, and pleasant, these old thoughts felt like a betrayal.
I wanted to disown that part of myself. I wanted to say, “That's not me, those thoughts aren't mine. I refuse them.” Of course what we resist persists, so the thoughts came louder and harder. They demanded to be seen and accepted.
Once I pulled them out, one by one, and held them up to the light (not in a judgmental way, but in a kind, understanding light) they were able to pass on. Accepting those thoughts, feeling the pain of acknowledging them, felt like one of the hardest things in the world I've ever done.
Incredibly, the pain I was projecting was all an illusion. Once I gave those old beliefs space, they didn't hurt. By being willing to “go there” and “feel the pain” I realized they didn't cause any pain at all.
It was truly profound.
Reading David Hawkins has helped me understand why these Dark Nights of the Soul are so beneficial, so necessary, and actually? Something to be incredibly grateful for:
“Paradoxically, the dark night of the soul is often a sign of significant spiritual progress for it is not really the soul (higher Self) but the ego that is in the dark. Some comfort can be obtained by recalling the spiritual dictum that one can only go as high as they have been low, or that Jesus Christ sweat blood in Gethsemane, or that the Buddha reported that he felt as though his bones were being broken and he was being attacked by demons.
“In the pits of spiritual despair and black hopelessness, the necessary Knowingness to be followed is that, spiritually, all fear is illusion. The reason it is safe to let go completely of all that one holds dear, along with the belief that the inner core of the ego is the very source of life itself, is because it is not the source, no matter how intensely the experience may seem.”
-David R. Hawkins, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness
How has your dark night of the soul actually benefited you?