Dark nights come from friction between our stories of what should be and what is, was or may be.
And that is true whether the dark night is of the ordinary variety, triggered by smaller daily situations or larger life events. Or whether it is of the traditional variety, either as a dark night of the senses, inviting in a softening of identification with the me, or a dark night of the soul following an initial awakening – often an oneness awakening – and inviting in a more complete release of identification with the me and as an I.
In any case, it happens as an invitation to feel through the emotions, allowing them to flow and unstick. It is an invitation to see through beliefs to find what’s more true. And it is really an invitation for healing, maturing and eventually awakening.
It can be difficult if there is a lot that needs to be digested, and especially if I resist feeling and seeing through the emotions and thoughts. The more I resist – by avoiding or trying to escape the emotions and thoughts – the more difficult and painful I make it for myself.
And it can be easier if I meet and welcome the emotions and thoughts, and have some support in doing so.
More specifically, how can I make dark nights easier?
Most of what I have found is quite ordinary and common sense.
Find support from friends – both everyday friends and those more familiar with this path than I am.
Connect with the body and especially the belly center (energetic and soul centers). Go for walks in nature. Do tai chi, chi gong, Breema or yoga. Invite in a deepening into the divine feminine through Ilahinoor.
Take good care of myself in general, through nurturing food, nurturing friendships, exercise, engaging in what’s enjoyable and meaningful for me.
Be a good friend to myself. Support myself as I would a good friend.
Find support in meditation, and especially stabilizing attention (f.ex. breath practice) and allowing experience as is (shikantaza, just sitting).
Shift into willingness – to be humbled, to let go of old beliefs, to say yes to what’s happening, to Your Will Be Done, and even to find genuine appreciation for what’s happening. Shift into a devotion to God, love, truth and genuine humility.
And as mentioned above, feel through the emotions. Connect with my heart. Bring attention to the breath in the heart area. Breathe and feel, breathe and feel. Noticing the emotions flowing through, unsticking. Noticing it as energies releasing and unsticking, often in a very physical way.
Take responsibility for my own choices, even if there are innumerable reasons for these choices, and I chose from fear and confusion. I can explore and find the connections between my own choices and the dark night. I can see that it was my own choice to act in ways the led to circumstances triggering beliefs. And I can responsibility for my own choice to see, feel and act as if a particular story is true. If I go into a victim mentality, or ask myself why it happened to me, it is a reminder that there is more to see here.
Inquire into beliefs. I can write them down in a stream-of-consciousness way, or use a judge-your-neighbor worksheet. Find themes and underlying beliefs. What happens when I believe the thought? Is it true? Can I know for certain it is true? Is there genuine validity in the turnarounds? (With specific, concrete examples.) I can do this from the perspective of me as a human self, or Big Mind (aka Big Mind/Heart/Belly), or both.
Dip into, become familiar with, and find myself as the vastness of Big Mind, Big Heart and Big Belly.
One of these days, I’ll write something that is more personal and detailed about my own process, but I am not quite there yet.
Notes: When I bring attention to the heart, the breath in the heart area, and breathe and feel, allowing the emotions to flow through, there is often a feeling of unsticking. The emotions unstick, and emotions as energy unsticks. There is an unsticking and flow at the physical level, energetic level, and soul level – each one noticeable.
And these dark nights are, in a very real sense, an invitation and nudge for healing, maturing, and awakening of the head (nondual, no-self), heart (all as love) and belly (deep nurturing feminine).
Also, when I shift into allowing and inquiry, it sometimes feels like a betrayal of my old patterns, a betrayal of what I have taken as true, and that’s understandable. It is actually what happens. It is a betrayal of beliefs from culture, family and my own life.
The dark night of the soul is similar to the other dark nights in that they are all about the friction between shoulds and what is. What’s unique about the dark night of the soul is that it is preceded by a period of awakening, often an oneness awakening where (a) all is recognized as God (consciousness, Brahman, Divine Mind, Big Mind, Buddha Mind) and (b) happening to a sense of an “I” – which may be recognized as imaginary or not. It may also be preceded by a genuine nondual awakening. I have experienced both. First, a longer dark night of the soul phase following several years of oneness awakening. Then, an intensified dark night of the soul period following 6 months of a nondual awakening. It is really a deepening and maturing of the awakening, even if it is often experienced as if God and anything spiritual has completely disappeared from ones life, and ones life in general tends to fall apart and much seems to go wrong. What’s really going on is a very strong invitation for whatever needs to heal to be healed and mature and align with a conscious life as Spirit, lived through and as this human life. The human needs to heal and reorganize at a very deep level, and the process can be experienced as intense and – to the extent it is resisted – almost unbearable.
Finally, perhaps the most important thing about dark nights: They are stories. They are imaginations. What’s here is an emotion that is resisted or welcomed, and a belief that is taken as true or inquired into. And even that – emotions, beliefs, resistance, inquiry – are stories, imaginations to help us organize and operate in the world. It is good to notice.
A good inquiry for me is: I am in a dark night phase. What happens when I believe that thought? Is it true? Who would I be without it? What’s are some of the turnarounds? Are these equally or more true?
- dark night
- whether ordinary mini-versions or larger ones
- beliefs/emotions come up to be felt and seen, sometimes due to friction w. life (stories of what should be vs. stories of what is, was, may be)
- feel through
- see through
- easy or difficult
- if (a) lots that needs to be digested
- and especially if (b) resist
- then difficult, may take longer
- if open my heart and mind to it, welcome the shadow, willing to let go of beliefs and find what’s more true, willing to be humbled in a good way
- and your will be done
- then easier, may go quicker – at least more comfortable
- can make it easier on oneself
- find support for making it easier – friends, ordinary and those familiar with the path
- shift into willingness – to be humbled, your will be done, let go of old beliefs, say yes and find genuine appreciation
- connect with body and the belly center (energetic and soul centers) – walks in nature, tai chi, chi gong, breema, ilahinoor
- take responsibility for own choices, own my choices
- see the connections with own choices and the dark night
- own choice to believe a story and think, feel and act as if it is true
- own choices that led to circumstances that triggered beliefs
If I go into a victim mentality and ask “why is this happening to me”, there is more to see here.