The dark night of the soul has its own timing and its own life.
And yet, there are things we can do that can make it a little more bearable, and even align us more consciously with what the process seems to ask of us. (Also based on reports from people who have moved through it.)
Here are some common challenges for people in a dark night of the soul:
We feel that we did something wrong. Or that something is terribly wrong.
We feel that it will never end.
We don’t know what’s happening.
We struggle with and resist what’s happening.
We are caught in painful stories about what’s happening.
We are faced with painful stories surfacing to find liberation. These stories may be old stories recreating deficient selves, perceived threats, compulsions, wounds, trauma, and more. They are unquestioned and unloved.
We may have dread, terror, and trauma surfacing. (To find love and liberation.)
Our identities are “under siege”. Life may put us in situations where our familiar identities don’t fit anymore. (Sometimes, although not necessarily, through loss of relationships, health, work etc)
We experience periods of intense discomfort, perhaps without being able to put a label on it.
Shadow material tends to surface. Whatever is unhealed and unloved surfaces to heal and be loved.
It can feel overwhelming. Unbearable. We can’t take it anymore.
There may be losses – of relationships, health, work, and more.
We may have periods where we are unable to sleep, or get very little sleep.
And some remedies:
Information. Talking with others who have gone through it.
Inquiry into the painful stories. The beliefs about what’s happening. The beliefs creating the painful experiences that may surface.
Meeting the pain or discomfort with kindness. Holding it in kind presence.
Resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow.
And some more things that may be supportive:
Spend time in nature. Walk. Garden.
Use your body. Swim. Walk. Do gentle physical activities that feels nurturing and supportive.
Eat well. Eat foods that work with your body. Drink plenty of water.
Nurture nurturing activities and relationships.
Receive sessions that are nurturing and supportive. Perhaps massage, acupuncture, craniosacral etc. Find practitioners who are OK with what you are going through, and don’t have a need to “fix” you. (Nothing needs to be fixed, but some activities and modalities can be supportive in this process.)
Find support from others who have gone through it, and are going through it.
Find a guide who has gone through it, and is experienced guiding people through it.
Rest. Get plenty or rest.
Be kind with yourself. Ask yourself what would someone who loves themselves do? (The answer may be very simple and for that moment.)
Be a good steward of your life, as much as you can.
Ask for guidance. Ask for support. Ask for your will be done. (Ask life, the universe, God.)
Let go of limiting ideologies, if they create stress and don’t seem to work for you anymore. (This includes ideologies about food, practices, world views, how you should live your life, and more.)
Ordinary human kindness. Ask for kindness. Be kind towards yourself and others, as much as you can.
See also previous posts on this topic, including for a list of helpful resources. (Adyashanti has talked and written about dark nights. Jeannie Zandi writes and speaks about it. There are several good books on spiritual emergencies, which includes a mentioning of dark nights. Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism has a good chapter on the Dark Night of the Soul, although colored by her tradition and times. There is a lot more information out there.)