Dark nights of the soul & trauma

There are different varieties of dark nights in a spiritual process. In some ways, there are as many varieties as there are dark nights since each one is somewhat unique.

Still, there seems to be some general categories or facets of dark nights. One category or facet is a dryness or lack of meaning and enthusiasm. Another is an experience of loss of God’s presence or an expansive state. And one is where the lid is taken off of our unprocessed stuff and it emerges to heal and be recognized as spirit itself.

I imagine that each dark night is really an adaption to a new emerging phase, and it’s difficult to the extent we struggle against it and try to hold onto beliefs and identities not compatible with this new phase.

The type where the lid is taken off our unprocessed stuff is especially interesting to me. It seems that it’s mainly connected with trauma. A lifetime of trauma surfaces to be seen, felt, loved, healed, and for spirit to recognize it as itself. And it’s not only one lifetime of trauma, but several. Trauma from our ancestors is passed on through the generations (behavior and epigenetics) and our culture. Trauma may even be passed on from past lives. No wonder such a process can be intense and feel unbearable.

I find it helpful to think of it in a trauma perspective. It makes it more grounded and concrete and points to some ways we can work on it and ease some of the pain inherent in it.

It does seem that the process needs to run its course and lives its own life. And it also seems that we can work on certain elements of what’s happening and make the process a little easier on ourselves.

I have found the following helpful for myself:

Therapeutic tremoring (TRE) to release tension and trauma out of the body.

Inquiry (The Work, Living Inquiries) to support release of beliefs and identifications. (These create a struggle with what’s happening, and they are also what hold trauma in place.)

Natural rest. Notice and allow.

Heart centered practices. Ho’oponopono. Tonglen. Metta. Towards myself, suffering parts of myself, and others.

Service and work, as I am able to. (There has been times when all I could do was survive, and other times when service and work has been possible and very helpful for my own process.)

Body-inclusive practices such as Breema, yoga, tai chi, and chi gong.

Nature. Good diet. Herbal medicine. Supportive friends. Gentle exercise.

Understanding of the process. Guidance from someone who has gone through it themselves.

More recently, I have found Vortex Healing to be helpful for me in this process and in general.

Why does the trauma surface in this way, and sometimes in such a dramatic fashion? To me, it seems that life is impatient in clearing us and making us better vessels for whatever awakening is here. Any trauma in our system will prevent a deepening and stable awakening, and an expression of the clarity and love that’s recognized in the awakening. It’s also a very humbling process, which means that identifications are stripped off and we become a little more aligned with reality.

Note: When I wrote “categories or facets of dark nights” it’s because these characteristics sometimes seem to appear one at a time (categories) and sometimes several at once (facets).


Initial notes……

  • dark night of the soul = trauma? (a large part off it)
  • (a) needs to run is course + (b) elements can be alleviated (specific fears, labels, resistance to sensations)
  • trauma coming to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, examined, held in presence (bc not aligned with truth, reality, wants to heal, align with truth/reality)
  • dns may be largely due to trauma surfacing, at least for some of us (can also be the dryness some speak about, withdrawal of God’s presence/expansive state etc)

2 thoughts to “Dark nights of the soul & trauma”

  1. Hi! I think I an having a dark night of the body except I have never read or heard of such a thing. It has been almost two years of pain now. At first I could barely stand or walk, then I had vision problems and now I can’t turn my head/neck. This has been accompanied by medical interventions, surgeries, et al. Despite call this I sense I might be increasing in my connection to the Devine.
    Anyway, is this a thing, a part of the process?

  2. Hi Margaret – I am very sorry to hear about the pain and hope you find a resolution.

    I think there are two answers to your question.

    One is that, yes, problems with the body seems to be a part of the spiritual process (awakening, maturing, embodiment) for some people historically and today. For me, chronic fatigue seems to be interwoven into my own process quite tightly – in ways I can see and probably ways I am not aware of (yet). Adyashanti had intense pain as part of his process. And if you read about, for instance, Theresa of Avila, you’ll see that she had her share of physical problems which seemed important for her opening to the divine.

    The other answer is also yes. We can take physical challenges as an opportunity to mature, deepen as humans, and – as you say – connect more deeply with the divine. It can be a profoundly humbling process, and that does tend to open us up for the divine. Also, when all other options seems unavailable or unworkable, the divine is what’s left for us.

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