When I was in Practitioner school they gave us an assignment: to write about a Dark Night of the Soul in our lives, and how we responded to it.
Have you ever had a Dark Night of the Soul? You know, one of those times where it is so discouraging you either want to give up or lash out in anger? Where nothing seems to go right, sleep doesn’t come, there is no energy for any kind of movement at all, much less exercise that would help, nor is there motivation to eat right. Disappointment in everything reigns. Some Dark Nights of the Soul last a long time, some are more temporary.
None of them is fun.
And yet, I think they serve a purpose. Life has cycles. We humans sometimes don’t realize that our bodies mirror Mother Nature in many ways. If you watch the seasons, there are times when it seems as if everything is dead. It’s gray, no plants are blooming, nothing is growing, it’s cold and dark. Much like a Dark Night of the Soul. Then spring comes, and there is almost frenzied action: plants seem to spring up willy nilly and there is an abundance of growth, color and energy everywhere you look. I don’t know about you, but my Dark Nights have always been followed by great bursts of energy. I’ve been so relieved to be out of them that I can’t do enough.
Yet, would I have had the energy to do all that stuff had I not rested during the Dark time? We don’t expect plants to grow year round with the same energy and pizzazz they exhibit in the spring. It’s only after a rest that they can do that.
Dark Nights of the Soul also offer an opportunity for contemplation, a time when one can survey one’s life. I do not recommend making decisions, nor acting on them, when one is in a Dark Night. Such decisions are rarely based on clear thinking and decisions based on muddy thinking cause trouble in our lives. However, if we can listen to the voice of the Dark Night without indulging in self pity, there is wisdom to be found there.
I think we experience these times because we need to rest, regroup and reassess. I think these times are valuable because they force us to get in touch with a deeper reality. They call it the Dark Night of the Soul because it is your soul calling to you during this time. It is your soul, that Spirit-self within, that is crying out to be heard. It has wisdom to offer, if you will only sit still long enough to listen. And if you don’t, the Dark Night comes, forcing you to do so.
Listen to the calling of your soul. This is the still quiet voice, not the loud abusive ones. There is a difference. That still voice is trying to get a message to you amidst the clamor of the loud voices that tell you bad things about yourself. If you can access that still quiet voice and hear the wisdom it has to offer, you will benefit.
Don’t fight the Dark Night. Instead, take care of yourself as best you can while listening for the wisdom.
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