Dark Night of the Soul as an essential process of Spiritual Journey | Mary Grace Fellowes

There is a lot of information about Dark Night of the Soul online. For a longest time I wasn’t sure if this concept is something that I need to pay attention to and something that makes sense to me. As someone diagnosed with clinical depression I was thinking that this terminology was another way of spiritually bypassing a legit mental illness. But I recently have lost a lot of confidence, I lost track of where I am going and what I am here for. And my first reaction was to just sulk and dwell in this silence. Interestingly, this coincided with nights becoming longer, which only helped me to think that this was my seasonal depression coming through. And while a lot of people online share general “symptoms” of the Dark Night of the Soul, I want to talk about the practical side of the process, how it feels for someone who is on the path for a long time and how to deal with the whole thing, no matter how long it takes.

What is the Dark Night of the Soul?

To fully understand the process we need to keep in mind that the name came from Roman Catholicism and even more - from a poem written by St. John of the Cross back in 16th century. This is not a revelation of the New Age, and no mater how the term was born, we all, as humans, go through the same process.

A similar phenomenon exists in psychology. A theory called Positive Disintegration was created by Kazimierz Dabrowski in the 1960s. And to put it very briefly, it means that we all go through a process of leaving past behind within our life times. From birth and onwards we integrate certain understanding of life and beliefs that are given to us externally, but time comes around, that eventually we have to rethink everything we believe in. This is a very short and brief explanation, so please do look into it to better understand the theory of positive disintegration.

As you can see it is an old concept that exists within and outside theological perspective. This is a process of growth and maturity on spiritual and psychological level, that one way or another drags us through some level of suffering.

How does the Dark Night of the Soul manifest?

It will be different for everyone. My trigger that started the process will be different from another person. And the length as well as the events of the process will differ too. It is important to remember this while looking into the “symptoms” of it.

1. Feeling unworthy, lost, stuck and powerless.

It was a long time coming for me. The funny thing is that now I think the process itself started months before I actually realised what was happening to me. I started spiralling, comparing myself to other spiritual workers, worrying about numbers on social media, obsessing over things that didn’t really matter. It was a crazy town in my mind, I am not even exaggerating.

Self-pity, dwelling in the feeling of emptiness, feeling completely done with everything and a lot of attempts to give up followed the beginning of the process. And I became toxic. To myself, to people around me and to my audience too. And it wasn’t something I was aware of as well. It was happening, I believed that I was right.

Comparing myself to people who are doing the exact same thing is not only stupid, but also self-destructive. I created this competition in my head and automatically assumed myself as a complete useless loser.

And I couldn’t understand what’s going on. My beliefs no longer made any sense, my abilities did’t make sense, even my healing modality - Energy Field Work - didn’t make sense. I was so lost and confused, that I also ended up being a burden. And not because someone actually told me that I was a burden, but because I honestly started using people as crutches. I felt like I can’t walk this walk myself.



2. Need to be still and wishes to purge.

After a major trigger happened, I still didn’t realise what’s going on with me, but I left the daily posting on TikTok, I started ignoring all of trends, talks and videos that were happening on spiritual side of social media. Actually, a lot of things were plainly irritating me. And what triggers me, usually is coming from me so I decided to leave temporarily, to be able to regroup, rest, recuperate and actually understand what happened to me, because my reactions also made no sense.

As soon as I made that decision, the need to be quiet and still, unbothered became even stronger, but it fully solidified that I made a right choice by taking a break from the posting race. I paid more attention to what I was feeling, what my body needed, what I was thinking and also why. With this sudden quiet time in my life, I managed to reflect on myself and my reaction.

Which ultimately made me notice that over the last year I have lost touch with a lot of people, I have lost a lot of goals and dreams and plans that I had. I changed, I am no longer the same person as before and that realisation was pivotal. I started letting go, leaving no hopes that we will talk again, no dreams that don’t resonate, no people that don’t work with me anymore.

3. More synchronicities.

Surprisingly, when the Dark Night of the Soul became unbearable and I got more aware of the situation, I started noticing a lot more coincidences. And I won’t go into details of all of them, it will take hours to explain, but they were borderline miraculous. It is still impossible to explain them in any other way.

What happened is that after realising that not a lot of my views on the world and other things make any sense anymore and after letting go of my past understanding of who I am and what this life is supposed to be, I started noticing a lot of things in my life, that don’t make sense but I also didn’t try to find out why they are happening the way they are.

While my Guides were explicitly clear about “allowing things to flow” and “trusting the process” and being “still and present” before, only after going through all of this I actually felt it. The serenity of existing in a moment. It was so much clearer this time.

Exiting the Dark Night of the Soul

It happened suddenly. I got very used to silence, darkness and quiet days, where I am just a human being and nothing else matters. Where nothing made sense and nothing was supposed to. I got used to letting things to just be and suddenly, it all ended. And I have learnt that this is the only way, at least for me, to handle this process. Let it be. The only way that I could possibly learn this lesson is by going through a total reset. Where nothing else existed but me, with my own mind and body and human life.

Coping with this process can be tricky, especially if you, like me, have a diagnosis of a mental health illness that also can cause low moods, hopelessness and many other things. But if you ruled out the physical and medical issues and now are a 100% sure that you are now in the process of the Dark Night of the Soul, the only advice I can give you is to give yourself time and kindness to handle it healthily.

It might seem like it, but your life isn’t unworthy, you are not wasting your time, you are not living in delusion, your Spirit Guides haven’t left you, you ancestors never leave you. It might seem like you aren’t being guided anymore, but you are. It’s just being transformed. It’s a little different during these times, less into the face, quiet and calm. May be something you are not used to, but you will eventually realise how you have been guided through this time.

Why is this process so important?

There are times when we have to go through a mass reset. Everything that we knew before, mattered at the time, but needs to be let go of now. There is nothing constant in this world but change itself. Spiritual Journey, Awakening, Development, Healing - all of that is ever-changing and that includes us in general. We are also always changing. Growing. Learning.

Dark Night of the Soul is a temporary (no matter how long) but vital part of this journey, because no matter what we learn about ourselves in the beginning, eventually it will all integrate, merge together, transform and leave a lot of things in the past forever as a memory and an important lesson of the past. And only by going through silence, purging, stillness and darkness, can we emerge from the ashes as a completely new being.

Why is it scary? Especially for someone who had been on the path for a long time.

Dark Night of the Soul is very much associated with an Awakening. Where we are just starting to realise how huge this world is and how huge our role here is. That’s explored, understood and explained. However, it’s not restricted to the beginning of the journey. It can happen at anytime and not only just once.

Now, imagine that you have an established relationship with your Guides. You already know how it all works and it seems like you now understand a lot more about life. And one day you suddenly feel like all of that not only doesn’t make any sense anymore but also doesn’t matter. And it feels like your Soul is not fulfilled by something that you thought is your “Divine Path”. That’s scary.

Because you immediately turn to yourself. Making it seem like all of that was your mistake, you’ve done it all wrong and that you pissed off your Guides enough for them to give up on you. And that while you thought you can help others in any way - now you doubt it. Because if your Guides gave up on you, why would you go on doing what you did before.

Battling with imposter syndrome after working with people for months, doubting your ability to help, thinking that you are making it worse for others, not being helpful to even yourself - that destroys the initial idea of your existence and understanding of your life. And while you are going through this turmoil, there is no one to ask for help. Because this time you have to go through it in silence and stillness, understanding yourself, your thoughts and feelings on a completely different level.

Thinking that someone who had been on this path for years had figured everything out and they will never change because they have found their one and true destiny and life path is not healthy. No one is immune to the Dark Night of the Soul and a sudden, very abrupt change.

All we can do is embrace it all.

Personally, it was hard, painful even. But I would do it again, if this is what I have to go through in the nearest future.

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© 2020 by Mary Grace Fellowes.