Dark Night of the Soul: Initiation into your next phase There is a moment in everyone’s life when all the forces of the universe align to create an instant of change. This is not an ordinary change – you move from one house to the next or you discover that your treasured friend is not a friend at all – but a time when more is required to you. It is a time of spiritual transformation and believe it not, it has to be earned.
In the beginning, you may notice a crushing blow to your belief system. When even though you thought you were following all the rules, you discover that the rules you were following were not the right rules and even though you were being a good girl or boy, it doesn’t matter because now the entire system has to be revised.
It can be a time of devastating depression, self-doubt, and unease about the future. It may appear as a dark period when life seems to come unbidden and without signs of letting up. When your predictable world is shattered and fallen into pieces and you either let the anxiety engulf and destroy you or you step back and examine the fragments to discover what really matters.
It is a given that you cannot proceed forward with your current level of competence. You have to face the struggle and embrace it knowing that it is a sign that you are being tested, that you must offer your grit to keep going. It is called the dark night of the soul for a reason, because all that has come before is now being thrown out and what is left is unknown. It is about transformation and metamorphosis because in this signature moment we recognize that our evolution on earth has come with a price and it is time to pay up, to grow, to release immaturity and to face the grist-mill of tough times that we might be initiated into the next stage.
Why is it described as dark? It is the ego that consider it thus because at this moment everything we thought we knew, we discover we didn’t know at all. It was all a presumption. It was following the yellow brick road that we were trained to follow without question. Yet, the questions remain – who am I; where am I going; what is my life for? Without a solid basis for living thus far, this dark night might be experienced as a nervous break down, as feeling hopelessly lost, or as depression or psychosis. What it really is is an awakening.
Many books describe this transformational moment. In truth it is not a bad thing or a bad day. But it is a complete reboot of your operating system. At some point in your life, you must leave behind the things of a child and become the person you are meant to be for your life.
Often we get confused with our upbringing, role models, media presentations, and experiences and believe we have adopted the best of these things to act out a role that is purely fiction. The dark night exposes the necessity of shedding our old skin – values, morals, and beliefs – to become a new self.
This transitional phase can seem to come out of the blue, but really it has been developing and gestating for a while and has finally reached a tipping point. When our solid, stable world begins to fall apart, it is hard to tell what will happen next, where we are headed and where we will be when it is over. The truth is that we will never be the same again. We have lost the identity that we have known for years – perhaps our whole life - and the unsteady foundation we have lived with cannot stabilize until we take on a new identity. That is why this event signals the death of the ego and to be sure, the ego does not go down without a fight. In shamanism this process indicates that your cognitive systems are updated. That being said, each step forward requires a release of the old self as that is what spiritual revolution is all about. It is a spiritual revolution.
After living a certain way for a long time, people have a moment of despair, of feeling unsteady, insane. Their world is shaken and yet there is a liberating aspect in feeling the pain of dissolution as it makes way for newness and the sense that all is not in vain. There is meaning hidden inside of the dark, scary tunnel you have entered and once the ego and all its make-believe values are dissipated, there is life itself glistening on the other side.
How you transit through this time determines who you will be for the rest of your life. Do you play a role or do you become yourself? Are you willing to learn from your experiences and face this death or do you suffer endlessly as a victim? Is your intelligence ready to break free from the tyranny of your ignorance? How well have you prepared yourself to transcend and transform?
Here are some ways this transition shows itself… are you beginning to ask yourself questions that seem to have no answers? Why am I here? What is the purpose? What is God and how is He involved? It might be a time of reevaluating relationships, partnerships, career and life choices, perhaps even sexuality.
This transition may be triggered by illness or depression or feeling stuck, or even a desire to jump into something completely new. The world will not necessarily understand and that is why you must do this for yourself because in every eventuality, this change will not be deemed proper in a mind of traditional thinking.
The bottom line is that if you are growing, you are changing and, at some point, it will be important to not only ask the deep questions, but to find the answers. And when that happens it is a sign that you are transforming to a new phase of development and it is good. Fight it if you must, but it will happen and the more you acknowledge this dark night as an expected and needed transition, the more you will move though it with least amount of chagrin and most amount of gratitude, and ready to step into your next phase. (Excerpt from Deep Truth: Wisdom of the Masters)
Jean Walters is a International Best Selling author and transformational coach. She helps clients work through confusion, clarify their path, and connect with their deepest selves. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org - www.spiritualtransformation.com