What Is The Purpose Of The Dark Night Of The Soul?
The DNOS represents a period of transition and a time of psychological and spiritual awakening where we shed the conditioned self that no longer serves us to step into a new way of being. One that honours our more profound sense of who we are and our soul.
For many, the dark night of the soul is a confusing time of feeling lost, like the foundation of our life has been pulled out from under us.
The phrase “dark night of the soul” goes way back and originally comes from John of the Cross (1541-1597), a Spanish mystic and poet.
The most potent contemporary definition I have found comes from Dr. Zinia Pritchard, a Contemplative Practice Theologian who says, “The Dark Night of the Soul is a spiritual process where the seed of life is buried within the soil of suffering.”
Such a powerful image and realization that the birth of our true self happens when we experience the suffering and discomfort that arises when we’re confused, lost, and in the dark. All the ways we’ve drawn on to make sense of ourselves and our place in the world don’t seem to fit anymore.
A time of transition
As we go through the dark night of the soul, we often feel like we’re living in a void where who we were doesn’t seem to fit anymore, and we haven’t evolved into who we’re meant to become. We’re in the liminal space—no longer and not yet.
We begin to question everything that we believe to be true. Our minds are desperately attempting to create meaning around our experience so that we can regain control and familiarity.
“For all of us, however, there are moments of dawning awareness, little cracks in our armour that reveal glimpses of our deeper longing and our true nature. We begin to see that the results of our efforts are not quite as perfect as we had hoped for… Things that gave us pleasure in the past may now seem empty”(p.64).
The dark night of the soul is an intervention orchestrated by our soul to signal it’s time to get in touch with our true selves.
In the cocoon phase, I was stripping away the conditioned layers suffocating my soul. These layers comprised things like the stresses of daily life, outdated conditioned beliefs about what it meant to be a good woman, anger and resentment from stifling my voice and thoughts that were like a bad roommate.
As these layers were slowly alchemized, the energy going into keeping my conditioned self alive was redirected inward to my inner wisdom and the messages from my soul.
The soul requires us to live a life of truth, which is usually uncomfortable.
We must let go of the old self that isn’t serving us anymore to grow into our true selves. It’s been described by many as a kind of death and rebirth.
“There is no going forward without a death of some kind: a kind death of who we thought we were and were supposed to be; a death of a map of the world we thought worthy of our trust and investment; a death of expectations that by choosing rightly we could avoid suffering, experience the love and approval of those around us, and achieve a sense of peace, satisfaction arrival home. But life has other plans it seems; indeed, our own souls have other plans.” (p. 61).
As we come through the dark night of the soul, our lives take on more depth, awareness, and alignment with our more profound truths. In a follow-up post, I share The Dark Night Of The Soul Truths as shared by way-showers who have gone through the dark night of the soul.
Our life begins to feel deeply meaningful, authentic, and expansive because we’re growing into who we’re meant to become.
This summons to depth is not an easy journey but worthwhile for those willing to embark on it. I write about the journey in The 7 Pillars Of Awakening On Your Spiritual Path article. It is an invitation to return home to ourselves and who we were meant to be before the world told us who we should be.
In the following interview, I speak with a Registered Psychologist and Holistic Healer, Dr. Angela Grace, about integrating spirituality and psychology and her journey through the dark night of the soul.
If you feel called, please comment below. Our community would love to hear from you!
Additional reading about the dark night of the soul:
Bev guides awakening women worldwide to make the shift from feeling stressed and disconnected to peacefully empowered, living lives that feel good to their souls. Bev’s personalized meditation and mindfulness approach empowers women to let go of stress and struggle, get in the natural flow of life and live with greater inner peace and well-being. Bev is trained as an Integral Associate Coach™, Certified Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher, Enneagram Practitioner and Master’s prepared Nurse. She’s the author of Awakening a Woman’s Soul: The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness to Transform Your Life.