Yoga, Creativity, Nature: What’s the Dark Night of the Soul Have to do With it?

Via Lindsey Lewis
on Dec 1, 2010
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“The dark night of the soul.” Have you heard of it? It’s a term that’s coming up in conversations, magazines, and books I’m reading lately.

From what I can tell, it’s a kind of like a soul-driven obstacle course. A personal spiritual journey, where the person going through it feels like they’re getting slammed from all sides, that life has just gotten so incredibly hard, and that their support system has left them out in the cold. They might also feel that they’re occasionally experiencing bigger, better blissed out, cell-transforming, life-transforming, deeper than the ocean love.

One of the first works on it all, and the one that probably coined the term, is Saint John of the Cross’s The Dark Night of the Soul, where he talks about how feelings of depression, madness, and extraordinary isolation all coincide with the bliss of exquisite mystical transcendence. Do you feel your system go into “Ok, that’s a little too freaky for me to handle” mode when you read that? I do.

But here’s the thing: We’re in it. And we’re making it through. Ok, not all of us feel like we’re going through the roughest times we’ve ever been through. (The honest truth is that no matter what’s going on in my life, I wake up every day feeling thankful.) But if you’re reading this you’re probably tuned into the fact that it’s pretty likely that all the pain, challenges, and “bad luck” in our lives are there for a reason. And the “Why me? Why this? Why now?” questions aren’t ones we need to have answered. We just gotta keep moving.

If we’re looking to live a life of ease, of flow, of being in our dharma and shining brightly inside and out, from what I can tell it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. At least from the outside. Those of us passionate about bucking convention and creating a life we love that’s about being of service to the world are probably not going to follow the straight and narrow path. We’re probably going to go through a lot of jobs, a few relationships—intimate and otherwise, and quite a few career changes.

And it’s gonna hurt. Healers, gurus, yogis and life coaches report that each instance of profound spiritual transformation is often followed by feelings of loneliness and isolation. Let’s feel it, embrace it, and then do whatever it is we do to feel connected to the greater, good, and wonder-full. Whether that’s getting out into nature, doing-living some yoga, or tapping into your creative self through writing, art, dance, baking, scrap-booking, or something else completely, let’s do it. Let’s re-connect to our essential selves—full of peace, strength and joy. And let’s let that connection anchor us as we ride this roller coaster  through the night. With grace.


About Lindsey Lewis

I’m a yoga teacher, life coach in-training, retreat host, business woman, and entrepreneur. I write, I paint, I draw, I dance. I get outside every day. I challenge myself. I meditate. Riding my cruiser bike along the seawall rocks my world. Being of service is essential. I’m committed to helping the world find their freedom. I believe in love. I believe in the human capacity to evolve, to grow, and to make the world a better place—even if it’s simply through our re-vitalized presence. Let's connect! I'm at Libre Living. Twitter and Facebook Also, Libre Retreats on Twitter @libreretreats


2 Responses to “Yoga, Creativity, Nature: What’s the Dark Night of the Soul Have to do With it?”

  1. I went through this. Right after a big committment to the 8 limbs and being 'on the path' I dove into what ended up getting me diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but I wasn't. It's only in hindsight that I can see what it was for what it was, which was an existential black hole meeting a spiritual awakening in a fragile little body of a girl with no support network and no understanding of the path I was on. Through a lot of study, a lot of yin yoga, some thyroid medication, meditation, restorative poses, sleep and learning about Aurveda and Vata imbalance, I crawled out of this black hole on the other side. I am now a bit of a changed person, even-keeled, less imbalanced, more peaceful and having a tad bit of understanding about this path I'm on. At the time I truly thought I was a nut job. Even let a doctor put me on a medication that I did not need. I stil don't understand exactly what happened but I know it was spiritual in nature and I was totally on my own. It was black indeed.

  2. […] This is real work. This is excruciating, painful mining, physical and emotional labor, the true dark nights of the soul. […]