The past two years have been some of the of the hardest in my adult life. I went through something I can only describe as a “dark night of the soul” and I experienced a deeper sense of helplessness than I had ever known.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted from battling serious health problems that nobody seemed to have the answers for. I was broke, just barely scrounging rent and bills and trying to support myself with all my medical expenses. Nothing was working to heal my body. Everything I tried failed and I felt like giving up. I was completely drained and felt helpless and alone.
I told a close friend that I wanted to curl up in a ball and not “do life” anymore, just have someone spoon feed me twice a day. Every morning I woke up again and again to the same bad dream I was living and I couldn’t imagine a way out of it.
The “dark night of the soul” is a way to describe what feels like a deep existential depression. A loss of perceived meaning in life. What once held your world together is now falling apart, or it just doesn’t feel right anymore. It is something many people go through at some point in their lives, and especially those who are on some kind of personal growth journey.
In situations like these, the only way out is through.
Before I went through my own “dark night,” I had experienced friends and clients who came to me for help in this type of crisis. Since I had never experienced this, it was challenging if not impossible to lead them through it because I didn’t know the territory. You can only lead someone through something you have been through yourself.
In an effort to light a million fires with one flame, I am sharing with you what it took for me to get my life back on track.
Overcoming the Dark Night of the Soul:
1) Go all the way in:
This will always be rule #1. Go there, show up, opt in.
When I was feeling tortured by my emotions, instead of trying to soothe myself, distract myself, or numb myself, I tapped into the awareness in my body to experience the emotion fully. I searched for where in my body the emotion exists, what stories or thoughts are connected to it, and what feeling is beneath the emotion?
Don’t deny yourself the power of your struggle. It will either make you stronger, or break you down so you can transform into a more powerful, potent version of yourself.
2) Breath of fire:
Breath is the quickest and most effective tool we have to calm and focus the mind.
I have used breath of fire for years to help me connect to my personal power and “clear the cobwebs.” Returning to the self is so important when one experiences a dark night of the soul because what often happens is one loses their center and quite literally can forget who they are. It also cleanses the body of excess cortisol (stress hormone) and floods the system with fresh oxygen which has a rejuvenating effect on the body and mind.
3) Body movement practices:
Shake it, move it!
Getting into the body is the best way to regain control and feel grounded again after a period of darkness. I found my bliss again by playing my favorite song and letting myself move without any restrictions or judgement. Freedom in the body is freedom in the mind. Moving creatively to music or doing free-flow yoga practices has helped me reduce anxiety, physical and mental tension, and make me feel happy and exuberant again.
4) Clean up your diet:
Eat clean, cut sugar, drink water.
During this time of darkness I found that I craved sugar more, because it felt like a way I could get a moment of bliss. Sugar creates an acidic environment in the body, and only contributes to brain fog and mood swings. Cancer cells and other diseases grow happily in an acidic environment so it is important to maintain the acid/alkaline balance of the body.
The gut is the primary producer of serotonin, a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. When the gut is clogged with heavy foods, toxins build in the system which also creates an acidic environment and can stop serotonin from being absorbed, leading to depression and lethargy.
5) Connect with people:
Reach out even when you don’t feel like it.
Often times a major problem in people who suffer from depression is feeling isolated or disconnected from the world, from others and from their true self. Connecting with others even when you don’t want to leave the house. I found it very helpful to break out of the patterns I had been in to socialize and forget about my BS for a while. Also, if you have close friends you can express yourself to, some may have through a similar experience and can help you see our way out.
6) Nature and time connecting with earth:
Long walks clear the mind
Nature has a way of soothing us and putting things into perspective. Even though all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball I took myself out on long walks much like I would have done with a restless dog. I like to take these walks in silence, sometimes bringing a voice recorder to get the junk out of my mind, as well as record any great ideas that often come to me on walks. Nature has a way of slowing down thoughts and reminding us of the beauty in the small things.
7) Self cultivation with the jade egg:
This is a personal practice where you insert a “jade egg” into your vagina and do strengthening exercises.
The jade egg practices are thousands of years old and were originally used by the elite for sexual health, who believed that beauty and longevity can be achieved by having a strong and healthy vagina. Taoist traditions believe that a strong vagina and pelvic floor enhances life-force energy which makes you feel full of vitality and have a youthful glow.
When I was in my dark night, I lost my sex drive completely. Doing these practices gave me my mojo back and made me feel my sensual power again.
8) Exercise and sweat!
Just do it.
Sweating cleanses your largest organ; your skin. Sweating helps you release the toxins from your bloodstream and promotes whole-body circulation. When you sweat and get your heart pumping, you immediately feel better. When I am stressed out or feeling blue is when Im at the gym the most because I know how much better I feel when I sweat. I try to get my heart pumping in the morning set the tone for the whole rest of the day. This always makes me feel good and gives me a nice endorphin rush which I can ride out the rest of the day.
9) Write every morning:
Before you check your smartphone.
Write your dreams, your thoughts, inspirations, all the things you need to do and all the things on your mind. When you wake up to information being thrown at you from your smartphone or computer, you are not allowing the clarity of your freshly awakened state to percolate. I began doing this and found that writing about what I was going through was easier in the morning and somehow it didn’t seem so daunting. I also gave my mind a chance to be creative which helped get myself out of the rut of thinking negative or fearful thoughts.
10) Be mindful of the mind:
Train your dragon
I gained control over my mind by learning to catch myself when I was engaging in a thought pattern that didn’t empower or serve me. I began to notice where I was leaking energy. I
noticed what thoughts I repeatedly had that were leading me to fee disempowered. I gained the ability to catch the thoughts and habits that weren’t positive, proactive and generative. I could tell there was something off because after I engaged in them, I felt drained, exhausted or irritable.
When I notice my thoughts start to spiral into anxiety or creating reason why I should be depressed, I do 1 minute of breath of fire, or a 5 minute movement practice.
When we can create a physical state change its like pressing a reset button on the mind.
On the other side of this difficult time, I see it as a blessing because it revealed to me that I am strong enough to overcome great challenges. The power of the mind is greater than most of us realize, and clearing the mind of negativity is like taking out the trash; very necessary to maintain mental and spiritual health. I hope this inspires you to take more control over your mental faculties and to realize that we all have the power within us to change our reality.