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A Dark Night of the Soul

A “Dark Night” is one way Spirit is trying to help us confront and process our stuff.

A dark night of the soul can last weeks, months or even years. My longest lasted several years as I drank and pained my way through life to find my way back to spirit.

Just recently, after spending about seven years of relatively pain free living from my back problem, it arose again with a vengeance. I knew I had more healing to do around this injury but I thought I was past having another event like this again. I was wrong.

I really did not do anything that could have explained this reoccurrence, like picking up something heavy. I was doing a gentle pose in yoga -- something I have done several times a week for several years with no ill effect. However, this time my back froze up, exposing a pattern that used to come calling often in the past: : I would be tilted up to one side, experiencing great pain, very limited motion to the point where it was difficult to get dressed and I often needed help at the worst moments. When you experience this kind of pain it begins to affect your emotional state as well and it is difficult to remain relaxed and peaceful. You becomes exhausting and you are always on edge. 

However, this time was different, instead of feeling like a 10 it was only a 4 or 5 in difficulty. Don’t get me wrong it was still very challenging. I could not work for the first week and I stayed mostly motionless except for trips to seek help from holistic practitioners. Getting my socks on in the morning was very painful but I could do it, a marked improvement over past experiences.

However, in addition to feeling different I knew what to do, this time I knew better than to listen to the stories coming through my thoughts. These thoughts were telling me negative things, like you have been working to heal this problem for years and look it is still here, you’re never going to get better. After a few minutes of this unhealthy and unhelpful mind chatter, I stepped into the teachings I know. Gathering from my previous experiences, I chose to see this time in a different light, where I could change the experience and outcome by being aware and paying attention, by not getting lost in my mind's own creation but staying focused on the truth of the experience, not my mind's manufactured illusion.

Since I’ve had episodes like this before, I began to pay attention. How was this time different? What do I know to be true from previous times? Well the pain was actually less than in the past and I knew too that once I got to the other side of this healing episode that I would be better than before it began. How did I know this? Because, I had felt it many times before, a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn. I’ve seen it with my clients too.

When you are healing your body and life, these types of experiences are common, sometimes called a dark night of the soul or in shorter durations a healing crisis. These events do not just happen to you. They can be a necessary part of the healing process. Actually, nothing ever just happens to you. There is always a reason but you must take the time to be aware, to pay attention to what is happening and ask what you can learn from what you are experiencing. This is how you can begin to turn the tables on trauma and suffering. Know that they are not your enemies to be avoided but things that can help you heal if you are open to their teachings.

Therefore, I began to pay attention to my thoughts, replacing any limiting and negative thinking with what I knew to be true, that I was getting better, not worse. I took action by seeking out practitioner (chosen through my own intuition and knowledge) that I knew or thought could help me.  I noticed the emotions that arose which were out of the ordinary or unusual for me to be feeling, like sadness and depression. I did not suppress these feelings but fully explored and felt them, allowing them the freedom to leave. Resisting them would only give them strength and allow them to stick around. I did not try to figure out what I was feeling or why, because this too is a form of resistance and meant that I would have to keep them around until I could figure them out. Personally, I did not care where they came from; I only wanted to let them go, because I know that on some level they do affect me even if I am not consciously aware of them. My experience with this is that if we are meant to know why, we will -- without question.

The truth of this story is that this healing event was over in about three weeks, which was less than one-third the time of the last event; not only was my back more open and free but I was able to release some very old emotional holding. In addition, what I believe to be the core part of my injury at age sixteen is exposed and is now available for the appropriate physical and emotional work to complete the healing. So yes, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Is this a real light or another illusion my mind has created? The blessings and benefits received on this journey make it easy for me to continue without any regrets no matter what I find. I know I will heal!

Important please see Tim's Tip Body Scanning – Paying attention to the feelings in your body in the July 2007 newsletter.

 

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