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The art of engaging with ‘dark nights of the soul’

The art of engaging with ‘dark nights of the soul’

As we emerge from the ‘dark season’ in the northern hemisphere, I’ve been contemplating ‘dark nights of the soul’ in general and my own experiences in particular.

Around the time of the lunar eclipse on 11 February, I thought I might be heading into one. A sudden loss of direction was accompanied by an unwelcome sense of futility. A void beckoned… I wanted to disappear and do nothing.

The desire to disappear was accompanied by fantasies of tropical beaches. With fantasies like this we must ask ourselves whether the tropical beach (or other holiday) is really what is needed or whether it would be a-void-dance.

I knew the timing wasn’t right for a holiday. But, I did need to stop and take stock. I was losing sight of what was most important to me.

I also knew that the best way to deal with any state is to turn into it and experience it fully. Re-connection to soulful work and callings happen when we accept and engage with our experience, even when neither convenient nor desired.

Surrendering to a Celestial STOP

As I see it, a ‘dark night’ is an encounter with a celestial STOP sign. It’s an invitation to deepen into who and what you truly are. It’s a demand for integrity. Outcomes almost always include greater humility and awe for the life forces that are greater than the mind, which has a tendency to attach to specific outcomes.

From my experience with ‘dark nights’, I know that resistance can be a feature at the beginning. And indulgence can feature towards the end.

I felt the resistance to a call to STOP and reconsider in February. It was an interruption to my plan. ( BTW, eclipses can have this ‘stopping’ effect. What is no longer working for you gets ‘eclipsed’.)

But, I have learned to trust my ‘inner daimon’ or guiding force.

After a couple of weeks of ‘waiting’, I was back in touch with my calling. I recovered my ability to be discriminating with regard to both inner and outer imperatives to get things done.

Waiting is under rated. So often we are encouraged to worship the gods of action and outer achievement.

‘Dark nights’, whether short or long, are invitations to re-calibrate. They are opportunities to listen and get so close to your own truth that you cannot betray it.

The art of engaging with a ‘dark night’ includes learning how to surrender into it and how, and when, to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

Rising like a Phoenix

It can be just as scary to act on the fruits of our realisations during a ‘dark night’ as it is to surrender into the experience in the first place.

Certainly, there was a part of me that wanted to prolong my short visit to this realm in February. But, there was a stronger imperative to be of service and remain visible.

You?

Are you either resisting a dark night or wallowing in it? Are you honouring your soul’s calling?

Do you need to wait for something new to emerge?

Or, is it time to answer a call to be of service?

 

Contemplating jealousy and competition

Last week I had an interesting conversation about jealousy with a client.

Given that jealousy tends to be socially unacceptable and therefore repressed, I found it refreshing that she was so matter of fact in her admission of past jealousy towards her partner. And she was keen to determine where, and in what situations, this ‘demon’ still sabotaged her life. (The ‘demon’ being the jealousy and not the partner!)

We spoke of comparison, competitiveness, co-dependence and the points of view and beliefs that promote the behaviours.

A couple of days later, a colleague mentioned that the coaching field promotes competitiveness – to be the best, to make more money, to be more visible etc.

As a personal/spiritual development coach I hold to a different vision and purpose for coaching. But, I am not personally immune to falling into comparison and feeling inadequate.

I remembered a conversation I had with another coach last year. She said, wryly, ‘the problem is that the beautiful maiden of coaching was seduced by the slimy salesman of internet marketing.’ (If you want to use that quote, I heard it from Dawn Todd.)

I started to connect the dots between the conversations. The ‘beautiful maiden’ in all of us can be seduced easily, if and when ‘she’ believes ‘she’ needs the ‘slimy, charismatic salesman’.

Such feelings of inadequacy affect all of us from time to time. This is because we all suffer from an existential wound of separation. That existential wound manifests a bit differently for each one of us. For some it is ‘I’m not good enough.’ For others it is ‘I’m unworthy’ or ‘I’m unlovable’ or ‘I’m unwanted’ or ‘I’m useless.’ In the case of my client, she had dimmed her light in the childhood belief of ‘I’m too much.’

When we can admit to our feelings of inadequacy and notice accompanying jealousy, comparison and competition, we are not dangerous. Consciousness is the antidote to dangerous forms of jealousy. Consciousness is the doorway to transformation.

We are dangerous if we claim to never feel this way. Invulnerability suggests a lack of attention to, and continuing suppression of, emotional data. This lack of consciousness is at the root of narcissism.

The world is a hall of mirrors. And part of the magic, for me, has been to learn to use this hall of mirrors for my own growth.

So, this last week, after working with my client, I worked on myself. This is a habit for me. I contemplated when and where feelings of jealousy or competitiveness might have been present recently. I found a couple of instances where my admiration of another person’s achievement, or their apparent ease in situations that I find challenging, were accompanied by feelings of inadequacy.

At least, now, I know what to do with such feelings – take the time to feel them fully. Often this must be done after the event, as part of a personal practice, which is what I did.

Further suppression and the accompanying behaviours that have their root in childhood reactions, can be nipped in the bud when we sit quietly and ask ourselves this question:

Where in my body is this feeling of inadequacy/jealousy?

Welcoming the feeling and being willing to experience it fully counters the old habits of suppression and initiates a process of dissolution.

When I reached this point in the consultation with my client, it was possible to guide her through a releasing process. The work I most love to do is help people to release old energetic imprints which block their freedom to be authentic.

My client understood that when she connects to her inner resources and guidance, there is no jealousy of anyone else. And, freed from the belief of ‘I’m too much’, she can reclaim suppressed parts. She does not need to live in the shadows of another as she learns how to shine her own light and offer her gifts.

May we all understand the root causes of relational dramas and find release from struggle and suffering. Spiritual understanding + energy/quantum tools + coaching skills is one way to make fast progress. This is my offering.

As for me, I will be enjoying a short break to Barcelona with my sister for a few days next week. Sibling rivalry/jealousy is not a problem between us as mature adults. But, it could have been if neither of us had done any personal work. It was present in the previous generation in our family. Having cleared a bit more of the ‘karma’ this week, I am looking forward to a catch up with her!