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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?

 

Grief as a vehicle for transformation

Letting go of expectations and assumptions seems to have been the theme of 2016.

The 2 unexpected election results – in the UK, Brexit, and in the US, the election of Donald Trump – might be viewed from the perspective that the collective energy was more focussed on what needs to go – given the lack of clarity around what actually was being voted for….

My personal opinion is that the results are a type of wake-up call. But, before any of us decides on how we are going to respond from an activist perspective, we might benefit from a period of contemplation.

Let’s dive deep to the calm waters beneath our overstimulated stress responses. Find the peaceful source, where fears are transformed and appropriate response that is not a wounded reaction can arise.

In this seat of contemplation ask what you need to let go of, incluiding attitudes, assumptions and patterns. These are some of the differing veils through which we interpret life.

Often, you will find some sort of mirror between what is happening ‘out there’ and what is happening in your more immediate circle. Any clues there with regard to what is past its ‘use by’ date?

I’ll share what happened in my personal world this year with regard to letting go.

My 92 year old Dad died in April. As the second parent to go, his ‘departure’ led to the clearance and selling of the home he, and my mother before her death in 2012, had lived in for 44 years. Not much had been thrown out in that time……

A major clear out, and subsequent sale, of the family home, uncovered many things that I hadn’t seen or thought about since childhood. Re-considering my parents with new eyes through the sorting of their possessions, put a clear focus on the wounds and the gifts of my genetic and conditioned inheritance.

I saw new ways in which certain family patterns re-appeared through my life experiences. Given that I have a very good ‘toolbox’ when it comes to practices and healing methods, I was well resourced. I took the time to work with these new realisations about my energetic imprints.

As I see it, this was an important aspect of my grieving process.  Grieving is a powerful vehicle of transformation following death of a loved one. Similarly it needs to be a part of our collective process, especially for those who were deeply shocked by the election results this year.

The place to begin to effect the change you want to see in the world is within.

What fondly held illusions and attachments must you grieve in order to release them with grace and forgiveness? What are you in the process of letting go of?

Grieving is pre-requisite to finding the physical energy, emotional enthusiasm and spiritual courage to move into a new phase of life and action.

We can emerge from the transformative fire of grief with new strength, greater humility and clarity with regard to where we want to place our energies in the forthcoming year.