Joe: Good afternoon Calliope.
Calliope: Good afternoon Joe. You said last time you would share what you are writing about in your new book on stress. I am curious about the Dark Night of the Soul. Please enlighten me.
Joe: I would be happy to do so. Rather than talking about it. I will share with you a selection from my book which I also published recently as a newsletter. Here goes:
Navigating the Dark Night of the Soul
Your dark night is your invitation to become a person of heart and soul.
John of the Cross, a sixteenth century Carmelite mystic, coined the term dark night of the soul. He saw it as a process of purification in which we root all the dead wood out of our lives and concentrate on becoming the person we want to be.
Thomas Moore, in his book Dark Nights of the Soul: a Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals, sees dark nights as periods of transformation. It is not always clear what the transformation might entail, where we will end up and how we or others might benefit from our trial.
We don’t choose our dark nights. They choose us, appearing unexpectedly when we least expect them. As you might have gathered, dark nights are no fun. They disrupt the ordinary course of our lives, giving us a chance to reevaluate where our life is headed should we choose to do so.
We feel suddenly buried in an avalanche of troubles. We might be overcome by grief, feeling suddenly lost on our life path or abandoned by someone on whom we deeply relied.
Medically, we might view a dark night as a state of depression. In our cultural haste to return to normal, we might rush to the doctor for antidepressant medication. We want to get this experience behind us as quickly as possible.
Taking this path, we miss an opportunity. A disruption in our daily living pattern stops us from business as usual. We try to fit in all the activities in which we have become entangled. With a break in the action, we have a chance to consider whether we are still on our life path or have wandered into the brambles.
Without such a disruption, we might continue along, trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of our current society. We don’t seem to have time to think these days about our lives and what course they are taking. A dark night stops us in our tracks and gives us the opportunity for self reflection. Instead of viewing our predicament as a tragedy and just feeling sorry for ourselves, we have a chance to make a course correction in our lives.
We might learn that we are doing pretty well staying on the course we have set for ourselves. We could find that we have forgotten how we would like to live our lives. At the very least we might discover that we do not have the best ways of coping with misfortune. Maybe this is your first major disaster and you have no idea what to do now. Now is the time to discover who we can count on when we are in trouble. It’s also a time to learn some new skills we can use in future life challenges.
Life Lab Lessons
- If you are suffering a major life trial, be thankful for the opportunity.
- Use it to see where you have been and where you want to go in life.
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself in troubled times.
- Don’t look for someone to blame.
- Take charge of your life.
Calliope: Thanks for sharing I am looking forward to more.
Joe: will be glad to oblige. In the meantime if your friends want to see my newsletters, they can find them and/or subscribe for free at www.eepurl.com/mStpP.