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Dark night of the soul: A journey into total oblivion, surrender and re-invention

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We will all, at some point in our lives and probably even a few times over, go through a dark night of the soul. It’s not an experience that discriminates between who is deserving or non-deserving, it’s a human reality.

A dark night of the soul can emerge from things external to us – the death or departure of a loved one, serious illness or a substantial change in circumstance. And it can also descend upon us seemingly from nowhere, leaving us feeling desperate and struggling just to function. Yet functioning is usually what we all try to do. Whether through sheer effort, medication or even therapy, we try to keep going, try to keep swimming along, just as everyone else appears to be doing.

It’s a lonely place to be. So much stigma is attached to feeling lost, desperately alone and where living really provides nothing but ongoing suffering and despair. This dark night of the soul demands that we go deeply into ourselves and distance from others. We know this as we feel disconnected. It’s a journey inwards, down into the depths of our souls and this is commonly not a place people care to hang out for any length of time. It can be scary, confronting and fill us with fear. Thoughts of death, murder, suicide can all reside there, alongside feelings of violent rage, pure hatred and utter self-contempt.

Even if we get to a place within ourselves where we feel comfortable enough to share these feelings with another, how will this help and what will that even bring? This level of despair, commonly labelled depression, is perhaps a signal to us that deep inner work is needed, work that if done with curiosity rather than only fear, can allow us to rise from the depths with new energy and sensibility – deep compassion for self and others. It’s a lonely road, but we can make it less lonely by journeying with intent, embracing supports and practices that bring us out with new wisdom. This state of melancholy is often so profound and archetypal or instinctive that often the energy in and around it requires more than just words. It needs to be felt, experienced with a holistic connection between mind, body and spirit.

Here at LifeCare we hope to provide a place where that connection can be made. Through counselling, yoga, meditation and group work, we create a space that is safe and nurturing so we can Notice, Name and Navigate through life’s journeys.

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