A couple of years ago, as the keynote speaker of an event, I was asked to reference something from each of the speakers for the evening premier, but then adding an experience of my own. So, during my talk, I pointed out how each individual talked clearly had one common theme: that even though we might consciously or unconsciously set our course for God, or for a new life, we almost always end up having to first go through the process of purging out all the people, things, issues, etc. that stand between us and our goal. This purging process is referred to by mystics as the "dark night of the soul" (sometimes related to an astrological "Saturn Return"). I refer to this period as the "Soul's Transformation Process."
I know the topic well because I've written about it in at least a couple of my books AND because I've been through it a few times. And since we were asked to be completely open, I decided to share my most recent experience with the dark night of the soul-which most people can relate to in their own way.
Only Those Who Have Fallen Will Rise
Most of us seem to go through times of darkness, wherein we feel loss, fear, and doubt. These are then often followed by defining spiritual moments, wherein we might emerge from the darkness and into the Light of God, as well as into the light of a new life. Emerging into a new life, however, does not come automatically, but instead, is determined by our actions and decisions during our dark night. In other words, we will ascend into a new life ONLY as deeply and authentically as we descended during this test period. Or, as Jesus told Nicodemus, "Only those who have fallen will rise."
Although everyone (including Jesus) goes through the "dark night of the soul," not everyone survives it well. All too often we succumb to the pain, loss, and fear. This can cause us to lose faith, act out, or even take our own lives. But the dark night is merely a crucible that transforms us into better people and into the gods and goddesses the Old and New Testaments tell us we are.
During the times of our personal tests, we usually feel confused and hopeless and/or as if we are going crazy. Many of us have moments where we want to scream, as we pound on our bed or floor. We can also have moments of fear and confusion and/or feel as though all forms of inner guidance seems to be failing us.
The dark night of the soul can bring up memories and unhealed wounds from the past, such as challenging childhoods, being teased as kids, or having parents that seemed as though they didn't want us. We might re-live how it felt to have parents or family members who were addicts or were mentally ill, thus creating an environment of instability. We might even recall tragedies that threatened our reputations and/or our existence. And although it may not seem possible, it's worth it for us to walk through the pain, as we will then find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Dark Times and Soul Transformation
When we remain focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, we can rise to a new level of consciousness, and a new level of living, that we've only ever dreamed possible. And even though our brain may not know when we will reach this light, our heart and soul does know, because it's our heart and soul that has designed most of the details and circumstances around this period of our life.
Personally, I've gone through the dark night of the soul a few times (the first and third of them being synchronized with a "Saturn Return): The first time was around 1990, followed by a second round several years later-each with their own set of lessons and challenges. The third time I went through the dark night of the soul, the lessons and challenges were far more intense and hit me on many more levels. My most recent experience with the "dark night" began shortly after I moved to Sedona and ended just a couple of years ago. In fact, I'm still feeling some of its residual effects.
I've had no problem being transparent when asked about my situation but, in order to keep it from spilling over onto others, I mostly kept it to myself. I'm definitely not saying that everyone should hold in their pain but I am saying that it felt right for me. In an attempt to avoid causing more harm than good, I was trying to be responsible and conscientious about how much I should share and it didn't seem appropriate to say much more. As the saying goes, "Be careful when discussing your challenges. It will make your enemies happy and your friends sad."
Also, I chose to wait until this period passed before I shared it so that people weren't tempted to think I spoke of it to get sympathy or attention. Lastly, I didn't speak much about it because it actually took me a while to realize I was officially in the "dark night of the soul." But when an astrological chart stated, "You have been going through a long, dark period but will soon be emerging," it explained a lot. And, as the chart predicted, this period began to fade approximately one month ago (around October, 2015).
Also, I chose to wait until this period passed before I shared it so that people weren't tempted to think I spoke of it to get sympathy or attention. Lastly, I didn't speak much about it because it actually took me a while to realize I was officially in the "dark night of the soul." But when an astrological chart stated, "You have been going through a long, dark period but will soon be emerging," it explained a lot.
My Own Recent Dark Night of the Soul
Again, it all began shortly after I moved to Sedona. For me, moving to Sedona didn't bring me the red-rock vortexes, ascension, and "unsurpassed happiness" found in the tourist brochures. But it did bring me a lot of new things. It brought me the first health problems of my life; it brought the loss of some so-called friends; it's when I first found out that 25 years ago one of my daughters was sexually abused; and it even brought the partial loss of my voice for a month or so. But most incredibly, I experienced a level of spiritual hypocrisy and slander that I never imagined to exist anywhere-least of all in Sedona (and mostly from people I've never even met)-all because of the jealousy of our success in this town.
At the risk of my story sounding pathetic, surreal, or overly-dramatic, here (in a nutshell) is what happened: According to many locals, by the time I had arrived here, Sedona had become such a "spiritual fad," that the spiritual depth had all but died down, which left the region starving for something new, something of greater spiritual substance. So people were quite overwhelmed with relief and appreciation (as though their prayers had been answered) because my teachings called for everyone to once again make God their top priority-which apparently is what they had been looking for. This led to tremendous success and a great deal of excitement in this town.
But with this, came the skeptics and critics-partly because people couldn't figure out who I was or why I could do what I do. So a handful of hateful people did all they could to ruin what we were creating. This involved a great deal of slander and gossip, which meant that every little thing I/we did was often twisted into something negative and worthy of gossip. They even pushed someone who was mentally unstable to the point of making death threats, followed by plans to take my life. And even though these people knew nothing of the truth about me/us, it still felt terrible to see the harm and confusion they were causing-particularly to people who didn't know better. So I made it a point to not go out nor do anything-as it could be turned into ammunition these people could use to cause more harm (e.g. doubts about me or my work or doubt about everyone at Unity of Sedona). I did my best to not give such people anything to gossip about (which can bring harm to others) nor to add to their hate (which can bring harm to themselves).
On Sundays, I facilitated church services, meetings, and sometimes workshops, and did so with barely a sign of struggle. Other than that, I remained in my house for over three years and never even went into a store (having others get my groceries). I was unable to accept any of the invitations I received from various healers who offered their services, nor could I attend special events due to never knowing who our friends and supporters really were. I certainly couldn't have anyone come over to visit me in my home. And the few times I did have old friends visit, it seemed wise to just stay in my room. My daily routine for most of those few years (when not on tour) included going to Unity to do my scheduled private sessions and take care of business, followed by going home to catch up on emails, phone calls, and phone sessions. Then I would spend 30-60 minutes in a bathtub, just praying and meditating, followed by reading and/or watching a couple of television shows. Afterwards, it was off to bed (if I could sleep) and wake up the next day to do it all again.
I came to Sedona to "be" but instead felt "beat up." Eventually, however, I came to learn that my experience is fairly common in Sedona, as well as being common to people who choose to play the role of a spiritual leader for an organization. Nevertheless, it was still a shock and was not what I expected from "friends" or from "spiritual people." I went from living in my Northwest paradise and having the closest friends one can imagine to the exact opposite.
Lessons Learned from Saturn's Return
It was not that difficult for me to maintain my center and be a good example to others, as I really do my best to be a good person. But it surely was a test to do so while simultaneously having to deal with so many issues-including the attacks from others upon my friends (at Unity) and myself. I did what I could, however, to shine the Light of God, while at the same time allowing myself to responsibly process my dark night of the soul. I'm happy to say that I did a pretty good job of "staying in the zone" and almost never wavered while I was teaching or doing sessions-although there were certainly a few moments when I wasn't touring or teaching or healing others, where I grew weak.
The human ego thrives on creating "no-win" situations. And when we are going through challenging times in our lives, it helps to keep an eye out for people creating such scenarios as these. In my case, if it looked like I was making friends with someone, the critics would say I was flirting or showing favoritism. But when I would respectfully withdraw from making friends, they would say I was too distant and arrogant. This is a good example of a "no-win" scenario. The good news, however, is that we can see such things as tests that we can overcome. And in so doing, we actually become better, stronger people.
The people who were trying to disrupt the bliss we were creating at Unity of Sedona, actually enjoyed the pain they were causing everyone. And this wasn't easy for me to witness. But the spiritual maturity of the majority of our attendees, as well as the support from our Chaplains, helped me get through it all because most of them clearly saw through the ego-games of the others and helped to "hold down the fort." Their love and trust in me helped me to become more loving and trustworthy towards everyone.
Eventually, this challenging dark night of the soul led to me learning the following:
- Even though I never had any interest in being involved in an organization nor its politics, I now have learned to anchor the Light of God, as well as the concepts of "spiritual mastery" into such systems.
- To deal with the duality of being a spiritual teacher (which causes some people to feel intimidated around me) and yet being able to just "hang out" with others.
- To not be excessively naïve, as well as learning to not take other people's issues so personally-especially the insane behaviors of those rooted in fear and insecurity.
- When working with, or guiding, other churches (or spiritual centers) through their challenges, I've learned to "tell it like it is" and shine light on those people and/or issues that are most undermining everyone's ability to reach their "light at the end of the tunnel."
- To further integrate what I teach, into my day-to-day life and interactions with others.
The Light At the End of the Tunnel
You see? This is how it works . . . The details of life's tests are perfectly relevant to our own personal growth. And since it is part of my path (and the path for many of us) to represent the Light of God on Earth, I was being tested around holding my center and being a clear channel, even when confronted with mundane issues like church politics and people's jealousy. And, all-in-all, I feel I survived my tests pretty well. I remained true to the teachings of Christ by recognizing my role in all of this and recognizing the deeper meaning to these tests. Also, I chose to not hate anyone for the role they played. Furthermore, by maintaining my faith and connection with God, I have emerged once again as a better person and now have a life filled with an even greater abundance of love, light, and clarity.
Nearly every aspect of my life has now been upgraded, including the following:
- The friends that disappeared, were replaced by even better, more trustworthy friends-including many of our attendees at Unity of Sedona.
- My over-priced Sedona rental was replaced by my own simple 2-bedroom house that has been transformed into a magical kingdom with faeries and angels everywhere (and at 2/3rds the monthly cost).
- My daughter finally sought help for her abuse and its effects.
- I am doing what I can to heal the health issues left over from this experience.
- Due to the success we've created at Unity of Sedona and due to us passing our tests, more and more churches and ministers have asked for my guidance to help them create what we've created.
- Within days of my Saturn Return coming to an end, I woke up in the middle of the night with the complete concept of a new book in my mind. The book was pretty much done and prepped for release within weeks.
- And yes, I've finally gone out of the house a few times-to a couple of craft shows and even once to the local "Farmer's Market."
Things to Remember When Going Through Your Own Dark Night of the Soul
The "dark night of the soul" comes to us all (even if we are pretty good people) and its primary purpose is to fine-tune us again and again as we become more of what God created us to be. But when we go through the "dark night," there are a few crucial things to remember, which include the following:
- We must remind ourselves that "This too shall pass!"
- We must not ignore the issues at hand, but our main focus must be on the Light at the end of the tunnel.
- We must remain prayerful and faithful to the best of our ability.
- We must focus on the truth of who we are, rather than worrying about what others think.
- We must do everything possible to heal any relevant issues and learn any relevant lessons that arise during life's tests-small or large.
And how does my story end? It doesn't! By writing about this experience, I am assisting it to draw to a close. But the ending of our "dark night of the soul" actually tends to morph into a new beginning. And whether we experience dreams or nightmares in our new life, greatly depends on how we handle ourselves during these most challenging times. In other words, what we experience today is the result of how we handled our lessons of yesterday, and what we experience tomorrow will be the result of how we handle our lessons today.