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Consciousness

How To Survive The Dark Night Of The Soul

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The dark night of the soul can be viewed as a complete purge of a person and their false sense of self we call the external identity. This can be a tough time, but a necessary one to move to higher levels of consciousness and being.

  • Reflect On:

    If you are experiencing this, or know someone who is, remember this isn't about forcing a 'fix' of anything. Ask questions, reflect on what you are resisting and holding onto so dearly. We are looking to evolve, be open to the process.

The dark night of the soul is a phrase derived from 15th century poem “Noche Oscura” written by Spanish mystic, saint and priest John Of The Cross. It refers to a spiritual crisis, a seeker of truth is forced to face during their spiritual evolution. The dark night is when the man/woman of God (or your metaphorical equivalent) is given the feeling of abandoned by their maker and left to find their own way. It is the transition from being shown the way you should be, to actually being that way. The dark night gives the impression that the change is painful, but the suffering actually comes from the resistance to the change and not the change itself.

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One could call it the integration of the dualistic mindset, to one of unity. The harmonising of the masculine and feminine. Or the merging of the soul with the body, and realising it to be one.

In the words of St John himself:

Into this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners – which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road – and begins to set them in the state of the progressives – which is that of those who are already contemplatives – to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God.”

It Is A Purge Of The Self

The dark night is the complete purge of a person who seeks a higher path of truth. This leads to a breakdown of the egoic construct this person has created and leads to the death of the avatar they believe to be the self. This can result in hopelessness and an existential crisis. It is the true butterfly metamorphosis which seems really beautiful to the outside, but the reality is a lot more brutal.

For the caterpillar to become a butterfly, it has to completely dissolve. It does not change in the way we might think, with the caterpillar growing wings, but it completely falls to pieces and becomes a liquid pulp. It literally becomes nothing and has to die. It then forms in the complete darkness and unknown. This means to become the butterfly, it is forced to step into a completely unknown place outside of anything it would call comfort. But this is just the start, it then has to fight its way out of the cocoon which is not an easy process. However, the beauty is in this fight as it builds the strength of the wings. Without this, the newly formed butterfly would not be able to fly. So it is the caterpillars dark night of the soul leads it to be the fully evolved beautiful and free creature.

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This is the same for the holy men and women we see in the public light. We often see their compassion and unconditional care, but forget the process they needed to go through to get there.

The Difference Between The Dark Night And Depression

The dark night of the soul differs from depression, as depression is more self centred and apathetic in nature. Whereas the dark night is more a question of where one would fit into the bigger picture. The potential suffering is often due to a feeling that you cannot do anything about the suffering of others. Whereas depression is more often centred around the person who is suffering. There is often a fine line between the 2, and they can exist simultaneously, however, someone is far more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression, than the dark night of the soul.

Karma

If you believe in the cycles of karma, many of us have a karmic debt (past or present life) and this debt needs to be balanced to move forward. If you visualise a set of scales with all the past deeds- the giving and taking needs to have balance restored. Not too much either way. If you fill your cup too much it will overflow and make a mess, if you empty your cup to much you will find there is nothing left to give. If you ask for progression, you can often be forced to face the karma you carry in this life far quicker than you normally would.

The Dark Night Of The Soul Is An Answer To Your Prayers

The dark night of the soul could be thought of as an answer. It is common to search high and low for meaning, but the answers we receive are often not inline with the expectations held. Sometimes it feels as if there is a magic formula, discipline or teacher who is going to arrive and liberate us. But anyone that ever does only ever gives a false sense of liberation.

True liberation comes from within and the dark night allows us to humble ourselves, strengthen our wings and build character for the journey ahead. It is a chapter (or series of chapters) of our own personal heroes adventure to find and liberate yourself from suffering.

What To Do If You Are Experiencing It?

If you are experiencing the dark night of the soul, reach out to those who understand and have been through a similar process. There are many events, workshops classes and online groups that have a higher likelihood of meeting people who would understand your process. You can also attend retreats that specialise in Shadow Work or Spiritual Crisis. Just be intuitive about who you work with as they need to be the right person for you. There are also charities that can help, in the US they have Spiritual Emergence and the UK has Spiritual Crisis Network. If you are somewhere else in the world there is a good chance you will be able to find something similar, if not you can always reach out to the US or UK charities.

The Dark Night Of The Soul does pass and while it can be difficult while you are in this vortex, you will never be given a load you cannot carry. On the other side of this process is something beautiful and if you persevere, you will get there. Take care and if you would like to download my free eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control You Can Do So Here

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Alternative News

Catholic Church Ignores Pedophilia, But Bishop Warns Reiki & Energy Healing Are Satanic

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a "delivery ministry" that will attempt to rid people of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to demonic influence.

  • Reflect On:

    Can these types of fear-based attempts to retain power over people serve the greater awakening to our innate power and sovereignty?

It is wisely said that, ‘you should clean up your own backyard first before you come running over to fix mine.’ Obviously, this wisdom continues to be lost on the clergy of the Catholic Church.

According to this Irish News article, Catholic Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan has said he is establishing a “delivery ministry” of people who will attempt to rid others of the devil and warned that using reiki or other new-age healing methods could open one up to the possibility of encountering malevolent spirits. He said he had received “several requests” from people to help deal with evil forces.

On the strength of what spellbinding evidence and research does the bishop rest his indictment against reiki healing treatments on? He said he was told by the brother of a reiki master that the man was “working on somebody one day when he actually says he saw a vision of Satan” and was “scared out of his wits, dropped the reiki and went back to the Church”.

Gosh. Did Bishop Cullinan even go so far as to interview the reiki master himself, to verify the authenticity of the report, and perhaps inform himself just a touch more about the philosophy and practice of reiki, before giving it such firm identification with the dark side?

Heavens, no.

 

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“This is something that has to be done in secret because you don’t let these people’s names out, and they are going to houses where people maybe have been involved in some kind of new-age thing or some kind of séance or that kind of thing, and unfortunately, they’ve opened up a door to an evil force, Satan.” Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Absolving Personal Responsibility

Let’s be clear on what the good bishop is saying here: he is worried about people getting influenced by Satan while engaging in ‘new-age’ healing practices.  (In fact, he misidentifies reiki as a ‘new age’ practice when in fact it was developed in the early 1900’s in Japan by Mikao Usui, who realized that healing energy can be transmitted between human beings via the hands and directed intention and visualization.) Does he say what the consequences might be if people fall deeply enough under Satan’s spell under these conditions? Will they suddenly be tempted to steal an apple from the grocery store? Say a crossword to a neighbor? He doesn’t know. And doesn’t say. And probably hasn’t even thought that far.

No, what it really looks like is that the good bishop would like to stop people who are taking personal responsibility for their own healing, and play the devil card to encourage such people to run back to the Catholic Church where members don’t actually have to take responsibility for their own actions–they can simply believe the devil made them do it. This is a scenario in which the good bishop can feel useful in an advisory capacity because he has the God-given power to absolve participants of their sins with the recitation of a few ‘Hail Mary’s.

Why Not Address In-House Pedophilia?

You would think, if indeed you believe Cullinan is being sincere, that he would not be sticking his nose into something he knows little about, and instead bring his Satan-fighting attention to the actions of his Catholic brethren who are already known to be raping and torturing children. You would think it would be of the highest order to turn his exorcising powers to work on these contemporaries of his, if for nothing else than to try to resurrect the reputation of the Catholic Church which has fallen to unprecedented depths.

But you get the feeling that his attitude falls in line with the Church on the matter of pedophilia in the church. Their inaction seems to indicate that they feel not much can be done about it. It is not a question of personal responsibility, it is a question of demonic possession. In the article, Cullinan said he “absolutely” agreed with Pope Francis’s view that child abuse is caused by Satan. Which means offenders themselves are not to ‘blame’ for their actions. The church’s propensity to take offenders of these violent crimes and simply move them away from one outraged community to continue their criminal activity in another one is a clear sign of this.

The Takeaway

This bishop certainly has gall to act concerned about potential demonic influence coming from modern energy healing practices he knows nothing about. The good news is, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church continues to reveal itself in these feeble attempts to retain power over people, and they could serve as a catalyst for more people who still give themselves over to these institutions to take their power back.

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Consciousness

The Remarkable Brainwaves Of High-Level Meditators

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Expert meditators are constantly producing high range brainwave frequencies, even when they're not meditating. A normal human being rarely hits these brainwave frequencies.

  • Reflect On:

    Meditation could help people of all ages, create more peace in their lives. As it becomes a global collective practice, it will make a big impact on world peace and overall quality of life.

Listen To This Article

Measuring brainwaves while in altered states of consciousness is a fascinating way to see what happens to the brain during these states. It makes me feel that factors associated with consciousness exist separate from the brain, and that the brain is simply a receiver of this non-material input from some unidentified part of ourselves.

When it comes to meditation, scientists have been able to measure the brainwaves of high-level meditators. They found that some meditators are consistently operating in the gamma brainwave range, approximately at 40Hz. I’ve written about the brainwaves of lucid dreamers before, and those studies also show that when someone is lucid dreaming, they are also operating within the gamma brainwave range. This brainwave range is associated with a conscious state of heightened self-awareness, an even more conscious state than when one is awake.

Human beings don’t operate anywhere near these frequencies when we are in our normal wakeful state, and we operate at an even lower frequency during sleep states.

There are delta brainwaves, which are most pronounced in premature babies, then there are theta brainwaves which are characterized by light sleep, REM sleep, dreams and hallucinations.  Alpha brainwaves are an even higher frequency, which are most prominent during relaxation, contemplation and a lack of visual stimuli. These occur when you are not distracted or focused on the external world too much, and their frequency is approximately 8-12 Hz, so you can see why the jump to Gamma brainwaves for meditators is quite significant, which range from 40 – 100 Hz.

These are the fastest brainwave frequencies known to man.

It’s been more than a decade since researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that Zen Buddhist monks show “an extraordinary synchronization of brainwaves known as gamma synchrony – a pattern increasingly associated with robust brain function and the synthesis of activity that we call the mind.”  (Scientific American)

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 Meditation has always been intertwined with “superhuman” abilities. During a visit to remote monasteries in the 1980s, Harvard Professor of Medicine Herbert Benson and his team of researchers studied monks living in the Himalayan Mountains who could, by g Tum-mo (a yoga technique), raise the temperatures of their fingers and toes by as much as 17 degrees. It is still unknown how the monks are able to generate such heat. (source). The researchers also studied advanced meditators in Sikkim, India, where they were astonished to find that these monks could lower their metabolism by 64%. (source)

It’s important to mention that meditation has also shown significant changes in the brain, with an increase in brain matter and in other ways. It’s also shown to be successful for the treatment of multiple ailments, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You can read more about the scientific benefits of meditation in a recent article we published, here.

In the video below, psychologist and science writer Daniel Goleman discusses his work along with his colleague and research colleague, neuroscientist, Richard Davidson. Fascinating stuff.

Expert meditators, as described below in this case, were flown in from all over the world and put in a lab.

Their brainwave, shows gamma very strong all the time as a lasting trait, no matter what they’re doing…it’s not during meditation alone, it’s just their every-day state of mind. We actually have no idea what that means experientially, science has never seen it before. We also find that in these olympic level meditators, when we asked them to do a meditation on compassion, their level of gamma jumps 700/800 percent in seconds. This has also never been seen by science. There is a state of being which is not like ordinary states, sometimes it’s called liberation, or enlightenment. There’s really no vocabulary that captures what that might be.

How To Meditate, What is Meditation?

I’ve always thought that meditation can be multiple things, but at its core involves the non-judgement of the thoughts that arise during the practice. Just let them come, and let them go as is. It also involves multiple states of meditation, as mentioned above, these experts are constantly in that “state of mind.” Many high-level meditators express how this is exactly what meditation is. That being said, sitting down, and meditating with intention and a goal in mind could also be very beneficial.

There could be multiple depths to meditation, and you don’t always have to sit cross-legged and do it a specific way. You can meditate in the shower, while you are on a walk, one person doing laundry could perhaps be in the same state of mind as another who is in a deep meditation, therefore both accomplishing the same experience, at least from a brainwave perspective that is. Just like the video explains above, they’re always in gamma range.

You want to begin by getting in a comfortable position. Take deep breaths, slow them down, and allow whatever comes into your head, to simply exit. That’s the general way start out if you’re just beginning your journey into meditation. The intention behind the meditation can be anything, including to simply experience this other state of consciousness and get closer to “source.”

The Takeaway

Imagine what would happen if 7 billion people on the planet all meditated together for world peace, would it manifest? It’s amazing what we now know about mediation, and what it can do to our biological realty. Perhaps it can do a lot to physical reality as well. These types of findings go to show that our most natural inner state is one of peace. Why else would it be the state that’s most beneficial for our body, and that allows us to operate at a higher capacity?

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In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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Consciousness

Wild Wisdom: How To Navigate Difficult Emotions

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Day and night exist; so too do joy and sorrow, anger and sadness. Yin and Yang comprise our wholeness.

  • Reflect On:

    Consider that the night has as much to offer as daytime, and is just as necessary. What new version of wholeness can we be crafted into when we embrace and skillfully work through all of what we feel?

“Each of our feelings or attitudes, no matter how negative, can evoke compassion and lead to transformation. We then joyfully realize how every negative experience has positive, growth-fostering potential, how every liability is a resource, how every shadow trait has a kernel of value, how every disturbance or mistake can deepen our spiritual consciousness . . . there is an energy of light frozen in our confusion, a luminosity we can release, if only we do not give up our mining.”

—Dave Richo, Ph.D.

Positive emotions satisfy the immediate gratification style of modern culture. They pay dividends right away. We try to keep up with pleasure, joy, and bliss in their ever-more-enticing forms. Difficult emotions, however, take patience, and require delayed gratification. The result of this gratification is a deeper sense of fulfillment that can’t be gained by direct experience with positive emotion.

Through the lens of Chinese medicine, our positive emotions are considered Yang (positive and quick) and confer Yang power. Our negative, dark, or difficult emotions are Yin. They take longer to release their nectar, as we slow down to meet them. We might have to look like outcasts for a time to reap their hidden, subtler power. These Yin experiences deliver a quieter, inner power, gradually.

A balance of Yin and Yang power is crucial. If we over-feast on Yang emotions, we can burn out and fall into an exhausted or depressive state once we can’t keep up with all the excitement. This corresponds with the modern epidemic of adrenal exhaustion. If we over-feast on negative emotions and ignore the lighter side of life, we can also end up in the pits. Sojourns into grief don’t count because they often deliver great rewards.

When Yin and Yang are in balance and healthy they mutually support one another. When we find balance between Yin and Yang emotions, we can reap the benefits of both positive and negative states. It’s not difficult to see the benefit of happiness, joy, positivity, exuberance, and inspiration—all Yang experiences. More difficult is to glean the good reasons to embrace our dark and difficult states.

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When we understand, even if just intellectually at first, why and how difficult states are absolutely crucial to our well-being, this gives us incentive to stay present and open to them and override our knee-jerk tendency to shut down and go away when they surface. What’s more, when we attune to and are patient with what’s difficult, that darkness transforms us little by little into more light, a light we cannot attain from Yang states alone. Only by staying with what’s dark can we create more love and light from what seems rotten and miserable.

So, this writing is dedicated to understanding the unique benefits that come from our difficult feelings and why it’s a good idea to stay close to them, when they visit.

Looking Deeper

Just like beauty and the beast, beneath the ugly exterior of our difficult emotions is a tender core of inspiration, soulfulness, and renewal. They return us to what really matters by revealing and empowering what we care about. If we sit with these feelings long enough, which is to welcome and let them have their way with us (at least in good part), we can reap their hidden riches (note: this is often not the case for mental illness, such as anxiety and depression).

Paradoxically, this process of staying close to difficulty eventually fills us up, quenching us with fulfillment. I’m convinced that if we don’t milk and allow ourselves to be transformed by these emotions, we live fractured lives. And as a result, we fracture the lives of others, including the Earth.

In being with painful feelings and letting them change us, they recede. The more we allow ourselves to be changed by them, the more they dissolve. In fact, they recede in proportion to how much we allow them to change us, as if their purpose were to get us to pay attention, to surrender, and to transform. From being with and working through our anger, sadness, fear, remorse, and envy, we develop genuine compassion, courage, creativity, inspiration, meaning, purpose, empathy, and greater love—qualities I call our finer jewels of being human.

We dont transform difficult emotions as much as they transform us. For this we must surrender and become vulnerable; we must have the faith and courage, humility and strength, to be changed in ways not in our control, shaped by the wild ways of nature expressed through our emotions. This way we get to become more than what we can control, or even imagine. So, if you want to live a passionate life close to nature, give way to your heart and its storms of wild wisdom come to revolutionize you.

To be changed by difficulty, we have to be vulnerable, pliant, brave, and strong enough to weather the shape-shifting of our sense of self. This requires having a strong enough core sense of self, our functional ego, one that can handle the adjustments, or in some cases, the dismantling of our sense of self. For this reason, the support of loved ones, and a therapist, is virtually essential, or at least makes the journey more productive and smoother.

Our dark, uncomfortable, or downright terrifying emotions are the other side of love. They are love’s underbelly, the deeper regions of our heart. In fact, we can often sense when someone has not entered this sacred chamber inside themselves and met their life-renewing shadow because they are generally uncomfortable around the emotional struggles of others.

The Way Out is Through

While offering nuanced suggestions for precisely how to navigate our difficult emotions is beyond the scope of this article (I offer more of that here), I want to briefly speak to the popular adage, “Don’t wallow in negative emotions.” Ironically, this might be an outsider’s perspective, coined and perpetuated by folks who haven’t entered their shadow in a significant way. For, when we do, we learn that we don’t really have much say for how long we are beset by life’s downturns.

We in fact must endure periods of what seems like wallowing and obsessing because we don’t have control over these states, nor do we have to. Nor do we have to fit in to the horse and pony show of modern living, rife with sickness, dysfunction, and obsessed with productivity and positivity. Other times, however, we will be able to snap out of a funk. In these cases we have at least some say in mitigating difficult states, apart from how they might ultimately benefit us.

We experience emotion in two primary ways. The first is in response to troubling environmental factors, events, or circumstances. In these cases, it’s usually safe to heed emotional signals at face value. Another way is to experience difficult emotions due to an imbalanced physiology such as illness (including mental illness) or another stressor. In these instances, it’s better not to listen to the voice or message of emotion and its distorted reasoning, or at least not take their perceived impact and significance to heart. For example, if you’re in a spat with your partner and irritated because you need to eat, get to sleep, be alone, or just chill out, it’s often wiser to just focus on taking care of yourself and not get into it with someone else. We might also need to grab the reins of our mind and control our negative thinking, which is absolutely appropriate during rough times—especially, for example, when we are looping negative thoughts.

All these self-help actions help “skim the surface” of feeling bad, which is to clear the superficial and temporary stress that contributes to circumstantial emotional flareups. After we self-care this way, our troubles usually seem smaller and less painful. Whatever emotional charge or realization left after skimming this top layer of stress, we can embrace and more confidently take to heart. To not self-care to relieve everyday stress is to suffer unnecessarily.

 Exercise, appropriate diet, and how supported we feel. all significantly influence our physiological state and therefore the duration and intensity of difficult emotional states.

The idea is to try to stay close to, and be with, our core emotional responses to real life events and to manage and discharge the extra energy these emotions generate due to mental obsession and physiological imbalance. For example, I might feel sad that I lost my girlfriend. I might feel extra sad if I lie on the couch all day and don’t force myself to get up and take a walk, eat something, or talk to friend. We have control over the latter, and not the former. In fact, we might not want to control our grief too much (so it can work on and change us), unless it’s unnecessarily physiologically generated and/or exacerbated by too much inactivity and stagnation.

To get in touch with our core emotions, we can activate and express them (Yang), or slow down and gently embrace them (Yin). This is where the jewels are—if we dig, or better, let ourselves be unearthed! Taking a break from digging and feeling tough feelings, however, is also crucial. This is healthy denial, when we focus on other things to give ourselves a break and so we can return to the inner work refreshed and with clearer perspective.

Lying around feeling sad all day might be helped by taking a walk, venting and being heard by a friend, or getting out to get out of our own head. Feeling angry for hours might be appropriately curbed by going for a run, pounding on some pillows, or finding genuine cause for laughter. But longer stints of grief, for example, might stay with us for months or years. Often, we don’t have much say in this. We can therefore surrender and be changed into what we can’t imagine by this wild wisdom of our deeper hearts.

An unfortunate alternative to embracing our difficult feeling states is turning to drugs, addiction, and excess avoidance, which usually create more suffering. What’s more, we miss out on the nourishing qualities hidden in challenging emotions—our finer jewels of being human—which we harvest by embracing them. Handled skillfully and with support, difficult times can be immense opportunities for growth, finding meaning and purpose in life, and reckoning with our demons. How we approach and handle difficulty is just as important, if not more so, than how we deal with easy times.

—–

Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac., MA, is Chinese medicine physician, having graduated valedictorian of his class in 2000. He has authored hundreds of articles, thousands of poems, and several books. Weber is an activist for embodied spirituality and writes extensively on the subjects of holistic medicine, emotional depth work, and mind-body integration, all the while challenging his readers to think and act outside the box. Weber’s latest creation is the Nourish Practice, a deeply restorative, embodied meditation practice as well as an educational guide for healing the wounds of childhood. His work can be found at jackadamweber.com, on Facebook, or Twitter, where he can also be contacted for life-coaching and medical consultations.


A Quick Important Notice:

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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