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Healing Through The Dark Night of the Soul: Unveiling Beauty in the Depths of Despair

Updated: May 11

"Dark night of the soul," you've been on my dance card a few times. I can say with confidence that when things get too low, there is nowhere to go but up – as cliché as it may sound. Embracing these moments of despair, I've discovered, is essential to unveiling hidden strength and resilience within.

dark tree branches with blue sky and full moon in background
April 2024 Full Moon On The Farm

What does it mean?

The term "Dark Night of the Soul" is often used in spiritual, psychological, and literary contexts. It refers to a period of intense suffering, doubt, and despair that can lead to a transformation or spiritual awakening.

16th-century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic, St. John of the Cross from Wikipedia
16th-century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic, St. John of the Cross via Wikipedia

The term comes from the 16th-century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic, St. John of the Cross. In his poem, "Dark Night of the Soul," he described a spiritual journey in which a person feels abandoned by God and experiences a profound sense of emptiness, confusion, and pain. This spiritual crisis ultimately leads to a deeper union with the divine.

In a broader sense, "Dark Night of the Soul" can describe any challenging life experience that forces a person to confront their deepest fears, insecurities, and existential questions, ultimately leading to growth, wisdom, and a renewed sense of purpose.


As we navigate life's tapestry of emotions, we often find ourselves enveloped in the twilight of sorrow, a poignant dance with the shadows. Yet, even in the depths of despair, glimmers of beauty await revelation, reminding us that the night is always darkest before the dawn. So if you find yourself in a dark place, hang in there!

sillouette of trees on a farm at after sunset
Twilight on the Farm

To navigate Life's melencholy ebbs and flows, consider the following practices and resources that have brought solace to my own journey:

white wooden sign reading self care with a heart on a pick background

Embrace the vulnerability of your heart: Allow yourself to feel the ache, for it is within the cracks that light seeps through. By opening your heart to vulnerability, you invite self-compassion and empathy, the tender muses of healing. In my darkest moments, I've discovered the strength that lies in allowing myself to feel, and the grace that comes with self-acceptance.

a notebook on the lap of a woman whose writing in it while on a beach with the view of the mountain lake in background

Seek solace in the realm of creativity: Channel your emotions into the brushstrokes of artistry, be it through the written word, vibrant colors upon a canvas, or the melancholic melody of a heartfelt song. Creative expression offers both a refuge and a beacon, guiding you towards purpose and fulfillment. For me, dance and writing have been a lifeline, providing a way to disarm the ticking time bombs of emotional turmoil, cope with life's challenges, and later, heal.

rocks stacked on a rocky shore with ocean waves in background

Engage in the practice of mindfulness: Root yourself in the present moment through mindfulness meditation, cultivating a sense of tranquility amidst the storm. Guided meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm can be invaluable companions on your journey. When anxiety looms large, grounding myself in the here and now has been a saving grace. If you haven't yet found a way to do this, keep trying different things. Could be something as simple as "slow motion walking", walking as slow as possible concentrating on moving through each part of the foot. Notice where you might lose or regain balance and be curious and playful in your explorations. This is one of my favorites.

6 arms where each hand holds another arm to make a circle on a grass background

Reach out for support from kindred spirits: Share your feelings with loved ones, friends, or a mental health professional who can provide guidance and solace. Online sanctuaries such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and 7 Cups offer forums, support groups, and listening ears for those treading through life's trials. In addition to local support, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp provide access to licensed mental health professionals through convenient messaging, live chat, phone calls, or video sessions, allowing you to receive guidance and support from the comfort of your own home. I regret being tangled up in my own judgments and all of the stigma around mental health in past and wish I would have reached out sooner for support when I needed it.

three rocks stacked with glowing writing where each rock reads one of the following words: mind, body and soul with a blurred lake as a background

Nurture your body and soul: Tend to your physical well-being through regular exercise, nourishing sustenance, and restorative rest. A healthy body and mind create a sanctuary for healing and resilience. Sometimes you just need to move when feeling emotionally stuck. Walk, run, bounce, dance, sway, rock, kick or punch! You can also find a lot of free content on youtube for mindful movement like Yoga with Adriene, Nutritious movement with Katy Bowman, Myofascial Yoga with Christine Wushke or Somatic groundwork with Kaila June Keliikuli .

hands being held in shape of a heart with a faded backdrop of a white heart sign that says i am grateful

Cultivate gratitude as a sacred practice: Pause each day to reflect on life's blessings, be they grand or humble. A gratitude journal can serve as a sacred space for acknowledging the beauty in life, fostering hope and resilience even in the darkest of hours. Build up that gratitude muscle!

Gratitude has been my lifeline, a reminder that even in the midst of struggle, there is always something to be thankful for.

Of course, there may be times when this seems impossible, where you can't possibly see or think of anything to feel grateful for while you are so wrapped up in pain. It's OK to experience these moments, and you're not alone. Allow yourself to express your emotions by writing, talking, or even screaming about them. Sometimes, we need to let out our anger and frustration so let yourself feel all of the feels. Remember that the tidal waves of emotion will pass, and calmer waters will come. In those moments, you'll be able to better see the blessings that surround you.

a book on a wooden table open with a plethora of glowing letters springing out of it

Educate yourself: Browse a local bookstore, your online Audible library or Amazon's online store for titles of interest or a topic you are struggling with. As an example, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression there are oodles of books offering ideas, education, recent research and support. Knowledge, for me, has been a powerful ally in my journey towards healing and understanding.

Remember, you are never alone in the dark night of the soul. By leaning on the shoulders of loved ones, nurturing your mind, body, and spirit, and embracing the transformative power of creativity, you can weather life's storms and emerge with a newfound appreciation for the beauty that resides within the shadows. There is so much beauty in showing up and in trying and failing so don't give up. If noone has told you today, you are beautiful, you are worthy and you are never alone in what you are feeling. As the poet Rumi so elegantly penned,

"The wound is the place where the light enters you."

In the dark night of the soul, may you find solace and strength, knowing that the dawn of hope and healing awaits.



💫Today's post has been inspired by:

  • My perosnal journey with anxiety and depression

📚📖📖📚Books you may find helpful :

🧘‍♀️ Meditation: Embracing the Light Within

  • Find a quiet, comfortable space where you can sit or lie down without distractions. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing the air to slowly fill your lungs. Pause for a moment, then exhale gently through your mouth.

  • As you settle into this rhythm, imagine a warm, glowing light emerging from within your heart. With each breath, this light grows brighter, its warmth spreading throughout your body. Envision it permeating every muscle, every fiber of your being.

  • As you continue to breathe, focus on the soothing warmth and gentle radiance. Allow this light to embrace and soften any pain, tension, or sadness that you may be holding onto. Let it serve as a reminder of your inner strength and resilience, a beacon guiding you through life's challenges.

  • Now, bring your attention to the present moment. Allow gratitude to swell within you for the strength and beauty that have emerged from the shadows. As you breathe in, silently acknowledge something you are grateful for in this moment. As you exhale, release any lingering darkness, making space for hope and healing.

  • With each breath, continue to embrace the light within, knowing that it will never dim or falter. You carry this light with you always, and it will illuminate even the darkest of nights. Take comfort in this knowledge, and trust that you have the strength and resilience to weather any storm.

  • When you are ready, gently bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Take a few deep breaths, and as you exhale, slowly open your eyes. Carry this feeling of warmth and light with you throughout the rest of your day, knowing that you are capable of navigating life's ebbs and flows with grace and courage.

💃 Mindful Movement Dance Practice: Embracing Flow and Release

Begin by finding a comfortable space where you can move freely. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths, centering your awareness on the present moment. As you breathe, allow your body to relax and release any tension.

  1. Grounding: Start with a simple sway, shifting your weight from side to side. Feel your feet connect with the ground beneath you, establishing a sense of stability and connection.

  2. Flow: Let your body begin to move in a fluid, circular motion, allowing your arms to follow the rhythm. Envision your movements as water, ebbing and flowing effortlessly.

  3. Release: As you continue to move, imagine any stress, tension, or negative emotions leaving your body with each exhale. Release them into the earth, allowing it to absorb and transform them.

  4. Expansion: Open your arms wide and reach for the sky, embracing the vastness of the universe. Visualize yourself as a beacon of light, radiant and strong.

  5. Gratitude: Bring your hands together in front of your heart, pausing to express gratitude for your resilience and strength. Take a moment to reflect on the beauty that has emerged from life's trials.

  6. Integration: End your dance practice with a few gentle stretches, allowing your body to integrate the experience. Take a few deep breaths, and when you're ready, open your eyes.

Throughout this mindful movement dance practice, maintain a gentle awareness of your breath and body sensations. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, embracing the transformative power of movement and breath. As you dance, let your body tell the story of your journey, honoring the highs and lows that have shaped you into the resilient being you are today.

Music to move to

Slow tempo:

Up Tempo:

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© Anita Elliott (aka Souldancer), 2024. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anita Elliott with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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