“The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation.” ~Joseph Campbell
If you frequent Instagram or any other social media platform these days, you may notice countless posts about positivity, self-help, yoga, and green juice. And gluten-free everything.
Most of us equate these messages with spirituality and good vibes. I won’t disagree. These messages do promote good vibes. But, the problem is these posts don’t tell the whole story, and once we log off, many of us still feel incomplete, fearful, and insecure because all of these “influencers” and gurus seem to have it all figured out.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: None of us has it all figured out. We cannot possibly summarize the complexity and fluidity of our lives in one post or yoga pose. And from experience, I can tell you that before you get to the love and light part, there’s a lot to muddle through. As they say, Instagram posts are oftentimes just someone’s highlight reel.
It’s easy to get enticed by gurus because they seem to have all the answers and to always be positive no matter what. When I followed a few well-known, self-proclaimed spiritual teachers, I put them on a pedestal and ignored my own inner guru. I also constantly compared myself to them because I wasn’t blissful 24/7, as they seemed to be.
Thankfully, that was short-lived. While I honor and respect everyone’s journey, I now realize that I resonate with a vibe of authenticity, not one that only allows others to see the positive without ever discussing the dark side of life.
I’m inspired by the teachers who share their struggles and transmute them in the name of love and healing, not the ones who claim to always be happy and positive, or who claim they have all the answers.
The spiritual journey is extremely personal. It leads you to connect to your true essence so you can start making choices from your highest self. The self that’s rich with love, joy, and wisdom. The self that knows which course is best for you. The self that wants you to learn self-love and self-fulfillment and to experience joy and overcome challenges with grace.
You cannot capture all of this on Instagram, I promise you.
On this journey, every day is a new discovery and adventure, and yes, there will be days where you feel completely off and perfectly human. So, don’t stress; you are still on a spiritual journey even if there are times when you seem “negative” or swear off positive practices like yoga.
You are still precious.
You are still loved.
You are still so incredibly worthy.
The beauty of the spiritual journey is that while you discover the infinite love inside of you and tap into your beauty and uniqueness, you also fall in love with your humanness. You start to accept that you are meant to feel all emotions, while also finding ways to be in alignment with what feels good to you.
In my experience, the work—returning home to yourself—begins by simply acknowledging that something is missing and that you feel disconnected, off, or incomplete. From there, you need to lean into the darkness instead of denying it with positivity (what’s known as a “spiritual bypass”).
The journey will involve facing your beliefs head on and learning to release and reshape the ones that don’t serve you.
It will ask you to visit parts of your life and mind that you are ashamed of and would rather ignore or kill off.
It will ask you to release old wounds and drop the revenge-like mentality against people and circumstances that have hurt you.
It will require you to visit painful memories and comfort that inner child in you who needs to be nurtured.
It will require you to be honest with yourself about how committed you are to change.
These are just some of the questions that I have had to answer thus far:
Am I truly willing to forgive and move on? Am I willing to see a past hurt as a messenger or a lesson?
Am I willing to make new mistakes with the understanding that no one is perfect?
Am I willing to question the beliefs that keep me stuck and feeling depleted?
Am I willing to let go of relationships that drain me?
Am I willing to change my lifestyle in the name of healing?
Am I willing to trust life, accept what needs to go, and embrace what needs to stay?
The answers came with many tears, and there were many days that I didn’t want to get out of bed because all I could do was relive my mistakes. I was cleansing my soul and at times reliving some painful moments.
I embarked on this journey to connect with myself again, to connect with my divine essence and the joy that had previously eluded me.
This connection didn’t magically appear. I had some homework to do. I started to slowly change my diet, although I still struggle with that, I had uncomfortable conversations when I needed to speak my truth, and I found new routines that helped me stay connected with my body, including qigong.
I found peaceful ways to be creative and have fun, like painting. I also showed up to every coaching session with an open heart, an eagerness to learn something new about myself, and a willingness to release old patterns, habits, and thoughts that were keeping me trapped.
Though I will continuously evolve every day that I am alive, I feel much closer to my personal truth. And I feel more comfortable expressing it. That’s the true journey.
Many realizations came to me when I slowed down enough to connect with myself. For example, I realized I’d lived my entire life as an extrovert when in fact my deep essence is stillness and introversion. I recharge in the quiet spaces and I nourish myself when I disconnect for a bit.
This was not an overnight revelation, but a long journey with many layers. I got to my truth (just the tip of it for now) by releasing emotions and beliefs that were just plain heavy and rooted in fear and doubt.
This took time.
So, the truth is that no matter how much green juice you drink or how many yoga poses keep you in shape, if the emotional release is not part of the routine, it will be challenging to maintain lasting change. The emotional healing is the hardest part. It’s the part that I resisted for a long time until I became comfortable facing my shortcomings, my past traumas, and my conditioning.
Change only occurred when I developed a genuine curiosity about my life and how I live it. I was eager to meet my traumas and brave enough to understand my triggers.
While I have not magically eradicated all of my fears, I have a new perspective and I maintain a daily routine that keeps me feeling loved and protected so that when challenges arise—because they will—I have a foundation of self-love and self-compassion, knowing that we all struggle.
I try to eat well to balance my moods. I stay creative every day. I pick one tool daily—mantras, my own customized prayers, salt baths, sitting and breathing, walking in nature—to help me with any challenges. And I try to move my body daily. These little efforts keep me centered.
It’s easy to recite positive mantras and flash the peace sign, but the real transformation begins inside. Once you expose the darkness, love and light can then enter. And when darkness comes to visit again, the light within you will give you strength to face any challenge.
The light in you will always guide you home. Keep moving—you’re doing great!
Originally published on Tiny Buddha.
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