Does life suddenly feel meaningless and empty?
Do you feel hopeless about the future?
Are you low on energy, and don’t feel like doing anything?
Then you may be in what many refer to as the dark night of the soul, which is a period where everything feels hopeless and meaningless.
I went through something similar in 2014. In this article, you’ll discover how I got through that time, and how I managed to turn it into a positive experience.
What I experienced was grueling. It felt like I would never get out of the darkness I was in, but I did.
Today, I look back, and I’m grateful.
Because I grew the most I’ve grown in my life. It sounds surprising, but keep reading and you’ll discover why.
Oh, and please remember that this article is about my journey, and my discoveries.
If you suffer from regular depression, or chemical imbalances, talk to someone who understands what’s going on.
I personally had a feeling that this wasn’t a regular depression. I sensed that something deeper was asked of me.
What is a Spiritual Depression?
Here’s how Eckhart Tolle describes it:
“It [dark night of the soul] is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything.” – Eckhart Tolle (source)
So the dark night of the soul is when life suddenly seems pointless and meaningless.
In my case, everything I held dear lost its meaning. Life didn’t make sense. Spirituality seemed pointless. I couldn’t find comfort anywhere.
But it is in this darkness that profound transformation is possible. When everything is meaningless, you have the opportunity to let go of old beliefs, concepts, and fears.
What collapses is not who you are, but how you view life, or your ego as some call it.
For example, if all your life you’ve been obsessed with accumulating wealth, that may now be taken from you, so you can see the truth.
This darkness is life trying to shake you from your conceptual slumber. It is an opportunity to awaken to who you truly are, the presence within.
Why is This Happening?
To be honest, I don’t know.
Spiritual depression seems to happen to those on a path to self-realization, or those looking to expand their awareness.
And eventually, to keep growing, you have to see how you’re holding yourself back. You have to let go of all the ways in which you protect yourself, and resist life.
If I were to answer the question of why this happened to me, I would say: It happened because I was ready to let go of my old, fearful self.
All I thought about life had to collapse so my world could be built anew.
We all perceive life through our thoughts, belief systems, and cultural conditioning. We don’t experience life directly.
When you go through a dark night of the soul, you receive an opportunity to let go of what is no longer useful.
When you do, there is a tremendous peace waiting for you. It has always been there, like a lighthouse patiently shining in the dark. It will never go away.
12 Steps to Survive a Dark Night of the Soul
Below I’ve compiled 12 things that helped me get through life when everything felt meaningless and hopeless.
These tips may not necessarily make you happy, but hopefully they will make your ride easier, as they did for me.
1. Let the Old Die
The more you think you know what life is about, the more you suffer.
The more flexible your beliefs are, the smoother your ride, because you’re more open to the present moment.
For me, this all came as a surprise. Suddenly I didn’t feel like doing anything. Things began to feel meaningless and pointless.
I kept trying to get things done, to chase after goals that never really mattered.
But after a few months, I was exhausted. I was forced to surrender. That’s when I turned my gaze inside.
I noticed so much anguish. I noticed wanting to have this, and do that.
I began to sit with those feelings as best I could. I welcomed it. I relaxed into the insecurity, anxiety and fear within me.
If you’d like more on how to let go, I’ve put my best tips in the video below.
2. Welcome the Darkness
I knew, on some level, that what was falling away was no longer needed. I could never lose what was essential to me.
My mind would make an appearance with all sorts of thoughts to keep me in anguish, such as:
- You will never get out of this
- You can’t stop trying, you’ll end up homeless
- You are dying
- This isn’t supposed to happen
I did get pulled into the drama from time to time. It’s normal. But I did my best to watch those thoughts, and let them be.
I wasn’t dying. My ego was, or the little self. The self that’s insecure and fearful.
I kept welcoming everything. Every thought. Every feeling. Every rationalization and justification.
And it’s funny, because as you relax, fear often intensifies, because it tries to keep you in the realm of fear.
Things still felt meaningless, but it was okay. I didn’t have to figure life out in that exact moment. I could relax and go with this adventure I was in.
Here’s a video on where I dive deeper into how I was able to survive my “dark night.”
3. Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down my thoughts on paper helped.
I used an old notebook. Each day, I wrote for 15-20 minutes. I wrote down whatever came to mind. No censoring.
This allowed me to see the thought patterns I was stuck in. It also allowed me to see the main theme of my dark night, which had to do with money, security, and being loved, to name a few.
Mostly I vented my frustrations. What also occurred was that my wisdom came through from time to time. There were sentences that sparked insight.
Write down your thoughts. Notice what your wisdom is trying to tell you.
4. Notice How Your Mind Works
You create your experience through the thoughts you focus on.
That is why we all have different frustrations and fears. We have different thinking about different things.
When I was in my spiritual depression, I had thoughts such as: “You need to do something. You’ll never get anywhere. You’ll end up broke.”
If I believed those thoughts, I got to experience the corresponding feelings of fear, anxiety, and despair.
You have thoughts about how life should be. You have belief systems that give rise to fears that then try to leverage you into fixing the perceived problem.
Notice that you feel what thoughts you pay attention to. If you feel like this shouldn’t be happening to you, you feel wronged and victimized.
If you have a thought that says that you’ll never get out of this, and you believe that thought, you’ll feel despair and hopelessness.
But you will get out of this. I’ve been where you are, and I made it.
This is an opportunity for you to see how your mind works, and how you create your experience of life.
5. Nourish Your Soul
Relaxation was key for me during my dark night of the soul.
At first, I resist relaxing, because I thought I needed to get things done. But as I surrendered more and more, I began to drop what was no longer necessary.
I took walks. I spent time in the sauna (I live in Finland). I read books. I watched movies. I learned interesting things. I meditated.
For some reason, watching movies helped me release some of the anguish. When I felt afraid, watching a movie helped me work through it (on an unconscious level).
So go easy on yourself during this time. Look at what you most feel like doing. Do you want to take a walk, a bath, or just learn something?
Don’t judge. Trust your own inner guidance as best you can.
And stay open to what life brings you. It often brings you things that help you through this difficult period in your life, such as this article.
I’ve been meditating regularly since 2006. Meditation expands awareness. When awareness expands, you more easily see through the tricks of your mind.
You don’t have to have meditated as long as I have. You can start today with this guide. All it comes down to is being aware of what is going on in your body and your mind.
What I enjoy doing is closing my eyes, and being with whatever is going on. If there’s hopelessness, I sit with that. I welcome it. I let it take over my body. I let the energy flow freely.
You don’t necessarily have to even sit down and close your eyes. You can be mindful while you’re taking a walk, lying in bed, or even watching a movie.
While I was able to watch my mind, I still got lost in my own frustration and drama. But most of the time I was aware of what was going on.
I still struggled. Everything still felt meaningless and hopeless. It felt like nothing was happening. But being aware of the stories dancing around in my head helped me not spiral deeper into hopelessness.
As the weeks and months passed, I became familiar with the feeling of meaninglessness, and I began to embrace it.
That’s when the gifts began revealing themselves.
Below is a short video on how I meditate and the tools I use.
7. Marinate in Presence
I re-read Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now during this time. It’s one of the few books I’ve re-read multiple times.
It reminded me of the power of the present moment, and what he calls the pain-body, which seems to be especially activated during a spiritual depression.
When I say marinate in presence, what I mean is to stay in the now as much as you can. I do this by being acutely aware of my body, breathing, thoughts, and even the space between all things.
Your thoughts may try to pull you away, but you just keep coming back to the here and now. Do the best you can. Nothing else is required.
8. Move and Breathe
This is not all about the psychological aspects. We live in these biological bodies that need to be taken care of.
What can happen is that as you feel worse, you move less. And as you move less, you feel worse. It’s a downward spiral.
You need to keep the energy flowing. Exercising and breathing helps release stuck energy, plus it releases those feel-good chemicals.
I realized this too late during my spiritual depression. While I did take walks, I didn’t take them often enough.
I encourage you to move your body as often as you can. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you enjoy it. Yoga, qigong, lifting weights, swimming. It’s all good.
Even 5 minutes a day makes a difference.
9. Bathe in Nutrition
Another aspect is what you eat.
Again, as we feel worse, we tend to look to food for comfort. And as we eat unhealthy foods, we feel worse. And as we feel worse, well, you know where I’m going with this.
Do your best to eat healthy foods during this time. Healthy foods means nutritious foods. The nutrition is what fuels your body and your brain. It helps lift your mood and energy to some extent.
This doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself from an occasional treat.
I like to make myself a morning smoothie, which might contain things like bananas, apples, blueberries, spinach, kale, and so on.
I also take supplements, such as a basic multivitamin, vitamin D, magnesium, and cod liver oil.
If you want to take things a step further, you can look into medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi. There are mushroom powders you can buy. Some say it helps your mood, and has spiritual effects. What I can say is that medicinal mushrooms, and reishi, definitely helps lift my mood, and has a calming effect on me.
If you’re interested in what supplements I take, below is a list of a few with links to where I get them.
- Life Extension Two-Per Day (Amazon / iHerb)
- Life Extension Vitamin D3 Drops (Amazon / iHerb)
- Hybrid Herbs Mushroom Complex (European/UK Site / US Site)
- Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil Blend Capsules (Amazon)
(Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I get a small piece if you decide to buy. This in no way affects the price you get. If you do buy, thanks in advance for supporting me and my work.)
These are the supplements I’ve found to work for me. I invite you to do your own research, and notice what resonates with your body.
10. Check Your Gut Health
The next step is to make sure your gut is healthy. Are you eating a lot of processed foods, sugar, and other goodies?
It’s okay to have some, but eat too much and you may be harming the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
I’ve dealt with stomach problems in my teens, so I know what can happen.
There are natural ways to boost the bacteria in your gut, such as good old fruits and vegetables. But you can also supplement with probiotics, which provide healthy bacteria.
Another way to help your gut is to drink celery or cucumber juice. For more on this, I recommend you read Medical Medium by Anthony William.
You can probably find many others when you do your own research.
11. Ask for Help
I understand that not everyone is like me. Not everyone feels comfortable diving into their own darkness.
If that’s you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help from friends who understand, or even a professional.
You can also ask for help from angels, guides, a higher power, or whatever you believe in.
For me it was more asking for help from life, from the Force (if you’re a Star Wars fan). Just you opening up to be helped brings that energy in.
I had to let go of trying to control everything. I had to surrender the belief that controlling life is what would give me happiness.
12. Follow Your Excitement
You may not have the energy to do much, but you will still feel drawn to certain things. For example, I resonated with reading books, watching movies, and taking walks.
It sounds simple, but when I followed my excitement, it made a difference. It’s almost as if my heart, or my Inner GPS, knew what I needed.
So even when life seems pointless and empty, you can still tap into your heart, and notice what your wisdom is telling you.
It could be as simple as taking a break and allowing yourself to relax. If you’re the kind of person that tends to work yourself to death, then that may be what’s needed.
Be kind to yourself during this time, and let yourself enjoy the downtime.
While this was the toughest time of my life, it was also the most fruitful.
You may feel like there’s no hope at the end of the tunnel, but that’s your mind speaking. Your mind is confused, because its conceptual existence has been annihilated.
This is your opportunity to see beyond your mind, and to pay attention to who you truly are.
Notice what you’re resisting, and do your best to welcome it, and let it go. Your resistance is what causes the struggle and tension. You’re trying to change what is.
This article contained a whole slew of tips. I suggest you pick the one that resonates with you the most, and apply it to the best of your ability.
These tips are springboards to your own understanding of what you need.
And remember, always default to listening to your own heart, your own inner authority.
You know what’s best for you.
All you have to do is learn to listen to it.
All the best,
P.S. If you’d like to dive deeper into tapping into your heart, I invite you to check out my book, Follow Your Heart: 21 Days to a Happier, More Fulfilling Life.