Ep. 104 Dark Night of the Soul

Listen here:

In this episode, I will cover:

“Dark Night of the Soul” is a concept that has been discussed for millennia. Anyone who is going through a period of sadness or challenge that is so deep-seated and tenacious may be experiencing a dark night of the soul.

Here is why I took a hiatus in December and what has surfaced:

  • a resurgence of anxiety in LA
  • the source of blame
  • fear of dying
  • finding conscious-connected breath
  • surrendering control, the ultimate lesson

Additional Resources:

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Episode transcript:

Welcome to the Healing Uncensored podcast. My name is Sarah Small and I’m a life and success coach for empaths who want to create a thriving body, business, and life. Healing my own chronic illnesses as an empath led me to become fascinated with energy, and more specifically all of the emotional, spiritual, and holistic healing modalities my doctor never told me about. I began to share my insights and journey online and over time, built a powerful community and business, supporting women who were also on the pathway to healing. Think of this podcast as your uncensored and no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship. As an empath, you’ll get no-nonsense and totally holistic tips from me in real-time, as I navigate this healing journey right beside you. Now, let’s get started.

Welcome back to another episode of Healing Uncensored. I am excited to be back here with you, not only talking from a brand new microphone and some crisp, more dynamic audio, but also after about a month hiatus of not recording episodes, so we are back. I have a bunch of interviews lined up for January and happy freaking New Year. It’s 2020 I was so ready for it. I don’t know about you guys, but I was ready for December, at least, 2019 to be over and to be just stepping into some new energy of the new year.

So this episode today is actually a little bit about my December. I wasn’t planning on taking a hiatus and it just turned out that’s exactly what my mind and my body needed. And I thought, so I was in L.A. for the first two weeks of the month and I thought that I was going through this like, you know, quote mini, ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. And in fact, I had plans to talk about this, write about this, record an episode on it about mid-December. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was still in the thick of everything that was going on. And just now, finally, a month later, I’m able to pause and reflect, on the intensity of what was the past month.

So today’s episode is just going to be going through a little bit of a, a deeper, bigger, dark night of the soul that I’ve been experiencing that I hope that you can relate to, but, and see parts of yourself in, but also that just can inspire some of your own growth. So here we go.

A resurgence of my anxiety in LA

On December 5th was when I first flew out to L.A. to get trained in hypnotherapy. And hypnotherapy is a tool I’ve been using for a couple of years now, for personal issues that I’ve discussed with many of you before, around skin picking, around deeper due to fears, around confidence, and limiting beliefs. And the day before I left to go out to L.A. for two weeks for this training, I got really sick with whatever my husband had been dealing with the past week. He got sick around Thanksgiving. I thought I was in the clear, turns out not so much. So regardless, I made the trip out to L.A. with my bag full of homeopathic remedies, ahead of everything from the Whole Foods section on like cold and flu, and then, my essential oils of course. And when I was in L.A. I felt this surge of anxiety that, honestly, I hadn’t experienced in years. If you’re new here, and new to my journey, you may not know, but I used to suffer from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. That was a large part of my healing journey several years ago. So I was pretty pissed at the resurgence of anxiety that decided to come up to the surface. I immediately blamed all the surface level and external factors that could be the cause, or the reason to blame, the anxiety that was surfacing within me.

So that included things like the poor air quality in L.A. included the 5G brain-damaging technology that I wasn’t used to. The intense, just energy of so many people, and a huge population of L.A., a lack of nature, at least where I was staying, it was just kind of some cement grid and I’m used to being up in the mountains, being in nature, and having a big backyard. I blamed it on being sick, and just my body not being in its full capacity and full energy. I blame this on the people I was spending my training days with. And just being around energy that wasn’t as supportive, or positive, as when I was at home and I could control my space and the environment that I was spending my day in. I blamed it on the extreme subconscious reprogramming that we were doing through hypnotherapy training.

So when you go to training like this, it’s not just here’s how to do it, and you sit and you watch a lecture and they show you or they demonstrate. I mean there is some lecture, and there is some demonstration, but you’re also the client. And you partner up with people, and you practice the hypnosis, this very healing modality on each other. So I was the client and every single day, in many circumstances as we practice on each other. And that was some really intense subconscious reprogramming. And I found all the reasons to blame this anxiety kind of coming up to the surface as well. Like the Airbnb that I was staying at, and just being, you know, on sheets that I don’t know what laundry detergent they were cleaned with. And I didn’t know what the house had been cleaned with, and what chemicals were in there.

The source of blame

And so I could go on and on and on. And it’s interesting because I literally could go on and on and on. It’s so easy for me to find external factors to blame for how I’m feeling internally. So then when one of my best friends who she’s just a soul sister who totally, gets me. She drove up from Encinitas to visit me for a night in L.A., and we were just having a conversation. Again, like this is somebody who just gets me, we connect on a very soul level. We understand what each other are talking about, pretty much at all times. And she remarked on something interesting. And that thing is how often we blame the external in order to avoid the internal challenge that often happens to be the true root of whatever the issue is. So of course, my defensive nature clenched and winced at first, but eventually, it softened into the possibility that yeah, okay. Like none of the things that I just listed off above and could have kept going on and on about, were making my life any easier.

But maybe there was something deeper that was coming up to the surface, through this experience, that I had not considered that was more internal. That was something that I was avoiding because it felt sticky. It felt hard. I didn’t want to face it. I especially didn’t want to face it when I was outside of my normal environment, outside of my home, traveling, having long days of training. Then I realized what that thing might be. So despite knowing what may have been surfacing, the anxiety continued to grow. And one night I ended up just sobbing for an hour. I was desperate to release some of the feelings that were building inside of me, and tears are just like a very, very literal way that our body can release some of this energy, release some grief, some sadness.

So I sobbed for an hour, in order to let some of this go and I did. I did feel a lot lighter afterward, but then the day that my friend was leaving after she visited me during the break, like halfway through the training. We were in the car together, and I got hit with this intense rush of energy that just made me feel like I was going to pass out and I grabbed her arm, because I was grasping for something, or someone to steady me, to ground me, to make me feel safe because I thought I was like going down, in that moment. And as I connected my hand to her shoulder, she felt that same rush of energy flow through her, and it almost brought both of us to tears.

My fear of dying

And shocked, by the intensity of the energy I passed over to her for a second. She said to me, she’s like, Sarah, what was that? And I didn’t have an answer for her. I just knew that it felt scary. And that I didn’t want it, and that I really wanted to retreat from everything I was experiencing physically. This whole resurgence of anxiety in my body. So something was clearly happening here and for several days it felt very intrusive. It felt negative and frankly extremely inconvenient. And my psyche just felt as if it could shatter at any moment. I felt so fragile and I kept feeling this urge to escape, to run away, to retreat. One night I laid in the bathtub and I called my mom, just desperate for someone to talk me down off this crazy ledge of thoughts, that was circulating through my mind. This fear of death and the anxiety for me, that I used to experience a lot in the past, but then had resurfaced to this experience was, often gave me these thoughts of like, I’m going to die.

Oh my gosh, I’m going to pass out. No one’s going to be here to like save me or help me. Like some of these deep-rooted fears within my subconscious being. And so I also scheduled an emergency session with my intuitive healer so that she could balance my chakras. I was grasping. I felt so unsafe and I was calling in all of the troops. Anyone I felt could give advice, help me with healing, gave me a good talking to, this intuitive healer, balancing my chakras. My coach, I had a session with her as well. She did some more intuitive healing on me and eventually, called my husband when we had been talking every day. But there was one phone call I had with him and he was like, I think you should probably come back home. It’s okay to come back home, babe. Why don’t you just come back home? And how badly I wanted to fly home. I wanted to get out of there so badly. I wanted to be back in the arms of my person. The person who, the previous years that I had experienced anxiety was always my pole. That I would go run to when I was having these experiences. And now, here I was separate from him and feeling extremely unsafe in my body. And all of that normalcy was so far away. But as I realized how badly I wanted to fly home, and how much my husband was, what helped me feel safe, I realized at that moment that I had to stay. And the pathway to healing, for all of us, is ultimately through not around. So despite almost flying home, I was still there and I was fully there.

Finding conscious-connected breath

I was ready to show up and to continue the second half of my hypnosis certification. So one afternoon on lunch break, a new friend that I met from the training offered to guide me through a breathwork session. And it’s a specific style of breathwork called, “conscious connected breath”. And inside my head I was thinking, Oh my gosh, I am already so fucking fragile right now. I feel completely out of control. I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been waking up with intense fears of dying. Should I really do breathwork at this time? But I said yes anyway, and off to my Airbnb, we started walking, during this particular day’s lunch break. And on the way, this walk, I was doing this walk twice a day, every day, like one for the morning session, one for the evening session. And I had done it every day. On this day, when I was walking with this woman, we turned onto the street that my Airbnb was on, about a mile from the Center we were learning at, and there were probably a hundred crows, a hundred, I kid you not.

And they were like all over the street, and the lawns, and the trees, on like the telephone poles and wires, just chilling, just chilling there. And I had never seen them once, any other day and I didn’t see them there any other day after that either. And so, it was kind of like eerie, but also divine timing. I didn’t fully know how to interpret it at the time, but I was like, alright, well here where you go. So this woman asked me to set an intention for the session. And the first thing is like, okay, anxiety. This is what I’ve been dealing with lately since I’ve been here. It’s been all-consuming and I really want to let it go. So she went into what the session was going to feel like, how I might feel as we had started. And she explained how tetany which is the involuntary contraction of muscles in your hands, was very common during this particular style of breath.

So I’m going fuck because what she didn’t know, and what I would then explain to her was that tetany was my tell, my sign for when anxiety was starting to surface when it was coming on in my body. And I’ve been experiencing random tetany in my hands for years. I just didn’t know it had that name. But every time I’ve experienced it, it’s all associated with moments of anxiety. And what my hands feel that way, I panic. So we altered my intention for the session to releasing control. Which I ultimately knew was something I had been resisting in my life for a long time. And it was time to heal. So I was excited for the potential relief, but terrified of the sensations that I would have to potentially move through. So I just kept repeating inside my head like, I am here for this, I’m here for this, I’m here for this.

I’m a full participant in this exercise. And I trust that whatever needs to surface, whatever it needs to heal, whatever needs to release will happen. So I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years, you guys, 10 years. And I’ve done a shit load of breathwork, pranayama, Kundalini Korea’s. But I had never done anything like this before. And my arms began to tremble and I felt the uncontrollable controllable urge to shake them. So I started flailing my arms around, in just a way that felt good and my hands did in fact start to tetany. And so I shook them, and I twirled them, and I threw them around, almost as if I was like tossing energy around the space. And I was all doing all this as I was lying down, flat on my back, on a bed, but my arms were not still. My arms were shaking, my fingers were moving, I was just trying to release, and to be able to move through, and process some of the sensations I was having in my body. So I went through in these 20 minutes, emotions of intense fear, of feeling like I was going to die, of feeling liberated, feeling relaxed, feeling angry, feeling sad. And when the music finally stopped and I put my arms down by my sides, I finally just started to cry.

All these signs that had been showing up the past week, around releasing control, now had a more clear message for me. And that message was that uncomfortable feeling in my body, like tetany of the hands or the anxiety I was experiencing, are simply signs that energy is moving through me. My body is not dying when these things happen and instead it’s processing all of the things that I’m experiencing in life. And even the simple shift in perspective was immensely helpful for me.

I thought that that was going to be the end of this mini Dark Night of the Soul. Like, whew, okay, I fully confronted this sphere. I released control. I did some intense fucking breathwork. I’ve been doing two weeks of hypnotic therapy and rewiring my subconscious mind. And I thought that’s gotta be it, right universe? Like, that’s gotta be all, I thought it was. So this was about mid-December, and I flew back to Colorado thinking like, wow, that was intense. I’m so glad it’s over and I’m proud of myself for not running away, and instead of being fully present to the lessons hidden within the discomfort.

Surrendering control, the ultimate lesson

So I arrived back to my husband, and to my dog, and to my home, and I was so ready to take a deep breath and relax. But alas, the universe had other things in store. So that cold fever infection, I don’t know exactly what I had at the beginning of the month but it never truly went away. And when Andrew and I then drove up to our mountain house, you could actually follow us on Instagram now, it’s @wildwindscabin. We are so official. We opened the doors to our Airbnb in the mountains. It’s in Grand Lake, Colorado. So that’s like a total side job, but you can check out the house. It’s pretty much already and ready to go. So we’re driving out there to like put some finishing touches on, cause our first renters are coming this month, in January. And we got up there. I started to feel way worse. So I’m going to spare like all the details of the discomfort, and just get to the point. But after four days of intense heat, and chest pain plus this extreme irritability and sound, light, sensitivity, mood swings, a fever, back pain, neck pain, lightheadedness, like these are symptoms that first of all stuck around for four days.

But also I’m pretty like grounded, rooted. I understand my emotions. I typically can look, can feel intuitively into my body and these symptoms were like, what the fuck is happening? I finally took myself to the ER. And the last straw that made me make that decision was when I was trying to go to sleep one night. I was by myself. And every time I laid down flat, or put my head on the pillow, I would start to blackout. So I knew something was wrong. My intuition, it was working, it just, it was screaming at me. I just couldn’t understand what was actually going on, and I finally decided I need to go get some help here.

So it’s interesting though, maybe some of you can relate to this, that after so much trauma associated with conventional medical care, I’m the last damn person you will typically see at the hospital. Like I do anything and everything to avoid conventional medicine. If I broke my arm, I would go to the ER. That’s a different story. But going there for these symptoms was a really big deal for me. And it wasn’t a great experience. I had to press for tests, I had to stand up for myself. I had to like to speak up for myself. And a lot of old trauma was triggered by the doctor that I saw. This is not related to this current story of my dark night of the soul, but it definitely brought up other things as well. So eventually, after all the tests that they ran. I mean had like a flu swab, and I got an EKG, and I was hooked up to oxygen and had some fluids, IV fluids cause I was definitely a little dehydrated. As well as a head CT scan and a chest x-ray.

And eventually, they found a viral chest infection. So I had some inflammation in my lungs. Viral meningitis, which is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, different from bacterial meningitis, which is the one that like, you could potentially die within a few hours. But the viral one is not that intense, but it is still inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. And so now I’m going, okay, this makes so much more sense, because I’ve been feeling crazy inside of my head and having all sorts of symptoms that I’m just not used to in my body. So I went home feeling proud of my intuition, but still just as uncomfortable minus some oxygen, and fluids, because there’s really nothing you can do for viral infections. She’s like, you could take an antibiotic home with you if you want. I was like, that’s not going to help me, so I’ll pass.

So what you can do is simply rest. You can take anti-inflammatories. I choose to take natural anti-inflammatories and you know, lots of hydration. I was also just on my own accord, drinking some liquid chlorophyll cause it helps to oxygenate your blood as well. So I had this long talk with my hubby about everything that had been going on, that I’ve been going through lately. And he mirrored back to me that I was still trying to control everything in my life. I mean, I didn’t even tell him when I was going to the hospital. I texted him like four hours later than I had been in the hospital, and he was like, what the fuck? And you know, he just mirrored back to me that like, babe, you’re trying to control everything, and this is a partnership. And you got to tell me what’s going on inside that head of yours.

And he was right. And at that moment I just let the tears flow out and I realized I was still trying to control so many aspects of my life. Which, honestly had been heightened even more the past couple of months after my brother Joe died so unexpectedly. And control was my way of grasping for security, and safety. And anxiety surfaced every time I felt like something was out of my control. The food at restaurants gave me anxiety. Anything related to public transportation where it wasn’t on my watch, gave me anxiety. Time in any sort of control over time or lack of control over time. When the control was in somebody else’s hand, it gave me anxiety. My living environment, whether it was at an Airbnb that fell out of my control, or even my own home where it just wasn’t the way I wanted it to be. And especially my health when I felt like there were symptoms, physical symptoms I was experiencing, that I didn’t understand, that didn’t make sense to me. That felt out of control.

And I’m really curious to know how many of you relate to this. Do you get anxious when something in your life feels out of control? That had been the case for me for the majority of my life I’ve been kind of grappling with this surrender in certain parts of my life. And like getting pretty good at the surrender in some parts, in some aspects, from some standpoints. But then, there were other things that I was not releasing control over. And it’s deeply rooted. It’s deeply rooted in old stories and what kept me safe as a little girl. In losing two brothers unexpectedly and feeling like now I really have control over nothing in my life. So this was a good moment for me to pause and to consider a lot of the things that I’ve been through, that I hadn’t really given myself credit for.

That’s just where the story’s going to end for today. Look out for part two and rest of this Dark Night of the Soul journey, and thank you so much for tuning in today.

If you love the Healing Uncensored Podcast and are excited for all the new content coming January 2020 and beyond. I would love your support in sharing these alternative ways of healing. Just uncensored conversations and aspects of my own healing journey with others. The best thing that you can do is, share the episodes that you loved most with friends, or family, or on social media.

Again, thank you so much and I’ll see you all, next time.

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January 5, 2020

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