Surviving our dark night of the soul with wisdom

The Wisdom Well with Colleen-Joy

Rage, grief, paralysing anxiety and confusion – we ride relentless collective tidal waves of emotion – together.

The best of what it means to be human: The courage, compassion and Wisdom. The worst of what it means to be human: Divisiveness, manipulation, war cries from the heart, mind and gut, breaking down families, relationships and communities. Both are on display for us every day: Hate speech video clips, flags planted in the sand, inspirational songs of hope side by side with savagery.

This is our dark night of the soul. How do we survive it? How do we do our best to navigate these times? How do we face suffering with dignity? How do we open our minds but not lose our hearts?

Many years back, I facilitated a nondenominational funeral for the family of a man shot dead by robbers in his living room while his young son hid in the room next door. It had been an impossibly difficult day, holding the space for the 200-plus mourners. Finding sincere words to comfort; listening not only with ears but with the heart – feeling their songs of terrible sadness. And doing this without shrinking back.

That night, after tucking my young daughters in bed and saying goodnight to my husband, I sat at the foot of my stairs, spent. Pen and paper on my lap, I knew I needed to process the day’s trauma, even if it seemed easier to ignore the twisting knife in my gut and pretend that I was fine. I wanted solace from my soul, from the invisible world that I had come to know since my early childhood.

The house was asleep, locked up and dark; I sat on my carpeted spiral staircase with its high walls, looking up the stars and moon through double volume windows.

It was pointless trying to hear my soul through the suffering and stress; I knew that I would first need to dig my well by being with whatever was there.

So I closed my eyes, dropping my attention to the honest, raw feelings.

What I met was a rage with an intensity that shook me. A fire that spat with weeping sobs.

If the rage could speak, what would it say? I asked myself. Words formed, I began to write.

WHERE ARE YOU? Where are the beings of light to help us? Where is God?

How can this insanity be allowed to exist? IT’S NOT OKAY!!!!!! It’s bad enough that we suffer from sickness, poverty and the stress of living and dying on this planet, but this senseless, endless violence. HOW CAN YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?

I poured out the fury until there was nothing left to say; I was finally empty enough to listen.

Closing my eyes again, I took my attention to the felt sense of my body, to the feel of my skin, the energy pulsing with emotion, the twisting tired anger. Now I set my intention to open to my soul, to tune in to Wisdom. Feeling the soothing, peaceful support. The air around me changed so subtly that I would have missed it if I wasn’t paying attention.

I knew it helped to formulate a clear question – a bucket to send into my Wisdom Well – and then translate the peaceful knowing into words.

Dripping in aloneness and feelings of abandonment, I wrote this question, “WHERE ARE YOU?”

Then closing my eyes to listen deeply. Feeling, sensing the peaceful openness of knowing that is always there just beneath the surface of thought if we know to look there.

Where are you? I repeated, waiting for words that felt solid and open.

“Who do you think you are?” was the reply.

This was not a who do you think you are to question us; it was not a statement of superiority. It was a question pointing straight back at me. Who do you think YOU are? “We are you. We are here. YOU are us.”

You are us, I repeated, trying to reject the message but feeling its solid felt sense, the way Wisdom feels when it opens the mind, heart and gut.

I sat with this seeing. It was so much easier to rant at someone out there. The familiar sense of love from my soul was also there. A love so complete that it could hardly be contained in my body. More understanding flowed.

Souls bravely incarnate to be here. The only way to change what it is to be human is to be one. Change is from the inside out. You can’t change fear from a distance. You feel fear in the body and then transmute it. And every fear healed is offered to the collective, a gift, an opportunity for all.”

WE are here to do this. Together.

We have support from spirit, life and the divine, but we are the ground soul troops.

My sister is my hero because I love her and because she is a humble schoolteacher who is a voice for Wisdom even though she would never say that about herself. She said recently: “Keep your head above the flood line of fear.”

The Wisdom of the soul is often drowned out by the primitive survival instincts of the human body. It can be really helpful to remember this. Are our thoughts and feelings streaming from ego or soul? It takes courage to be discerning, to question our own thoughts and motives. To be honest with ourselves.

When we feel our minds and hearts close, it’s up to us to question our thoughts bravely.

My life has been dedicated to the pursuit of building wisdom wells, first for myself and then to help others who are drawn to this path, to do the same.

Having studied with some of the spiritual pioneers of our time, including Dr Michael Newton, author of Journey of Souls, who brought us a way to access soul memories, I can tell you how valuable it is to find our soul’s Wisdom.

In times of stress and suffering, when we need inner guidance the most, isn’t it true that it can feel the hardest to find. That’s when we need to work a little harder, dig deeper than the human surface mind, and find the clear water, the Wisdom that waits within each of us.

Our souls are here for this. For this time. To do this work.

It does not help to try to be spiritual, to push the worst of what it means to be human at arm’s length. It does not help to place spiritual support high on a cloud and feel like a little creature crawling around on a savage planet. At this time, we are called to draw on our souls’ strength and courage, to know that we are the ground troops. Our souls are equal to this.

How we change things is an inside-out job.

To build our wisdom wells, first we must dig through the dirt, which means being honest about how we are truly feeling. Acknowledging and listening to our human feelings and thoughts — no matter how savage, petty, shameful, dark or unspiritual.

Place the worst of what it means to be human on the altar of your sacred inner sharing. This is why my Wisdom Well Way ™ meditation method encourages honest, vulnerable purging before tuning in to Wisdom.

We are denied insight if we try to skip over our honest feelings and thoughts.

As Helen Keller, who, despite being born blind and deaf, became an inspiring voice for Wisdom, once said: “The best way out is always through.”

The way to Wisdom is through the dirt.

I know we don’t want to hear this. My mind and heart tremble when I see this truth. I’d prefer my spirituality to lift me to a place of safe superiority, where I can be lofty instead of human.

A dear friend of mine, Radhakrishna, a monk for most of his life, once told me an Indian fable and teaching called the ‘small bird in the big bird.’

“The small bird is our humanness, limited with flaws. The big bird is our expanded consciousness. By trying to be the big bird, we keep ourselves as a small bird,” he said. “When we completely accept the small bird, the big bird is there.”

I invite you to welcome your small bird. Don’t try to be a Big Bird. Wisdom belongs in the desperation and inspiration of our daily lives. It doesn’t only belong on the bookshelf of semantic arguments. Wisdom belongs in the life of our small birds.

You don’t need to be special. You don’t need to be clever. You don’t need to be anything but what you are.

In times of struggle, we look up with clenched fists of anger or tearful eyes of hope. It’s time to stop looking up and to look inwards.

Will you dig your Wisdom Well with me?

Let’s do this together. Let’s bring Wisdom to the surface of our lives and our world with courage and love.

Colleen-Joy is an author and spiritual teacher best known for her Wisdom Well Way meditation method, which you can enrol for here wisdomwellway.com and her internationally accredited InnerLifeSkills Master Coach Certification programmes innerlifeskillscourses.com/. Join her regular Zoom classes.

Colleen has taught over 35 000 people in 60 countries, delivering over 4 000 classes and talks. Two documentary television features have been made about her life story and she’s been a regular expert television and press guest for over 20 years.

Colleen-Joy

Colleen-Joy is an author and spiritual teacher best known for her Wisdom Well Way meditation method, which you can enrol for here and her internationally accredited InnerLifeSkills Master Coach Certification programmes Join her regular Zoom classes. Colleen has taught over 35 000 people in 60 countries, delivering over 4 000 classes and talks. Two documentary television features have been made about her life story and she’s been a regular expert television and press guest for over 20 years.

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