Could Insomnia Be Your Dark Night of the Soul?Sep 18, 2023
When speaking with clients both during and after their insomnia experiences, I am often struck by the changes that occur during this process.
In the beginning, clients are often angry, confused, and afraid. They see themselves as broken, a victim of insomnia. In their mind, their body is betraying them, and a predominant thought is “why me”?
During our work together, changes begin to occur. Often, as clients learn to listen to their bodies and examine their lives, they come to realize that insomnia is a symptom, not a disease.
We probably all agree that insomnia can be a painful, frustrating, soul-destroying experience. And yet… I often marvel at how many people I meet talk about insomnia being gift.
What is a Dark Night of the Soul?
A dark night of the soul is commonly used to describe a particularly dark, painful, or difficult time in someone’s life, almost like a soul quest. The person experiencing this dark night goes through an inner struggle, when everything seems hopeless, and, if they survive, they often come out on the other side stronger and wiser (or so the tale goes).
When viewed in this context is easy to see how this internal struggle could trigger insomnia (strong emotions can often be stressful) or even how the pain, loneliness, and frustration that people often feel during insomnia could cause the insomnia experience to be a dark night all on its own.
How Pain Can Lead to Transformation
How then, can something so difficult ever been seen as positive?
First, it is important to understand that it is in this pain and difficulty that change grows.
“Picture a beautiful lotus flower. The lotus grows in muddy water, but it rises above the surface to bloom into a beautiful flower.
This process is seen as a symbol of overcoming obstacles and hardships in life to reach a state of enlightenment and beauty.” ~ Foliage Friend
Skills are Transferable to All Areas of Life
Learning to master insomnia involves cultivating many self-disciples such as learning how to deeply examine our lives, let go of control, and accept what is. These disciples are not necessarily fun or entertaining. Let’s face it, without adversity most of us would probably prefer to just sit around and watch Netflix or go out with our friends.
It is emotional pain which pushes us to dig deeper, seek answers and become more resilient in order to survive.
My Insomnia Story
Many of you already know my insomnia story. I spent most of my life wandering around, without direction, trying to figure out who I came here to be and what I wanted to do. Because I really had no idea, I ended up chasing easy money (for security) and doing what everyone else thought I should do.
The result was someone who did not have a strong sense of self and, in that state, I wasn’t able to live the life of passion and purpose that I had always dreamed of as a child.
When insomnia came for me, it was because I had completely given up. I figured I could never have the life I wanted, as I had clearly been born without a passion and things never worked out for me, so I might as well train in something I hate to make lots of money at a soulless corporate job and save for retirement (completely giving up on my dreams to help people and love my career).
It took a long time to see that I wasn’t a victim and insomnia wasn’t a curse. It was my body, my higher self (whatever language you want to use for this) telling me that I was making a mistake. Something was deeply wrong and, if I truly wanted to heal, I needed to examine my life and make some changes.
I was reminded of this yet again as I sat here today, on a Saturday, joyously giving up one of my only days off, to be in Hakomi training.
Today, my life looks completely different than it did a few years ago, when insomnia was at its worst.
Through that pain of insomnia, and my search for a cure, I discovered my joy, my passion and what I believe I was put here to do.
How Can This Help You With Insomnia?
This likely sounds sappy and self-obsessed to many people and maybe it is in a way. After all, how does my good fortune help you?
This concept is significant because it’s not just about me. I have met numerous people over the years (first in insomnia support groups and later as clients) who have similar stories.
Although the end results looked different (we did not all go on to become sleep coaches!) our stories were similar.
Insomnia is a disease, you are broken and unlucky, nothing works, you can’t control it, this is just your cross to bear. It’s natural to start off feeling this way. The problem is that when you meet a hardship, such as insomnia, with a victim mentality, there is no room for growth or change to occur.
When you learn to shift your thinking, accept, and get curious instead of struggling, continuously asking yourself “What is my body telling me?” “What can I learn from this?” you are tapping into a growth mindset which makes the way for wonderful and unexpected changes to occur.
If you would like to learn more or book an individual session, please visit the Memberships page.
In the meantime, I would like to leave you with this important message. You are not broken! You are whole, perfect, and healthy exactly as you are, and you CAN sleep!
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