Healing from my “Dark Night of the Soul” was not easy, but the three main steps I had to go through were: Forgive, Love and Heal. This mantra, “Forgive, Love, Heal,” will help one heal from a dramatic Dark Night of the Soul as mine, or even what I call aÂ “Mini Dark Night,” which can happen all the time to us in busy, modern life – simple things like being shown the finger in an unloving exchange, or being cut off on the road in traffic!
In my own Dark Night of the Soul, I had to deal with prostrate cancer, surgical complications, life-threatening sepsis, depression, chronic pain and dependency on pain medications. I had to sell my house, quit my job, all the while feeling how my marriage tethered and my health suffered.
I was very angry at myself, at God, the people, at the world – at the universe.
My healing happened in three steps.
1. To Forgive — I had to forgive myself for anything I had done, or contributed to the dark night. Forgive the circumstances. “Forgive” God and accept God’s will. I had to surrender to the possibility that the Spirit alone has the infinite wisdom. These were the lessons I had to learn in this lifetime, so that I could evolve.
Forgiveness is defined as: “The process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.”
To help in the forgiveness process, I rediscovered the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
It transformed me. I started to live in present in the “Now” and not stuck in what my circumstances once were in the past or what I wanted them to be in the future.
2. To Love — The second step was to start to love myself, my life, my circumstances. The beauty is that when I started to love myself, my health improved in leaps and bounds. I started eating healthy, going to the gym regularly, meditating and praying regularly.
This self-love should not mean a narcissistic way of prioritizing the self at the cost of others, for I truly believe one can only love others when one becomes “love” itself. I started to have gratitude and love re-kindled for the Spirit, the people, the world, the environment; I even changed my car from a Hummer to a Camry Hybrid.
Love is defined as: “A virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and the unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another and one’s self.”
A Mother Teresa quote comes to mind: “We all cannot do great things, but we all can do things with great love.”
We all can each become a sun of of love — radiating love all around. Start the “ripple effect” from the heart, from inside your heart, from your Source.
3. To Heal — After the first two steps of change within our mind, and within our heart, comes the step that addresses change at the level of the soul, our spirit. I haveÂ observed in others, and personally experienced, that to really heal, there has to be a “shift” that has to happen at a deep level of our consciousness. Effectively, the consciousness has to not just heal, but evolve, too.
Healing is defined as: “To make healthy, whole, restore to health; to rejuvenate, to free from evil; cleanse; purify.”
Looking back, I am thankful to the Spirit for the circumstances I had to go through. It has brought love, compassion, “Seva” (service with gratitude), sharing and creativity as my guiding principles – whereas before I lived for cancerous materialism, expensive toys, the satisfaction of myself above all others; it really was all about me and my status.
My Dark Night transformed me to find my true Divine purpose and my dharma to be a healer at the soul level. I wouldn’t be writing this but for going through the heat of that Dark Night. It made me whole.
I learned to embrace my Dark Shadow.
A Gandhi quote comes to mind, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Forgive, Love and Heal
A short email from a friend: “Hi Raj – It was so nice to have you with us last weekend! You have changed a lot since I saw you last in India.”
Another friend said after knowing me for five years, he could see how my driving has changed. That is so true. I was always in rush in the fast lane. But now I have what I will call “Buddha Driving!” I am driving in the middle lane. Somebody cuts me off? So be it — they must be in rush.
So, my friends, my experience is that this approach works. Through the practice of my own prescription for wellness in the soul of wellness, and through the adoption of this mantra – “Forgive, Love and Heal” — I have managed to reduce my doctor’s orders of pills every morning from 36 to five different pills a day to manage my health.
The truth is that I have gotten myself out of intense pain, managed to free myself from depression, free myself of addiction, and reverse being overweight through this mantra. The quality of my relationships with my beloved wife, my beautiful children, my dear friends and working associates are genuinely infused with joy, understanding, love and laughter.
My advice is to not just say the mantra, but to practice it — to live it: to be the change it beckons from us.