Of late, I’ve been questioning my spiritual practice, feeling anxious and emotional, tearful, and I don't know why? Could this be "the dark night of the soul"?

Thank you for this question.

Unfortunately, like many physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual challenges, it is nearly impossible to “diagnose” what is going on without a lot more information — and it is questionable whether online discussions can provide an adequate back-and-forth to get to the bottom of something. Then there is the issue of getting multiple opinions…some of which are informed and experienced, and some of which are not.

That said, what you are describing could be any of the following:

1. A consequence of emotional stress (at work, in close relationships, etc.).

2. A consequence of changes to habits of diet, sleep, exercise.

3. A lack of adequate exposure to sunlight that has induced Seasonally Affective Disorder.

4. A vitamin D or vitamin B12 deficiency.

5. A temporary and natural “blip” in one’s confidence or faith regarding past assumptions and experiences in spiritual matters.

6. A consequence of some two years of COVID-related disruption to collective and interpersonal well-being.

7. A genetic predisposition to depression that is just now manifesting itself.

8. Unresolved childhood trauma that is percolating up after years of being repressed/denied.

9. A consequence of too much alcohol or other substance (or of ending a dependency on a substance — like quitting smoking).

10. The side effects of a chronic infection or inflammatory disorder.

And we could easily explore another dozen possibilities. Hopefully you see the problem here in terms of there not being enough information to make even a guess about what is going on.

So…I would recommend first seeing a primary care physician and getting a standard physical and blood tests (a standard metabolic panel, for example, will indicate certain deficiencies, infections, etc.). If that doesn’t prove useful, I would then see a well-recommended therapist. And, if none of those produce any fruit, then yes, there may possibly be a spiritual component to what you are going through.

However, the dark night of the soul is generally a bit more extreme than the symptoms you describe. It is also rarely (if ever, from my observation) a spontaneous or uninvited experience. The dark night is almost always the consequence of disciplined and sustained spiritual practices over time.

I hope this was helpful.


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