How to Find the Way of Trust With Jeannie Zandi
Here are the key takeaways from my interview with Healer and Founder of Living as Love Jeannie Zandi. We discuss dark nights of the soul, the role of pain in heart-centered living, and how we can walk the path of trust in a world that is filled with suffering.
What Happens During a Dark Night of the Soul?
A dark night of the soul is a time of despair that leads to deep questioning about life and a loss of faith. During this time, we question the mental concepts that give us a sense of control and usually dismantle the concepts we’ve built our lives upon. Often the very things that kept us safe as children, seem to become obstacles to true fulfillment and connection. This process is a kind of re-birth to a life that is more authentic, true, and sacred.
“My dark night of the soul exposed the underlying atheism of my spirituality; when I was relieved of mental reference points, I entered the heart of mistrust.” -Jeannie Zandi
In the falling away of our old identities and fixed ideas, we may develop a mistrust of the rhythm of life. Mental reasoning and concepts don’t assuage this mistrust. Here are a few examples of how this mistrust mentally manifests:
- Is there actually good in the universe? Are people good?
- Is god is a punishing god? Am I being punished?
What Helps Relieve the Dark Night of the Soul?
During a dark night of the soul, the organic process is not in our control as our old coping mechanisms and reference points are transformed. Our comfortable ways of living start to feel unbearable and yet we’re unsure how to proceed without them. This sense of the unknown may feel frightening and uncomfortable in moments. But within us a transformation is happening, preparing us to live life in a deeper, more open, more sacred way, that is in alignment with things as they are, not how our minds think they should be. We may have no sense of being okay in the chaos of darkness since we cannot address pain with mental concepts or will. It’s about learning to surrender to the dismantling process and get as much comfort and support as we can along the way. The dismantling is opening us up to experience a deeper, more visceral connection with life itself and preparing us to live the deeper truth of our being.
“Imagine a prying a hammer from the fist of a skeleton. Life pries our most cherished coping mechanisms out of our death grip in order to open us to a new life of depth and connection that’s meant for us.” – Jeannie Zandi
Entering into the void of pain and being present amidst the discomfort is the only passage to relief. Jeannie developed practices of lying on the earth and allowing herself to grieve as often as possible and for as long as she needed. She took space in nature, watching the wind through the trees and wind on water. She noticed that simply being present in the moment (without a focus on thoughts) eased the pain and opened her up to a deep sense of connection with life that she never knew before.
Jeannie emphasized how important it is to allow our grief to flow and to meet it with tender compassion. So many of us did not get the reassurance and compassion we needed as children, so meeting our pain with love is an important practice.
Important Note on Spiritual Bypassing and Trauma: We live on a planet where death, abuse, abandonment, and trauma happen. Our culture denies the processing of grief and anger. So, trauma survivors may need different, specialized help to address trauma loops and panic. In these cases, please seek the guidance of a licensed professional psychologist and/or see the resources below.
How Can We Open to Deeper Trust?
Everyone carries grief from separation from the god-self. Many carry grief from trauma. Yet, with support, grief can lead to a realization of our innate wholeness and indestructible goodness.
“The seed around our heart is cracked open by pain.” – Jeannie Zandi
We may look for mental concepts or stories that serve us or that ease our pain. This is part of the process. By virtue of being pitted against the natural rhythm of life as we are in this culture, we realize that the path back to trust involves a deconstruction of our old identities. Knowledge and wisdom are attained on a cellular level through experience, digestion, and integration. This process reveals a new knowing and faith. Perhaps our worst fears didn’t happen, or perhaps our worst fears did happen and we survived.
We don’t have many models for this sacred transformation in our culture, so it takes courage to support yourself by slowing down, taking your time, and following your deeper rhythms, moment to moment, breath by breath. Step by step, we begin to see is that life has inherent wisdom and safety to it. But we can’t get there only through our minds, we have to get there with the body and the heart, living it one moment at a time.
Just like a plant has a part of its life cycle in which it dies and rots before new life can be born, we as part of life, also have a natural phase in our cycle where old beliefs, concepts, and meanings fall away and become composted so that we can have a new cycle of re-birth and new blossoming in our lives.
“Mental over-functioning was the very thing that helped me feel safe my entire life, but now it had become the very thing that hurt more than anything else. The only other option was to trust. And when I opened to trust, life became more miraculous.” – Bethany Webster
The Way of Trust: Embracing the “Benevolent Moment”
In most moments, we are not in physical pain or dying. This is where you can find a “benevolent moment,” where our perception is cracked open and we find joy in small things, like holding a pen or taking a breath.
Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move. -Rumi
We can find a harmonizing force that is soothing and healing by staying open to the possibility of miraculousness at the moment. It cannot be found through our mind, but by sinking into the felt reality of the moment, through finding a sense of ground, feeling our breath, and tuning into a felt sense of just Being.
“Returning to being as our resting place, we learn how to rely on and trust in the essential movement of life as an expression of our very own deepest Self.”- Jeannie Zandi
The Way of Trust: Integration Questions
- Have you experienced a dark night of the soul? If yes, what mental concepts were unearthed and dismantled? What did you have to let go of?
- Grief is an important ally in the dark night of the soul. How might you remind yourself that grief is sacred and supportive to your process? Create a mantra like” Grief is my friend.” “Grief always precedes a breakthrough.” “Grief helps me let go and open to the new.”
- What are your practices for supporting grief? Try lying on the earth, watching clouds, “nesting” at home or allowing yourself to weep as much as you need. Come up with a list of other practices that speak to you and try them.
- Do you trust the universe, god, goddess, spirit (any higher power)? How have these served you so far? Have you questioned them? Has life caused you to question them?
- Read about the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. Where are you as a hero in your own journey? Who or what has helped you along the way? What do you need now on your hero’s journey to support you?
- Do any archetypes, mystics, or figures resonate with you during times of grief or stress, like Mary Magdalene or Saint John of the Cross? Dedicate time each week for the rest of the month to learning about them and/or creating an altar to what they represent to you.
ResourcesJeanie Zandi’s Website
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Blackfoot Physics by F. David Peat
Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore
Saint John of the Cross
Learn more about Transpersonal Psychology (note: search for “affordable counseling” near you if counseling is cost-prohibitive)
Science and Nonduality Conference
About Jeannie Zandi
Jeannie is the founder of Living as Love, a non-profit dedicated to seeding the culture of the heart. Her work can be found at www.jeanniezandi.com.