14 Ways to Thrive Beyond a Dark Night

Heidi Bright, Thriver Soup: A Feast for Living Consciously During the Cancer Journey


  1. Rule out mental health issues first. If those exist, seek a mental health professional for treatment.
  2. Seek wise guidance. I would suggest a spiritual director, rabbi, psychotherapist, or shaman. These professionals should have the training to guide you through the experience. If not, find someone else. Keep looking until you find someone who can assist with you finding your own light. See Thriver Soup, “Linking Heart and Body,” pg. 183.
  3. Ask for support from friends and family when possible. Be specific in your requests to specific people. For example, say something like “What day can we meet for lunch this week so I can talk about my loss?” See Thriver Soup, “Sharing the Moment, Sharing Life,” pg. 277.
  4. Find ways to laugh. Read a funny book or watch a humorous movie, or even go to laughter yoga and laugh for no reason at all. See Thriver Soup, “Laughter: Have a Joke and a Smile,” pg. 286.
  5. Find ways to move your body. Taking a walk in the woods on a sunny day feels healing because it is. Japanese research shows these benefits: Boosts immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, increases ability to focus, accelerates recovery from surgery or illness, increases energy levels, and improves sleep.
  6. When our internal structures collapse, it can help to have external structures to help us get through each day. These might be eating a cooked apple for breakfast, walking in a park at lunchtime, and turning off electronics at a certain time each day. As Kathleen says, “Those activities keep me grounded and give me a sense of accomplishment.”
  7. Practice gratitude. It can shift and lighten your mood and help you get through the worst of the experience. See Thriver Soup, “Gratitude Attitude,” pg. 205, and “Gratitude’s Gifts,” pg. 285.
  8. Move toward a more whole-foods, plant-based diet that is full of nutrients and vitality. Add a probiotic. Research shows a link between intestinal health and mental health. Since depression can be an unwelcome bedfellow during a dark night, a good diet can help ease symptoms. See Thriver Soup, “Harvesting Health,” pg. 109.
  9. Perhaps try a different spiritual practice. I found it nearly impossible to meditate or pray during my dark night. So I moved from head-based meditation to a body-centered practice. It was much easier to do while feeling disconnected from the Spirit. And it helped me stay connected with my body, which helped me stay more present during painful experiences. See Thriver Soup, “Bruno Groening: Access the Divine Healing Stream,” pg. 338.
  10. Write down the dreams you have at night. They might contain messages of hope. For example, see the dark night dream I had in Thriver Soup, “Paramahansa Yogananda: God’s Boatman,” pg. 352.
  11. Journal as much as you can. Allow this transitional time to be an incubation period, a liminal time for excavating the depths of your soul. If you live this time well, if you live the dogged questions, you probably are going to emerge from this experience completely transformed. See Thriver Soup, “Journaling: Writing Down to Your Bones,” pg. 210.
  12. Embrace your emotions. They are an authentic part of who you are. There is no shame in them—we all have them. They are e-motions, energy in motion in our bodies. They simply are sensations. The emotions themselves will not hurt us—they are just uncomfortable. See Thriver Soup, “Map of Emotions: Let it Be,” pg. 216.
  13. Try to practice forgiveness. See Thriver Soup, “Forgiveness: Stairway to Heaven,” pg. 251.
  14. Time spent in darkness is not a mistake. We’re in it for a reason. Embrace it. It contains tremendous wisdom if we tap deeply into it. Often the only way out is through. Turn the coal down there, which is under tremendous pressure, into diamonds that reflect your inner light. See Thriver Soup, “Dark Night: Abduction into the Depths,” pg. 303.