COVID-19: Lingering Symptoms, a Dark Night of the Soul and Spiritual Awakenings
Over the last few months, by some mysterious coincidence, I have had a large number of clients contract Covid-19 (and some have had the typical covid-symptoms, but were unable to get tested).
I know about 13 people in total (in the USA, Europe and Asia) who have had this strange bug, and I have been supporting about 6 of them regularly, as a mindfulness coach & somatic experiencing practitioner.
What really struck me was that almost all of my clients were having some wildly similar experiences with this coronavirus—strange, lingering symptoms and deeply challenging, soul-rousing spiritual experiences.
My impulse to share about my client’s similarities (and I have their permission) comes from the fact that many of them have found tremendous comfort hearing about each other’s experiences and knowing that they aren’t alone.
My hope is that this will be of service to anyone who has had this virus, is feeling alone in their journey, and is perhaps having some experiences (physical, emotional or spiritual) that they are struggling to fully grasp.
THE PHYSICAL EXPERIENCES
1) LUNG ISSUES:
Most of my clients had no prior lung or breathing issues, but all of them experienced several hours, days or weeks of difficulty breathing, as well as pain, burning, compression and tension in their lungs. Evenings seemed to greatly exacerbate their lung issues.
2) POST-COVID LINGERING CHEST ISSUES:
Even after the main flu-like symptoms of Covid-19 passed, many of them were surprised to still be experiencing sporadic waves of chest tension, pain and challenges breathing. Sometimes for several days or hours they would feel completely normal, and then suddenly out of nowhere their chest would get tight, they would feel short of breath, or experience waves of fatigue. Some of them were still having these symptoms even after 12 weeks.
3) GUT & DIGESTION ISSUES:
Many of them complained of digestion issues (before, during and far after the main symptoms). Things like bloating, abdominal pain, a downward pressure in the gut, diarrhea, or strange challenges eating certain kinds of foods.
THE EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES
1) A DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL:
Almost all of them described an experience during Covid-19 where they felt like they entered some kind of altered reality. Some of them called this “a dark night of the soul” moment, where they came face to face with their own mortality and truly believed they would die.
Many of them faced this moment at night, alone (and for some this happened over the course of many evenings). They said that this experience surfaced their deepest fears and unresolved traumas. They felt like they were finally facing why they didn’t fully want to be here on this planet. In this “dark night of the soul” experience, many of them shared that they were presented with a choice—to stay or leave.
For several of my clients, this was a deeply terrifying, but also somehow beautifully profound moment (akin to a super challenging medicine journey, where the medicine ushers you through a portal into hell and death, and then through to the other side).
It struck me how many of them mentioned that even in all of this darkness and fear, they also felt deeply held and guided. They felt the presence of deceased loved ones or soothing angelic-like energies.
2) A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING:
Some of my clients shared that after these “dark night of the soul” experiences, something massive began to open up. Their bodies finally began to heal. Some felt the best they had in years—alive, vibrant, on fire with creativity and clarity, and a deeper commitment to this human experience.
For many, this opening felt like a spiritual awakening or initiation of sorts (and perhaps anytime we spend days/weeks sick in bed and are faced with our mortality, coming out the other side can certainly serve to renew our passion for living).
During this period of time, I watched many of my clients take bold steps-- doing things that they had previously been afraid to do. They exuded confidence, clarity and an aliveness that really struck me.
MY PERSONAL REFLECTION
I have felt somewhat hesitant to share all of this, in part because, I am not a doctor (and I do believe it is very important that anyone with these symptoms seek professional medical advice) and also because these are not my personal experiences-- so I have done my best to honor and distill them here. I also acknowledge that I am incredibly fortunate that none of my clients have died from this coronavirus.
My sense is that this strange virus, and the collective fear we are wading through (whether it is a fear of the virus itself, or a fear of other people's fear & reaction to the virus), is stirring some of the deepest wounds and traumas many of us have ever faced. For those of us that will contract this virus, our journey is not just to be treated with western medicine alone, we also need emotional and spiritual support to be with what surfaces, as we face ourselves, the lives we have created, and our mortality.
I am aware that the clients who are drawn to work with me, might lean towards making deeper spiritual meaning out of an experience like Covid-19. But my gut also tells me that this virus (whether you contract it or not) is a profound human initiation and invitation of sorts— inviting all us to stop living these half-baked lives— where we are existing, working, and relating from default. Where we habitually bury our pain, wounds and undigested fears so we don’t dare need to feel anything uncomfortable.
Life wants so much more from us.
Life is here, inviting all of us to slow down and FEEL and FACE ourselves. This is a spiritual reckoning for all of us. A potent opportunity to transmute our aversion to feeling and facing, into a deeper, more embodied choosing of this precious little Life. And we need each other to do this good, hard work.
That’s my honest two cents.
And… if you have had your own personal journey with this virus, please share your thoughts and experiences here with all of us. Your words are a gift to all of those who have felt alone in this.