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How to Survive a Spiritual Emergency

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How to Survive a Spiritual Emergency | Jessica Davidson

Think you have to be religious to experience a spiritual awakening? Think again. Many people, like me, start out entirely secular. I didn’t believe in anything, was a proud and apparently rational atheist until the rug was pulled from under my feet. All it can take is a little boredom, a little dissatisfaction with the paucity of the material rewards offered by consumerism, a little frustration with daily life, for the searching to start…

Wakey-Wakey

Spiritual awakening is another term for the evolution of consciousness. As we seek deeper meaning in our lives, we are pushed beyond our comfort zones and discover there may be more to life than we assumed.

Many people experience spiritual awakening as a gentle emergence. Slowly the wounds of the past are healed, and the Self is discovered to be vast and full of joy. For others, this process of self-discovery is more painful and traumatic. Emergence becomes an emergency.

Emergency!

Spiritual emergency or crisis is what happens when the natural process of spiritual awakening becomes intensified. It moves faster and deeper, becomes enmeshed with earlier wounds yet to heal.

This can be triggered by spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer or yoga; or by drugs, whether psychotropic or otherwise. It can also be accidental, arising from any major turning point in life. The death of a loved one, illness, accident, divorce or the loss of a job, can all trigger a period of profound questioning leading to spiritual awakening.

Symptoms

Everybody experiences awakening in different ways. The restructuring of the psyche as it transcends and heals itself unfolds according to an inner blueprint. The process is impersonal and yet experienced in a unique way.

Positive, inspiring experiences can be mixed with terrifying and debilitating ones, making navigation through the storm complicated at best. Here’s a selection:

Mystical experiences of oneness, bliss and awe
Hypersensitivity to light, sounds, smells, etc.
Confusion caused by the merger of inner and outer worlds
Dark Night of the Soul or profound depression and loss of meaning

Resistance is Futile

Awakening is an opportunity to learn to surrender and trust life, to move into freedom and co-creation, and find wholeness. But before you get there you may have to confront the dark side. As consciousness expands, the ego resists. Old ideas and concepts are torn down, but the ego tries to hang on to the reins. Anything unresolved or repressed from the past will resurface and demand attention.

If you find yourself undergoing a spiritual awakening – don’t panic! You’re not going crazy. It’s true there is often regressive, psychotic stuff mixed in with the glorious transpersonal, and it can be hard to tell the difference when it’s all swirling through your head. But there is a way through.

What to do

Seek support: find friends, family, a spiritual community, or sympathetic health care professionals to help you through. You may feel alone, but you don’t have to be. Start with the links below.

Take your time: there’s no rush. Let the process unfold naturally. It’s not a race and you’re already at the finish line, even if you don’t yet realise it.

Write it down: find a way to express what you’re experiencing. Write, paint, dance, plant a window box, anything that gets what’s in your head, out so you can see it more clearly.

Look for the lesson: ask for insight, look for the deeper meaning. Don’t take anything at face value.

Don’t panic: it may look like you’re losing everything. Old structures like jobs, relationships, living arrangements, may change, but new structures will grow from the rubble.

Practise gratitude: be thankful for the opportunity to awaken. It’s a great gift.

Have hope: the sun always rises!

Useful Links

For more information I recommend In Case of Spiritual Emergency by Catherine G Lucas, founder of the UK Spiritual Crisis Network -

In Case of Spiritual Emergency: Review | Jessica Davidson

The following sites may also be helpful:

SPIRITUAL CRISIS NETWORK

In Case of Spiritual Emergency

Page Not Found - Spiritual Emergence

Good luck! And see you on the other side…

>Addled: Adventures of a Reluctant Mystic was inspired by my own experience of spiritual emergency and awakening. Find out more here.

Addled: Adventures of a Reluctant Mystic | Jessica Davidson
 
FuzzyPeach

FuzzyPeach

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Love that. My depressions have been a spiritual journey i am certain, however i see it more as destiny, as planned by God, something to develop my soul, planned experiences to help me grow. It appeared to all happen in one go though and at the time i didn't see it. You are told you are mentally unwell, brain issues, but i do think there is a Higher Power at play here that psychiatrists cannot comprehend.
 
SomersetScorpio

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Do you reckon it's possible to have a series of these experiences, rather than one big crisis?

Over the years, i've often felt i'm revisiting my crisis but on a deeper level.
 

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Do you reckon it's possible to have a series of these experiences, rather than one big crisis?

Over the years, i've often felt i'm revisiting my crisis but on a deeper level.
Yes, & it's just another category/label in a way.

My view is things are interrelated, involve many areas, are individual & often complex & need a comprehensive approach/understanding.

i do think mental illness exists & is real - some people i think fit far more the spiritual emergence/emergency type stuff, others i think are more mentally ill.

Looking at things in terms of Mind/Body/Soul/Spirit - i think a lot can be going on at different levels in whatever someone is experiencing -
From the transpersonal/spiritual perspective -

1. Shamanic crisis
2. Awakening of Kundalini
3. Episodes of unitive consciousness (Maslow's "peak experiences")
4. Psychological renewal through return to the center (John Perry)
5. Crisis of psychic opening
6. Past-life experiences
7. Communication with spirit guides and "channeling"
8. Near-death experiences (NDEs)
9. Close encounters with UFOs and alien abduction experiences
10. Possession states
11. Alcoholism and drug addiction

i think stuff can be going on at physiological/biologic - psychological/emotional - social/environmental - spiritual/transpersonal levels.

Different weightings i expect are apparent in different cases.

i largely don't agree with biomedical psychiatry - My view is that functional mental health conditions are primarily psychogenic, & should be addressed as such.
 

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In my own case - i do think i have had/have a mental illness - Part of that i would see as having a physiology/biology. i do accept the diagnosis (depending on definitions) & need for medication, although i think there could have been & could be far better approaches used to address/approach things.

It makes sense to me as well that there has been past life/karmic, addiction/alcoholism, & spirit attachment issues. Deeper rooted psychological/emotional areas to it all - & also difficult circumstances.

i think a lot also depends on how someone wants to understand & address things, on what levels of personal responsibility & work they choose to put into everything.

It has very largely been my own efforts to have got to a minimum dose of one medication long term, & living independently long term - to have got clean & sober long term - to have looked into a lot of different areas - to have worked with alternative & spiritual healers, & all the other work i've put into everything.

i could have instead very much played the mental illness card/role - stayed in addiction, on all kinds of medication, in & out of hospital etc.

As hard as it all is, i think there are elements of choice within mental health areas, there are things that people can do for their healing. It's not made easy by the way the current society/mental health system operates - But there are things that can be done - there are opportunities to take.

Regardless of how unwell someone is - i do see that there are psychological & spiritual realities - that things can be approached from those areas if people so choose. i don't agree that mental health 'simply' involves the brain, & that the best there is are a diagnoses, drugs & living with it all. There are things that can be done to deal with it all, & potentially more fully resolve things.

The social, medical, psychiatric systems of understanding, care, help & support could obviously be a lot better, but depending on individual circumstances, i think there is a lot that the individual can do to address & deal with things. i do think there is a lot of unnecessary dramas & will-full stupidity within areas of mental health - 'Madness' is a powerful role - it's areas dominated with ignorance & fear from all sides, imo.
 
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FuzzyPeach

FuzzyPeach

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Do you reckon it's possible to have a series of these experiences, rather than one big crisis?

Over the years, i've often felt i'm revisiting my crisis but on a deeper level.
Yes I do. I don't understand though why some don't have to go through it though.
 
trinny

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aggree

With you fluffypeach somtimes we need to treck the wilderness to find our promised land an oppertinity to analize all areas of the self and growth yes inevidable where as the regular joe needs no reason to weed his garden
 
Kerome

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Yes I do. I don't understand though why some don't have to go through it though.
I think it's a question of awareness and being ready for the challenge. Many people sleepwalk through their lives and never really encounter these issues. Some people have already acquired the knowledge, it just kind of came to them, perhaps they resolved these issues in a previous life. I do think that once you reach a certain level of development you reach a critical phase where a crisis can start the process.
 
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