I would like to give thanks to Stan & Christina Grof for all their wonderful information on spiritual emergency. My dedication goes to Alli Lawler who was the beautiful woman who introduced me the Spiritual Emergence Network. And I would also like to thank Kama Frankling for her support and wisdom on spiritual emergence.
In my blog “The Law of Attraction… Are My Beliefs Ruining My Life?”, the third point that was raised was that spiritual emergence without grounded reason can lead to serious mental illness with dangerous implications. Many people are inspired towards the spiritual path because they want to be special or because they think it will bring happiness and enlightenment!!! What most people are not told is that a spiritual journey is actually the harder path. It’s not a Sunday walk in the park… Spiritual awakening is about transformation at a soul level, this sort of stuff often happens through trauma or tragedy. It can shake the core of your being. In spiritual awakening you are changing your old thought and emotional patterns on a deep level and then relearning how to interact with the world and people again. Through the process some people even experience what we term in the West, mental illness such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.
In some non-western cultures Shamans may go through a dark night of the soul before they emerge into the tribe’s Sharman. In the West we would see that person as having a mental illness and possibly a psychotic episode. In these cultures they are seen as a Sharman in training. These cultures understand the psychotic episode to be a deep transformation and spiritual emergence lead by their own inner demons (and maybe outer demons too). People can go through this type of spiritual awakening for years, supported by their communities until they come out of it. Some never come out of it. However it is interesting that there is a far higher rate of these people emerging out of a “spiritual emergence” than there is a person in the West recovering from a “psychotic episode” through the mental health system.
In Eastern practices such as Buddhism, it is also well known that a person can suffer from symptoms of mental illness through regular meditation practice and spiritual awakening. When someone begins to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression or even psychosis through their emergence, they are guided away from spiritual practice to re-ground themselves. It is the only time they can eat red meat, they work in the gardens or fields and they cease meditation practices.
It is no wonder demons and scary images are captured and portrayed in religious art, including Christian art. Spiritual awakening burns through what we want to see least about ourselves. While not all of us go through a full blown spiritual emergency (that looks much like mental illness), spiritual emergence does tend to bring us to our knees in humility. It often throws us into an egotistical state for a while SO WE CAN CLEARLY SEE THE EGO! It’s a little embarrassing, trust me!!! We go sky high and lose our grounding for a while… I was ungrounded for years. It has bouts of pristine clarity and then complete confusion and disorientation. Any underlying unconscious patterns tend to be brought up to the light of consciousness, even when we struggle to remain ignorant and try to avoid what we don’t want to see. If we don’t know what we are doing we can get lost on the spiritual path… it can be a frightening place!
In saying all of that, I do believe with the right psychospiritual guidance, the practice of balance and mindfulness, and honouring the self and others, emerging into spiritual awareness can be a rewarding and honorable journey. The more aware we become, the responsible we can be and the more we can make choices where before we were largely ignorant of ourselves and reacting out of unconscious patterns. For those who chose to walk the path… you have my blessings and be wise on your journey!!!!
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