This week, Zoe is reading In Case of Spiritual Emergency by Catherine Lucas. This book provides a map to help you through the crisis of the dark night using first-hand accounts from people who have lived through it. There are also chapters on the medical and scientific background of awakening, and a summary of research into altered states of consciousness.
A spiritual emergency can happen when the natural process of awakening becomes too much to handle. It’s sometimes called a dark night of the soul and can be triggered by spiritual practice, loss of faith, overwhelming daily struggles, the death of a loved one, and even childbirth.
Unfortunately, spiritual emergencies are often misdiagnosed as straightforward cases of psychosis, depression or mental breakdown. The spiritual part of the experience is totally ignored which cuts the sufferer off from learning the deeper lessons of the process they’re going through. But if a spiritual emergency is understood and seen for what it is, it can provide great potential for growth and spiritual illumination.
This book aims to provide information on what’s really going on in a spiritual emergency and works as a guide for mental health professionals as well as people going through a crisis. Catherine Lucas provides tools for coping with the crisis, divided into three phases. This is the most helpful part of the book, with excellent tips on practising mindfulness and grounding techniques, and guidance on dealing with various aspects of the process.
This is a great book for anyone going through a spiritual emergency, written from personal experience and with great depth of understanding and compassion. I wish I could make every mental health worker and GP read this book so we can end the blight of misdiagnosis and the misery it causes. I wish I’d had access to this book when my spiritual emergency began over 20 years ago.
If you are going through a spiritual crisis now, I’ve gathered some resources you may find useful: visit the Spiritual Crisis Centre on my website.