A spiritual emergency or crisis is what happens when the natural process of spiritual awakening becomes intensified. It moves faster and deeper, and becomes enmeshed with earlier wounds that are yet to heal. This experience can be triggered by spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, or yoga. But it can also be triggered by drugs, or by any major turning point in your life. The death of a loved one, illness, accident, divorce, or the loss of a job, can all trigger a period of profound questioning which leads to a spiritual awakening.
Spiritual awakening is what happens when your consciousness begins to break free of its conditioning into a more expanded perspective on reality. As you seek deeper meaning in your life, you’re pushed beyond your comfort zone where you discover there may be more to life than you thought. So spiritual awakening is just another term for the evolution of consciousness.
Many people experience this awakening as a gentle emergence. The wounds of the past are slowly healed, and the True Self is discovered to be vast and full of joy. But for others, this process of self-discovery is more painful and traumatic. An emergence can then become an emergency.
You don’t even need to be religious or think of yourself as spiritual in order to have an awakening or spiritual crisis. Many people start out as atheists, only to find the rational rug is pulled from under their feet. This is what happened to me and it took me completely by surprise. All it takes 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.
Symptoms of a Spiritual Emergency
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 is experienced in a unique way by each person. Positive, inspiring experiences can be mixed with terrifying and debilitating ones, making navigation through the storm complicated at best. Here’s a selection of possible symptoms:
- 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
For more detail on this read: How to Survive a Dark Night of the Soul
Resistance is Futile
Awakening is an opportunity to learn to surrender and trust life. When the storm has passed you’ll be able to move into freedom and co-creation, and find a new wholeness. But before you get there, you may have to confront the dark side. As your consciousness expands, the ego resists. Old ideas and concepts are torn down, but the ego tries to hang on to them. 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. There’s often regressive, psychotic stuff mixed in with the glorious transpersonal stuff that comes up, 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 resources here: Spiritual Crisis Centre
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 realise it yet.
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 of your head, 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!
- Love’s Ordeal: The Dark Night of the Soul
- How to Survive a Dark Night of the Soul
- Dark Angel: Hecate and the Dark Night