From lonerwolf: “The spiritual emergency is a severe crisis an individual may experience after going through a spiritual awakening. Essentially, a spiritual emergency occurs when the spiritual awakening process speeds up so much that it becomes terrifying and destabilizing to the body and mind. 

‘Spiritual emergency’ as a word was first coined by Czech psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof and was expanded in the 1989 book Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis. Since then it has increased in popularity, although it is still relatively unheard of within mainstream spiritual communities. (I want to change that.)

Spiritual emergencies can happen to anyone at any point in life. Those who are not particularly ‘spiritual’ can experience it just as often as those who are actively engaged on the spiritual path. The common uniting factor is usually that a person undergoes a shock (in the form of illness, family death, major life change, etc.) that triggers the spiritual crisis.

The spiritual emergency can last anywhere from a few days to a number of years. The process is very much dependant on what kind of environment you live in and how supportive vs. unsupportive it is.

. . . As [Catherine G.] Lucas writes in her book, the process of being tossed through the medical system can be severely traumatizing and actually prevent us from fulfilling the natural cycle of the spiritual emergency – and reaping its rewards:

Overall, perhaps the greatest danger of ending up in a hospital, and certainly the saddest aspect, is that the opportunity for healing and growth, for living a fuller, richer, more awakened life, can be irretrievably lost. The natural process of renewal, as the psychiatrist John Weir Perry called it, can be totally thwarted. Both the trauma of hospitalisation and the over-use of medication can have this effect. And once the process has been stopped in its tracks it can be difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve.

Furthermore, having our mystical experiences dismissed as being purely ‘psychotic,’ ‘borderline,’ or ‘schizophrenic’ not only denies the spiritual validity of what we’re going through but also adds an unnecessary element of fear and terror to the experience. This fear and terror can be profoundly crippling and can make the whole experience much more difficult than it really needs to be.”

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