What’s a ‘spiritual emergency’?
Vail CO, Colorado
“It is possible to undergo a profound crisis involving non-ordinary experiences and to perceive it as psychological or psychiatric when in fact it may be accurately and beneficially defined as a spiritual emergency.”
A spiritual emergency can happen at any time in our lives. The feelings may range from a strong desire that things need to change to the extreme feeling that life is not worth living anymore. It is a transformative experience diagnosed as a possible breakdown, a psychotic breakdown or even schizophrenia. Other cultures have names for this experience: kundalini awakening, psychotic visionary episode, the dark night of the soul or ego death.
This is a time of awakening, a time for acknowledging that the way you’re living may not be working anymore. This experience may feel overwhelming, yet it can offer us an opportunity to make new choices. These choices can be in thought, behavior, attitude, beliefs, etc. We are being asked by the universe to listen. We are being asked to make changes ” now!
This time may feel depressing, sad or vulnerable. But, before you run to a doctor and get on a medication you may not be able to get off of easily, check into doing some spiritual work. Sometimes just learning that this happens to others helps. Life happens. Life can feel like you’re being attacked. Learning new ways to deal with your old emotions and how to tame your reactions to life and learning a new perspective about life can help.
A spiritual emergency is our higher power’s way of getting us to stop and listen. Even if we feel we are on a spiritual path, we may still have a spiritual emergency. Here’s an example of a spiritual emergency: A woman who ran her own businesses for years suddenly has a breakdown. She checks herself into the hospital afraid she might hurt herself. The on-call doctor immediately writes her a prescription for an anti-depressant, which she chooses not to take. She calls a therapist who, in her ego-lessness, realizes there is more going on then a psychological breakdown and refers her to a spiritual teacher. Once the woman speaks with the teacher, she learns that this was a spiritual emergency, not a psychological breakdown that requires medication. She also learns that with some guidance and work she can find a new way to deal with this phase in her life and move forward.
This is not to indicate that we should not listen to our doctors nor take the medications they prescribe. It does indicate, however, that we need to be conscious of our life patterns, self-doubts, self-judgments and other ego-talk that finally hits its limit.
Divorce is a situation where people feel out of control ” suddenly things change and they just don’t know what to do with their lifetime of desires and expectations of what marriage could have been. This may feel like depression; this could be considered a spiritual emergency ” a time to change the way we view our lives. There was a reason this marriage didn’t work; the signs were probably there long ago. The awakening feels hard, but the truth gets revealed.
In some situations of spiritual emergency, I teach this: Look at a clock and give yourself permission to feel what you are experiencing for, say, 20 minutes. Really feel it ” cry, hit a pillow, curl up in a ball, scream into a pillow, do jumping jacks, etc. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be bored with yourself in 10 minutes.
Not giving ourselves permission to feel pushes the emotion or energy down, and it will appear again in another situation. The more work we do on a daily basis makes it a little easier to do the work when life is overwhelming. Ask for some help to learn new ways to continue to find the strength to move through this journey called life.
Catherine Zeeb holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in metaphysics. She has a private therapy practice in Edwards and teaches metaphysics at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. You can visit her Web site at http://www.healing-spirits.net.
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