Almost any experience can contribute to spiritual awakening. Observing nature might kickstart thoughts of the expansive universe, for example. The kindness, or harshness, in others might bring about thoughts of our purpose on this Earth. These are common and healthy steps we take on a journey to spiritual awakening. This tends to progress slowly and with a sense of calm about it. Sometimes, however, this awakening comes on suddenly and becomes all-consuming. This is called a Spiritual Crisis, or Spiritual Emergency.
A spiritual crisis is a period of rapid transformation often brought on by a particular trigger or trauma. During this time, you might feel like you’re “going crazy” or “falling apart” because your sense of reality shifts entirely.
It is an intense and life-altering experience that will ultimately lead to a total spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
What Is a Spiritual Crisis?
A spiritual crisis is a form of an identity crisis. This sudden change in perception is typically triggered by a spiritual experience. This could be a near-death experience, a paranormal encounter, or a sudden epiphany. It is also possible for this state of spiritual emergency to be brought on overtime, usually due to on-going trauma. When the experience becomes too much, a spiritual crisis could be triggered.
The term was first introduced by husband and wife team Christina Grof, a psychotherapist, and her husband Stanislav Grof, a psychiatrist, in 1989. Spiritual Emergencies come under the umbrella of Transpersonal Psychology and have been fascinating psychologists for years.
A spiritual crisis tends to be defined by a total loss of belief in, or connection to, previously held values and ideas. A person in the midst of a spiritual crisis may no longer understand the beliefs they used to hold or no longer feel they mean anything of value.
Often, spiritual emergencies can be incorrectly diagnosed as a nervous breakdown as they both feature a loosening of the grip on reality.
6 Signs of a Spiritual Crisis or Emergency
1. Spiritual Experiences
Whether these experiences can be proven or not, many people going through a spiritual emergency report having spiritual experiences. Spiritual experiences come in many forms and are different for everyone.
Some people have seen spirits, others report visions and hearing voices. During a Spiritual Crisis, it’s thought that the lines that separate the spiritual and material worlds become blurred for that person. This can lead to a heightened ability to sense energies and have stronger abilities as an empath.
These experiences can be understandably unsettling for anyone going through a spiritual crisis. Even more unnerving is that some of the spiritual experiences you might have may have relevance to past trauma and repressed memories.
2. Your Senses Are in Flux
A spiritual emergency is all-consuming and it may feel as though your senses are being overwhelmed. You might become extremely sensitive to all kinds of stimuli, including emotional ones. Light can feel too bright and noises could be too loud. Your sense of taste and smell might even be affected, resulting in new likes and dislikes.
Your whole body could be affected during a spiritual crisis, causing odd bodily sensations like hot and cold flashes, shaking, and tingling. Transpersonal psychologists believe this is energy flowing throughout the body as you begin to awaken.
On the other hand, it is possible for your senses to become weaker during a spiritual crisis. You may take in much less than you normally would. It may result in you feeling disconnected from the rest of the world. This might feel like dissociation or brain fog.
3. Impaired Thinking
When your mind becomes completely clouded, it can become difficult to process thoughts. You might have too many thoughts running through your brain, making it hard to address any of them at all. Your mind could also feel completely empty as if there are so many thoughts that you can’t find any of them.
During a spiritual crisis, time and physical space might seem distorted. Recent events might feel years ago, and long-lost memories might feel as if they’ve just happened.
Your decision-making abilities will likely be impaired too. The overwhelming nature of your thoughts can make the smallest decision feel like the most important moment. Similarly, it can be difficult to remember things when your brain is already overflowing with thoughts and information.
When your thinking is impaired during a spiritual emergency, daily life can start to feel scary. Feeling unable to process what’s going on around you can be unnerving and disorienting.
4. Loss of a Sense of Self
When a spiritual emergency takes over your mind, your sense of self goes out of the window. As your awakening begins and you start to transform into someone new, your connection to your previous self fades. This is not always a bad thing. A shift in identity might be exactly what you need.
During a spiritual crisis, a person might quit their job now they feel it no longer serves them. They might also move away, hoping to start fresh somewhere that suits their needs better. There may be negative side-effects to this loss of identity.
Some people might feel they now have no idea what the future holds or what their purpose in life is. You might also reconsider your dreams and desires, meaning you no longer know what you want from life. A life without goals and purpose can feel impossible to navigate.
5. Loss of Inhibitions
When your sense of reality falls away, the need for rules and order falls away with it. If you no longer feel life serves a purpose, why bother behaving? People experiencing a spiritual crisis might start behaving recklessly, doing dangerous activities, or things that would have previously gone against their morals.
This tends to simply be a way of expressing themselves when the world feels confusing to them or a way of finding meaning in a life they no longer understand.
6. Withdrawal from Life
A person going through a spiritual emergency is likely to be overwhelmed with concern and confusion. The sudden change in perception of the world is difficult to process and typically wants to be done alone.
It can be difficult to explain what you’re experiencing in this time, for fear of judgment or a simple lack of words. It often feels like the easiest way to handle this is to withdraw from the life you once lived, including old friends and family.
On the other hand, a spiritual crisis leading to an awakening might inspire some to intentionally withdraw from their old life in order to achieve a new, fresher life.
A spiritual emergency might feel frightening, but it is a worthwhile time of transformation. If you’re experiencing it, hang in there. You can consult with many transpersonal psychologists if you need, or just confide in friends. As you ride the waves of this spiritual crisis, you might find it leads you to a more open, fulfilling, and beautiful space than ever before.
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