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Spiritual Emergence, Spiritual Emergency, Intentional Peer Support Groups and Shades of Awakening

mental health spiritual emergence spirituality Apr 11, 2016

“Thou are the essence of everything.”

- Paramhansa Yogananda


I spent the weekend in Ojai, California with Emma Bragdon, PhD, and nine other beautiful people, completing my training as a Spiritual Emergency Support Group Coach.

Please let me know if you are interested in participating in an online or in person support group. I am now permitted to lead groups! Please be in touch for more info and resources or referrals or anything that might inspire you.

Integrative Mental Health For You offers online training to support people experiencing spiritual emergency. Spiritual emergence has been defined as “the movement of an individual to a more expanded way of being that involves enhanced emotional and psychosomatic health, greater freedom of personal choices, and a sense of deeper connection with other people, nature, and the cosmos. An important part of this development is an increasing awareness of the spiritual dimension in one’s life and in the universal scheme of things.” (Grof & Grof, 1990).

The term “spirituality” is reserved for situations involving personal experiences of certain dimensions of reality that give one’s life and existence in general a numinous quality. C.G. Jung used the word “numinous” to describe an experience that feels sacred, holy, or out of the ordinary. (Grof & Grof, 1991)

When spiritual emergence is very rapid and dramatic, this natural process can become a crisis, and spiritual emergence becomes spiritual emergency. This has been called a transpersonal crisis, acute psychosis with a positive outcome, positive disintegration, and evolutionary crisis. The consciousness of a person in this crisis can be termed “an extreme state.”

Spiritual emergencies could also be defined as critical and experientially difficult stages of a profound psychological transformation that involve one’s entire being. These are crisis points within the transformational process of Emergence. The stages take the form of non-ordinary states of consciousness and involve intense emotions, visions and other sensory changes, and unusual thoughts, as well as various physical manifestations. These episodes will often revolve around spiritual themes.

We learned how to care for oneself and others in a crisis during our course. Emma articulated things that I have only sensed or thought. The empowerment of being with others – tribe – is indescribable. What a relief after all these years of being told I was crazy, when actually, I am supremely natural in an unnatural culture!

Again, a most beautiful aspect of this training was being with others who have experienced a similar, remarkable experience which was misunderstood and punished and stopped by conventional medicine, including doctors and society as a whole.

Confirmation was also permitted that those of us who have experienced these situations have extraordinary healing gifts, are uncommonly bright, creative, sensitive and compassionate.

There are Spiritual Emergence Networks growing in Australia, The UK, British Columbia and the US. This is a growing movement, as we move into Dwapara Yuga (The Age of Energy), as psychiatric medicine fails, and as the global awakening proceeds. It is up to each one of us to be tolerant, patient and to help one another. Certainly you know someone or have been in one of these two states yourself. Celebrate it! Have a team and guidelines. I can offer assistance should you request it.

Emma Bragdon takes groups to learn about Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals and Spiritist Community Centers in Brazil.

The principles and lifestyle outlined in Vedanta philosophy support spiritual emergence. Being motivated to live by a strict set of universal ethics (like yama niyama and the ten commandments, for example) allows for spiritual emergence to evolve more readily.

There is no sharp division between Emergence and Emergency, however, the following criteria may be used to distinguish the two:

  1. An emergency is generally more dramatic and intense as depth of experience is immediately obvious, unexpected and can be abrupt;
  2. An emergence is more fluid and less overwhelming or traumatic. The depth reveals itself over time in a more gradual process.
  3. During an emergency, it is very difficult to function in everyday life.

Some hints for an easeful paradigm shift:

  • Stay connected. Work in groups. Do not take on too much on your own.
  • Appreciate a worldview: everyone has their own perspective, and experiences from which they draw.
  • Mutuality is paramount: egalitarian relationships are to be favored over hierarchy.
  • Move towards, not away from. Assist to uplift one another and live a balanced life.
  • Recognize habits of connection, disconnection and reconnection. I notice that I connect and disconnect easily, and have a very difficult time reconnecting, in certain circumstances. Shame is usually the force behind that.

Shades of Awakening is a resource online and on Facebook which supports this worldview, helping us to integrate and claim our gifts of spiritual emergence.

We are no longer isolated from one another.

Thank you, Emma and everyone.

More soon.



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