Experiencing something as beautiful as gazing at a night sky full of stars can bring a feeling of expanded consciousness and begin a process of spiritual awakening. Activities such as music, creative pursuits or spiritual practices can bring about an inner journey and thus lead to spiritual emergence or emergency. Spiritual Emergence may also begin with a difficult life event such as a near-death experience, loss of a loved one or illness.
Individuals experiencing Spiritual Emergency commonly report feeling as if they are in a state which is different to how they ordinarily experience reality. Things can feel like they are falling apart or unravelling. Everyday tasks can seem unmanageable or they may feel it difficult to find the motivation to do them. It’s equally possible that experiencers may feel unusually positive and full of energy.
Spiritual Emergency is often characterized by extremes, with the person behaving or experiencing things outside of their regular patterns or what they consider to be normal, everyday life.
This may be extremely disturbing especially as the process moves through different stages often including experiences outside of what society considers ‘consensus reality’. It is common to feel anxious, afraid and desperate while, at other times, it is possible to have feelings of indescribable love and unity.
These experiences may become part of the individual’s everyday reality perhaps lasting for days, weeks or months varying in intensity.
Experiencers can feel tired or unusually full of energy. They may feel restless and have difficulty sleeping. They may also feel spaced out, ungrounded, off balance, clumsy or like they are falling apart.
Experiencers can generally feel more sensitive in every way – to light, sound, feelings, intuitions, information etc.
There may be unexplainable sounds, tastes or smells present.
There may be physical sensations such as something rushing through the body.
This can be like a flow of energy, an electrical current or flowing water. The body can feel unusually hot or cold, or can shake or vibrate. There may be spontaneous, involuntary movements and/or postures.
The cognitive functions of the mind – thinking, decision-making, memory – can be temporarily impaired making everyday life difficult and frightening. As the world is experienced less with the rational mind, time and meaning become less structured, cause and effect can become less direct.
The sense of time passing or the perception of physical space may be lost or distorted.
Experiencers can feel a greater and more meaningful connection with the natural world. They may experience themselves as an integral part of nature.
The sense of self, knowing who I am can shift and change or be lost. This can be experienced as having no sense of identity, having no reference points, feeling disconnected, alone, and that the person doesn’t belong.
Dreams, memories, intuitions and visions
People in SE often experience intense and at times overwhelming dreams, memories, intuitions and visions.
These may be connected to personal experience or can seem to come from nowhere, making them confusing and difficult to relate to.
Individuals can have psychic experiences such as –
- clairvoyance (visions, auras, spirits)
- clairaudience (hearing voices)
- clairsentience (energies, sensing other’s presence or emotions)
- out of body experiences
There may be behavioural changes with experiencers finding it difficult to express thoughts, feelings and emotions but the opposite may also happen with self expression being more free, sometimes in inappropriate situations.
This behaviour can be physical, financial, sexual or social. There may be a loss of inhibition.
Loss of inhibition can lead to an inquisitiveness about the body’s limits and an exploration of them, this can result in unintentional self-harm or risk taking.
Financial limits may become meaningless with the individual spending money unwisely.
Social and family contact may decrease.
There may a change in what a person wants to eat and whether they want to eat at all.
Read about what do no in a Spiritual Emergency – See our ‘Crisis Guide‘