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#EmergingProud; Coming out of the Spiritual Closet

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and I felt like something was missing. From when I was a child I always longed to know that there was something more. I was told that the material world what we can see and touch, that's what reality was, and we could have faith in something beyond that. But that was all we could have, and that just wasn't enough for me. I read books, I tried meditation, I went to lots of workshops, but I never got beyond the pain of not knowing which at times was really more like a kind of despair. When we are unable to live an authentic life, and be ourselves, it leads to a life of depression, anxiety, addictions, acting out, repression, and suicidal ideation. I'm familiar with all of those, that's how I've lived my life. That's how I've survived, until now. When I look back on it the thing that started it all off the first year where I was deeply deeply depressed and unhappy it was a horrible place and I would never want to go back to it but on reflecting on that action in a way it was the best thing that ever happened to me as well because it was that process of going through all of that that really helped me find meaning to my life as well. It awakened me to things I would have never given the time of day to before. I was very involved in Christian spirituality, I would pray a lot, and as I was getting deeper and deeper in my prayer and meditation I started to experience quite unusual things. Walking down a dusty street in Rajasthan I felt my consciousness crack open, it was discernible. My first thought was "Oh, I've been conscious my whole life and I've never really been aware that I was conscious. Woah, something's wrong with it, what do I do, where do I go for that?" At first it was extremely powerful, the physical sensations started at my feet and traveled through my body and I was taken into this blissful field of light. That's where it started, it was incredible and beautiful. I understood everything and I had so much gratitude. I just kept saying "thank you, thank you, thank you." Just crying on, there was just so much information that was coming inside me. It was incredible. It usually starts with a release of emotion and then fears drop away, tension drops away from my body, my voice becomes much deeper and more resonant, my hands become softer, almost like a child's hands. and that seems to make way for something really special to come through; the connection to my soul. Sometimes I have a sense that I am slightly psychic, I can see what other people need sometimes, I can see what I need.. I feel more assertive and more in my power. I have the ability to feel what people feel, see things other people don't see, communicate with the dead, astral project, get messages that are real, know what people are thinking and feeling, that has allowed me the privilege of getting to know so many people in this life, and many people who are marginalised outside our culture and society because they don't fit in. I had huge mystical experiences, I would see Saints and Sages and beautiful Beings, but I would also experience the dark night of the soul which could be scary, I had synchronicities, manifestations, electronics always failed during an emergency. I experienced clairvoyance, clairsentience and I consciously experienced my own death, I could see other dimensions and I could see that time and space didn't exist. But most of all I could see a higher consciousness in everything; I could see consciousness in a leaf, to the point where I wouldn't step on it, I could see consciousness in a computer. Seeing inside people's bodies, premonitions, telepathy, feeling deep Oneness with all life, knowing people's issues without speaking to them, seeing the cosmos when I closed my eyes, my body would move into spontaneous yoga postures when I meditated, sensing how everything is connected, seeing all of human history running like a high speed slide show when I closed my eyes, seeing geometric symbols behind my eyes when I meditate, knowing past lives, seeing spirits, communicating with loved ones who have passed over, synchronicities, reading the energy of people even when I'm not physically with them, remote viewing, astral projection, and a deep knowing that none of this makes me special! I was sitting there and I experienced a sense of unconditional love that I'd never felt before, a huge compassion towards everybody and everything in the world and it lasted 6-7 months, the "spiritual honeymoon". and day by day it was fading away and I found myself in the deepest, darkest night of the soul. I was deep down in a no- man's land and I had nothing to grasp to or relate to. Literally in just one moment, I was in this unstable state trying to make sense of the world and had epiphanies of feeling deep interconnectedness with the world and other people, and at the same time feeling a deep sense of suffering... And it was hitting me and I was in a real shocked state. Then literally in a moment my whole concept of the world literally disintegrated, and I was just having this raw experience of existence, being bombarded by senses... it was amazing and at the same time extremely terrifying. It kind of really catalyzed something in me, an incredibly beautiful experience when it first opened, and I was in two days of bliss, absolute like a full body orgasmic experience and it was just incredible, and I thought, what is happening? In fact it got to the point when it got too intense, it was just like wow! Everything looked sacred, people looked sacred, I was full of love. It was an amazing experience. Then it started to slip down, and I've always questioned that's what took me on a journey of self awareness and self discovery after I'd gotten through the experience, because, it's a little bit like my ego is quite fragile and after a powerful experience like that, it couldn't hold it. I was hanging on for the best part of two years to get through that process with all my repressed shadow experiences coming up, horrible impulses, violent thoughts, extreme emotions, panic, all flooding up, and I had no sense of how to get through it. There were times I felt so shattered that I thought I would never work again, I felt like an ameba on the floor, like I had no boundaries left. I felt like a leaf in a hurricane, I just had no orientation in space and time, and my reality had shifted, I was vulnerable, I was helpless, and I thought 'Am I dying? Am I going crazy?' All of a sudden I heard a voice, and I turned around thinking someone must have just spoken but I was on a deserted beach... so I was mystified, but the voice that I heard said "become a healer". And so immediately I knew what that meant; it meant I was a reincarnation of Buddha! And right after that I had another flash that I was also a reincarnation of Christ (East v West) ...my mission was to create a new global Religion that would include all the people in the world. It wouldn't be long before people would recognize this new Religion and me as the Messiah for this new Religion! I lived in fantasy worlds as a young girl and I had gone through a lot of trauma - I remember before I came into this life -what it was like. And I wanted to go back there. I just lay on the grass for hours and stared at the sky. I would have these, not even concrete memories_ but just the visceral feeling of being in the spirit world - and the beauty of that, and, 'What am I doing here in this reality, in this body _ ugh _ why?' I would say for me it started with a car accident when I was 21, several years ago. It was the first time I had experienced a dissociative state, so I got sort of dissociated from the accident and I didn't have a lot of memories from it. I spent the greater part of two months not really walking or doing much because I shattered my pelvis and I broke my jaw, collapsed lung, torn liver, and broke some teeth. It was a seven year recovery process, I had chronic pain for seven years, and in that time I really started feeling like I was losing touch with my sense of self, I was very young. I sensed that that was a critical time for the development of my brain but at the time I was going through all this trauma. I started developing all this anxiety and I had a hard time just feeling like I fit in. I was thrown out of a yacht while we were fishing. Another time I was hit by a wave, a freak wave on the beach; I had to scale a cliff to get out. There was also a time when I was ambushed by guerrillas with AK47s, a bomb went off while I was getting into my car. I volunteered at the military hospital there and that was obviously traumatic, seeing all the injuries. My businesses were attacked, two people were assassinated, then I got followed by a stalker for six months and had a bodyguard with an M-16 in the back seat for a while. I was extorted, and I think one of the most difficult things was probably being a caregiver to my husband who had diabetes and watching toe by toe and eventually his feet amputated. I call all of this my lasagna of trauma. Layers and layers and layers of events that I had to struggle through and come out on the other side. I felt separated from my lower body, so I had my feet and my body but they were in 2 parallel worlds. I was feeling things so profoundly, I could feel the pain of everything, I was saying what's wrong with this world because things should not be like this? I had a lot of anger all upon this world and that what am I doing here? Growing up, this led me to a lot of suicidal thoughts, so when I was 15 because of the enormous pressure that was inside myself, because of me not being able to understand, I started cutting myself because it was the only form of tension release. I had a lot of anger, I could absorb everyone's anger around me and I was like a big mountain exploding. They had a 5 min meditation and they said focus on your fear; I didn't think I had any fear, but I focused, and then they said 'Imagine somebody's trying to kill you or kidnap you', and that didn't work for me. But all of a sudden, a memory of a scuba-diving accident I'd had just two months earlier where I lost my weight belt about 30m below, and when shooting to the surface, that came up. And then I felt this punch in my chest and I started to cry, and I really started to feel this fear that I had completely blocked off. It was like a dam that was waiting to explode because I wasn't in touch with that part of myself at all. I remember travelling in the car with my husband, suddenly a huge rush of energy came through my hands and my feet. I'd never felt energy before and it lasted 3 days, and on the 3rd day, I was going through an experience, later I understood it was a kundalini awakening experience. For most of us, were having these kind of kundalini experiences, and we're going through hell, because we don't have a cultural context for it, we don't know what it is, we don't know how to manage it, and the system seems to be trying to work through blockages that are in that bioenergetic system. It's like the kundalini intelligence is trying to work through these blockages, And those blockages are caused by some sort of trauma in the broadest sense of the word 'Trauma'. Many people report how these experiences can become unmanageable, and lead to the need for crisis support. They can be isolating, terrifying, confusing, and there can be a vital need for safety and understanding. In terms of experiencing deep emptiness, deep bliss, became out of control in a way that I started to lose my sense of who I was completely and thought that maybe I'd died or had a psychotic break, or was in a manic episode because my moods would swing so much from really really high, to really really low so I was really scared at the time that those experiences could be pathologized or I might end up having to be in a mental institute for a while or something like that. I experienced hearing voices and seeing spirits that were real but that other people didn't see. I was labelled with mental illness, I was hospitalised on several occasions, and I was put on tons of different medication. The Western world, the medical world didn't understand what was happening with me. I would also start having visions, I would see angels, and God, and the devil, and it became extremely intense to the point when I couldn't function anymore, and I got very deeply depressed. That's when I sought help and psychiatry. Soon after that I got diagnosed with mental illness, and because of it I was heavily medicated with antipsychotics, antidepressants, all possible pills out there really. It got me very unhappy, my energy was very low, and I lost one year of my life because I would just isolate myself, I wouldn't go out because I was so scared of what was going on with me, and because it was so negatively labelled. ...it would be possibly considered to be a psychedelic induced psychotic disorder rather than schizophrenia or it could be considered a brief psychotic disorder, it does not meet all the criteria of DSM for schizophrenia, but it would meet the criteria for some form of psychotic disorder, so, I'm aware of that, but I'm also aware that it was my spiritual awakening. For me, when I had my spiritual emergence, a lot of it was extreme to the point of being diagnosable. I have gone that route, I sought out different avenues of assistance, because I wanted to understand what was happening to me. Including, meeting with a psychiatrist and having these discussions that really, unfortunately, the way I see it is if I had not known about my brother, if I had gone that route, it would have made me have a disorder I didn't have. But because I knew, the kind of damage that it could cause, because of my brother's experience. I refused to accept that. Why is there so much fear around these experiences being labelled as mental illness, and what are the potential problems with doing this? Yes I've been through a spiritual awakening, I recognized it as such immediately; the hospital that I was taken to didn't recognize it as such. They drugged me heavily even though I was very much willing to get help and sought it, abruptly took me from my home and traumatized me and my family. Spiritual awakening shouldn't be a traumatizing or shameful event. ... I felt like I could control time and space. And I felt divine intelligence within me, giving me the gift of knowing and understanding the Universe. I felt like I was a part of this Universe. It was amazing and magical and sacred. When I got put into hospital, I felt spiritually raped and being in touch with my soul. I felt so lost and because the doctor diagnosed me without hearing my point of view, I lost my voice. Persons that experience any kind of violation of their rights and their agency, that's a trauma. When they're going through that process, when they're rejected from society, when they're mistreated and not valued in their dignity, they're traumatised. When I picked up the Grof's book, the story 'Stormy search for the self', and I read about spiritual emergency, I was like 'Well this is it!' Everything that was in that book was what happened to me. I did find people who understood my experiences, I also discovered Stan Grof and read a lot of his books. This helped me to move forwards and I feel that now that process of integration is pretty much done. I feel on a daily basis connected to my soul and I really trust that. A psychologist who had been formerly a monk, he was in his sixties in the eighties, had been a monk in India, had been mendicant very close working with Krishnamurti, a very knowledgeable person he knew about Jung and all sorts of manner of stuff. ...Over the two and a bit years I saw him three times, and he gave me a gift, an absolute gift because he said he recognized what was happening, he said Mick, if you can tolerate this, you're having an awakening and this is going to be something you're gonna have to go through. ... I think that his kindness was something that was really key for me because actually being validated is one thing, but to be in a space with somebody who's just looking at you with genuine care and compassion and kindness who isn't saying I think you're ill, or sick, who's saying treat this really carefully, but actually, you're gonna have to go through it, the only way is through. When the second anniversary of my spiritual emergence came, my husband finally asked me: "What happened?" I was excited to share my point of view. After I explained my experience as I just explain you here, he questioned: "Hmm, I wonder if in the future they'll find out that bipolar disorder is the mind's way of coming to a new stage of enlightenment." This resonated with me on a deep, deep level. You see, the experience left me fundamentally transformed in a positive way. I felt like it was a puberty of the soul, a metamorphoses into a butterfly. Only the stigma or the shame from the stigma behind the mental health diagnosis kept my wings quite wet for some time. I had to learn to deny my experience to the health care professionals. Deny something that, you and I both know, really if we're allowed to embrace those experiences, and embrace that near death experience, or that non-ordinary experience that someone else has and talk about it. That is the most incredible tool of healing. This is very important to normalise experiences, to celebrate the value of them, and to give a voice to all the people like myself who experience things, and go through challenges of trying to explain them to other people, finding a community where we can share and navigate our journeys, and to bring forth the benefits of these experiences. With guidance there is, it can be much easier, the period of time can be shorter, because when you have someone beside you who understands you and validates you and says "don't worry you are okay, you are not losing your mind, you're just transforming yourself and it will be okay" you can relax, and the biggest transformation is when you are deeply relaxed and allow the process to happen. I was very lucky in that I had friends who just let me crash with them. I hitchhiked back to Chicago and back to the Boston area where I had friends and for the next 2 months I crashed on their living room couches, they fed me, I didn't work, I had no money, so I never ended up on the streets or hospitalized or medicated and I was able to go through this entire experience as an inner journey, Joseph Campbell's Hero's inner journey, and I was able to emerge the other end 2 months later with both feet on the ground. All I needed was was a sense of trust and people around me who got that what I was experiencing was a spiritual experience, and that there wasnOt enough containment within me to be able to deal with it at the time. What makes people not just happy, but healthy as well, is the quality of the human relationships they are having. And I think we keep talking about the peer support element of... you know, when you're helping people how important is that: the community and the relationships and how you are perceived by those people around you. Basically, I think they are just your life. I had a lot of help, this is one thing I was able to find a community that's so the number one thing, once I was able to connect to people and find different tools and methods. Meeting with first of all a psychologist, doing holotropic breathwork, doing methods, learning about it, reading about, talking to people, connecting, experiencing, doing artwork when I needed to. Whatever was available. I had a whole new budding relationship with nature, with Yoga. I had an open dialogue with these voices and I was able to get a sense of what was positive and what was negative for me. And I truly had to get to the point where I had faith and confidence in my abilities and then realize that I wasn't crazy but instead I just had a rare experience that not everybody could understand. The first thing that needed to happen for me was - I needed to get angry. I had so much rage inside about what had been done to me and what had been done to my parents. I didn't even know I could be angry about that. I had turned it inward into self-hatred and internalized stigma, etc. -- it was so important for me to get really angry -- which is also not ok in the mental health system, right?! Luckily I had journaled and painted and drew during my hospitalisation... and I could go back into it and integrate these past traumas and thoughts and emotions. While I was in that institution, separated from my nursing baby and my other 2 children and my husband I was basically a mute for the first few days, just completely lost. But I was able to take an art therapy class, and that was the way all of my senses sort of returned to me, and I was able to make this beautiful mask with different coloured wools and paint, and what we were supposed to be making was a mask that represented us, but what I ended up doing was making a mask that represented all; everyone in the world, because in my state that's how I felt. I myself questioned the authority of my psychiatrist, so I was able to break out of the mental illness paradigm. So mystics right now, many of us are being treated as delusional or demonic and then when we get put on these drugs we are basically becoming prescription drug addicts. It takes a lot of hard work to overcome traumas and to emerge as butterflies, so to speak. I think we have to work on a multi-dimensional level and there are many alternatives that help people to break free -- such as holotropic breathwork and shamanic journey for instance. None of what I say now, in terms of experience, is to blame anyone but perhaps to point out that, the system could be better. There could be some improvements to the system. Had of some of it changed, and had I actually received some shamanic assistance, some true direct spiritual assistance from someone who understands spiritual crisis, I maybe could have reduced some of the trauma. I met a spiritual teacher of mine who took me on a journey and told me that I wasn't sick I was actually a gifted person with gifts from my ancestral lineage and that I had a calling to become a healer. Now I am a Sangoma, I have turned those haunting voices into beautiful gifted angelic voices that are my guardians, that are guardians of others that I can tune them into to help them in their daily lives. My key to recovery was having mentors and teachers and other people who were spiritually mature to know that what was happening to me was a spiritual awakening. And that I needed to embrace this and understand it and come to some kind of a congruent place with the voices that I was hearing. I did a lot of detox work with my body, I released a lot of toxic thoughts and toxins that had been buried in my cells and my tissues, I did daily therapeutic massage, with intuitives, I did daily meditation, I had proper nutrition, I worked with Ayurvedic specialists, I had an understanding then with mentors of the spiritual realms, I learned to create my own sacred space around me, I really learned to live in a spiritual world with a spiritual world around me. I developed safe relationships with the spirits and the voices that I was hearing. It was acceptance there, it helped me to accept what I was going through and not label myself as crazy because that's the difficult part, when you're labelling yourself you just go deeper into depression. I needed someone to contain the process, not judge it, just be present. The person holding the space for you, because that's what it is, it's holding the space for the other to manifest and to heal the wounds, it's the beacon of light so you can dive inside and then you can come out. And so I began a meditation practice, and I started with vipassana 'insight' meditation, following the breath, working on the level of thought, physical sensations in the body, really building that very powerful mind-body-spirit connection, and learning to be with difficult emotions without pushing them away or getting engulfed by them. It was really the loving kindness practice called metta meditation that caused me to have a huge opening around healing my past. That girl inside of me that wanted to die was still in there -- and I had not befriended her. I didn't want to acknowledge her: 'I'm better now, I'm an activist! I'm gonna fight the system!' I didn't want to acknowledge her, but through the practice of loving kindness - that brings up all the stuff that you don't love! I had this moment when I was in the hall, I got up, I left the hall, I sat on the hill, and I howled. I howled for the pain of this girl, and was able to befriend her. And that changed everything. So I ended up meditating like my hair's on fire, had to make peace with these deeper truths that began to unfold really seeing the interconnected and permanent nature of the world how the sense of grounding, solidity and stability that I had taken for granted was actually kind of an illusion... how it is far less grounded and impermanent and unstable, and so I turned to my body; I was fortunate in that I was able to resource myself, so I didn't have to go into the system or go on drugs.... Was able to hold a witness stance... Bit by bit I came through the other side.... healing process... I went online, would have believed it was a disease of the brain and would have become a self- fulfilling prophecy, I could feel that it was a healing process, so I had to trust the process. I really think there are many of us who have experiences which may be incomprehensible at the time they happen, but which contain the possibility of deep transformational learning, they can help us go beyond the limited ways we have been taught to experience ourselves, and the world. People do come out of these states and they integrate on a better level, and your lives very often become better. Mine has, I have written a book about these experiences. I see myself as a much happier person than I was before my crisis. I've had a number of spiritual awakening experiences and these are really important to me, I feel they've guided me in my life, connected me to my soul and to something beyond what we can normally see. I prize the extreme states very highly, I value them, I think there's so much to be gained from these extreme states that they put us face-to-face with parts of being a human, that we don't experience otherwise. And, if properly supported, we can gain a lot from them. I was experiencing more happiness, more peace, more connection with all of life, so I'm really happy to emerge proud to give you hope, if you're in a similar difficult experience to know that actually the difficult experiences can be temporary, and with a bit of support and guidance and grounding, can become the most wonderful experience for your life, waking up to more of who you really are. I feel like the profound experiences that I've had, of connection and harmony, and also the challenging experiences of difficult visions etc, are all part of making me who I am; this profound sensitive being, open and aware of the preciousness of life. What I find really interesting about it is you have your initial breakdown and crisis, and at times it can seem pretty chaotic, and a pretty messy place to be in, but for me, how's it's developed over the last few years, it feels like the state of mind, and the kind of place that I'm in now, is a much healthier place, with much more sense of wellbeing, and contentment with life, and just a whole new perspective on everything. To me it seems strange that everyone would be trying to avoid and shut down all these kinds of processes that go on in people because I've seen in my life that I'm in a much better place now than before any of this all happened, so for that reason I think there's great value in it. I am very thankful that I have been able to break out of the box of mental illness, that I have emerged as a "baby shaman". It's been a difficult path and in Robert Frost's words: it's a path less traveled by, but it's made all the difference for me. Basically I found a new life purpose; to help others who are going through this experience. There's a big opportunity in that process; a chance, an opportunity for transformation. That's why it's crucial to normalise these experiences, because these people, we are, a chance for a better world. I wonder really, how much of mental illness is truly just a spiritual awakening Are we all breaking down so that we can breakthrough? Evolution requires a series of chaos and order, chaos and order, so when a current system is no longer working, it doesn't just simply do a nice clean transition to an adaptation -- it has to go through a process of disintegration or chaos and fall apart before it can re-emerge into a more adapted order... the state of the human species today, there's no doubt we're in a state of extreme chaos, so if you look at madness like that as well, when a person goes through a spiritual emergency, the whole world view disintegrates, but then reintegrates into a more wholesome state. So is positive transformation possible for everyone going through crisis? Not only is it possible, it's the most likely outcome with the right support. We tell such a pessimistic attitude towards extreme states in our culture, but I think it's mostly due to the way we treat people ... if we really offered proper support the wisdom's there...it's already moving in the right direction. It's important for mental health professionals to hear our stories of recovery and misdiagnosis, and for people experiencing stress and confusion to know that there is hope, and that these are normal human experiences. This is very important to normalise experiences, to celebrate the value of them, and to give a voice to all the people like myself who experience things, and go through challenges of trying to explain them to other people, finding a community where we can share and navigate our journeys, and to bring forth the benefits of these experiences. Because they're only going to benefit the world, and it's important that each one of us that undergo these experiences takes step to make sure that it becomes easier, and easier for people to bring about changes, and the boon of our experiences. I think the biggest thing is this very powerful and subversive knowledge that we can heal ourselves. Not that this has to be done in isolation, of course I believe in all the support and all the community as part of that. But that we have the ability to heal ourselves. We don't need outside authorities to tell us what to do; we don't need to depend on external conditions or substances to heal. That we have the capacity, and it looks different for every single person-- I just want people to know that you have this power -- despite what you have been told, despite all the lies that have been told to you, and I feel that if people really knew that, and had permission to discover what that looks like for them-- we would have a completely different world of people who are empowered and connected on a mind-body-spirit level -- and to one another. The emergences are one of the key phenomenon of our age. They are not only signs of the time, signals of the discomfort of our age. Like every age has had in the past. They are also a signal of things changing in the human evolution. There are so many signals that we are facing a major anthropological shift. By a widespread discomfort and pervasive malaise. Something is making it through, something is coming through. It's about changing the systems in order to have governments take responsibility and invest resources to change the laws and to be able to accommodate and give more agency and rights to individuals who are experiencing, disability, including mental disability, however you want to frame it... All around the world people go through noticeably similar experiences; it seems to be the interpretation of them, that makes a profound difference to the outcome. Imagine how beautiful the process could be, and the knock- on effect for the world, if the trauma of pathologizing potentially transformative experiences did not exist? We have to discover ourselves as part of a wisdom that reaches beyond our modern western world view, and part of a love that binds all of us, and is deeply healing for us and for our society. Our world and our survival may actually depend on it.

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Posted by: yasirarman on Apr 28, 2018

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