Spiritual emergence is a process of development where a person moves beyond ordinary human experiences, feelings, desires and "ego-states" into experiencing the transpersonal realms of consciousness. The process of spiritual emergence generally takes a long time as the transpersonal dimensions are integrated into one's daily life. While a person on a journey of spiritual emergence sometimes experiences confusion or disorientation during this inner time of transition, the person is generally able to function in a way that is congruent with one's "previous life".

However, sometimes this transformational process of spiritual development becomes a crisis. Spiritual emergency is described by Christina Grof as a spiritual crisis in which the changes are so rapid and the inner states so demanding that, temporarily, people may find it difficult to operate in daily life. Basically, it is an intense healing crisis which can be brought on by various situations such as physical disease, childbirth, or painful emotional losses. Spiritual emergency can also be brought on by events that bring a person into contact with non-ordinary states of consciousness, for example overwhelming experiences of sexual union or the use of mind-altering drugs

It is very important for those in spiritual emergency to be able to receive support from someone who is very skilled in working with non-ordinary states of consciousness. Ideally, a person will be able to work with a practitioner who not only has a lot of professional experience with these states but who has also personally experienced the intensity of spiritual emergency. A practitioner who has personally navigated the difficulties of spiritual emergency can serve as a guide and a witness. The faith and knowingness that comes when one has successfully emerged from a spiritual emergency allows the practitioner to hold a deep trust in the inner healing process. Having a guide who can hold space in this way can be very helpful to the journeyer who may find that it is extremely difficult to have trust in the inner process when it is experienced as frightening and overwhelming.

See the Spiritual Emergence Network home page for more information about Spiritual Emergency.


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