On an Animist Way of Being

I had a student ask me for a working definition of animism the other day and I realized that we talk a lot about what being a “shaman” is, or what the definition of shamanism is (albeit in a confused, repetitive loop that never finds the healing or clarity that is necessary sort of way), but much of the talk regarding animism, or an animistic perspective, is sort of quartered in the Spiritual Ecology section of the bookstore, and doesn’t get the consideration and discussion that it deserves.

As I am teaching a course in June on Animism, I thought that I would offer my perspective, and hopefully describe animism with the type of nuance that can allow for people to move beyond surface level pretensions, or beliefs that if they live in the suburbs, or the city, that they cannot be animists. I do believe that what many people are looking for is this approach and/or perspective, and that approaching the world in a state of communion, as the animist does, offers a powerful connection that we hunger for and spend so much time and energy looking for.

As an animist, the world is vitally alive. As for how an animist thinks, I will share that on my walk the other day I said “hello” to a particularly friendly looking bush, apologized because I sat down on a patch of dirt too abruptly, and considered (and still am considering) why snow and I have a rather bad relationship.

I also have been thinking a lot about technology, specifically Facebook, as an energetic entity and how it is an energetic dampener (as in, notice your energy before you go on and after you have been on there for a period of time). I have acquiesced to being on Facebook (you can find my page here) against perhaps the more Luddite or introverted (or appreciative of peace) aspects of my nature, and so share a lot of cartoons and things I find to be interesting on my facebook page in order to hopefully lift and inform… but from my perspective it is hard to look at Facebook, and most of the internet, as anything more than a lot of unhelpful and entropic noise (despite its good points in facilitating communication in some regards and allowing me to find esoteric information a lot easier than the card catalogue at my library did) that highlights our wounding patterns personally and collectively.

Generally if you look at even something as seemingly “non-cuddly” as Facebook (we typically start an animist path with cuddly, and understandably so) you can see and sense that it too, has a life cycle (and has peaked a few years ago, actually) and what sort of energetic presence that it has… and that it is an energetic grid, or presence, that can be worked with and spoken to, just like in an animist world all things are alive and can be spoken to.

You can carry on a much easier conversation with a tree, that is vitally alive, than a chair, however. Not all things in an animist universe are equal, or have the same vitality… and just as in talking to humans, there is a lot of nuance in what information may be helpful, or helpful to you, and some things speak a much different language, or have a much different context or way of being than you, and those take some effort to commune with (and to not project on). You will also have a much more in depth relationship with a hammer you have used every day for fifty years than a tool that you have only utilized once. Bringing consciousness to this relationship deepens it even more.

To an animist, the human is part of a spiritual ecological system.

To non-animists, their spiritual ecological system would be a pyramid, with humans on top. Humans have dominion over pretty much anything and everything in that pyramid– from the natural world, to the cosmos, and over every archangel, spirit, being, and demon.

To the animist, spiritual experiences and direct communion is a thing of wonder. It is a feeling of being smaller and smaller in a larger and larger and more magnificent universe that is vitally alive. It is the silent and receptive state that one comes to before hearing an orchestra begin. It is being in a dynamic relationship with another being– be that being human, plant, rock, spirit, or being (and the wide variety of etc.) It is an engagement with respect and humility, as well as discernment, knowing that the Other is all around us (and is not separate from our daily lives, or elsewhere in Peru, or with someone who has a specific romanticized “other” background), and that much like our physical world and living humans, the animistic universe is highly nuanced– both dark and light, but often a mixture of the two.

To the non-animist, spiritual experiences are hungered after to make someone seem larger, more important, superior, and to prove themselves to the outer world to be at the very top of that pyramid. The non-animist is hungering for that connection that has been lost, but so often is led by wounds, by the mind that is attempting to solve that wounding by proving itself to be superior or even worthwhile. By a mind looking to control what is ultimately not able to be known beyond a certain point except through feeling, singular words, and knowing at such a deep level that a story, or even sense, of said communion will often not come right away, nor should it be completely fathomed by the rigid mind.

The way that spirit comes across is not mental, or psychological, but pure feeling and communion. Our lack of connection, the emptiness felt within, cannot be solved by the mind. It is solved by moving beyond the mind, and by connecting directly– to one another, to the Earth, to spirit/the divine.

To the animist there is wonder and recognition of the pure vastness of what spirit, the divine, the intelligent universe, or even what lies within us at our depths, truly is.

One does not need to be a priest, or “called”, or be told they are special to be an animist. They simply need to be willing to listen, to quiet their minds, and to be willing to engage with spirit through being a part of things. A small child, an elder, and someone just realizing that a feather on the ground may have meaning can all be animists.

A chef, a teacher, someone who works in retail, and an office worker can be animists, and can connect to nature, to the natural world, and carry on conversation and reverence for what surrounds them. Animism is not a religion, it is a way of being. It is a way of listening, and of knowing that the world goes far beyond the surface level physicality of it.

Our house, our land, even our morning coffee we can begin to know on a deeper level, to be in a relationship in a deeper way. Animism is about connection, and learning how to connect in such a disconnected world, a world that in fact numbs any sort of feeling and connection to its deeper levels, is always the challenge. But once such a barrier has been broached, there is no other way of being for the animist.

While there is a sense of humanness in the physical form (as in, I need to ensure my survival and a basic way of life that suits my purposes and get me to where I need or want to be, and yes, I can be an animist and live indoors, eat meat, and enjoy television), an animist perspective would perhaps simply be described as a circle.

This could be described as a “everything gets eaten” or an “I eat you, you eat me” perspective. We are born and eventually return to the earth.

This cycle is not the vain pretense of avoiding death, or disease, but of understanding that birth and death are a part of life, and are strikingly similar energetically and physically. We are born from the void, are infantile, grow and thrive and provide for others, enter into another infancy where we are rich in wisdom but lose our physical capacities, senses, and strength, and eventually move back to the void, becoming mulched and cycled by the earth. There is no fear in this, no avoidance, but a simple understanding and appreciation of the life cycle, and the cycle of being human.

In this circle, there is an understanding that the world around us, and what is contained in that world, has a voice. It has a perspective, a type of wisdom, and is something that can be communed with.

All things have consciousness.

Our bodies have consciousness. Each cell. Each organ. Each part of us has a voice. That is, if we are willing to listen. Our bodies contain what is unhealed, what has been sectioned off and fractured, and if we are able to inquire within, to really listen to what is being said within and what is being held within our tissues, we can heal and understand ourselves on an individual level (for more on this, my Body Deva book!)

All things are consciousness, if we want to get at the key perspective here. All things make up a part of the whole, and if we connect and communicate with one another, working together, things will go a lot easier.

To an animist, they can walk outside their door and have 10,000 things to chat with. An intelligent and pragmatic animist will pair their education (such as learning about herbs from more formal resources or apprenticeship) with what they learn from the herbal spirits themselves to utilize them.

This is not projected fantasy, or psychological archetypes, but a communion with the world to the extent that other voices can be heard. Non-animists will put what they want onto the world of spirit, onto nature. It is about what they need, what they want, what they feel should happen. To the animist, communion is a two-way street, with respect offered, connection created, and a willingness to listen.

To really hear what the world, what the tree in your front yard, or even what the spirits and beings that inhabit your home have to say to you.

To hear what the ancestors whose strength comes through you have to say.

An animist can sense a wind coming in and realize that it is going to bring sickness, such as a flu or other outbreak.

An animist is often sensitive and connected enough to realize when a large earthquake, or other natural disaster is going to hit. Knowing where, or what exactly, is typically not known in such circumstances other than perhaps a vague sense of knowing and a general dis– ease at such events.

I do not wish to romanticize with those last sentiments, but as an animist I wish to describe such sensations as a thing of beauty, and with the appropriate nuance to recognize what such a connection, if never experienced, or only experienced a few times, can bring.

Many of you reading this may be well aware of these sentiments, of course, and know how vitally sustaining a connection to the earth, and to nature, can be.

How we cycle our energies with the earth throughout life, and when we experience life, we are nourished by the earth and are intended to nourish the earth (a two way street), and how when we die we nourish the earth yet again. How really animism, or even shamanism, is really about death.

We have such fear of death, that the idea that animism or the shamanic path is a process of katabasis– a descent into the underworld, a continual letting go, an interaction with what is “dark” (subconscious, wild, free, sexual, animalistic) has been lost in favor of rigid and dogmatic christianized notions of the “light”. The notion that our power, our dynamism, our creativity, and our roots lie in earth and so-called “dark” energies is not able to be understood by a culture that is so separated and fearful of anything other than an illusory and puritanically derived “light”.

To those called to be of service to their communities (I no longer use the word “shaman” so I will say “spiritual worker”), the process of katabasis must be understood and deeply felt to connect with the earth, before any type of “rising” up the world tree. We heal, we connect, we deeply know who we are and what lies within not by rigid constructs that are societally deemed appropriate, but through examining and becoming conscious of our most atavistic instincts.

This is how we heal, how we integrate what has been lost to us through trauma. It is by integrating, by listening, by hearing with compassion and regard even the darkest parts of ourselves so that they are no longer separated and fractured from us. It is not by forcing things into a perfected, judgmental state of light but by accepting ourselves, and the animist universe as it is, and seeing how we are relational beings that are meant to connect, that we can commune clearly, and deeply, and finally receive the nurturing that we so long for.

To the animist, such communion is personal. It is freeing. It is a direct relationship based on a foundation (yes, a foundation is helpful/necessary, otherwise things like discernment or logic tend to be thrown out the window this day and age without an appropriate teacher or guidance. I have seen many people struggling for years who have refused to get a teacher, or who claim to be spirit-led, who do not even have the basic understandings to begin to move beyond the confused hodge-podge of material they have managed to gather from books, from the “spirits” and from other resources, many of which in this modern world are simply more noise, rather than anything helpful).

But I have my way of praying, as do you. What the tree in my front yard says to me might be different than what it says to you. What the tree in my front yard shares with me after communing with it for six months, and bringing it offerings and sharing my gratitude for its teachings will be different than what it shared with me the first day.

What we can learn in silence in the woods, through personal gnosis, and through the teachers of all different energies, beings, and types, if we learn to move beyond the noisy mind and our personal wounding in order to directly engage, to enter a state of receptivity beyond dogma and psychological projection, creates the connections and fills the type of emptiness that allows for a “seeker” to become “found”.

It allows for one to approach all things through connection, through communion, through listening.

Resolutions (or How to Become who you are Meant to Be)

It is the time of year when everyone begins sharing how wonderful they believe that the New Year will be. We hope for new beginnings, and plan how we will be different, and better, in the future.

We continually look for outer signs of possible inner change. Each moon cycle, astrological shift, menstrual cycle, divorce, marriage, death, birth, new jobs, move, political happening, and outer cultural shift we notice allows for us to believe in the capacity to change. At times we do use these cycles and events to authentically change and become more of who we are intended to be in this world.

But most of the time we are simply creating a “loop”, a belief and a pattern of behaving and experiencing reality that will quickly cycle through the rest of the loop– the trying of new behaviors, or a new way of being, and falling back into the same patterns (our ingrained “loops” or habitual patterns created out of personal and collective trauma).

So the real question is how to subvert this, how to break this loop to the extent that we actually change our reality, and our way of being in this world.

There are several answers to this.

The first is that we can use collective momentum for our own individual purposes. This is like riding a wave; if you are well aware that you are riding a wave, and that there will be an inevitable crashing of that wave on the shore, you can ride it for as long as it is of use to you.

When large amounts of people do something, such as New Year’s Resolutions, that creates momentum. It creates energy. It creates a massive wave. You as a small drop within that wave can use this momentum by being well aware of it as well as knowing that on January 5th (rough estimate), and then likely a few weeks later, large aspects of that wave will dissipate.

So when the bottom of this wave drops out, you can tell yourself what it is doing. You can also be aware of this loop and what is on the other side of it: typically beating oneself up for participating in this pattern of behaving (not sticking with resolutions and/or not changing to a better version of yourself that you know full well you are capable of) and then perhaps considering that in February, or come spring, you will try again.

If you have this perspective, and understand that there will be a fallout of energy because of this collective wave crashing (as in, many people will be giving up their resolutions and moving back to their old habits and ways of being again) you can also recognize that such a situation is temporary (the lulling of energy or crash on the shore and subsequent depression when people move back to old habits collectively).

When you realize in a few days that there will be a smaller wave of energy– the collective energies of people who will stick with their resolutions for a few weeks– you can ride that smaller wave as well. This will be a smaller crash to shore (less people creating this wave) but still the same “loop” of promising to be a better self––– planning to be a better self––– being a better self and changing habits for a small period of time––– not sustaining the habit and falling into depressive or old unhealed trauma patterns regarding self worth––– pinning hopes yet again on a future self breaking out of habits and living up to her (his/our) full potential.

Realizing all of this offers the perspective and distance to ride the waves and use their momentum for change, while realizing that there will be temporary lulls between the two waves.

Even beyond New Years’ our world is continually cycling through similar loops (patterns of behaving based off of beliefs created out of trauma) and if you can notice these, you can more clearly see how you take on that trauma individually (as someone who is in relationship with the world and perceiving how you individually take on or relate to collective loops), and to heal that.

So let’s talk a bit more pragmatically for a moment:

  • Habits take about three weeks to get sort of ingrained and to really begin to see the results of whatever you are planning for yourself.
  • It is typically better to do something every day if you are attempting to change something, even if it is for a short duration of time, to create a habit.
  • Don’t plan for drastic change. If you have been sitting on the couch for the last ten years, you are not going to jog 10 miles tomorrow, especially if you live where I do and it is -2 degrees Fahrenheit right now.
  • Discipline and creating new habits is always hard. Know that if you fall of the proverbial horse, you just need to get back on. Everyone falls off– it is just a question of who decides to get back on or not.

Let’s talk a bit more esoterically now:

  • Our mind believes that any change is associated with death. Our mind does not really understand the difference between physical and metaphorical death. This creates a lot of fear. If you understand this, you can soothe yourself by basically stating that you are not, in fact, going to physically die, but that you are going through a metaphorical death.
  • The more momentum we create for ourselves, the more likely that we are to receive blowback. This is sort of like a pendulum swinging– if we make these huge plans about how we are suddenly going to be this different person and it all changes tomorrow, we are likely going to get an equal and opposing force in the other direction.
  • How you can move beyond this pendulum swinging is to understand it (that your resistance is going to come up and it will be harder to accomplish your resolutions with a large pendulum swing) and just tell yourself what is happening… but ideally you would create a plan/resolutions for yourself that are gradual, small, or give you the “felt sense” of being freer… not something that will create more restriction or pain for you.
  • We often feel so overloaded and restricted that another thing that will cause for us to feel “not free”– such as a resolution– causes for us subconsciously to rebel. We do not want more restrictions, we want to be freer. So thinking of ways that your resolutions can offer freedom, instead of more weight, is important. Consider adding things to your life instead of depriving yourself.

It is funny (or sometimes curious may be the correct word) what people say to me about spiritual awakenings some days. We have created a lot of confusion around the process, and as someone who has done considerable research (including reading any accounts of awakening I can find by yogis, mystics, and my favorite, heretics), has worked with hundreds of people experiencing various awakenings, and who has been going through the awakening process for some time, I am hoping to point people to some clarity here.

The purpose of a spiritual awakening is to be in the present moment.

It is to release and heal your past so that you are no longer reacting to trauma on multiple levels. It is moving from traumatized, frozen selves, locked in time because they never received something vital, into our adult, present, capacities.

It is a healing of the mind and a quieting of the mind to the extent that you are no longer immersed in creating possible futures for yourself. This has to do with being willing to look at the fear of physical death, as well as healing past issues regarding self-worth (and the need to prove oneself to the outer world). There are also some tools needed here– which is why meditation is pretty much required if you are on a spiritual path.

It is a moving beyond our basic, instinctive selfishness to clearly interact with ourselves, with other people, and with the world. It is an expansion process, where we move beyond the “I” to see that there are, in fact, other people in the world, and how our interactions with one another, our connections to one another, are what our souls are craving.

It is moving beyond feeling as if we are separate and alone to notice that we are a part of greater and greater things, and being able to commune in a greater capacity with our environment, other people, and the world/cosmos.

It is a process of becoming more and more authentically and vitally who we are. Our possibilities, what we can bring to the world. The awakening process can be described as moving beyond our selfishness, our taking what we can from the world and one another because of our deep, primal biological fear of never having enough, into actually bringing who we are, and our vital essence and potential clearly into the world.

None of us live up to our true potentials, we are too bogged down in trauma and the outer conditioning and “loops” of the world, to be. Awakening to your true potential is authentically terrifying, and is a process of acknowledging the masks that we wear and being willing to move beyond them.

If we are not being authentic with ourselves, even if we wear the mask of a spiritual person, the world and the people in it will on some level know. The world will reflect back what we feel about ourselves, what we know to be true. But even more important than that, you will know. Even if it is stuffed deep down in the furthest caves of our subconscious, our lives and our psyches will know that on some level it is a mask.

It is always a choice to look at what is illusory, what has been created out of trauma, what energies have been given to us that we have, as of yet, never questioned. Such a path of healing and authenticity often means wandering through a patch of thorns instead of a clear, sunny path.

But if we are willing to look at what is not working in our lives, where we feel small or disconnected, and how clearly we are interfacing with ourselves and reality, we can wander through that patch of thorns and have some small or large weight lift from us as we move closer to authentically realizing who we are, and who we always were, beneath all of the loops.

Spiritual awakening is not a process of disassociation. It is not spiritual competition or a way to feel superior due to inner emptiness and unresolved pain. It is a process of deeply facing the self, being willing to consider that there is always something to work on, to heal, to know, and to be.

It is a process that allows for someone to become larger, not smaller. To move beyond rules, not engage in restrictive dogmas and beliefs created because the universe cannot be contained or fathomed by our minds, and we are scrambling to feel safe and in control by enacting restrictive beliefs.

It is not a process about what is right or not to eat or what music to listen to. It is not a process that makes one smaller– that limits who you can talk to, or what you can be– or a process that disconnects you or separates you from the world, or the people in it. If you are truly expanding, you can talk to anyone, because you notice the part of them that resonates with an aspect of you. If you are becoming more conscious, you begin to understand people enough to feel compassion for them, even if you feel that they are misguided, wrong, or stupid.

You also become increasingly more compassionate towards the parts of you that are misguided, wrong, and stupid.

That does not mean that you need to accept the views of anyone, or abuse, forgive or absolve someone who has caused you pain, or think that people are filled with and aware of their light or even that they know something about a subject. What it means is that you move beyond your own trauma enough to simply accept people as they are– which are a series of loops creating out of unhealed trauma causing specific patterns of being and relating– just as you are. You stop reacting to the world, and the people in it, out of blind, emotive pain and quit recreating your loops (and placing people as actors in those loops).

It is a process of contending with societal and cultural restrictions, and being conscious of them so that you are an actor in a play… perfectly capable of interfacing well with reality as need be… but able to discard them (well, most of them) beyond surface level pretensions.

Far from the romanticized version of awakening, becoming clearer with ourselves and moving beyond our minds means that rigid, severe truths, conspiracy theories, being “better than”, separate from, or even having to go “deeper than” all fade away. It is much easier to play the role of awakening than to be willing to contend with what lies within, and beyond. Illusion, romanticization, and imbalanced, rigid, and surface level understandings will always be more popular in this world, as our pain makes us actors. It has us put on masks. It makes us believe in a fairy-tale future or a self as king or god to divorce us from this world, and to create meaning from our pain.

It is typically for a very good reason that people step onto and actually walk a spiritual path. Far from my favorite teacher, but I was re-reading one of Trungpa’s books the other day, and he told an audience of seekers that if they were considering a spiritual path, that they should reconsider. Because the spiritual path is hard. Awakening is hard. It is much easier to create illusion than to truly contend with ourselves. At a certain point what happens is that it does get easier, you are no longer resistant and are more in a state of “flow”, and can see that each mask you remove, each restrictive belief you move away from, the more at peace you feel.

As you heal your “loops” you can more greatly connect to your body, to the world, to the people in it. Spiritual awakening is greatly revered for its “ascension” aspects, but the end result of a spiritual awakening is the descending of grace– the opening of the heart– and an anchoring into the world. It is an awakening of compassion, and a “seeing” through the heart.

When I mention the end, I will also dispel another illusion that one is ever complete. If we are unable to see that we are able to continually unfold– continually be more and feel more and know more– we prevent ourselves from doing so. We always have more to be conscious of, and there will always be someone out there who is smarter, faster, more conscious, and has shinier hair.

If we are able to see that person as motivation, rather than competition, we can move away from the spiritual competition “loop” and the tired cliches of gurus saying they are on the eighth level while everyone in history is on the seventh, or of announcing themselves as the prophet of the new aeon. Once you heal what is creating this loop, you no longer need to participate as either seeker or guru in it.

I mention all of this in a blog post on resolutions because ideally if we are going to shift something about ourselves, we would simply do it. A hard ideal to live up to, but an ever greater thought would be healing enough trauma and working with your mind enough that you can be in the present moment, and not need to or want to participate in the “loop” of resolutions, or not need to project a future reality in which somehow things will get better, or we will be better, or different than we are today. Accepting this means realizing that our imperfections are okay, and becoming increasingly compassionate towards ourselves, and yet being willing to clearly see what is not working, what is divided or not compassionate within us… and offering it connection and compassion.

That generally means in practice being willing to work with things as they come up, continually seeking clarity (including outer resources such as teachers and friends whose clarity you trust), and continually being willing to unmask ourselves so we can be more authentic, more conscious, more able to bring who we are to this world.

Our loops are created out of past trauma as well as imposed cultural and societal systems. Examining them, contending with them, and healing whatever we are able to in regards to them within the context of our fleeting, physical lives is a difficult thing to ask of anyone. By being willing to heal, to acknowledge, to awaken, in an authentic matter, bringing ourselves to the present moment, we can continually, and in the present moment, become more and more of who we are meant to be moment by moment.

Developing Positive Relationships in the Spiritual Realms Part Two

In the previous blog, I talked about what may be creating blockages for us in regards to connecting to the spirit world.

Specifically, I used the term “the Other”, which takes the focus away from the term “spirits”. When people commonly talk about the spirit world, what they are talking about is an idea of former humans (humans who have passed away) inhabiting a type of astral space. If trained or versed in “shamanic” thought, the typical thought would be a world, either “upper” or “lower” where one can venture to to find answers to questions (divination), heal on a spiritual level, or interact with a variety of beings.

In many forms of occult/magical/folk magic practice, such as “traditional” witchcraft (for whatever that term is still worth these days) as well as animist-thought there is an understanding that the Other is our nightside, associated with the moon, with magic or spiritual work, as well as the darker, primal aspects of our own nature. That it is right next to us, within us, a part of our daily lives.

The term “Other” in its usage then not only implies the huge link between ourselves and what we can access spiritually, the power of the “Other” or Outlier– the idea that the aspects of ourselves that think and are different from what is culturally construed as “normal” are a source of power, insight, and in fact… magic… rather than something to be locked or hidden away– and more generally, the idea that there is little divide between our daily, human selves and the Other.

It is a huge difficulty that the commoditization of spirituality and animist-type paths has led people to believe that the Other is truly separate from them. It is somewhere else– it is in Peru, or at a weekend workshop. I do not wish to disregard the power of some of those experiences, they certainly can be life changing; but they also offer the capacity for people to push the Other away from them, to go somewhere else other than their bodies and their lives to contact it.

Arguably, some people are simply at that point in their lives. What they are ready for is a spiritual vacation that in some ways is life-changing and consciousness expanding, but not too far, and still with the understanding that daily life can be gone back to without much having changed.

The first step for developing positive relationships with the spirit world is to realize that you are already in spiritual relationship(s).

You just may not be aware of them yet. Picture this– you have been living in the same house or apartment for five years. In your front yard is a tree. You pass by it every day on the way to and from work. It has seen you get in arguments with your partner, shaded you when you decided to have lunch outside, and has felt your back against its trunk.

Saying “hello” to that tree to and from work, thanking it, bringing it offerings (gratitude if not something tasty to drink– ideally you would ask first), and journeying or doing simple grounding exercises with that tree can bring you not only a vital connection (in a world starved for and separated from connection) but bring you a solid spiritual education, strength, depth, and understanding that what is right out your window, what you run across in your daily lives, is spiritual and can be connected to.

While you can go to Peru and connect with an “apu” there and I am sure it will be a magical, life-changing event… you can begin to talk with the trees, greet the birds, plant your feet firmly in the dirt and state that you are here, and that you are willing to notice. Willing to realize that spirit surrounds you.

Then, examine your personal psychology and needs for the spirit world.

It is funny, I was talking to a colleague the other day and sometimes there is a thought that if we are animist, spiritual workers, ritual magicians, or whatever we may be where we have the belief that there is more beyond “archetypes” or psychological constructs to the spirit world (as in, there are actual spirits there. And beings. And stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with us and isn’t centered on us or our needs) that we wish to throw psychology out the window.

It is easy to think in such simple polarities, but if you ask any seer, spiritual worker, etc. worth their salt if there is a need for psychology and psychological understandings, the answer would be a resounding “yes”.

This is because we have so separated from the sacred, from spirit, from the “Other” that we can no longer discern (or are not willing to discern) personal psychology, projections of unmet needs, perpetuated trauma, and mental imbalances from authentic spirit contact or contact with the Other.

This should really be the first question: “Is this coming from personal psychology?”

It should also be perhaps the second, third, fourth and fifth questions. Because not only do we create and project, we can use spirit and the spirit realms to further disassociate and perpetuate illusions (and delusions).

Unless we are willing to examine our personal psychology first, we are likely to not only to project but in some cases to be deceived. If in the physical world, someone comes up to you in a bar and says that they are a big movie producer who is going to make you famous because you are beautiful and special many of us would have no problem recognizing that person as a con man… who likely is not a big movie producer.

But if the same thing happens with a spirit, we either do not have the tools or the willingness to question what is coming across. Don’t be this person.

We may be so confused that we are entirely self-creating as well. More common is that we have an unmet psychological need that is creating this. For example, if all of your spiritual encounters are an older male and you are always in situations where they “save” you, the first question you should ask yourself is if there is anything to heal psychologically around your father.

In other cases, we may be interfacing with something spiritual, but we have filters. We are projecting what we expect to see, or the spirit is appearing in a form that would be palatable for us. Navigating the spirit realms with respect means that we are willing to move beyond simplicity and to question our clarity and wounding patterns, healing what is necessary to move forward with greater clarity.

Realize that what you pick up spiritually may not have a lot of meaning.

This is another hard one for people. At the beginning of our spiritual path, we think that every feather we run across is specifically for us and has some deep, significant meaning. This is part of the excitement of realizing that there is more around us than we have been aware of previously… and sometimes that feather does, in fact, have meaning.

Part of my early meditation practice was in Zen, where one of the foundational principles I learned was that spiritual visions, encounters with beings, and sensations were distractions to be disregarded. Even siddhis (“powers”/capacities developed through awakening) were seen as distractions.

Obviously as an animist I do not follow this instruction, but it was actually a wonderful foundation because it taught me that we hang on to so much. We puzzle over it, create stories around it, and can get really, really stuck because we grasp so tightly onto anything we feel has some sort of meaning (or is strange or unusual or magnificent).

We may have a spiritual experience but by the time we open our eyes or come back to “ordinary” reality we find ourselves mentally creating, adding on, thinking.

While sometimes this is helpful, if not necessary, a sense of curiosity and “flow” approach is really helpful. This means that you can regard something as important, but recognize that if you really need to know something, that if something really needs to make its way to you, it will. And it likely will faster and easier if you don’t add eight pounds of mental imaginings and creations on top of it.

Be a Psychonaut.

If I have one piece of advice, this is it. If you approach the “Other” as a respectful explorer, that is a much different experience than approaching wanting to take, consume, or even to get answers.

We are so used to consuming, and are so hungry and deprived for anything sacred that many of us are walking around with the equivalent of a black hole within us. We look for anything with the faintest hint of magic or spirit to consume.

As a teacher I have come across many people like this. They are looking to consume me, and my work, as quickly (and typically as cheaply) as possible so they can move on to the next spiritual thing they find to consume it as cheaply and quickly as possible.

People are where they are, and I understand how hungry these people are. While I have compassion for it, such voracious appetites have caused schisms between us and the Other. They have caused for us to be less able to navigate it, less able to approach it in communion and respect, rather than just looking to take.

A psychonaut is an explorer. They explore seeking other worlds, other dimensions, the corners and dark places of things. They seek truth, knowledge, purity, to evolve personally (what they know to be true will change), or to be of service, either to the Other or some facet of it, or for others who are not able, or willing, to traverse the Other.

If interaction with the Other does not drastically change you, evolve you as a person, make you into a better, clearer, truer version of yourself, it would be an indication that navigating in a different way, with different intentions, and more openness (willingness to move beyond your version of current “Truth” and dogmas/cosmologies and thoughts you have been given), should be considered.

Approaching things as a psychonaut, looking to be in right relationship, to learn with humility, will get anyone far.

Understand that knowledge, and spiritual experiences, have layers.

By being a psychonaut, what will happen is that the more that you explore, the more you realize how much you have left to learn, as well as the vast expanse of what is out there will exponentially increase. Instead of achieving some sort of illusory “mastery” or “knowing everything” there will be a softening, a realization that no matter how conscious, how much of a psychonaut, how in contact with your inner Other you are, or how much power you have cultivated, that what you know is nothing.

Well, it is something, but one of the ironies of doing this work for so long is that it is easy for people truly in contact with the Other to have a bit of imposter syndrome. To realize that despite decades of study and experiences, that it is a small drop in the bucket.

This is opposed, of course, to Dunning-Kruger syndrome, where people have a tiny bit of information and feel they know everything and can answer anything about the spirit realms.

One of the places that people really stop themselves is actually not at point “A”. It is not at the beginning of their path. We certainly can stop ourselves there, but often there is motivation and enthusiasm that will carry the person forward. Many people do not move on from point “A” not because they are stuck, but because point “A” works perfectly well for them.

Where people get really, really stuck is point “B”. They have a bit of information, have maybe done a ritual or two, or have some books on their shelves they have somewhat read, and so they see where they were “point A” (these are just for crass descriptive purposes, by the way) and how many people are at that point, and start to enact wounding around inferiority/superiority and feeling separate. I cannot tell you how many people I have interacted with who have told me, at point “B”, that they feel isolated because they know so much.

I do not wish to make light of this situation, as feeling isolated is not a good feeling, but it is rare that such individuals contend with the fact that there is the rest of the alphabet. There is a Trungpa quote about how common it is to mistake the first step on the spiritual path for the last, and it is incredibly true.

Commonly such people will find others at point B and get themselves quite stuck, sometimes for decades. Arguably such individuals are at the perfect place. At this point you can still engage with a lot of wounding patterns and not have to examine them, can still find a lot of people at the same stage, and have a lot of people in group “A” to look down on. You can still engage in group think, and never really have to contend with the sort of small drop in an ever-increasing abyss sensation that moving further creates.

But each layer, each step of the spiritual path, is a test. It is an initiation.

I am not sure when I realized this, but with each layer of knowledge I went through, the more I could see the patterning of the prior layers of knowledge (things are easier to see through the rearview mirror and with some time).

But I also realized that we all, at every stage, will fall victim to ego-inflation and believing we are further than we are.

Realizing that this is a continual factor, you can call yourself out on it at every stage of the game. And you can begin to see the “Other” not as something tightly confined, to be controlled, or that you can even fully know, but of a vast, wild expanse that it is your honor to traverse.

Developing Positive Relationships in the Spiritual Realms Part One

Lately I have been sitting with the concept of how to maintain a positive relationship with spirit, and with the spirit realms. This is because my personal experience of the spirit realms has always been one of curiosity, of wanting to learn from experiences and people and things different than me, and to basically figure things out on a pattern level. I have always loved hearing about experiences and insights that vary wildly from mine, including a childhood (and adult) fascination with figuring out what I interface with, as well as how to approach things in an open enough manner so I can learn.

I mention my personal experience because when I began formally educating myself, became a spiritual worker, and eventually began teaching, I found that many people had deep fears regarding the spiritual realms. They would often believe that they were under attack, and had a series of rules concerning the spirit world that never made any sense to me based on my prior experiences. Spirits were either “compassionate” or “non-compassionate”, for example. Spirits would listen to human commands was another. Spirits are focalized around the human, just waiting to harm or help was the third.

In this model of the spirit world, the idea was of humans as the center of things, considered basically on top of the food chain but also the spiritual realms themselves. Spirits were paper-thin, archangels or deities or guides who had the wisdom of the ages and somehow were happy to entertain the whims of individual humans, or horrific demons emerging out of a Ouija board or evil spirits conjured up by Satanists.

This has been something I have been sitting with for a long time, as the larger reality– the ability to interact and interface with the Other– is so much greater than any of our limited realities. So much greater than our fears. The question for me is always how I can get my students as well as the people who come across my work into a state of healthy curiosity rather than a closed or blocked state regarding the spirit realms.

The first step (as always) is maintaining awareness of how we may block or prevent ourselves from experiencing the spirit world in a balanced, life-affirming way.

1. Current Spirit Models
While I do understand that people come to things in their own time, our limited cultural brand of psychotherapeutic shamanism and psychological magic, many modern spiritual paths, and modern spiritual teachers often take any type of spirit contact out of their work, or have constructed their teachings in such a way that students never contact anything that could be deemed unsafe.

There are reasons for this, as many are at different points in their spiritual evolution, and the safety of such constructs allows for feelings of safety and placation of fear by feeling as if one can be in control of what is out there, especially that which cannot necessarily be seen or sensed. Often in our first step(s) away from our known reality it is helpful to still carry forward the framework and beliefs of our previous reality, otherwise it would be like spelunking into the wild yonder without a safety net… too jarring and far from the known for any but a few rare individuals.

Many of the cultures and histories that we emerged from were closer to the spirit world. We were closer to death (it was less sanitized, more seen) and lived closer to and more concert with nature. Over time our technologies, move away from nature and focus on the mind (and splitting it from the body) caused there to be a split between mind, body, and spirit.

Over time this split has become exacerbated, to the point that many people don’t know or haven’t consciously experienced what the difference between “mental” and “spiritual” is. There is, of course, crossover, but we no longer look to the skies for omens, we no longer have the capacity or interest in discerning if the spirits (including guides) we contact are illusory, are no longer willing to question if our spiritual experiences have validity, or are willing to move away from ideologies regarding dominion.

2. Religion/Christianity
In this split that formed between mind, body,  and spirit, our bodies now went to the doctor, our minds went to the psychiatrist, and our spirit went to church. It is rare for me to meet someone who has fully contended with the amount of programming that we have received from christianized sources. The idea that spirits are unclean and demonic, the losing of direct contact with the spirit world, and even new-age ideas about “ascension” and many of the rules and methods of contact for relating to spirits are things that we have taken on from Christianity.

We may call it “shamanic”, or “spiritual” or even be eschewing religion altogether, but an animist perspective is one generally of respect, of reverence, and of understanding that all creatures, great and small, form an ecology and are integral to one another (rather than a pyramid with us on top).

3. Technology
Technology has certainly exacerbated the mind-body split. It is now a part of our collective shadow, a thrall we are all under. Our shadows get out and dance, fight, and pretend on social media, creating a storm of intense and often difficult energies. It is also, of course, an incredible asset in our lives.

But the interference of technology, both on an energetic level (taking us further away from connecting to the physical world, with one another, or with nature) as well as a spiritual level (creating a mind that is always occupied and little opportunity to connect; as well as the energy field of technology itself) is something that has created further schisms in our mind, and less connection both on a physical and spiritual level.

We can notice this if we go out deep into the woods without our phones. After several hours (or perhaps a few days for those of us fully entrenched) we will notice more relationship with darkness and light, of what is around us, and our ability to contact the spirit realms will drastically increase.

4. Fear of the “Other”
We deeply fear death, what we cannot see and touch and know. We fear ourselves– the dark and neglected aspects of ourselves, the parts of ourselves that are unhealed, emotional, or primal. The parts of ourselves that are animalistic, that don’t neatly fit into the confines of collective society, that have been admonished and punished so that they will be what we culturally define as “good”.

When we feel fear we create rules. We create illusory senses of control. From our minds we create kingdoms and hells from our wounds for us to live in and project onto others. Out of our wounds we create grandiose notions of ourselves– the parts of ourselves not seen and heard properly, that are crying out in pain– create realities in which we are the center of an ever-waging battle between good and evil. That we are at the center, that we are special, that we are in control.

We take on the notions, the beliefs, the understandings of the limited minds of others, seeking control of their own fears. We speak in bumper stickers, chiding one another for rules that we have no understanding of where they come from, where what we are thinking has come from. We heap illusion upon illusion from varying sources and our own life experiences onto one another to come up with our personal brand of illusion.

But that illusion can never last, as we will be shown events in our lives that belie our notions of control, our placations of fear, and the rules and admonishments offered and taken on to the core of our being without much thought, if any. Somewhere something within us shows us that what we think, what we know to be true, is illusory, because deep truth is felt and goes beyond words. It is directly experienced. Contact with the “Other” is that same way, deeply felt and known and unable to be confined by our minds. That is why we try to contain it so.

5. The Spirit World as “Other”
It is one of those impossible notions to describe to anyone who has not had the realization yet that the spirit world is the “other”. It not only surrounds us– realities press upon us and we see only a mere fraction of things as we go about our daily lives– but it is us.

I do not say this on a “we are the world or the universe” sort of level, because in a way that I am not talking about here we are all one and so forth. What I am speaking of is that the power of the spiritual worker, the connection that we have to the spirit world, is that “other”.

It is the dirt, the trees, our ancestors. It is the primal, sexual, and darkest aspects of ourselves. It is the night, and what lies beyond all of the rules and beliefs we have created that paint us at the center of the Universe, or in control of anything at all.

In certain cultures, such as Korean shamanism, those born with disabilities were considered as possible shamans. They would still have to be properly assessed to see if they had the capacity, but the link between the “other”, our ability to be in contact with it (without apologies, by the way), our emotional intelligence or ability to tap into our emotions with skill, and anything you could really put in the “shadow” box all have to do with how readily we have the capacity to interact with more than just our mundane, collectively agreed upon reality.

But the parts of us that are “other” have the capacity to connect us to the spirit world, to spirit. They are our strengths– the parts of us that vary from common thought, from the bell curve of common human experiences and minds.

We can deeply anchor in collective reality as well as deeply interface with the proverbial other. Those who do not know this relationship, or do not maintain grounding in our collective reality, easily either get off balance, lost to the Other… or more commonly, get lost in the kingdom or hell that their mind has created for them, blocking them from any spiritual contact at all.

6. Letting go of the Madman (or Woman)
In my line of work, I encounter many people who would be deemed psychotic or extremely mentally imbalanced. While in a few rare cases they may be “secret shamans” or more often, require some spiritual skills that are not taught or understood by our collective reality (see my book, Managing Psychic Abilities, for some of these skills), many of these individuals are lost in the fragmented projections and unhealed wounds of their personal and ancestral past, require physical assistance/biological medicine, and use spiritual frameworks to perpetuate unhealed, imbalanced states.

But most people will believe that they are “mad” simply because they can sense something other than what collectively we have deemed as “reality”, our crassest, densest physical reality. One of the greater ironies of doing this work is that (with a few exclusions) those who question their inner madman (or woman) or who worry about being “mad” are often quite psychologically healthy. They are willing to reach out for support, to question their beliefs, and realize when there is a lack of clarity or a state of imbalance that they could work on. It is the people who won’t even consider that their reality may be skewed who are typically the most off balance. A familiar trope, but very true.

There is immense difficulty in that our personal wounding as well as mental fracturing and moving away from nature has left us deeply ungrounded, and that as an effect our spirituality has also become ungrounded and illusory. Tools like discernment are rarely taught as the effect of conflating spirituality with self-help and psychology renders the spirit world as mental projections and illusions rather than the vivid and expansive landscape that drastically changes the sensibilities of a person to make contact with it.

The separation of mind, body, and spirit has deemed neat divides; such divides render anything non-physical to be a state of madness. We have then made the spiritual mental, so it is now simply a mind-body split, in which our spiritual insights and personal gnosis not only cannot be differentiated between the projections of our unhealed selves, but are disregarded both personally and collectively (for the most part. While there is a move to include “shamanic” and “magic” or “occult” frameworks into psychology, it is still a limited framework, based on the mind– a mental container rather than spiritual, which has no container).

7. Moving Beyond Pop Culture
This is a pretty obvious sentiment, but we are surrounded by people fleeing from ghosts or interacting with evil Ouija boards. Learning to question what and how you have been taught is essential. If we carry a belief, it comes from somewhere. Most of us believe it without questioning, because it was something that is an implicit family, social, or personal contract. Questioning our beliefs also allows us to navigate something beyond the bumper sticker surface-level forms of knowledge that are perpetuated repeatedly. Notice what questions come up continually in spiritual and shamanic forums, what patterns of relating emerge, and see past them– they will show their wounds if you look at this level. Look at the underlying beliefs, the reasonings for things, and question whether what you carry is something that is a static truth. Because it isn’t.

8. Moving Beyond the Known… etc.
Another one I talk about quite a bit. I could also add becoming a voyager or psychonaut, rather than have a fixed ideology that one is the center of things. Be respectful. Be compassionate and interested. Actually learn skills to properly navigate, ground, develop a clear mind, and discern. Question what comes up and what you are interacting with. Realize that the expanded version of you, the one who has experienced more and seen more, will also know more and be more. That connection to something like the spirit worlds can be vitally affirming, can deeply change who you are as a person. Look out for spiritual teachings that do not talk about spirits.

9. Timing 
Sometimes it just isn’t the right time, or there is personal healing to do, skills that need to be learned.

10. Learn a Foundation and Find a Teacher
While I have certainly met quite a number of people who have studied in depth solo, the amount of people in the modern world that do this successfully are far and few between. I meet a lot of people who lack any sort of solid foundation, and have adapted beliefs that prevent them from healthy connection to really anything. If you are ready to, you will meet the right teacher. Another old trope, but we find what we are ready for.

Consider what you really want. We are so often led by our wounds and our fears. We are led to our projections or our “loops” so we can cycle the same thing again and again and be in the same place again and again. There are wonderful teachers out there, ones that will challenge you and assist you to become who you are meant to be. There are wonderful healers and spiritual workers and so forth that can do the same. We continually have a choice if we are going to stay with the known; if we are going to be led by our fears and beliefs and constraints we have been taught… or if we are going to open up, expand, challenge ourselves (or be challenged) and develop into who we could be.

Doing so can certainly take the wind out of ones’ sails, as it is easy to engage with our wounds as well as our projections. To see clearly, to be willing to look within, to look outward, is not an easy task. But if we question ourselves, ask others where our blind spots are (or have a teacher willing to pull us down to earth as we all believe we are much further than we are on our spiritual path than we actually are) and have the humility to be a psychonaut– an explorer in the vast Other, rather than its center and commander, our lives can change, we can change, and we can connect to what lies beyond the scientific materialistic reality we have made the only reality.

It should be noted that there of course teachers (and healers) that will perpetuate your wounds, teachers who have no idea what they are doing or have little experience, teachers who don’t believe in spirits, teachers that will accept your projected issues with authority, or be a projection of the unhealed relationship with your mother or father. There are teachers that lack clarity, who are incredibly wounded/lack wholeness, and who are simply not doing their personal work. Such teachers are gatekeepers– they are there for a reason. If you want to go deeper, find a teacher or healer to really assist you, be clear in your intention, and realize that you will find what you are looking for if you are ready and willing to find such individuals.

11. Natural Aptitude
Yes, there is natural aptitude and openness that can be quite helpful to someone, especially if they learn the appropriate skills and work on personal healing as well. I suggest my book, Managing Psychic Abilities, as it is for sensitives and psychics who have natural spiritual capacities but have not learned the basic tools for those capacities (tools which are not taught in our modern world, and are direly needed).

In the next blog, I will go over how we can approach the spirit worlds with respect (as well as some further definitions and understandings).


Resistance, Kundalini, and The True Voice

I am not sure at what point I realized that our resistance is our wounds.

Resistance can be, of course, that logical part of your brain telling you that you are going to do something stupid, and perhaps you shouldn’t do said thing… but often is more the wounded, frightened, aspects of ourselves resisting us moving forward, becoming healthier or more whole, or us moving into deeper realization (and away from our current thoughts, worldview, and conceptualization of who we are).

Our spiritual awareness is continually guiding us and showing us ways in which we can find out more authentically who we are. We continually meet people who could assist us on our paths, are surrounded by support (spiritually if not physically), and will have signs around us showing how we can evolve or become more whole.

The difficulty is being aware enough or open enough to see such signs. When we are unhealed we are disconnected, and will not notice these signs. The modern world is already quite disconnected as it is, and we are flooded with information that can create confusion rather than a pointing to such quiet (by comparison) experiences.

Such signs can, unfortunately, on the other end of the spectrum, be hooked into and/or used for illusion or solipsism, instead of being treated simply as useful information or an awareness of what happens to someone when they engage with the world in a more connected state.

Put more simply, if we are so excited and focused on one sign, we may ignore the forty others in our day. If we “hook into” said sign and need to know the meaning, endlessly discuss it and ask for advice on the internet about it, chances are that it will devolve from something meaningful and personally significant to something muddled and unclear that is never anything but a mental process (rather than understanding, absorbing, and taking action as a result of such information).

If we consider what is unhealed within us as a crowd of inner children (and adults), family, ancestors, past lives, and other residual or cluttering energies, it is like a crowd of unhelpful, traumatized voices.

These voices are understandably resistant. They are stuck in their trauma and cannot envision another way. They are unclear, emotionally reactive, and often stubborn.

What is unhealed in us is what has become disconnected; it has become disassociated and has taken on the beliefs and understandings that emerged from the trauma. It no longer feels connected to people, to the world, or to the sacred. In such disconnection, connection of any kind is a wistful longing rather than something that could be forseen actually occurring.

One of my “canned speeches” to people (and a significant part of my sessions/the Body Deva work that I do– book out in March 2018) is that trauma creates beliefs. Beliefs about the self and beliefs about the nature of the world (and people).

What has become disconnected in us has lost faith; it no longer believes it can be connected. It feels a lack of confidence, is frozen in the trauma and overwhelm from the original experience, and is unable to be properly seen and heard.

So we will hear these voices, some softer than others.

As a culture we are very uncomfortable with these voices. The aspect of ourselves that feels unloved and worthless we quickly try to quiet and persevere despite. The difficulty is that what this aspect wants is to feel loved and worthwhile… not ignored, fought against, and traumatized again.

If we are already out of balance, those disconnected aspects of self can cloud, create delusions, and perpetrate chaos in this world.

Those aspects of ourselves seek completion, an end to that cycle. Situations will arise from that disconnected aspect of self to “replay” or to seek healing. I call these situations “loops” because unless we heal energies related to, for example, our parents divorcing when we were six, we are in different ways going to find ourselves in situations repeating that situation in varying ways… but we are also going to seek out those situations actively so that the beliefs that were created out of trauma can be consolidated.

Basically, the inner six year old will not only seek out women who remind him/her of their mother, but will have an odd sense of satisfaction when the woman leaves him/her for another man, because all women leave their families

The more wounded we are, the further we are from wholeness, the less the pure, divine voice and force within us can be heard.

The good news is that we have such a voice. We know what we should do with ourselves, who we are, from a place of health, wholeness, and connection.

Although we believe we are disconnected, we never are. We have just taken on the beliefs of the traumatized selves who needed to separate to simply survive whatever situation they were experiencing.

It is by listening to that voice, by being willing to hear that voice, that we can begin to align with health and connection, rather than the unhealed crowd.

Although it is much easier for someone to do this when it is less of a football stadium filled with voices and more of a small, intimate party, it still can be accessed. It will often be believed more, and actually listened to (and discerned properly) by people who have personal readiness to do so, which typically is a point that requires some healing efforts to get to, however.

One of the difficulties of the spiritual awakening process, if you are in a more “sudden” (category in my book, The Spiritual Awakening Guide) or intense categories (such as kundalini awakenings) is that the body goes through a purification process.

This purification process takes decades, if someone is going through a full kundalini awakening. At the start of the process for someone going through a significant/intense awakening, especially if there is no or not much personal background in the subject, is a feeling of a battle being waged.

They blame kundalini, they feel out of control, and often feel a bit of rage at difficulty in finding useful information on the subject (it is out there, but spiritual information that is worthwhile is often like swimming through a swamp to find a single pearl at the depths of it).

It takes a while into the process to realize that the difficulty isn’t kundalini. Kundalini is divine flow, cosmic grace, what is revealing the “true self” or “true voice”.

The difficulty is that the upheaval of what has been stored in the body (all our past traumas and various layers of stuff we have taken on, our illusions/delusions and rules we have been given, our physical and environmental toxins) puts the person into yet a new state of trauma and overwhelm; that in which beliefs can be created out of. Beliefs like I am at war with this process or I don’t believe this process is happening.

There is always ego to be traversed as well, the seeing through of the part of self that wants to feel superior, and uses a process like “awakening” to do so. If a spiritual awakening is seen through to any sort of depth, humility and “grace” are found… rather than beliefs that the person is the greatest “x” in history, or is on the eighth level when everyone else in history has only been to the seventh.

If there is any realization that I have found amongst “awakened” people, it is of how much more there is always to learn, and a sense of an ever-increasing web in which one is simply but a strand. How there is always more to heal, to learn, to expand, to understand.

There is also the realization that someone who is mentally imbalanced can use the process to fuel delusion, rather than clarity, but that is perhaps a whole blog in and of itself. I will just say that a freeing of beliefs is experienced during any type of spiritual awakening, as well as moving beyond control (illusions of control or rules needed out of feeling lack of control) and if that isn’t happening, or if the physical/emotional/energetic/spiritual nature of someone isn’t moving towards greater clarity, peace of mind, and a freedom from rules and ideologies, that might be something to look at.

It is often very hard for someone authentically experiencing a kundalini awakening to come to grips with it in our culture. This is because the experience is really rather peculiar in a lot of ways, that it is something that is not understood in our culture (or is used in a manner far removed from the authentic experience or understanding of it), but primarily due to the amount of information/past traumas and associated beliefs coming up for processing/healing as well as the shifts in resultant beliefs and expansion of worldview can happen in a very short period of time.

Too short to really get your head around before you start going into another massive shift of self. There is little understanding or appreciation for the fact that spiritual awakening experiences, especially when more “sudden” are traumatizing in and of themselves. That alongside the “purification” and old wounds arising, that the processing and experiencing of such shifts is a form of trauma as well. Trauma that can be healed and worked with when it has been moved beyond a bit.

There is typically a distinct shift when the person begins to realize that kundalini is releasing what is false. What is illusory. This is when the person typically accepts that they are going through the process and quits waging a large war on themselves and surrenders or works in conjunction with the process.

The uniqueness of spiritual awakenings is that they are leading us to greater health, greater flow. When we are in greater flow we are feeling who we truly are (our “true self”) as well as our mind is quieted enough from the sea of voices that we can access that true voice.

Or at least hear it distinctly.

It is possible to begin listening to the true voice if you still have quite a bit to work on, though. But if you have one voice stating that you should go back to school, change your relationship, adopt more discipline, or that you are worth greater things and five other voices telling you that you essentially suck, chances are that you may either side with the unhealed voices, or you will not have the faith to hear your true voice, or willingness to take any sort of action towards it.

Things like kundalini awakenings do allow for the unhealed and resistant aspects of ourselves to clear. What is difficult is that we often cling to our most unhealed things. We believe large illusions about ourselves and the world, we create conspiracy theories, or we create myths that we have nothing to look at or work on; these are so large that we don’t think to question them.

In our thoughts of what is “good” and “pure” offered to us by an unhealed collective, we all wage wars on ourselves. We push large portions of ourselves aside, or seek to turn them into a puritanical “light”.

Nothing ever heals by being pushed aside, told it is “bad” or to “shut up” or being forcibly changed into something.

Our anger doesn’t want to be love. It wants to be angry, and to let you know why it is angry. It likely has a completely valid reason to feel that way.

Obviously, such sentiments are meant for people ready for them. If you are significantly out of balance working on such things is best after stability is experienced, or with the assistance of someone who is clear, balanced, and experienced at their craft (be it healer, therapist, spiritual worker, etc).

If we are awakening, we can pay attention to what our relationships are showing us. They are showing us something unhealed, and finding its source and working with it compassionately will quiet it (integrate it/allow you to become more whole).

One of the ways that we can find out what needs to be healed is to look towards our interpersonal relationships. There are likely one of two things going on:

  1. They are showing you a “loop”– something from your past that requires healing. In the beginning, these are more obvious (such as from childhood). Later, we may find “loops” that we do not have conscious awareness of, like from familial, ancestral, or past lives. The first thing to look for, if this is new for you, is to question if you are having the same type of relationship with different people (same unhealed energy/many faces). Do you always have trouble with your boss? Your teachers? Your relationships?
  2. In true “shadow work” you can look at every person as an aspect of you that needs tending to. What we get upset by in another is often something we have disassociated from within ourselves. This works for both “negative” as well as “positive” traits, however. If we continually find ourselves jealous of a type of person, we have likely disassociated from that as well.

Obviously there are some limitations towards this. We do not create the world– we project our unhealed issues onto one another, as well as notice things and are bothered about things in others because there is a resonance or call to attention there. Sometimes people are people, and are simply unhealed, jerks, delusional, and so forth. Even if we heal many of our “loops” they will still be that way.

But there is a separation that can be had as you realize that many people are simply walking around with this chorus of unhealed energies and cannot find vital access to their souls. While there still can be emotional reaction at times (like if someone almost runs you off the road you have a right to be upset and should be upset) there can be realization and clarity in knowing that they are projecting and looping and enrolling you in their “play” and you can step away from being cast. You can find a previous blog that discusses this here…

But once we begin attending to our unhealed natures, once we allow ourselves to connect, we can listen to that true voice. We can realize that our resistance can be listened to just like any aspect of us… and that what it is saying is that it is unhealed, it is afraid, and it is wounded. By compassionately working on ourselves, even our resistance, we can begin to realize our inherent wholeness, and move more towards it in our outer reality and bodies.

Embracing the Sacred

For the last several months, I have been getting message after message about how we no longer value the sacred in the modern world.

This has been paired with the realization that not many people may wish to hear about this. I find that there is a threshold for spiritual knowledge that people, even conscious people, do not want to cross. And it is generally because people don’t generally want to know about things beyond a certain point (probably not the best way to get readers to my blog, but oh well…) because they contrast with the sort of “brochure” or varying ideas about what happens when you connect, or become more aware, or follow a spiritual path of any depth.

Struggling with ideas, with concepts, especially dissonant ones to what we already know or wish to believe, is always a tall order.

We have a lot of struggle in our human form, in our human lives, and the ideas that we will be perfected Gods, able to manifest anything at will, in a state of bliss, emptiness, non-worry, and with perfect health and wealth (and immortal, to boot) is understandable anesthetic to a weary, worried soul.

There is no deconstruction of this illusion to the person who still needs it, as the idea that just around the corner, or next week, or if only we could reach some illusory state, we could achieve such things, is too appealing for any but those willing to let go of the eternal quest, the never-ending battles, and the spiritual void within.

Part of this is a realization that what most people call spiritual really isn’t. We are so entrenched at the mental level that we prefer the creations of our own minds rather than any sort of interface with the sacred. We have become so far distanced from the sacred that we no longer can interact with it or outright reject it in favor of what is known, or has been taught to us before.

I have been sitting with the past few months how I have now had many friends, students and clients who have had all sorts of guides and ancestors and spirits and so forth around them but they will consistently choose the sort of mental, creative visualization type interactions over spiritual connection.

This is in part how spiritual work is popularly taught, in part because of the framework of mental techniques and illusions or “brochures” that are much more appealing than any reality, spiritual or otherwise, and wholly because we have been removed from the sacred to such a degree that it is but a faint glimmer in our eyes, hungered for deeply but not found in the endless sea of mental techniques and illusions that masquerade as spiritual truth.

In shamanism, I could easily swing back to the “shamanism was brought to the West by psychologists and anthropologists and so is in a firm, mental container that really devalues and doesn’t recognize the sacred or at best views it as “other”– something somewhere else or in someone else. It does this to both erase any form of spirit contact– which may be scary to people indoctrinated with christianized values, despite them perhaps outwardly eschewing modern religious constructs– but also to make spirit palatable to a wide variety of people, some of whom are not ready, willing, and don’t need to jump off the deep end into the spiritual swamp. At its worst it is set up as a business that requires students to never let go of the quest, as that would mean they would attend less workshops. At its worst it has a variety of teachers that either know better, or are engaged in the same quest and brochures, with the same emptiness within. But as most people are at a point of feeling like they are immersed in chaos, drowning in their lives, the need for a simple reprieve from their lives and to believe that something, somewhere, is looking out for them and feels like they are special, is understandable.”

Such a spiel is correct (and has been stated perhaps less succinctly in prior blogs), and the need to feel heard, to feel special, and even to have anesthetic in this world is understandable. I am compassionate towards this, but the difficulty is that these things do not connect one to the sacred, or fill the black hole that has come from our disconnection to the sacred. It is simply more anesthetic and escapism, albeit in many cases more nurturing and less destructive than other anesthetics out there.

The vast irony is that we do have ancestors, guiding spirits, and so forth that would be more than willing to interact with us… but that they are not flat, brochure-like beings. They are as complex as you and I (or even more so), but they will generally have the effect of crashing through the vacuity and mental protections and beliefs one has constructed out of pain and wounding, and opening someone up to something far beyond the limited ideas of self (as well as ideas of self being the center of the universe, or in control of the cosmos).

To interact with any depth with the spiritual realms requires a moving beyond the mind, a moving beyond the mechanistic universe filled with what is known and can be explained, and a moving beyond the christianized framework that has turned the sacred, the spiritual, and spirits into a strict polarity; a polarity that is so far removed from the reality of the spirit world that I know whenever I hear someone describe the paper-thin notions of compassionate or non-compassionate spirits that it is doubtful that they have ever allowed themselves to experience anything.

The polarities, the mental explanations and mechanistic psycho-therapeutic techniques create a sometimes insurmountable block to authentically experiencing anything, and the fear that such polarities describe and placate means that we have lost belief, we have lost faith, and even if something is wondrous and divine right in front of us, even if we call ourselves spiritual and see such a thing, that we will quickly denounce it to get back to our known universe.

I have also been sitting with the fact that many students and clients report time and again that they have dark, evil, or harmful spirits after them. It is not as if such things do not exist, or that at times we are not affected by the spirit world, but the belief that spirits or the spirit world are specifically out to get people is such a dominant and illusory ideology that people create never-ending spiritual battles out of fear rather than any sort of genuine interaction.

I often struggle with painting a view of the spirit world that is not filled with good vs. evil, compassionate vs. non-compassionate, but is strikingly similar to our own world… where living people, as well as spirits, are complex and often traumatized, suffering, or just simply there.

Much like living people, spirits have limited interest or belief in you being the center of the universe, and the idea of you controlling the cosmos, or them, isn’t really representative of any sort of spiritual reality… (caveat: unless you are something like an experienced Solomonic magician, or a very experienced spiritual worker… and even then, spiritual work is a two-way street, not just taking from spirits and the spirit world with nothing in return offered).

The difficulty of such polarities, beyond the obvious religious framework that often needs to be deconstructed (even if the person has outwardly and enthusiastically denounced modern religious constructs) is that the idea of good vs. evil, centered on the Self, is too dramatic of a battle to let go of.

The vast and never-ending battle, the mythic framework supplied by such a polarity, all centered around the Self as protagonist, being pulled and affected by such forces, will be enacted again and again until the emptiness within is resolved.

Until the need for battle is resolved within.

When we are in this state of disconnection to the sacred, we suffer from the wounding that we are not enough, that we need to achieve and prove ourselves. In this state the wounded, limited aspects of ourselves need to be desperately seen and heard. It is rare that we are in our adult capacity– we are stuck as children experiencing the wounds our past, continually living out the beliefs developed from such wounding, and often expecting others to have the same beliefs and limitations (or to operate within them, which to our horror, they rarely do).

We become disconnected from ourselves from such wounding. We become disconnected from others by our experiences of our parents and others who did not see and hear us and nurture us to the extent that we required.

We become disconnected from the sacred not only because in our modern world such a disconnection is omnipresent, and connecting to the sacred is no longer an aspect of our collective, consensual reality (or deemed important), but because our disconnection from the natural world and from one another and our wounding at a personal level means that we view any sort of connection as something dangerous.

In our pain and disconnection we create grandiose myths and false selves. We imagine ourselves to be Gods, Goddesses, magicians, shamans, and enlightened, to prove to the world, and to ourselves, that the black hole is no longer present.

In this state we believe we need a quest, constant battles, a never-ending list of things to do to measure up. We spend our days proving to ourselves, and to one another, that we are worthy. We reach towards the next thing, and the thing after that, believing that the next outer teacher, modality, healer, course, or book, will heal the emptiness within.

The question seemingly would be how to help people move past this, but that isn’t really the question, as people will move past such things when they are ready to.

Even if never experienced, a connection can be formed. It is always lovely as a teacher to hear a student say “aha”, or to form the tools to appropriately and authentically interact with the sacred. It is life-changing to form this connection, as it means moving past even the illusion of having a black hole within.

Interacting with the sacred, that connection to it, always vastly changes someone, and continues to vastly change them. It allows for them to enter a state of flow, of grace, of communion, and entering a state of flow means that the Self, the limited, wounded Self and its ideologies, are always expanding beyond their current limitations… and in a continual state of surrender of those once rigidly held wounds, chaos, and ideologies. Such vast change is something to look for, as communion with the sacred will always change someone

Developing the inherent connection that we may only have the faintest memory of somewhere in our DNA does take a willingness to see. It takes a willingness to move beyond the mental, the need to know, the endless conversations we have within our own heads.

It often takes a willingness to look at what beliefs we have been handed down, and how we act them out. It takes a willingness to see how we need the never-ending battles, the ideas of a quest, the notion that we are acting out our “black hole” by simultaneously creating vast mythologies and sentiments concerning our importance out of feeling inwardly insignificant or wounded. It can require healing of those wounded parts that are so afraid of everything, that have learned somewhere along the line that connecting to ourselves, to one another, and to the sacred, is dangerous or simply wrong.

It does take disposing of the narrative that there are only some that are “chosen”; our modern constructs of the shaman idealize the chosen one, and neglect to point to an authentic history of many people of all walks of life interacting with the sacred as simply a part of their daily lives, a part of their waking reality. While there certainly some more attuned to the sacred, or who have been called by it (or to jump more deeply into the spiritual swamp), the inherent connection to the sacred is not just for a few. It is for all who are ready for it, and willing to see and interact with it.

But mostly it takes a state of willingness; the realization that you can connect to the tree in your backyard. That you can do so for the next year and learn more, connect more, and fill that black hole through being willing to surrender to simplicity, to feeling, to connection, and to seeing yourself as part of a vast web, rather than the center.

We are all droplets in the great ocean, we intermingle, connect, and flow. It is through this state of flow that we can connect to something greater than ourselves… and let go of the battles, the myths, and end our illusory quests.

Spiritual Waves and the Eclipse

I am not an astrologer– I know what phase the moon is in and basic planetary hours for some of the work that I do. I mention this as my thoughts will not be from an astrological perspective but from a “feeling” or “seeing” perspective.

There is a lot of chaos in the world right now, specifically centered around the US. Both the political climate as well as eclipse energies (along with varying retrogrades and so forth, which you can read about from people more studied than me in this area) are making a significant impact.

The best way I can describe the interface with larger energies, such as world, collective, or societal energies (as well as astrological/planetary/”cosmic”) is a sort of vibratory wave. At times this wave is calm, like a smooth sailing night at sea. At other times this wave crashes onto the shore, and into us… and everything in between.

We then react to these waves headed our way– they meet and interface with our own energy fields. This is often without our consciousness. Even if we do not “believe” in energy, or vibration, or astrology (or insert words here), or believe the falsity that we are above such things, the “cosmic weather” affects us all.

We are continually affected by these outer waves… by the waves of our community, society, state, country, world, and the cosmos.

To understand these waves we must be aware of them. By becoming conscious of these waves, not from a studied or intellectual space, but by a deeply feeling space, we can not only discern between self and other (as in, “wow, world energies are quite wonky right now. Feel the intensity of that wave”) which can help immensely, but we can begin to take personal responsibility for our part in interfacing with that wave… as well as what we are returning to that wave (our backward flow, if you will, as we contribute our personal energies to the wave in some small or large way).

This is done by understanding the wave and its purpose.

The “wave” that we are currently experiencing is one that is quite tumultuous. It is like the bottom of the great ocean has been lifted from the depths, and all of the monsters– Tiamat and the great creatures of the deep– are ashore.

There is such a thing as continual motion to the point where it is experienced as a stoppage, a void. A dead calm. And this is what such energies currently feel like to me.

Our inner depths, our monsters, the shadow aspects of ourselves, both inner and outer, are being seen. That dark mirror, the void, the aspects of ourselves that we thought neatly tucked away are coming to our conscious awareness, our personal shore.

In terms of spiritual realities, the ocean is a metaphor for both the divide between the subconscious and the conscious, but such a wave as described also means that the inner depths, or the separation between worlds, becomes thin.

The world of the dead, the restless spirits that lie beneath us, that we usually can deny or ignore, are finding themselves on the shore, and perhaps noticed by a much higher percentage of the population than usual. The veil between worlds is thin, and it is hard for even those who would in no way describe themselves as “sensitive” or “seers” to notice that something energetically strange is afoot.

So what to do about such things is always the eternal question here…

Awareness is always first. Without consciousness, we cannot understand the waves and our interface with them. Although many people will interface with a wave of such hidden depths emerging in similar ways (such as depression, existential crisis, questioning of identity and purpose, realization of inner “monsters” and needs for healing) how we interface, and what arises for us, is deeply personal.

With understanding the wave and how you are interfacing with it, you can basically understand what you have to work on. It is by unearthing the depths of the ocean floor that we can create big shifts in our lives… if we are willing to become conscious of them.

It is a tendency to push such chaos outward instead of inwardly reconcile it. We get into arguments, we find outer villains, and we push our pain and shadows onto the nearest person, celebrity, or politician. It is much easier to do so, and I am not suggesting that many of the people in the news do not appropriately take up the “villain” mantle.

What I am suggesting is that it is far easier to create an outer villain than to reconcile the energies that are emerging; energies that may be painful to face. Our inner racism, division, placation, needs to feel safe, our relative privilege, class, sex/gender, anger/rage, fear, and anything else that we deem monstrous and project outward can be looked at inwardly… if we are willing to do so.

Energies such as the eclipse allow for things like our inner villains, our inner monsters, all that which we are inwardly divided by, to become more apparent to us. Instead of pushing such things outward, or creating chaos outwardly so we do not have to pay attention to such things, we can pull back our energy and consider our role in such things.

We can eat our shadows that are emerging, reconcile them, and shift our identity for ourselves and the world to a healthier place.

In this way we can act– not from a place of chaos, or from a place of being used by such waves, but from a place of deeply understanding both inner and outer. It is only by doing so that we can take back our power, that we can become aware of the outer manifestations of what is inner, and that we can begin to use such waves, instead of be used by them.

I recognize in saying such things that they may be hard to reconcile. The idea that we give our power away by not reconciling such outer energies that we have projected onto, or that such waves can be used against us, is difficult to reconcile.

It is only by taking back our personal projections and the power that we have given to our shadows run amok that we can fully take personal responsibility for ourselves, that we can heal such shadows, and more greatly interface with reality in a balanced and open way.

I do realize that the appearance of what lies beneath, what we have put at the bottom of our personal and collective oceans, is not terribly pleasant. If you need to simply take care of yourself, or your family, that is understandable. But for those of us ready and willing, we can meet our inner depths, greet the energies of this wave that are emerging, and thank them for showing us what we need to work on inwardly.

We can also understand from a spiritual perspective that this may be an overwhelming or inappropriate time to do spiritual work.

Or it may be a time to do work like psychopomp or healing work for the restless dead, understanding that they are feeling the wave, the sudden openness between worlds, just as we are. If we fear our inner depths, we can only fear the spiritual realms. If we fear our inner darkness, we cannot greet the outer darkness with any respect or regard.

It may be a time for protection, for shielding, and for simply staying out of the fray in a spiritual manner. I realize the irony of the fact that i will be posting this on Facebook, but understanding how many people are and will be affected by this wave, and feeling compassion for how they are reacting, and not feeding into or giving power to such things, is always apt.

Laughing, hanging out with friends and family, and serving your community are always ways to combat the emotions that are heightened by such waves. I am not telling people to disassociate, but chaos and projection of anger doesn’t really do much, and the power of making an impact, however small, to bring good to this world, is always helpful. One of my first spiritual teachers told me about the spiritual power of laughter, and he would prescribe funny movies and comedians to break up the remainder of heavy energies like curses.

If you are strong and able to, you can choose an appropriate action to use the wave, to transmute the energies that come with it, to support those physically and spiritually struggling with the wave. I will not list how to, as it can get people into trouble, but such transmutation of energies is possible, and will come across for those willing and ready to interface with the waves differently.

We all are unconscious of things to smaller or greater degrees, and it is natural for people, even “spiritual” sorts to feed into this energy, or to outwardly project, rather than inwardly reconcile.

We can either be used by the wave, or we can utilize it.

Realizing such a thing can allow for you to understand both the smaller and larger waves that inform us. It can allow you to “see” the wave, know where it may take you, and to ride the wave, to use the wave, instead of being victimized or giving your power away to it, or the outer manifestations of what is being unearthed from the depths of the ocean at this time.

Mental Illness and Spiritual Awakening Part Two

You can find Part One here, and a framework of the spiritual awakening process here

To start, I am going to set up a basic polarity concerning the differences between spiritual awakening and mental fracturing or illness. I will then go into the nuances, or how and why the basic polarity may not always be present, or so straightforward.

The spiritual awakening process is one of expansion. Whatever its source– from a shamanic calling or training, kundalini awakening, or many of the other paths up the “mountain”– what occurs is a perspective shift and relational shift in which someone moves beyond looking at themselves as the protagonist in this world.

This expansion allows for a releasing of beliefs and energies that hold the person separate; this largely means a process of noting what is external (what is creating reaction) and reconciling it inwardly.

It is a process of taking responsibility for oneself– in an adult, mature capacity (this has been greatly convoluted, by the way. We are not responsible and did not “create” our abuse as a child, and the 1 out of 4 children who go hungry in the US on a daily basis do not need to take “responsibility” for themselves). Rather, it is a process of moving past conditioning, past trauma, and primarily beliefs that create restrictions to the extent that there is clarity, and an emotional intelligence that allows for personal chaos and situations to be looked at inwardly.

This awakening process is best described as a series of relational shifts. When we are “asleep” we have only a small dot (our wounded, insular conceptualization of ourselves) and as we awaken we can consider as well as feel compassion for others– not only because we have moved beyond our blind, emotive reactions based on past trauma and rigid belief systems– but because our “dot” has expanded… and we now can recognize that what we are reactive to in others shows us what is unhealed within ourselves.

Awakening is also not a personal process in many ways, although it outwardly appears that way. It is about seeing clearly the self in relationship to the world (or the cosmos) and to one another.

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If we heal what we are reactive to outwardly, we are no longer reactive and have reconciled that aspect of our “shadow” (the repressed aspect of ourselves that is brought to our attention in the outer world) and begin to understand that we are in a large web of being– we are one– and can relate on a spiritually adult, clear level to one another. This does not mean that every emotional reaction will cease, or that emotions are “bad”– emotional intelligence and maturity allows for the full feeling of those emotions and the ability to have them flow through you without the reactivity of past traumas coloring them.

The awakening process allows for the immense amount of chaos that surrounds us in many ways to lessen. We create so much chaos for ourselves– sometimes out of just the idea that we should have so much chaos– and this can and does release so there is greater clarity and relationship between the self and outer.

There is the ability to sit with even the most disparate of beliefs, and consider the personal illusions and falsehoods created with openness. Someone who is “awake” will have the capacity to consider any belief or instinct that is creating separation (or heightened sense of ego) and understand that it is false, and reconcile what is behind it. There is a moving beyond the mental “rules” and societal constructs, not because there is no balance and grounding in reality or in the body, but because such things have simply been inwardly reconciled.

The need for judgment and outer division ceases, not because people are “all the same” or “all have equal things to offer”, but because you can simply meet them where they are, rather than try to change them or believe yourself superior to them. We all have things to work on, and someone awakening will know this with humility, and will simply work on what arises, knowing that as long as we are in a human body, we all will have struggle and things to work on.


In contrast, mental fracturing and illness creates contraction and separation. There is no capacity to see outside of the self (or expand beyond the “dot”); this is because if the daily experience is a battle there is no room or energy to consider anything else other than the self. In simpler terms, if a lion is currently chasing you, it is not a good time to consider the emotional needs or projections you are creating. It is a time to get away from the lion.

The “purification” process of awakening allows for chaos and fracturing to heal, which means not only less chaos, but less energy expended on the internal battles, or the fractured aspects of us fighting one another. This results in the capacity to actually have the energy to help others, to see outside the self, and to realize that in helping others you are helping yourself– it is a natural outreach of the path to be of assistance to others in some capacity. This does not mean you are completely “healed” by the way– it means that at some point your work will be to reconcile yourself outwardly, or to offer yourself and what you have learned (as well as your presence) to others who are former aspects of you, or who simply may need some guidance on the path you have already partially or fully walked down.

With mental fracturing, there is the idea of being alone, separate, an individual identity… often at war with the world, or endlessly being persecuted or victimized. There will be understanding of Self as the protagonist and the center of the universe– often with illusions and ideologies around being the “chosen one” or having immense power (or being “enlightened” or having nothing left to work on, or being on the eight level when everyone else in history has been at the seventh), while simultaneously creating a reality of being incredibly victimized by the spirit world, by people, and a removal or separation from the physical body and from the Earth as a whole.

In this fractured capacity, the person will either have the eventual clarity and healing to move beyond the needs and projections of the separate self, and to utilize tools to come back to the body and to the earth… or the rigidity and fear that comes from trauma and fracturing (and the need to feel like a separate protagonist) will perceive any outside information that runs contrary to this contracted self, healing, or healing professional as a form of attack– turning the person or information that goes contrary to belief systems into yet another attacker that must be defended against.

There are many reasons for this– the simplest being that the parts of us that are separate or fractured are that way for a reason: they were overwhelmed, traumatized, and deeply afraid. This traumatized “self” then created a reality or overlay, complete with belief systems, to make this separated reality “okay”– often complete with the illusions of the power that has been lost.

Ironically, the call for the modern-day “rugged individualism” comes from illusion and a fractured sense of self. The idea that one must heal themselves, or cannot reach out for support, is an illusion, and a hugely detrimental one at that. We heal relationally, which includes both inner, personal work, as well as reaching out to others and healing within the context of our communities. We are meant to share our burdens, as that allows for transcendence beyond the ideas of the fractured, separated, and illusory self.

In shamanic terms, this separated and traumatized self has experienced power loss and so has created the illusion of power, centered around the self as protagonist. If this power loss is healed, the illusions of power, the needs to be superior, and even the need for solipsistic ideologies lessen or cease, and humility and lessened chaos are a result.


One of the difficulties in creating such a binary is that it is easy to look at this as “spiritual awakening– good; mental fracturing– bad” and although such a framework is necessary, it is also necessary to transcend it. So let’s go ahead and do so…

The difficulty with determining spiritual awakening vs. psychosis or mental illness is that the overall trajectory needs to be understood. This is because there is carry-over between the two, and because the experience of ego death (read the previous blog) and relational shifts in and of themselves can be traumatizing. They can also trigger or bring up latent, or subconscious imbalances. We carry a lot within us that has been subconscious for a reason: it is because we lack the capacity, tools, or support to work our way through it. Such things emerging can be overwhelming.

There has been a lot of illusion about how the spiritual awakening process just creates this concept of “bliss”, or incorrect illusions about how we simply become happier and healthier, in a state of bliss as a result of the process. This is untrue, as what lies dormant within us are things we have difficulty reconciling or are rejecting for a reason.

For example, it was probably my tenth year of meditation that I first came upon the “Destroyer” energy (in the Spiritual Awakening Guide) and the aspects of myself that wanted my destruction, or to no longer be alive. Coming across our inner serial killer, our inner pedophile, our inner (insert something horrific here) and all of our shadow parts is a hard task, and they come up long beyond the time of simply responding to outer chaos and the sort of blind “sleeper” state of simple reactivity to the outer world. Having compassion for those aspects is key, and these parts of us arise for healing. However, we may still be reactive to them or lack the tools to deal with these aspects of ourselves.

The other difficulty is that there is bliss in the awakening process, there are flows, and waves, and heightened states that allow for an understanding of freedom. This can result in despair, despondency as they “flicker” (or you come out of them), and it is a hard thing to describe to people that you develop (or become aware, rather) of emotional complexity in the awakening process. Basically, you can be both in a state of bliss and depression simultaneously. You can be in pain and experience great stillness. You can be deeply grieving, feel joy, sadness, and love simultaneously. This is emotional intelligence at its most finely tuned.


As mentioned, there is even greater complexity in the fact that the experience of these “ego deaths” or relational shifts are traumatizing and overwhelming themselves. The sudden clarity of realizing a pattern that has shaped your entire reality being untrue is a hard thing to digest. The realization of inner patterns that were once held subconscious arising is difficult.

There is also the difficulty of the awakening process happening to someone that is already considerably fractured and unstable. If we picture ourselves as a mirror (with a gleaming, whole surface as being “enlightenment”… which is much rarer than popular culture espouses… and most of us having cracks and chips and severe trauma or biological/physical and etheric issues of the mind creating fractures or portions missing) the awakening process may happen to someone who has a few cracks, and can see through the process reasonably intact.

It also may happen to someone who has no idea what is going on or who has small or large cracks, or sections of their “mirror” missing. In the previous blog, I referred to how my process was so difficult largely because my physical body was out of line– and if we physically, mentally, emotionally, are already significantly out of balance, the process of accepting, surrendering, and working our way through relational shifts and identity shifts is much harder, and in some cases, insurmountable without assistance.

Erich Neumann referred to this concept as “higher” and “lower”– basically the differentiation being the in tact, or healthy “ego” (or the mirror having only a few cracks or scuffs). The “higher” spiritual experience would then be someone who can integrate the trauma of the experience and the subsequent release of beliefs and reformulation of identity. The “lower” experience would be someone who cannot, and who is further traumatized or becomes psychotic due to the overwhelm of the experience.

Similarly, there is the famous Joseph Campbell quote: “the psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight” which describes this as well.


However, while there are many, many people who fit the above… there are people who utilize the awakening experience as a framework for their fracturing or psychosis and who are not undergoing the process. Even people who are undergoing the awakening process may reach for things that reinforce trauma and disassociation (or are a comfort to their illusions and sense of separation) which are all to prevalent in the spiritual awakening “community”.

This is why looking at the overall trajectory– if the person is going through an expansive process and identity shifts, or if they are contracted and fractured, utilizing the framework as a resource as a way to experience relief or control or to feel powerful due to a fractured mirror.

Awakening should allow for ease in living, more freedom, a relationship to the earth and the people in it to develop. It should allow for expansion of beliefs, acceptance of others, release of judgment as a result of inner needs for control, and an increase in functioning if seen through.

It should also allow for understanding that the “transcendence” of the physical body is a way to reconcile inner fears of death, and realization of the temporary nature, and is not an excuse or reasoning for disassociation and isolative tendencies that arise due to fracturing and false beliefs.

The “shaman” is in this reality as well as the other– both worlds are equally important. The physical body and its senses are important, and without grounding in the physical body, and an appreciation of the physical body, disassociative states simply create more illusion, or needs arising from the separate and fractured self.

As we are relational beings, it is important for us to relate– to be grounded in this reality, in our bodies, in this world. Our greatest modern pattern is one of separation, of isolation– from one another, from ourselves, and from the world. This is what is not understood about the “what a shaman sees in a mental hospital” thing– it is that we largely nowadays have most of our energy around our heads, and our mental and emotional bodies are clogged (or unhealed) to the extent that we cannot even access the spiritual.

Native and indigenous spiritual workers that I have talked to did not have this separation to this extent, and do not understand this type of modern, energetic construct. This is why any modern day spiritual worker needs to work on the mental and emotional levels as well (not just, but as well) because unless we do, much of the spiritual work will be rejected or will not filter through the mental, emotional, and physical layers to be integrated and reconciled fully.


There is a belief that if we just correct the “spiritual” or purify enough, that we will be cured or healed of every struggle, every mental illness. This does not include the understanding that we have many bodies, one of them physical.

There is an energy field, or grid, of the mind. This is largely an “etheric” or blueprint (genetic, biological) field. Separate from any of the discussions above, the correct “body” must be treated. For complex issues– we would need to look at the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical reasonings for the imbalance. What this means is that for some people, medications (either for a short time, or for this physical lifetime) are necessary, just as medications for diabetes and so forth are. This is not a failure, either in short term or in long term. While there are problems with medications that I wish were talked about more (like how difficult it is to come off of them) if one of our “bodies” is out of balance it needs to be brought into balance.

However, something like forty percent of Americans are on anti-depressants and so forth– I do believe and have seen great efficacy with spiritual healing, with immersion in nature, microdosing, exercise, nutrition, bodywork, and talk therapy– with impact on the physical body, of course. Connection instead of isolation can do wonderful things. Letting others who have walked the path of “wounded healer” assist us is not an act of weakness, it is an act of strength. The modern myth of the rugged individual, that if only we were “spiritual” enough we would have no burdens, is deeply ignorant and results in people not receiving the help that they need.

There are wonderful things that can happen with awakening, but as it has been treated as a commodity, we have heaped our illusions onto it, and have created a space where there is significant illusion being offered to us concerning the topic. As long as we are human, we will still have struggle and things to work on. If we have clarity, we will be willing to look at our complex issues and imbalances and treat them how they need to be treated, including physically.

At times our burdens are so great that we lose the capacity to take care of them ourselves. We are not intended to heal in isolation– we are relational beings– and there should be absolutely no stigma in healing at whatever level, and through whatever means, are necessary– be that spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical/biological. The purpose of our physical bodies and lives is to be functional, to connect, to love one another. If there is something interfering with that, especially significantly, there is nothing more “spiritual” than taking care of yourself and your “bodies” to come into a clear and integrated view of reality that includes the highest level of personal functioning for you or your loved ones.

If you are struggling, reach out for help. There are a lot of people out there suffering exactly as you are. In our separation and trauma we believe ourselves to be the only one, or in isolation… or the myth of the rugged individual that we must take care of all things ourselves. We do not– we heal relationally, and no matter what you are experiencing, others have as well. Find an in-person bodyworker focused on trauma, sympathetic counselor (Jungian or transpersonal usually means they have a “spiritual” bent or will look at the spiritual path as a way to seek meaning, rather than pathological), or spiritual healer who has at least ten years of experience. Reach out to friends, family, and hotlines if necessary, or in crisis. Due to the amount of emails I receive, I am unable to offer guidance individually, and often an in-person resource to forge connections is critical, especially if you are significantly out of balance or lack functioning. Be safe, and take care of yourself. It is courageous for you to do so.


Spiritual Awakening and Mental Illness: Definitions and Framework

Before we get into the second part of looking at spiritual awakening, psychosis, mental illness, and shamanism (you can read the first part here) I realize that a few definitions and a basic framework for doing so should be explored. You can also now read Part Two here…

In doing so I will also talk about some of the common illusions on the path.

Spiritual awakening is a two-fold process involving:

  1. “Purification” (release and healing)
  2. “Expansion” (relational shifts)

During the spiritual awakening process, what happens is that the person releases held energy from their physical and energetic bodies. Held energies are old emotions, traumas, and beliefs from a variety of sources (from personal to ancestral, societal, etc.)

We shape who we are around our belief structures. What we believe to be true is what we interface with, and we reject what we know not to be true. We do not do this consciously (most of the time) and so our projected universe is limited by our belief structures, or what we know to be true.

People really believe an ideology that if they change themselves that the world changes– as if the universe is based on an inherent self-centered idea that they have created and are in control of the world­– as in, if we only work on ourselves for long enough nobody will ever be mean to us, or cut us off in traffic. There will no longer be suicide bombers, and that there will be clean drinking water in Detroit if we only heal ourselves.

It is a nice, but inherently solipsistic thought, and furthers incorrect ideas and ideologies, as well as allows for division and illusion to placate personal fear. This means that we can blame the person for what has happened to them… because if they were “awake” enough they would be in perfect bliss, never have a problem again, and would be in complete control and have a sense of knowing about their existence.

In this state we can also judge others, because obviously the person got cancer (experienced disease, death, abuse) because they were not “awake”… even though Ramana Maharshi died from cancer… and so we can contract our energies, judge, and placate our own fears around death, not knowing, and so forth by this illusory division and separation.


But there are eight billion people in this world. We create this world together. Certainly working through our own issues has a ripple effect on the “ocean”, or our collective consciousness. Certainly people should take personal responsibility for themselves to whatever extent they are able to (and this is a big differentiator that I will talk about in the next post between mental fracturing and spiritual awakening). If many people take personal responsibility, that heals the collective.

So in some ways the world does get easier with healing your own “stuff”, because you no longer are projecting your unhealed issues and general chaos into the world. You are no longer in a state of blind reaction due to your unhealed issues, and awakening allows for the eventual capacity to look at what you are emotionally reactive to and utilize it to reconcile something that is unhealed inwardly.

But that doesn’t stop people with unhealed issues and chaos from projecting onto you.

It also doesn’t stop you from having emotions, and while you can be compassionate for someone being abusive towards you (for example), it doesn’t mean that you have to take it or that you cannot or will not get upset because you are “awake”.

Awakening allows for the full range of emotions, full emotional capacity and depth, with the realization that nothing within us, no matter how fearful or angry, is “bad”: often it is simply unheard, misunderstood, and in pain.


And it doesn’t stop you from having issues. Healing your own “stuff”, or the purification process allows for a perspective shift. You are expanded beyond your own chaos and fracturing and can begin to look deeper into more “soul-level” type issues (for lack of better phrasing) as well as begin to see outside of your limited view of yourself.

The spiritual awakening process is really the capacity to traverse your inner depths, thereby expanding into outer depths, by taking personal responsibility and becoming conscious of what beliefs and unhealed material are preventing you from realizing this expansion.

It is a state of being, a state of stillness, and a state of realizing complexity and nuance, rather than casting oneself as the eternal victim and others as persecutor.

When we are not “awake”, we are in a state of only being able to consider ourselves and our own experiences of this world. By healing or “purifying” we are able to move beyond the considerable chaos and drama that we enact.

What the awakening process creates is a state of being able to regard the experiences of others as valid (as a start), to move out of the bubble of only interacting with or considering the small realm of existence that supports your version of “truth”, and to move beyond the illusory rules and ideologies, as well as the controls, that people try to put on things like “awakening”.

In simple terms, most people lack the inherent capacity to consider anything other than themselves and their own pain. They cannot see outside of themselves, and in this state they are only able to draw to them, interact with, and consider valid people, places, and realities that are a small part of the contracted bubble that they have created.

In awakening, this bubble expands more and more until the person reconciles their inherent selfishness, begins accepting other viewpoints as valid, and can work their way past the belief systems (both their own as well as imposed by society or even the “awakening” community).


What is confusing about this is that there are plenty of sensitive people out there who are wounded and feel separated. This does not mean that they are “awake” (although they may be in the lower stages of awakening), as they lack the capacity (willingness or ability) to move beyond themselves.

Put even more simply: the long lists of “rules” and commands, what music someone should listen to, what television (or no TV), what someone should eat, read, what gender/sex, what portion of the population someone can interact with (as in, “you can only interact with “awakened” people), only working in the “light” because the dark is “bad”…are all mental illusions that can be transcended. They are inherently limiting, contract this “bubble”, and create judgment and division, thus separating the person from the whole.

In contrast, an awakened, or awakening person can interact with anyone, and has an increased capacity to interact with every part of themselves (with compassion, yes… including the “dark” without wanting to change it) because their mental limitations and needs for control are gradually transcended.

They have moved beyond basic binaries and polarities, and have moved into realizing complexity. There is no longer the reaction or automatic villainization of things that are out of the control, or beyond the experiences of the limited perspective of the individual.

All of this takes time and effort, of course, and is a process rather than something that can all be done tomorrow (another common illusion on the path).

This process of purification and expansion is life-long. As long as we are in human bodies, we have something to work on. It is a question of if the person awakening is going to believe the forces within them that tell them that they have transcended such things… or not (I refer to this in my Spiritual Awakening Guide book as “ego awakening”, which is the most common type of awakening in which someone basically stops themselves in their process).


There is also a contraction process during awakening. We are always in a state of contracting and expanding. When we expand, we eventually will contract. This is a consolidation of what has been learned in the previous expansion phase and an integration of it into all “bodies” (more on this later).

This also can be referred to as “ego death”. What happens when we expand, when we heal/purify, is that what we know to be true about ourselves and the world changes. We do not experience one ego death but many along the path.

This means that a part of us must “die” and reformulate (or go through a cycle of death and rebirth). This process can be quite difficult, especially if the person in this contraction cycle either lacks awareness of what is going on, or they fight the process.

We get used to who and what we are, and so any change in that, as well as feelings of “death” (which is a huge baseline fear of ours that is worked through later in the awakening process) is a large trigger with a lot of unhealed emotions and beliefs.

There also is the difficulty that during this process there is a “black-out”, or a return to the physical body, sometimes with a “dark night of the soul” in which someone experiences despair, isolation, and feelings of being alone, or without spiritual guidance at the very least.

Further in the awakening process, this “contraction” cycle can be realized and worked with.


The “Bodies”
In my personal framework (which is loosely derived from theosophy) we have our physical body, our etheric (our “double” or blueprint of our physical form), our astral (or emotional), mental, and then our spiritual.

Each “body” goes from densest to most expansive. So our physical body is our most contracted and densest “container”. The mental body would then hold our emotional, etheric, and physical bodies.

This is why I have so much difficulty with modern shamanism and spiritual communities, by the way… they are firmly in the “mental” container. This is where and how so many rules and definitive knowledge and placation of psychological needs (such as the need to know, to feel superior, to feel the center of the universe with everything having a specific personal meaning, and to feel in control) get developed.

While I very much understand why people may desire the container of the “mental” rather than the free-fall and move away from being the protagonist/center of the universe that happens in the spiritual, there are vast amounts of knowledge and wonder that happen in the spiritual.

It is also quite different than the mental, to put it mildly. But like all things, working on the mental can open up the clogged mental “body” so someone can experience the spiritual… if they are willing and ready to. The problem is that most people do not know, or are not ready, to move into this space.

What happens when you try to cram something into a lesser container is that it loses its magic, it loses is efficacy, and it becomes watered-down (in shamanic terms, it experiences power loss). While I do recognize that the capacity to interface with power takes time and willingness, seeing things like shamanism become a pale, mentally derived technique without power, or a soul, is still a sore point for me.

Because while the spiritual “body” is the least dense, and it holds the other “bodies”, it isn’t really a container– it cannot be contained by rules and thoughts and polarities. However much you explore, you can only explore .000000000001 percent of the universe(s), if that. The more you explore, the more that decimal point moves to the left and the more zeroes you add, by the way.

The reason that I bring this up is because treatment at the correct level or “body” is really, really necessary.

So what does this mean?

It means that if a vast majority of your unhealed energy is at the emotional level/body, working with the emotions first will often be the most helpful.

If your difficulty is spiritual, working with the “mental” body will only be so helpful. If your problem has a biological imprint (hereditary, hormonal, etc.) treatment on the physical level is often necessary.

You would ideally work with the “body” that is most out of balance first, and then proceed to look at the other “bodies” so that they are in balance. In complex situations (chronic or simply complicated) all “bodies” should be looked at, and often need to be worked with, to create a state of balance.

Most importantly, if one of your “bodies” is out of line, especially in the spiritual awakening process, the process will be much more difficult for you. It took me many years to realize that one of the reasons that my own process was so difficult was that my physical “body” was really out of balance, and to move beyond my resistance and beliefs to the extent that I could work on my physical body. This made all the difference, as this body becoming aligned meant that I could go through expansion and purification processes more smoothly.

And finally, a few quotes:

“Emotions– fear, anger, love– are as necessary for the organism’s survival as nerve impulses, immune cells or hormonal activity”– Gabor Mate

“Magic is not below our present level of knowledge but beyond it. Magic is a state of cognition that psychology has yet to attain”– Holger Kalweit

“Emotional competence is the capacity that enables us to stand in a responsible, non-victimized, and non-self-harming relationship with our environment… Few of us reach adult age with anything close to full emotional competence. Recognizing our lack of it is not cause for self-judgment, only a call for further development and transformation”– Gabor Mate

Mental Illness, Psychosis, Shamanism, and Spiritual Awakening

This is Part One of what will be a Two Part Blog. If you are interested in an in-depth look at Spiritual Awakening, I suggest my book, The Spiritual Awakening Guide.

This topic is a notoriously sticky one, as well as one that I have hesitated to write about in the past because I have some inherent biases. I am very conscious of them so I will discuss them, as they may be helpful for others to see clearly laid out.

The main bias that I have is that I have interacted with (or received emails/correspondence from, I should say) a disproportionate amount of people that would likely be diagnosed as either severely mentally ill or suffering from some sort of psychosis.

This can be quite wearing at times, and I have known many wonderful spiritual workers and spiritual teachers who have decided to step away from offering their services due to their experiences with this population.

It is natural for us to remember the chaos, the outlandishness, and the people so far removed from reality and mental clarity who contact us when we are in any type of customer service– and I could tell story after story of the sorts of odd and frequently bizarre things people have asked me for, planned for me, accused me of, or claimed, that have had no basis in any sort of reality.

They are the creations of a mind and spirit suffering, and represent a lack of wholeness, as well as the typical and recognizable effects of trauma… or of a mind and mental structures that lack cohesion and clarity as well as grounding in this/physical reality, and have lost anchoring to consensual reality.

It is hard after interfacing with this population for so long to not see clearly that a lot of people use spiritual work, and spiritual and shamanic communities, as well as concepts like “awakening” to foster and perpetuate delusions and unhealthy mental states that are not bringing the person to greater clarity, wholeness, health, or increased consciousness or spiritual connection.

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I also have interacted with many people who are suffering due to the weight of trauma who may or may not have been diagnosed with mental illness. Trauma is separating: it causes the person to separate from themselves, to separate from the world, and to maintain harmful belief structures that they are alone, or the only person to experience something, and that the world, and the people in it, are in some capacity out to get them.

In my line of work this is commonly referred to as power loss and/or soul loss. The effect of having an event that is overwhelming, traumatizing, or too much to handle is that we “freeze” at that aspect of our timeline. Put simply, many of us are fifty with an unhealed six year old within us. That six year old, unless “unfrozen”, and integrated with the adult consciousness, will have the pain of the experience still continually reverberating through the consciousness of the fifty year old adult.

Additionally, that six year old will have specific likes, dislikes, and specific tools as well as emotional reactions, especially when the original wound is triggered.

Put in energetic terms, there is a held, stagnant vibration that the body no longer recognizes as its current consciousness.

So what does this really mean? This means that this six year old may have had divorcing parents. The six year old felt overwhelmed, like it was their fault that their father (obviously this happens in the world with both parents, this is just an example) left. This person is now fifty. Say this is a heterosexual female– every relationship she is in with men will now create the same “loop”: the repeated, unhealed and habitual behaviors we enact again and again based in our unhealed trauma.

Her inner six year old desires healing. Desires a way to complete and resolve this situation. So she continually puts people in the position of “father”, and when there is perceived abandonment, this six year old is triggered, and the adult fifty year old begins acting from the consciousness of a six year old and through the wounds and eyes of that six year old.


Out of these wounds come daydreams and opposing creations. For example, this fifty year old woman may daydream about a man coming to save her. If we are talking specifically about power loss, what this turns into in a quite unhealthy/unbalanced state are people talking about how they can do things like control the moon, or are being continually attacked by spirits and beings, or have an incredible amount of power in reaction to the subconscious realization that they are missing some of their power.

If they are willing to look at the power loss, the trauma experienced, they can move on from these harmful and isolating belief structures. But there is a certain “tipping point” at which people are in such a state of imbalance that the suggestion that someone could move on or heal from such beliefs triggers feelings of lack of safety as well as the original trauma to the extent that the person is not able to be open to such a suggestion.

The ability and openness to look at a spiritual situation first psychologically is an indicator of mental health, however. If there is rigidity, attacking of others for questioning beliefs, or immense pain that comes from questioning aspects of reality, that would be an indicator of mental patterns, fracturing and soul loss/power loss.

A healthy mind can question itself.
A mind that lacks consciousness may not want to, but that is something of a separate issue.

If we have parts of ourselves that are unhealed in terms of self-worth, we will constantly need to “prove” ourselves. This means that many spiritual communities are people continually telling one another how they are better than them, tearing down others, or trying to get someone engaged in a fight. If people who acted like this had the willingness to ask what part of them needs to feel superior, or even what age they were acting from when they were interacting, they would come across an aspect of themselves that feels (or was told it was) worthless, unimportant, or not special.


Repairing the power dynamics, healing the wounded aspects of self, the frozen aspects of self, would cause for the outer person (the adult) to stop needing these beliefs, and they would no longer act the way that they are currently.

Power is another tricky subject, and could likely use its own blog, but spiritual work always comes down to the topic of power. We can lose power by trauma, by it being taken by us (by being victimized, most commonly), or through “microtrauma”– basically, the experience of being worn down over time by the small things (which are still important and large, such as needing to pay bills, have enough food on the table, shelter, feel safe, get enough rest, and all of the hierarchy of needs type stuff).

Hopefully the woman in my example will heal her inner child, break through habitual patterns, and break the “loop” of relating so that she can find a suitable partner, as well as become more whole. But my purpose in providing this description is to suggest that it is incredibly rare for someone to spiritually be an adult in our society.

Just look online for many examples of this. How many people act like mature, thoughtful adults and have the capacity for a neutral (as in reasonable, as in not acting like a teenager or like a wounded child) discussion?

Who can act respectfully, engage respectfully, at an adult level? Who is healed enough that they are not looking to tear everyone around them down? Who, even if in disagreement, can interact rationally, respectfully, and maturely?

Beyond even that:

  • how many people have the adult capacity and consciousness to truly think for themselves?
  • To move beyond the empty memes, the restrictive rules and logic created by others in their scrambling for control and constructs intended to pigeonhole spirit, awakening, shamanism, or any other topic?
  • How many people can clearly assess where they are at on their path, and are willing to see how much more they have to learn?
  • How many people actually look for opposing viewpoints, different viewpoints, or are willing to expand beyond their current bubble?
  • How many have truly thought about the sayings and teachings that they have learned critically so they know why their cosmology, or their identity, is the way it is?
  • How willing would people be to put aside the labels, and think about what needs for healing would be there if that were taken away?

For example, “Okay, if I were not an Empath, what would I have to heal?” If I did not have Kundalini, or wasn’t a Shaman or Psychic, what would I have to work on? 

What happens when you are an outlier and you realize that the world is filled with people in pain, believing that they are all outliers– separate, unheard, unloved– in the same manner that you do?

What happens when someone realizes that whatever it is that makes them an outlier– their intelligence, perceptiveness, beauty, strength, spiritual or artistic capacity– is not a weakness at all, but their greatest strength?


I am suggesting such things on a topic on mental illness and psychosis because we act as if there are members of society that are distinctly “mentally ill” and that they act a specific way, with a specific delineation of symptoms and experiences, and a segment of our society that is “mentally healthy”, with specific ways of being, but the topic is incredibly more nuanced than that. Even many of those who are solidly in the “diagnosed, mentally ill” category are fluid, with days in which they are more functional and capable of seeing themselves and the world with clarity, and days in which they are not.

Finding someone who has worked through enough of their own stuff to become a spiritual adult in our society is really incredibly rare. 

Who no longer is reacting from their various frozen parts, who is willing and able to take responsibility for themselves, to look inward, and to continue working on themselves. As someone enters spiritual adulthood, they have the capacity and willingness to examine their beliefs, especially their unhealed emotions and beliefs that are creating significant restrictions for themselves, and has the capacity to consider if they are true or not.

The person that can do this is, again, rare, and should be talked about in terms of mental illness because if we pigeonhole the “mentally ill” to be a specific aspect of the population, we must contend with a few things:

  1. That spiritual adults or people that we would determine to be “mentally healthy” in our society are incredibly rare
  2. That people determined to be “mentally ill” may be in the midst of chaos and personal creation to the extent that they no longer know what is societally appropriate, they have lost functioning and capacity to interact appropriately in this world and to understand what consensual reality is
  3. That the “mentally ill” may be seeing reality more clearly than most people will ever have the capacity to

I am in no way romanticizing mental illness here, but if you work with people enough who have the capacity and willingness (and readiness and openness) to consider their reality, you begin to realize that many of those who have inherent difficulties fitting in with this world are actually quite sane… just not by communal or societal standard.

For example, if you consider Dabrowski’s Theory of Depression (which I will post on my Facebook page) there is the understanding that people looking for meaning are likely to experience disintegration of self and realizations that shift identity as a result of being more gifted– having more capacity to see and think deeply in a society that does not (and does not encourage this sort of process).

In our society there is a base understanding of how inward looking, how intelligent, how conscious, how perceptual or sensitive, and what sort of meaning one is intended to derive from their existences. Someone who has a 150 IQ (yes, there are more forms of intelligence than this, but this is utilized to highlight a point) is going to be immersed in a world filled with people who have a mean IQ of somewhere around 95. They are going to see and experience the world differently due to this. It is going to likely be traumatic for them.

Similarly, someone who has incredibly high perceptual capacities (is “psychic”) will notice more than just our physical world, and society (and the individuals within that society) will redirect the person to “ordinary reality”, sometimes quite harshly (creating trauma).

But if we consider such things, we have to talk about the experience of trauma and shock that comes from such experiences. Healing the trauma and shock of being someone who has high IQ, or higher perceptual qualities, or in some way is different than the “mean” of society doesn’t mean that people in the world are going to suddenly get smarter, or more perceptive. What it means is that you have let go of enough of your emotional reactions, have healed enough from being that “outlier” that you have moved into a place of clarity, understanding that you are still a part of the world, a part of the whole, and are not feeling traumatized, or large parts of you “frozen” as a result of being said outlier.


Going through the spiritual awakening process, embarking on a spiritual path with depth, leads to disintegration and reforming of the identity again and again.

The question is what happens when this happens too quickly?

What happens when this occurs suddenly, or at a rate that is too much for the individual, especially one who is resistant, traumatized, or has not consciously learned what is going on yet, to be able to integrate?

What is more about learning tools (such as how to calibrate the nervous system, consciously create filters, learn discernment) and understanding and learning to discern clearly, and what would be helped by healing trauma?

What happens when you start releasing core aspects of your identity?

I am not talking about the outlying trauma here. I am talking about what happens when you realize that your life has been in reaction to a specific belief that has been created out of trauma, and then have released it. There is a shock that happens when core aspects of your identity are stripped away from you.

What happens when you realize that you do not need to repeat the loops of your parents, your ancestors, or continually live out the wounds of your early childhood?

What happens when you move beyond the quests, the struggle, the battles that we spend so much time enacting? When we move beyond being abusive and blocking ourselves and telling ourselves that only certain characteristics, certain perspectives, certain aspects of ourselves are okay?

Mental wellness is actually fairly rare, spiritual adulthood is exceedingly rare, and those of us who think differently or perceive differently have the opportunity and consciousness to move towards spiritual adulthood in the way that people who have never had a reason to think about their existence, or their habits, do.

But it also means that there can be more fracturing, trauma, inability to tether to reality (be functional), disembodiment, delusion, and/or a lack of congruence of the energy field of the mind (I will talk about this all in Part Two).

Read the Framework and Definitions of Spiritual Awakening Here

Read Part Two here