Deep psychological wounds are a fact of life for many people. The experiencing of and the results of the turmoil are widely variable. Research from Steve Taylor in the Journal of Transpersonal Studies offers an insight into how these experiences of suffering can lead to spiritual awakening.
This phenomenon is important to be aware of so that suffering can be seen in a much wider context from both the personal and clinical vantage points. This wider context allows the person experiencing the suffering and any secondary support systems to participate in ways that allow for a deeper more meaningful experience. In this wider view having a framework for understanding the full range of what is being invited into the process is critical. Reorganizational Healing offers a remarkably robust and integral perspective on suffering as a gateway to spiritual opening.
In Taylor’s study of 161 people who experienced “temporary awakening” experiences it was found that 23% were “triggered by, or associated with intense turmoil and distress.” A 2006 study by Smith suggests that number to be as high as 47%.
One of the primary focuses of Taylor’s paper is to give credibility to these experiences so that they “cannot be explained away as self-delusion or a psychological defense mechanism.” This is, unfortunately, the burden that many spiritually based discussions must carry, namely, the tendency of professional research culture towards scientism and the pre/trans fallacy.
In the Reorganizational context it is clear that when someone fully commits to the experience of “what is”, especially when the energy is available and abundant, the transition from Stage 1 into Awaken is very possible. The amount of energy that is bound in Stage 1 creates a part of the body that is disassociated in both space and time. It is disassociated in space through the mechanism of isolation (non-entrainment) in the body. It is disassociated in time because the person’s physiology is trapped in a previous moment, still identifying or reacting to that experience. The beliefs in Stage 1 reflect the same, “it’s always been this way, and it’s never going to change.”
Taylor offers some discussion on why the suffering based awakening experience is typically temporary. The author suggests that this occurs due to a “dismantling of self” which liberates more available resources for spiritual states. While the liberating of this energy may dismantle existing mental, emotional or egoic structures it doesn’t inherently reorganize the system to a level of complexity that would support sustainable spiritual experiences. That sustainable access to more Awaken states necessitates not just release from Discover but also the massive energy derived in Transform. Without that a person will be subject to transitory, random awakenings and perhaps even the perspective that these awakenings are something that happen to them rather than with them or through them.
It is important to bring Trans-Personal Vigilance into this conversation. In the case of someone who is having spiritual experiences due to trauma at a time in life where the developmental level was not prepared to manage the complexity of the spiritual experience, these awakenings may actually be hindering them from a true integrated experience of wellness and life. Having more peak experiences is not the issue for someone with transpersonal vigilance, it’s how to have enough resourcefulness in the Bioenergetic, Emotional and Lower Mental Energetic Intelligences which did not develop fully due to trauma or persistent unsafe states. In these cases a commitment to integrating Discover and early Transform will actually provide the most balance and sustainable foundation for them to use their Awaken experiences in an integrated and sustainable way rather than as an unconscious default or escape.
Having research on the processes of awakening is important. It is likely there are more people being exposed to chaotic awakenings now than ever before. Having a frame of reference is critical in order to understand how and where this experience lives in the map of life. These events are outside of the experience of what is “believable” by most people in society despite how common they are. Reorganizational Healing offers an amazing framework for understanding these unique situations and help a person integrate towards wholeness.