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Shining some light on the dynamics of the spiritual journey of recovery

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Art served as catalysing a spiritual wake up for me.

 

One thing that surprises me is how mental health professionals seem to have little awareness of the dynamics of the spiritual life. "According to various surveys, 51 % of therapists have an anti-religious, anti-spirituality bias".

 

"...few have any depth acquaintance with the spiritual life, simply because this was not an aspect of their training. Most, if not all of their education and training has been in the behavioral and social sciences, which, as indicated above, can have an anti-religion, anti-spirituality bias. Thus, while not outright hostile, they may be uninformed. A remaining minority of therapists may have ventured beyond the above biases and misinformation, to acquaint themselves with the world of the spirit. However, this may be limited to attending a seminar, or meditation classes, Yoga classes etc"

 

In mental health, spirituality has been shown to be a significant and independent predictor of recovery and/or improvement in indices of treatment outcome. Religious/spiritual well-being might be considered an important resource to explore, in particular for affective disorder patients [1]

 

What's often involved [2]?

 

-the early stages of spiritual life describes the pleasant experiences—peace, tranquility, etc. They are not unlike the "falling-in-love" experiences


Embracing a thinking type with a feeling function that had been so repressed and unacknowledged can burst out and overwhelm, one becomes a casualty of a life devoid of spiritual fulfillment.

 

-difficult, taxing experience of wrestling with our character defects, sins and faults. The temptation here is to equate this experience with clinical depression. Probably what is happening in this stage is a complete reorganization of the psyche. It is essential that we trust the process - this equates with "Faith" as Faith equals Trust. We learn that grace is active in our souls, regardless our of awareness. With determination and faith, the purgative process comes to an end

 

- illumination usually comes upon us gradually. We experience less anger and anxiety. Good behaviour comes more naturally.

 

- The final stage is the experience of ongoing closeness in relationship

 

In serious mental illness, negative symptom scores were inversely correlated with spiritual/religious well-being scores, and that general psychopathology symptom scores were inversely correlated with existential well-being scores [3]

 

People often undergo intense spiritual awakenings that facilitate abstinence, too. Self-reports of spiritual awakening predicted improved drinking outcomes in one study [4] and recovery was often heavily reliant on spirituality and in one study spirituality was an important predictor of reductions in drug use while in treatment and at the follow-up interview, whereas religiosity was not [5]. Increases in day-to-day experiences of spirituality and sense of purpose/meaning in life were associated with absence of heavy drinking [6]

 

- Spirituality was described as hope
- When our God-image is contaminated and toxic, our spiritual growth is hindered.
- Spirituality was credited with helping improve participants’ state of mind by giving strength and peace
- It’s that relationship that you establish where you get honest with yourself, it’s all with yourself

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22797574
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24449135
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15870619
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24335767
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2693037/
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17286347


The Hells of Illness

 

To me, the Hells of Illness are places we often foolishly stay in through dis-empowerment, extremely contracted states of consciousness

 

They are places of feelings of unworthiness of love, literally souls in exile.

 

They are attachment to lower-states of Pride, Anger, Desire, Fear, Grief, Apathy, Guilt and Shame where domination by force is stronger than the power of Love. It is our job to work through those lower emotions and transcend that, otherwise people become demanding, blaming, antagonistic, disappointing, frightened, hopeless and miserable and cycle through hurting themselves and others. It's a loop of downward spirals of discontent, disconnection and devolution

 

In stepping into our loving power and working through to transcend those lower emotions and embracing our Divine selves we reach a tipping point towards expansion, we gain acceptance, courage, trust, optimism, forgiveness, understanding, reverence, serenity and bliss

 

Darkness of the Soul

 

 "...a growing number of scientific studies indicate individuals contending with depression and other potentially serious mental health conditions may struggle with their faith in ways that lead to adverse outcomes"

 

If we approached suicidality with 'What is it in you that needs to die?' we could embrace transformation. We don't have that wisdom in our culture, we just go up to the person and say, 'Please don't die, please don't harm yourself, it's a really good world out there, there's lots to live for, there are people who love you, there are all these social services,' and of course that has no effect.

 

People with negative religious/spiritual coping scores showed more protracted and severe symptomatology in depression. Unstable spiritual needs in people and lack of stable positive interests are prone to negative behaviours and spiritual struggle was a salient indicator of depressive symptom severity in both mood-disordered and psychotic patients. Spirituality promotes a healthy lifestyle, social connectedness, attachment security with God or a Higher Power, identity formation, as well as healthy brain development among high-risk groups and sense of interconnectedness, the experience of love, and altruistic engagement.

 

People often struggle with perceived sense of loss or desecration of other beliefs, relationships, and/or practices that patients imbue with transcendent or penultimate value. For instance there could be unmet vocational goals or difficulty negotiating interpersonal realms

 

Spiritual well-being plays a role in mental health through in part mediating the association of attachment and psychological distress. Spirituality, as marked by the meaning of self, inner independence, and transcendence, is distinct from mood. It cooperates, together with the affective states, to determine quality of life. Spiritual therapy can be used as an effective intervention to improve spiritual well-being, self-esteem and self-efficacy. It is seen as a pathway to positive self-concept/body image through gratitude and reduced self-objectification

 

Struggles

 

Review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30772739

 

Greater severity of spiritual struggles was generally associated with worse depression symptomatology and less positive mental health and issues with ultimate meaning emerged as a salient indicator of mental health status at the two assessments as well as longitudinal changes in both depression symptomatology and positive mental health.

 

Struggles with ultimate meaning may present similarly to depressed mood and anhedonia. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt may add to the picture. Spiritual struggles also influence dimensions of emotional suffering.

 

Spiritual interventions (e.g.,meditation/prayer, affirm divine worth or encourage acceptance of divine love) alongside psychological and biological approaches can help. Self-compassion predicted depressive improvement and bolstering this reduced mind-wandering [1].

 

We can shift to a place where health is transformed from a state that requires the absence of disease to a state where the central theme is the fullness of life. Health becomes not a static state of being, but a dynamic quality of living where body, mind, and spirit are fully employed to make the most of each day [2]

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30906796
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30462340

 

Love

 

Love and spirituality are inseparable - when spirituality grows, so does the capability for love.

 

"...When you won’t love, or won’t let it out, it emerges anyway in the form of self-destruction. The alternative to self-love, in other words, is self-destruction. Because you won’t take the risk of loving yourself properly, you will be compelled instead to destroy yourself.

 

The essential point is to consider love as a spectrum... you have to take it and let it grow where you find it."

 

And noticed the whole organism - physical, psychological, and spiritual - is an erogenous zone. We learn the flow of love should not be channeled exclusively towards the physical but used for growth and healing

 

https://progessnotperfection.blogspot.com/2009/08/spectrum-of-love-by-alan-watts.html

 

 

The Power of Spirit

 

Living an entirely rational existence seeks its opposite in intoxicants and other forms of escape, which lead to depression and self harm. Part of the intellect has to give over to the life of faith, and if it doesn't the ego will remain in a state of neurosis or mental illness. It has to actually give over to the force that is greater than itself

 

"The purely material approach to mental illness, while often having some impact of course and the medication often has wonderful effects, but it rarely gets to the root cause of the problem. And so that's why I think it's now time for the modern approach to mental illness to revisit the ancient models which included the spirit and the soul."

 

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/spiritofthings/spiritual-sickness/


Awakening

 

https://www.spiritualawakeningprocess.com/2013/12/the-embracing-your-light-phase.html

 

 "...some of us, we hit this point where we say, "Enough is enough!" We're tired of fighting ourselves. We tired of trying to re-create the old life which feels like stacking marbles in a corner. It all keeps falling apart. We're tired of being tired and doing things that don't help us. We've had it with the remaining unconscious ego that has been clinging on like concrete pants that threaten to drown us in the ocean of consciousness. This is actually a sacred turning point."

 

At the start, it tends to be about facing the darkness while still clinging to old unconscious ego habits. The shadow and dispelling the darkness phase is an over-arching phase. Later on, people can make a choice to truly stand in their light because they no longer have any attachment or investment in the old unhealthy ways of living that caused so much suffering.

 

Initially, a lot of people are terrible at interpreting how they feel. They've spent so much time ignoring and avoiding their feelings, sensations, and other information that they don't know what is what. That's another reason a spiritual awakening can overwhelm people. They feel lost in all this "new" information that they can't immediately understand.

 

Awakening is the start to understanding oneself and finding freedom from the suffering. That freedom is the ability to be with whatever experiences or feelings may come.

 

In the Embracing the Light Phase:

The person steps into their love and light in a significant way
The individual lets go more and accepts themselves more deeply as they are.
The individual stays more focused on faith and trust.
There is better integration because of a whole being level of acceptance.
There's a deeper forgetting of issues. In this sense, we no longer understand why we should be afraid of something. The mindset that believed in the fear, anger, etc. is annihilated and we see through our own insanity.

 

Finding Hope and Faith

 

"Love overcomes separation and creates participation...there is also no true help which does not spring from love and create love”

 

Spirituality offers a vast domain of potential connection. This connection is fitting insofar as spirituality is the antithesis of egocentrism and self-absorption

 

"Whatever else it may be, spirit is social. It represents our sense of participation and membership in a humanity and a world much larger than our individual selves”

 

It is impossible to conceive hope without faith. “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned” and “the centered movement of the whole personality toward something of ultimate meaning and significance” as well as “passionate concern...a matter of infinite passion”

 

Faith, hope, and love are impossible without active participation. Such a relation of reaching out and taking in exemplifies secure attachment as well as the caregiving context in which attachment security develops, and this embracing attachment sustains hope.

 

We risk overlooking what might be more problematic for some people: the existential-spiritual impact of illness, which includes cynicism, bitterness, and alienation as well as loss of faith and hope

 

People can experience profoundly insecure attachment. This plight leaves the person feeling psychologically alone in unbearable emotional states and can be associated with alienation, despair, and hopelessness—at worst, suicidal states.

 

The instillation of hope requires restoration of security in attachment relationships, which serves not only to ameliorate distress but also to restore the self-worth and self-confidence essential for exploration and growth.

 

Spiritual thinking—with or without God—might foster a sense of being at home in the universe, and I use “home” deliberately for its attachment connotations. Patients with psychosis showed a high prevalence of insecure avoidant attachment. Spiritual entities functioned like attachment figures in two thirds of cases [1]

 

The person plays and explores confidently as long as the attachment figure is accessible. Thus security optimally balances relatedness and autonomy

 

This sense of being at home and connected is the antithesis of the most profound sense of hopelessness seen in severe mental illness; that is, feeling disconnected, alone, and alienated in emotional pain

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24354604

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26446496

 

A heart for compassion


 

ijerph-15-02253-g001.jpg?fbclid=IwAR16KD

 

"When individuals are in a state of increased awareness, they are conscious of their thoughts and emotions and move from the reactive mind to the responsive mind. They are able to perceive experiences with more clarity than when their thoughts are clouded by conditioning and/or intolerance. Awareness frees individuals to experience people and circumstances as they are without judgment or the confines of preconceived ideas,

 

The inherent paradox of tolerance is distinctively different from stress in that tolerance involves acceptance. It is an acceptance of people and an acceptance of what “is” in the present moment. Acceptance quiets the tension of the inherent paradox.

 

Spiritual awareness may lead to lower psychosocial stress (belief or thought that demands and expectations being placed on one exceed their ability to cope, decreased neurohormonal activation, low allostatic load (the level of wear and tear on the body that accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress), and better health outcomes. The process is mediated by decreased intolerance and increased compassion.

 

The goal is to extend the periods of time during which we are in a state of increased awareness, recognizing our connectedness with ourselves and others, collectively present in space and time. Individual and collective awareness fosters tolerance through the mechanism of compassion."

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6210378/

 

The message

 

Our generation suffers the disease of distorted perception of self and lack of regard for others. Egocentric thinking is elevated among millennials. Greater exposure to materialistic culture also seems to exacerbate individual feelings of deprivation. People often use negative coping to meet the developmental need to fit in, while drowning out a pervasive sense of not being ‘good enough’ People "reach a point of spiritual emptiness and corresponding sense of low self-worth that can be addressed by strategies that reframe one's life (and its stresses) to make it more meaningful while also improving one's self identity" [1].

 

"Spiritual experience, in shifting the motivational structures of the self to sincere other-regard, may activate this complex caregiving circuitry. When this occurs, spiritual awakening aligns with character development by substituting humility for self-aggrandizement, connectedness for isolation, generosity/helping for taking, and a spiritual sense of purpose for a lack of meaning. Spiritual experiences also provide a lens for reinterpreting what might otherwise be debilitating negative experiences from the past in ways that enhance a sense of well-being"

 

"If spiritual experiences, and especially the experience of divine love, move the motivational structure from Buber's classic “I-It” to “I-Thou” (the genuine discovery of the other as a center of value equal to or greater than one's own), then perhaps the benefits of service to others will be greater because of the purity of motive that such experiences foster".

 

"Spirituality has been found to shield against risky behavior and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Studies have also demonstrated that spirituality is significantly associated with indicators of subjective well-being – higher levels of positive emotions and more life satisfaction

 

There is also mounting evidence that spirituality contributes to prosociality – more compassionate feelings and behaviors toward needy others, higher levels of civic engagement, and heightened peer likeability, which, in turn, facilitate social adjustment and functioning. Some studies also point to spirituality as a source of optimism for good outcomes and of unwillingness to fall into despair during difficult times. Although optimism is considered a personality trait that is relatively stable over time, there is empirical evidence that optimism is reinforced by spiritual experiences . Mofidi et al. noted that the relationship between spirituality and optimism is often bidirectional in that spirituality may promote optimism and optimism may support spirituality.

 

Spirituality can add more passion and meaning to people’s intrapersonal and intellectual aspirations; it can moderate how people interact with others; it can redefine the goals people pursue; and it can help people in reappraising life events and transcending hardships and difficulties" [2]

Spiritual experiences like divine love may inspire and deepen motivation to serve others.

 

Engagement in spiritual activity may benefit cognitive function [3]

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4964962/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30873082

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24088403

Edited by Alchemica
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Making Love  - How spirituality changed my relationships

 

Keen to hear what spirituality has changed for your life?

 

There are a few things that have shifted for me through some recent spiritual experiences.

 

In two words: My relationships

 

Most notably towards life. Just a peaceful calm acceptance of it with some re-invigoration. And of death.

 

Also, my relationships:

 

Aiming for my healthy relationships with friends, family and myself but also

 

1. towards substances
2. towards suffering
2. towards sexuality
3. towards "others"
4. towards love

 

 ...some people are evolving in their spiritual awareness toward meaning-making, healing, and peace, while others remain in a state of chronic anger and suffering. I was stuck in the cycles of painful devolution WAY too long

 

The pain in the human heart needs to be attended to by rituals and practices that, when practiced, will lessen anger and allow health and creativity to flow anew

Some individuals start to explore new spiritual paths, becoming more aware of higher realms of consciousness, and a sense of divine presence

 

Towards substances

 

 These days I'm a teetotaller. Literally just drink black tea.

 

After so long of pharmacological exploitation of biological mechanisms (and maladaptive behaviours) that normally generate healthy attachments between friends, family and lovers one can use a core strategy of grief therapy to facilitate growth of the individual into new healthy pre-occupations, habits and relationships [1]

 

Connections between unhealthy behaviours, mental illness, and attachment abnormalities are real, but quite complex and nuanced.

 

Over time, it has created a pathological limitation of their free will and capacity to enact adaptive choices. It has limited their motivational-behavioural repertoire to an abnormally narrow set of ‘programs’ at the expense of healthy motivations and behaviours

 

We can see the great difficulty of producing a therapeutic rescue and liberation of the patient from their imprisoning behaviours, because it is also about a ‘love affair’ that is keeping them imprisoned.

 

One can attempt to form strong therapeutic attachments with people that can ‘over power’ their pathological attachments

 

Helping people bear and mourn what are often tremendous and irreplaceable losses is often critical to protecting them against future relapses and worsening depression.

 

Bringing empathy, honoring patient’s humanity and need for connection, relieving them of shame could all be valuable therapeutic ingredients to recovery

 

From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6383361/

 

Towards Suffering

 

I have some greater compassion but also a less biomedical approach to illness

 

Each time our world cycles through a winter of the human spirit, there is an invisible summer within us, an invitation to reinhabit our deepest decency and live up to our most ennobled nature.

 

Humans are generally experts at finding ways to place ourselves into spiritual bondage, it is this very spiritual “woundedness” that becomes the path to our healing and recovery. While illness is slavery to a cruel god, it can also be the pathway to a deeper spirituality than is experienced without it. It is through our wounds that we can allow spirit and others to enter our lives and help make us whole. "There Is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In"

 

"Sometimes one has simply to endure a period of depression for what it may hold of illumination if one can live through it"

 

"...the most withering aspect of depression is the way it erases, like physical illness does, the memory of wellness. The totality of the erasure sweeps away the elemental belief that another state of being is at all possible — the sensorial memory of what it was like to feel any other way vanishes, until your entire being contracts into the state of what is, unfathoming of what has been, can be, and will be."

 

You learn to build fires where you can warm yourself as you wait for the tempest to pass. These fires — the routines, habits, relationships, and coping mechanisms you build — help you to look at the rain and see fertilizer instead of a flood. If you want the lushest green of life (and you do), the gray is part of the natural cycle. [1]

 

[1] https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/12/08/tim-ferriss-tools-of-titans-depression/

 

 I'm interested in using the current wisdom of induced altered states of consciousness [1] as a backdrop to navigate and heal from what would otherwise be dismissed as simple pathology.

 

I've had some quite intense experiences lately which have actually helped me. It's surprising how what could be glossed over as 'poor mental health', if navigated as a compassionate journey, seems to unfold towards some better wholeness. Sure, you want to taper the intensity to a safe tolerability when needed but safely exploring your craziness can be really therapeutic.

 

In 'illness' there are endogenous altered states of consciousness, changes in ego and self-concept and heightening of physical sensations, emotions, and memories and hallucinations; some of which can be traumatic

 

What happens when this is approached in a way that allows an unfolding and working through of intense experiences, rather than dismissing them? Shifting from plain symptom reduction to a psychotherapeutic and spiritual framework?

 

What does meaningful integration look like?

 

- normalise the experiences

 

"From a purely psychological perspective, integration involves a reuniting of the parts of ourselves that have been split off, banished from consciousness, deemed unfit or unsafe to acknowledge, experience or express. This fragmentation of the personality and of the psyche leads to a host of mental health problems and disorders and interpersonal relationship difficulties. When the identity, or sense of self, is impoverished or unstable, a person will experience excessive self-criticism, chronic feelings of emptiness, and dissociation (a state of disconnection from mind and body). In psychotherapy, we focus on the integration of the ego and the development of a continuous and stable sense of self. Ego is a Latin word that means “I.” When a person has an integrated ego, they have a reliable sense of their “I” and of their personal identity. They also have a reliable sense of others as distinct from themselves and an understanding of how these two constructs (self and other) interact to form a sense of reality. The integration of the ego is the process of organizing the aspects of the personality (drives, attitudes, beliefs, goals) and the split off parts of ourselves (due to shame, pain, trauma, etc.) into a balanced whole. In so doing, we become more effective in managing our lives and our relationships with others.

 

We reconnect the fragmented parts of ourselves that have been split off or exiled because of the shame and the pain that they hold. These are the parts of ourselves that we don’t like; the parts that are vulnerable and afraid. However, in burying these painful parts of ourselves, we inadvertently also bury the other more joyful parts of ourselves. If we numb our fear, we numb our joy. We drink and abuse substances of all kinds to numb the pain or to feel something else or nothing at all. We constantly shift the external experience when the current one overwhelms us. This means we aren’t being present. We aren’t still. Integration is about collecting all of the parts of ourselves and weaving them back together like the multifaceted diamonds that we are. We are like diamonds that shatter in response to trauma and difficult life experiences, fragments chipping off with each blow. The work in traditional psychotherapy is to unite, or integrate, the various parts of ourselves into one brilliant whole. By bringing awareness to the various parts of ourselves (the mind, the body, the breath, the senses) they can become integrated.

 

...while integration in psychotherapy involves creating wholeness within the ego, and integration in spiritual practices involves bridging the ego with that which lies beyond it"

- language may not be available to express what we’ve experienced, nor is it necessarily the best or most effective way to express it. Drawing and painting and working with mandalas are great ways to express nonverbal material.


- somatic practices can be helpful. What affects the mind affects the body, and vice versa. Becoming embodied and aware of the breath while moving through sensations helps us to integrate on the physical level.


- It is through an increased awareness of the body, the mind, and the spirit that we become whole.

 

[1] https://chacruna.net/integration-psychedelics-spirituality/

 

I see so much suffering is a process of grief.

 

Grief as a Mystical Journey - from Loss to Faith

 

 We learn that a broken heart is capable of great love. Those experiencing loss, difficult and painful times can find many areas of compassion and comfort, particularly "Grief dares us to love once more." — Terry Tempest Williams

 

"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love." Hillary Stanton Zunin

 

There is no renewal without a ‘small’ death of our personality, our set positioning in life or our childlike naivety.

 

Sure there's the heavy grief. Loss of loved ones including pets, adjusting to illness but there's also other levels which can impact life

 

"Grief of not being welcome, wanted, enough, or of not knowing enough, have enough support, money, skills etc...Paralysis, shame and envy can become the new guests in our beings....

We stop, numb and stay small not to feel our sadness, our numbness, our fears and anger. We are not skilled in Grief neither in Love. A terrible poverty takes place in our heart..." - Soul and making the world of our longing

 

From Francis Weller's The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

 

1. "There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive."

2. "Grief and love are sisters, woven together from the beginning. Their kinship reminds us that there is no love that does not contain loss and no loss that is not a reminder of the love we carry for what we once held close."

3. "Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and sanctioned behaviors of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life-force.... It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled, and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul."

4. Many who undertake the full journey into grief come back carrying medicine for the world.

“Deep in our bones lies an intuition that we arrive here carrying a bundle of gifts to offer to the community. Over time, these gifts are meant to be seen, developed, and called into the village at times of need. To feel valued for the gifts with which we are born affirms our worth and dignity. In a sense, it is a form of spiritual employment - simply being who we are confirms our place in the village. That is one of the fundamental understanding about gifts: we can only offer them by being ourselves fully. Gifts are a consequence of authenticity; when we are being true to our natures, the gifts can emerge.”

Summarised by Darcy K. Butcher

 

...we are not locked in to the images of God that have been handed to us by family and culture. Interpretations of faith are dynamic rather than stagnant, and they are subject to change and evolution, with the spiritual shakeup resulting from loss and trauma as a common trigger. When one’s sense of equilibrium is disturbed, it can result in a "shifting of the field of consciousness from lower to higher levels ... the necessary beginning of any process of transcendence". This shift can push us through Fowler’s stages and lead us toward a new equilibrium

 

Five stages of mystical development

 

- an "awakening" experience that jolts us into a new reality
- purging of the old familiar self
- a period of illumination
- a surrender to emptiness
- a state where the usual conflicts and challenges are viewed from an elevated perspective. Here, instead of merely seeking relief from pain, one seeks meaning

 

Some putative stages:

Primal Faith: a foundational state of either trust or mistrust, depending on the care it receives and its sense of safety in the world. From this foundation, preliminary images of "God" begin to form

 

Intuitive-Reflective Faith

 

Mythic-Literal Faith
Losses are triggering curiosity and questioning that can lead them to the next stage, where, Fowler explains, there is an ability to imagine other possibilities and other realities

 

Synthetic-Conventional Faith
Centred on building a personal identity and building relationships with the world outside the immediate family.
"God" is a significant other who knows the depths and the secrets of the self, and offers companionship, guidance and support

 

Individuative-Reflective Faith

"The person is pushed out of, or steps out of, the circle of interpersonal relationships that have sustained his life to that point". This turning point can move a person toward deeper awareness as the result of a life-altering loss, that is, any experience that Wulff (1991) describes as causing one to "reflect on the relevance of established beliefs and values"

 

Conjunctive Faith

"waking up", one learns they can feed grief and pain or feed wonder and faith. Loss was not a meaningless accident. Open up to a greater potential and gained a reference point from which they contribute to the universe in new ways

- reclaiming and reworking of one’s past

-a view beyond separateness and dualism. It is a universalized faith rather than a personal one, functioning more in a transcendent reality than in a material reality. "This is where there is access to a quality of transcendence more concerned with personal revelation than with symbols or doctrines". In terms of grief resilience and recovery, this stage represents an emergence from grief with a positive outcome that includes a heightened awareness and a peaceful acceptance of the natural ebb and flow of sorrow and joy".

 

Universalizing Faith

"walk the talk"

It is possible to now see the self as part of a universal collective concerned with the energy of the whole rather than as an individual, autonomous island only concerned with personal, ego-centered needs.

 

From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29224518

 

Towards sexuality

 

Anyone else feel we need to literally re-program our mind, body and spirit away from most of our culture’s devolution of the sacred life-force energy that is so rampant today?

I feel it is our need to bloom a love beyond our immature, rebellious, uncertain and sexually confused carnal natures to vision of ourselves which will generate aliveness and hope.To form the capacity for loving intimacy.

 

There is a strong and positive correlation between sexuality and spirituality as well as wellbeing. One can be certain that any improvement in one of the areas may have a positive implication on the other area [1].

 

Unfortunately in our culture, sexuality gets reduced to a physical hedonistic high, power/control and lust and other negative ways - aiming then to gratify ‘our’ needs, ‘our’ desires - to fill a void - but it is not simply "hunger to be satisfied". We also live so dualistically, failing to see each-other equally, with love

 

To merge spirituality with sexuality means to connect sexuality with love, beauty, wonder, equality and joy. To affirm the wonder of life, the beauty of the human spirit and embrace love and care.

 

Sexuality and spirituality are both deeply personal and connected to our life force energy. Our attitudes about life, love, care and compassion are all connected to our feelings about sexuality.

 

Getting beyond our self absorption and being able to tap into the wonder and awe of creation can help us deepen our experience with sexuality - we need to associate sexuality with love, care, joy and commitment - where we open our minds and hearts

 

If we think of the body, mind and spirit as one, then to have a sense of wholeness associated with our sexuality is to be tuned into all aspects of our being–our spiritual life, senses, feelings and thoughts.

 

Connecting to our sexual energy is also about feeling joy and passion that come from honest conversation, giving to others, being in nature, being active and being of service.

 

"Relationship gives us access to Divinity through the portal of love. God is love, the attraction that brings beings together. Oneness is the realization of our intrinsic continuity with all of existence and the source of existence. The recognition of our oneness is an expansion of the "self-system" into a holy context, to be a Godself in relationship with infinite Godselves, the entire evolving chain of being beheld in your lover as a reflection in a Sacred Mirror."

 

Development is linked to these areas

Physical
Perceiving one’s body, gender, and growth-producing sexual behaviour as well as that of the opposite sex with a positive attitude.

Emotional
Feeling comfortable, confident, and competent with one’s body and sexuality, and that of the opposite sexes’

Social

Relating with persons of the same and opposite sex in a healthy way; having the capacity for self-disclosure; being able to sustain friendship and intimacy.

Moral
Valuing the ways of allowing and encouraging the behaviours necessary for ongoing growth.

Psychologically, the major challenge is to become more fully the persons they were meant to be by becoming more single-minded, more loving and caring, and more whole. It means achieving better balance between autonomy and intimacy and between self-interest and self-surrender. Into generative behaviours

Spiritual
Spiritually, the task is to develop spiritual intimacy. Individuals at this stage can respond to the dual desire and longing for intimacy and transcendence by becoming more sensitive to relationships through putting others’ needs and interests first and by becoming more meditative and prayerful. Individuals in this stage are more attracted to Centering prayer and related forms of meditation than in previous stages.

 

When any of these six dimensions are absent or limited, or if they develop in unhealthy ways, our journey toward sexual integration will in some way be hindered or slowed down leading to our sexual energy being expressed in ways that are hurtful to ourselves and others

http://www.claretianformation.com/psycho-sexual-development/

 

Modified from: https://charlottekasl.com/sexuality-spirituality-and-relationships-a-guide-to-bringing-them-together-in-our-lives/

 

[1] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6ee6/fe5add99f90502e571417e7603feacff1529.pdf

 

Towards others

 

I was always stuck in you vs me...

 

 We become incapable of seeing the spectrums of life... moral discernment is simplified and greatly inhibited. It becomes easy and necessary to "other" (including parts of ourselves) who gets lumped into the "the other". Healing becomes hard because we destroy through categorisation that which we can no longer hold in empathy.

 

Our view of other people and life itself is also split into polarities... As a result, we view the whole universe through a tainted lens.

 

Splitting and the dualism it entails results in a repression of spirituality because it is a disconnect from deeper reality: my own Self, other people, and the whole universe.

We repress the profound: spirituality, unity consciousness, and imagination, into an unconscious spiritual shadow self. In the attempt to protect ourselves from pain through compartmentalisation, we plunge ourselves deeper into it. The disconnect of splitting is more painful than pain itself because it cuts us off.

 

We need to prioritise personal and collective healing if we want to experience the joys of spirituality, the freedom of wholeness and connection. Polarity is indeed part of the natural order, but we lose touch with life when we cut off consciousness of connection. Dualism is the idolisation and immortalisation of polarity through the destruction of relationship. ...systems of othering are so tempting because they appeal to our sense of separation and offer a solution that resonates with our suffering. Dualism protected us as children from the beauties of life and the wonders of spiritual experiencing being swallowed up by suffering. But dualism no longer serves those of us who aspire to move beyond childhood wounding into adult thriving.

Modified from: https://lifeafterdogma.org/2019/02/11/psychological-splitting/


Towards Love

 

 “If we are stretching to live wiser and not just smarter, we will aspire to learn what love means…"

 

Our society continually casts love as something that happens to us passively and by chance, something we fall into, something that strikes us arrow-like, rather than a skill attained through the same deliberate practice as any other pursuit

 

In spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power — almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.

 

Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.

That said, a love predicated on possession inevitably turns into fear — the fear of losing what was gained.

 

"Love is concerned with growth and evolution. It is — though as yet hardly acknowledged in that connection — a root-factor of ordinary human growth; for in so far as it is a hunger of the individual, the satisfaction of that hunger is necessary for individual growth — necessary (in its various forms) for physical, mental and spiritual nourishment, for health, mental energy, large affectional capacity, and so forth. And it is — though this too is not sufficiently acknowledged — a root-factor of the Evolution process.

 

Love is a complex of human relations — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and so forth — all more or less necessary. And though seldom realized complete, it is felt, and feels itself, to be imperfect without some representation of every side. To limit it to the expression of one particular aspect would be totally inadequate, if not absurd and impossible.

 

The intense chemistry of the psychic elements produces something like an actual flame. A fresh combination is entered into, profound transformations are effected, strange forces liberated, and a new personality perhaps created; and the accomplishment and evidence of the whole process is by no means only joy, but agony also

 

Love does more for the moralizing of poor humanity than a hundred thousand Sunday schools. It cleans the little human soul from the clustered lies in which it has nested itself — from the petty conceits and deceits and cowardices and covert meannesses." [1]

 

[1] https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/03/31/edward-carpenter-love-marriage-in-free-society/

 

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