Exploring Resistance to Spiritual Emergence

 

56541-284824-2_120x150.jpgTHE CHALLENGE: The challenge of spiritual emergence is that it requires a definitive transformation. Although some people experiencing spiritual emergence may easily embrace the transformation, others may struggle with spiritual resistance.

Katrina Burgos, M.S.W., LCSW, ACMHP

 

ABOUT THE BLOG: Sofia University has been training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who choose to apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings for over 40 years. Our students, alumni and faculty have a wealth of information to share. Please enjoy this topic that highlights some of the teachings featured at Sofia University.

KEY WORDS

spiritual emergence, spiritual emergency, spiritual resistance, repression of the sublime

Spiritual emergence refers to a process of psychospiritual development that may come about spontaneously via a direct, powerful experience, or gradually, via a series of more subtle experiences over time. The challenge of spiritual emergence is that it requires a definitive transformation (Firman & Gila, 2002). Although some people experiencing spiritual emergence may easily embrace the transformation, others may struggle with spiritual resistance. I define spiritual resistance as the result of a convergence of individual and cultural factors that contribute to conscious and unconscious withdrawal from or avoidance of the process of spiritual emergence. What is the role of spiritual resistance in spiritual emergence? Why do some people seem to struggle with it more than others? In this abstract I summarize the primary literature on spiritual resistance and identify a need for further research on the phenomenon.

Exceptional human experiences (EHEs) are nonordinary, spontaneous, transcendent experiences that researcher Rhea White classified into mystical, psychic, encounter, death-related, and exceptional normal types. White believed that working with one’s EHEs has the potential to lead to profound positive transformation such as an evolution of awareness and increased sense of meaning in life. In addition to classifying and defining EHEs as well as their characteristics and concomitants, White identified a developmental process model that anticipates resistance within the transformative process (Brown, 2000). Her model includes five evolving stages intended not to be exhaustive but rather to name a general trend in the progression of EHE development. The stages are: (1) the initiating event/experience, including acknowledgement of it; (2) the search for reconciliation; (3) being between two worlds; (4) in the experiential paradigm; and (5) a new way of being in the world (Brown, 2000).

The basic premise of the model, which has since been expanded by Suzanne Brown (2000), is that the exceptional experience results in cognitive dissonance that, in turn, leads to either potentiating or depotentiating activities depending on whether the individual desires and is ready to further engage with the developmental process (Brown, 2000). Those who do not desire or who are not ready to move forward in the process exemplify my concept of spiritual resistance.

One factor that may influence an experiencer’s decision to engage with the developmental process is the intensity of the exceptional experience. William James (1902) identified two main types of spiritual experiences: the educational type, and the sudden type. The educational type of experience occurs gradually, perhaps over a long period of time. Because of the prolonged aspect, the impact of the experience may be not immediate, but more evolutionary. James’s sudden type included those experiences that occur spontaneously and abruptly without provocation. These experiences include the original 10 types of spiritual emergencies that Grof and Grof (1989) identified: shamanic crisis, awakening of kundalini, episodes of unitive consciousness, psychological renewal through return to center, psychic opening, pastlife experiences, communication with spirit guides and channeling, near-death experiences, experiences of UFOs, and possession states. The intensity of these sudden experiences can be so dramatic that the person is unable to continue functioning as before, thereby necessitating transformation (Grof & Grof, 1989). The subtlety of an educational type of experience, however, may dissuade or delay the individual from engaging with the developmental process that, according to White, begins only when one has named and begun to interact with the exceptional experience.

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Second Transpersonal Research Colloquium

 

TRC.png

September 15-16, 2016, United Kingdom

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Second Transpersonal Research Colloquium will be held on September 15-16, 2016 at Highgate House in Northamptonshire (near London) in the United Kingdom.  The TRC immediately precedes the 20th Annual Conference of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society (BPS) on September 17-18, 2016 at the same location.

The mission of TRC 2016 is to engage researchers worldwide in dialogue and training related to research methods and procedures that further the study of transpersonal, spiritual, and related topics. The theme for TRC 2016 is Research Models and Methods for Transpersonal Research. TRC 2016 will be co-sponsored by the EUROTAS Division of Transpersonal Research, Integral Transpersonal Institute, Transpersonal Consultancy, and the British Psychological Society Transpersonal Psychology Section.

The presentation format will be collaborative and egalitarian giving each participant equal time to speak. Ample time will be provided for discussions and networking with other participants and for initiating collaborations for ongoing or newly created research projects. The final TRC 2016 program will be co-constructed depending on accepted proposals.

Participation in the colloquium will be open to professional researchers with PhDs, MDs, or doctoral candidates actively engaged in research. To apply for participation, kindly send us the following:

  • An abstract of your work based on the conference theme, Research Models and Methods for Transpersonal Research (200 words in English)
  • Short bio including research background (100-200 words in English)
  • A head-shot photo of you
  • We would like to include your abstract as public information on the Transpersonal Research Network website. Let us know if this is acceptable to you in your application materials.

 

Deadline for submission of application: April 1, 2016. Submit your application materials to info@transpersonalresarchnetwork.com. You will receive a response to your application by May 1, 2016.

Highgate House, the venue for TRC2016 and the BPS conference that follows, has all the charm of a 17th-century English country house, tastefully modernized to offer state-of-the-art conference facilities. It is easily accessible from international airports in London and Birmingham. For full details see http://www.sundialgroup.com/venues-hotels/highgate-house/overview. Those joining us can choose a single room or to share in a twin room.

Those attending both the TRC and the BPS Transpersonal Psychology Section conference will benefit by receiving a lower rate for attending both events.

Fees are as follows:

Single room, Wednesday 14th September 2016 to Friday 16th (attending TRC only): £358 (£343 after discount)*

Single room, Wednesday 14th September 2016 to Sunday 18th (attending TRC & BPS TP conference): £663 (£598 after discount)*

Twin room, Wednesday 14th September 2016 to Friday 16th (attending TRC only): £298 (£283 after discount)*

Twin room, Wednesday 14th September 2016 to Sunday 18th (attending TRC & BPS TP conference): £583 (£518 after discount)*

*Members of EUROTAS or the BPS Transpersonal Psychology Section qualify for the discount.

Warm regards,

Rosemarie Anderson, Ph.D. (USA), Transpersonal Consultancy (www.transpersonalconsultancy.com)

Giovanna Calabrese, Ph.D., Psy.D., M.D. (Italy), EUROTAS Division of Transpersonal Research (http://eurotas.org/division-of-transpersonal-research-edtr/)

Regina U Hess, Ph.D. (Germany), EUROTAS Division of Transpersonal Research (http://eurotas.org/division-of-transpersonal-research-edtr/)

Les Lancaster, Ph.D. (UK), British Psychological Society Transpersonal Section (http://www.bps.org.uk/networks-and-communities/member-microsite/transpersonal-psychology-section)

Pier Luigi Lattuada, Ph.D., M.D. (Italy), Integral Transpersonal Institute (www.integraltranspersonal.com)

Spiritual Diversity: An Exploration of Earth-Based Psychospiritual Healing Practices

ABOUT THE BLOG: Sofia University has been training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who choose to apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings for over 40 years. Our students, alumni and faculty have a wealth of information to share. Please enjoy this topic that highlights some of the teachings featured at Sofia University.

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by David Christy

Introduction

Spiritually oriented approaches to psychology seek to foster mental health and overall wellbeing using techniques derived from clients’ faith traditions (Richards & Worthington, 2010). Meta-analyses have put the efficacy of these interventions on par with secular approaches (Aten & Worthington, 2009; Hook et al., 2010; Post & Wade, 2009). Most of the research in this field has focused on interventions rooted in Abrahamic traditions or on increasing spirituality in general (Hook et al., 2010). To date, little scholarly attention has been paid to creating psychospiritual interventions suited to the needs of people practicing earth-based faiths.
Magic, as a Pagan spiritual and religious practice, has been written about extensively in popular literature, but little attention has been paid to it within the field of psychology. Yardley (2008) described magic as a spiritual practice Pagans use to create change in their lives. Yardley discussed the use of symbolic rituals as an aspect of this spiritual practice, but did not engage with the subject deeply. Scholars have discussed psychological mechanisms that may underlie the use of ritual as a healing practice (Anderson, 2010; Cole, J., 2004; Cole, V., 2003; Kwan, 2007; Parker & Horton, 1996; Turner, 1995). Few of these studies examined spiritual or transpersonal elements of these practices, and none explored the issue from a Pagan perspective. As a spiritual and religious practice utilized by Pagans, the phenomenon of magic deserves study alongside other transpersonal, spiritual, and religious phenomena.

This study is a part of the author’s broader research agenda, which focuses on creating culturally congruent psychospiritual interventions for people practicing non-Abrahamic faiths. This subject area emerged as a passion during my Master of Divinity training at Naropa University, where I was exposed Buddhist meditation and earth-based ritual as ways of enacting psychospiritual healing and growth. My previous exposure to earth-based ritual includes 3 trainings from two traditions: Dagarra, a West African indigenous faith, and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, a reconstructed Pagan tradition.

This phenomenology assumes a constructivist philosophy of paradigm. Many authors have advocated taking constructivist approaches to working with spiritual and religious issues, especially when working with people from religious and ethnic minority groups (McCabe, 2007; Parks, 2003; Yeh, Hunter, Madan-Bahel, Chiang, & Arora, 2004). Harley (2006) discussed the need for health care models that embrace both paradigms, noting the biomedical model is “not well equipped to analyze the experiential or political dimensions of health, especially those of indigenous healing knowledge embedded in alternative epistemologies” (p. 436).

The present study seeks explore how Pagans use magic as a spiritual practice for their growth and healing, and further to describe the healing knowledge and epistemologies embedded within the practices.

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