a reflection on my experience following spontaneous spiritual emergence, or healing, in 2012 and brief review of CRAZYWISE: Rethinking Madness documentary, written with infinite gratitude for the gift of a rare joy and a free-willed contentment.
Spiritual emergence, often lumped into one bag of experience, actually has many ways and these ways vary by individual according to the personality, life experience, physical health, and more, so that we may consider countless varieties and potentials. What we can count on is difference and, so, there is no treatment, as such, for spiritual emergence.
Still, fundamentals of care apply for individuals who are spiritually emergent, ie experiencing spiritual or energetic healing and integration. These fundamentals are healthy/clean food, shelter, clothing, social inclusion, and compassionate relations.
When my body spontaneously opened to Kundalini Shakti, also known as primal energy or creative life force, during orgasm at the close of 2012, I was spiritually, psychologically, and physically prepared for the experience.
Prepared spiritually because I’d experienced Samadhi as a young child focusing my attention on nothing but black and recalled that experience throughout my life just as I had always recalled the experience of holding my breath during sexual molestation at age three. Also because I’d been practicing both self-initiated mindfulness meditation and formal sitting meditation since my late teens. Though I was not seeking Samadhi at the time of spontaneous emergence, I had recently returned to a primary focus on healing from that incest with intent to heal completely.
Prepared psychologically because I’d read psychologists and psychotherapists, including some of Christina Grof and Stanislav Grof in The Stormy Search for the Self back in the early 2000’s when I first experienced glossolalia – speaking in tongues or divine language - or perhaps xenolalia - a natural language previously unknown to the speaker. I’m not sure which because no one has listened to me who might be able to say. I have not at any point during my healing process questioned my own experience or thought myself crazy. I've maintained a compassionate witness to my own experience and enjoyed heightened, if not full-blown, awareness of my subconscious since spontaneous emergence.
Prepared physically because I’d enjoyed a variety of healing modalities in addition to sitting meditation since being diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer at age 19. These modalities included breathwork (breath journeying), Network Spinal Analysis, lots of massage, Pancha Karma (Ayurvedic systemic purification that includes massage and enemas), as pure a diet as can be today, and regular asana practice. My body was fairly clear of toxins at the time of spontaneous emergence and has accumulated more since given what I guess to be heavy exposure to pesticides while house sitting in Watsonville, CA spring 2014.
I was prepared spiritually, psychologically, and physically for spiritual emergence. However, I was not prepared with a foundation of support, also known as community or sangha (Buddhist). At the time of spontaneous emergence, I was in process of dissolving marriage with my son’s father as a claiming of myself, unemployed aside from the creative work at Extinction Witness, heavy with student and credit card debt, and living alone with my son, who was three years old at the time. I was also near 1500 miles from my Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, who has known me since preschool, and without a guide or teacher otherwise.
“If you don’t first start with communities of support, then of course the brain is going to stop functioning
so well because the brain is a social organ. Relationships are just as important as brain processes.
And I feel very deeply that if we could make that clear to everyone,
we could have a shift in how we actually take care of each other.”
- Neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel in Crazy Wise
I can best describe the initial experience of spontaneous emergence as ecstatic – rapturous. There were peaks of joy and sorrow within a steady state of awe, which I imagine and felt to be childlike. A simple and utter gladness for being alive and fascination with life. And a flood of information, including an origin story which I have yet to write down.
I recall spending a great deal of time one afternoon enthralled with a mayfly who perched on my finger. Surely anyone observing me, a grown woman, not a child, so engrossed with and speaking to an insect, might have thought me crazy. And when I shared with my Mother this rapture and knowing that God or All is Love and there will be world peace within my lifetime, she said, “Megan, if you speak of this to others, they will think you are crazy.” So, I did not inform the rest of my family or friends about the spontaneous emergence or the experience of rapture thereafter.
Given the family history, their medical training and practice, and inexperience with meditation and differing mind states, my father and my his sister would have likely thought me manic or schizophrenic. I did recognize that I needed help and reached to my TM teacher and a Quaker pastor, who has also known me since my childhood.
My TM teacher's immediate response was, “Are you eating? Are you sleeping? You need to take care of yourself. You are in this for the long haul.” Vicki has continued to support me as best she can from a distance. Immediate response from the Quaker pastor, who serves the more conservation branch of Friends, was that I would be considered a heretic, unwelcome in Friends Meeting. She and I have not been in touch since.
Thus, my initial search for refuge in spiritual community and basic support for my process proved unsuccessful all but for the grace of my TM teacher's fundamental trust in me and the healing process itself, which meant everything in terms of the eventual positive outcome.
And so, though he requested very thoughtfully that we cut off communication, I continued to reach to the one person who was with me, from a physical distance, at the time of spontaneous emergence. I was also swept into a women’s gifting circle that promised immediate substantial financial return that did not arrive, leaving me in debt to those who supported my entry into that circle. I also reached to those teaching and writing about Kundalini with no response other than suggested reading and courses to take at a cost that I could not afford. All this as I expressed supreme love on Facebook, carried on with the creative work at Extinction Witness and the advisory circle gathered in 2012 fell away along with my circle of friends in Livingston due to my creative spiritual focus.
To note, when referring to rapture, joy and sorrow, I'm clearly not referring to mania and depression. I've not experienced mania. I do know the difference between sorrow and depression. Chronic depression, endured since childhood, that became severe winter of 2004 -2005, was cured by grief ritual in 2007. Since then, I've experienced one depressive episode in April 2013 following the peak experience in marriage ceremony with giant sequoia, which is documented in photographs. Support from a spiritual healer and a creative writing exercise cleared that depression.
The peaks of joy and sorrow experienced in 2013 culminated in a heart opening near eight months later. The heart opening involved what was for me surrender to total loss, speaking out to spirit for mercy, and another glimpse of sheer light followed by three days of heaving grief that cleared my solar plexus. During the grieving process, divine appreciation showered me, as if I were a babe in a loving mother's arms, seen and held for the first time. This appreciation is for everyone and, so, what is offered through me. The heart opening culminated in the poem Wildfire and production of the film Wildfire: a love story, which put to use the photographs of me and giant sequoia captured during the marriage ceremony.
Through early autumn 2013 I would literally wake writing love poems. I was then, as I am now, in Love. Only now I have experienced what came between: near total material and social loss, and a sexual rewounding in 2014 as consequence of the financial impoverishment and my losing faith in my own worth and the value of my creative work through the course of social isolation.
I have maintained the creative witness practice throughout spiritual integration. For a time, Extinction Witness became my life boat. In clinging to the possibility of everyone else’s continued existence, I've maintained meaning in my own. The compassionate expression is all that made sense to me during my darkest hour and still all that is my happiness and waking peace of mind, which is different than the tranquility experienced in sitting meditation regardless of world events.
I’ve recently watched CRAZYWISE: Rethinking Madness, a documentary film that follows two individuals as they navigate spiritual healing from early childhood sexual trauma. The film is a critical piece and has given me the clarity to offer this much of my experience. I’m incredibly grateful that human-rights photographer and filmmaker Phil Borges has produced the film and grateful to all who participated in the interviews.
One reflection I’ll offer on CRAZYWISE is that the regular use of 'mental illness' itself within the script contradicts what I see the film offering, which is a spiritual perspective of the psyche in which there is no mental illness, but a spiritual illness known as soullessness that twists one’s thinking and behavior. The stories in CRAZYWISE are tragic in a way that need not be. I wish for no person to find themselves as alienated and socially isolated as I was in 2014 during and after VIRGIN was produced. Thus, the vision for creative Healing Circle and the evolution of Extinction Witness to Project VIRGin as I begin my healing practice, which includes facilitating embodied grieving through performance art.
I do not know precisely what differentiates the relative grace of my healing process from those documented in CRAZYWISE. I guess that this has something to do with the fact that I was actively engaged in spiritual practice, avoided drugs and hospitalization, maintained creative expression and enjoyed access to online social networks, was clear of all substance addiction at the time of spiritual emergence and have not taken alcohol since Thanksgiving 2012 before spontaneous emergence aside from a shot of rum in a hot chocolate during my sexual rewounding and in tinctures, and maintained a healthy diet to the best of my ability on no income but for gifts primarily from family and close friends. Though I've moved around quite a bit, including out of state, I've been incredibly blessed to be sheltered by friends and/or had my rent paid by friends since January 2014.
I’m now guaranteed shelter through January 2018, which is the longest promise of home security for me since 2011. Upon landing where I am in February 2017, I learned how exhausted my body is from the base insecurity and moved through residual anger and resentment associated with social abandonment. Making peace with my own process includes offering this post. I find that maintaining the creative compassionate expression remains key for enjoying contentment.
Whereas some lose everything material to wildfire sweeping earth, I lost most everything in process to losing myself in love like wildfire burning through me to rid me of attachment and liberate me to unconditional, universal love. I'm with infinite gratitude on the whole. Even though both my son and I paid an extreme emotional toll, I would not change, if I could, my own healing process for I would not be equipped to serve in the way I am now. I do not know right or wrong, only an intent to support others in a way I was not.
From this point, I will do everything in my power to help prevent others from becoming socially isolated, home insecure, and food insecure, or forced by circumstance to enter relationship or separate from their children and be shamed into perceiving they have abandoned their children during their healing process if separation is necessary for a period of time.
"There are things that knowledge cannot eat."
- Sobonfu Somé, Dagara Elder, writer and spiritual teacher - Keynote / Conference of the African and Diasporic Religious Studies Association, 4.11.2014 at Harvard University
The Insanity Of Things or For The Love
I wanted you more than anything as if you were bound to my soul, like to feel at home you, weathered over time with the same touchgray paint worn through to golden oak. And for Henrietta’s hands you were everything in the kitchen the flour, the sugar, the silver, the dishes the breadand the pie. What was it that made her scream? Was it the same love that compelled me to sell you so I could keep writing? Was she haunted by slaughters and slavery or was she violated? Was her rage like mine for all of it? I think you were all she had to hold on to so she did hold onto you, cherished you and lost her mind in the parade of silence. If Henrietta could give me something, I am sure it is not you but the peace of mind I found in letting you go so I could keep writing something of her scream that wants to prove it does not matter what color the kitchen cabinet is when the house is burning.
THE INSANITY OF THINGS was written March 2014 in transition from witness with bee to wolf during what would be a 17 monthly revolving creative witness practice at Extinction Witness. My Great Grandmother Henrietta Robinson received a frontal lobotomy to 'cure' fits.