Existential Crisis & Spiritual Integration
Have you gone through a spiritual awakening—a profound or transformative experience you’re having difficulty understanding or making sense of? Have you experienced states of bliss, heightened awareness, and powerful insights, only to revert back to old and limiting habits and patterns? Do you wonder about the universe and why you're here?
Maybe you’re on a spiritual path, practicing meditation, rituals, working with plant medicines, or are interested in these pursuits but don’t know how to start. Perhaps you’re very devoted to a path of awakening and growth and yet still feel stuck in certain areas of your life, such as in intimate relationships, family, money and career, difficult emotions, or reconciling a traumatic past. Or maybe questions about reality and spirituality have come into your consciousness quite uninvited, as if of their own will, leaving you trying to come back to a simpler life you once knew.
Sometimes, you may feel a personal calling and definitive direction towards something greater, and sometimes you may just feel lost. All of these experiences are part of being Human and realizing the fullness of your potential; but it's not always easy, and sometimes it's excruciatingly difficult. That is why having guidance and support along the way can be essential to navigating this at times perplexing and challenging terrain.
Through spiritual integration, you can come to embody the truest expression of your nature—your inherent wisdom, brilliance, and gifts. You can move through any obstacle that seems to stop you in your tracks or sends you spinning into confusion, self-doubt, and mistrust.
If you're struggling to find meaning and purpose in your life, you may be going through an existential crisis
When a person questions the nature of life, they can experience an existential crisis. Such questioning is not itself a problem, but if the questions remain unresolved, they can contribute to feelings of depression, isolation, a lack of meaning or purpose, distrust in others, and other issues. Existential crises can come from many places: death of a loved one, world events, growing older, contemplating one’s career or identity, reading philosophical texts, spiritual practices, taking psychedelics or other drugs, or seemingly from nowhere.
Grappling with these questions is very normal—it's natural to want to find meaning in your life and in all of life. Unfortunately, modern consumerist culture is more preoccupied with how to optimize lifestyles than with understanding this thing called life, leaving individuals to try to figure out the nature of the universe on their own, or in religious traditions. While religions can provide helpful and personally meaningful frameworks for life, one need not identify as religious, or even as spiritual, to question or to come into relationship with the underlying currents of reality.
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – Shakespeare
One form of existential crisis is a spiritual emergency. While a spiritual awakening or emergence can be a profoundly blissful, exciting, and positive experience, it can also become very unsettling, disorienting, and feel like an emergency. Often marked by non-ordinary states of consciousness, altered and unfamiliar thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and physical sensations, some examples of spiritual emergencies are out-of-body experiences, experiencing your own death and rebirth, identifying with cosmic consciousness or oneness, psychedelic experiences (which may be induced by drugs, plant medicines, or spiritual practices), kundalini awakenings, psychic openings, past-life recall, or communicating with spirits, ancestors, angels, or religious figures. These experiences are also not necessarily problems, if they can be held in a supportive and integrative framework.
A Spiritual Emergency can be very difficult, and it can be the start of a new and incredibly powerful way of moving through the world
Modernity doesn’t have a framework to understand spiritual emergence or emergencies. In contrast, many earth-centered cultures, and almost all of our ancestors throughout human history, have known how to hold these experiences with reverence and in developmentally appropriate ways, for instance by seeing a person’s extrasensory or more subtle awareness and gifts activating and coming online. When worked with productively, these experiences can lead to invaluable growth, increased understanding, and more refined and developed psychological and emotional capacities. However, due in part to their unfamiliarity, they can also be frightening, confusing, and greatly distressing. Through the support of spiritual integration, you can come to better understand what you've gone through and where you're headed, learn simple and easy-to-use skills and tools to navigate any distress or obstacles along the path, and discover new ways of relating with yourself and others that offer even greater feelings of contentment, empowerment, and quality than you may have ever known.
Spiritual Integration helps unify awareness, insight, and experience with your everyday life in grounded and practical ways
Many meditation communities make a distinction between what happens “on the [meditation] cushion,” or when intentionally engaged in contemplative practices, and what happens “off the cushion.” For instance it’s possible to experience limitless peace and joy while on the cushion, and feel completely reactive and out of control while off the cushion. And, as evidenced by the sadly common occurrence of abuse perpetrated by spiritual teachers and religious leaders, many of whom can speak eloquently about compassion and/or have taken vows to not harm others, it’s clear that spiritual realization does not always produce enlightened behavior, and that what happens on the cushion does not necessarily translate to life off the cushion.
In addition to supporting a comprehensive and cohesive understanding of reality and your place in it, spiritual integration also helps synthesize understanding with action so that you can actively live in greater harmony with your awakening experiences and your view of life and yourself.
What if you could safely open to the wisdom, gifts, and offerings of an existential crisis or a spiritual emergency so that it could more directly inform, infuse, and enrich your daily life in healthy and beneficial ways?
The existential crisis or spiritual emergency you might be going through now may be the challenging start of a much more deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Through body-centered practices and techniques, I can help you integrate the awesome and beautiful aspects of your experiences, while moving through and releasing the difficult disturbances you've gone through. As a result, you can become more fully who you are and more deeply connected to your truth and reality.
How you can recover from an existential crisis
In healing and recovering from an existential crisis, it can be incredibly helpful to find personal meaning in your experiences and how you're living. In working together, I can share various teachings and understandings of human development, life, and spirituality from many different world wisdom traditions to help you discover the truth that feels most aligned to you. Utilizing an integrative approach, I do not discount any truth or view of reality, nor do I believe there is one single correct view or understanding. What's most important is contextualizing your experiences in a way that is right for you and your world. Being exposed to different perspectives can help you determine what views you want to incorporate into your life, and what worldly assumptions you may have been taught or learned that no longer serve you, and could in fact be getting in the way of your growth and authenticity.
In addition to a clearer understanding of life, it's also necessary to learn practical tools and skills to navigate your world. In sessions with me, you'll learn and practice many ways to ground, resource, and regulate yourself in the here and now. You'll also expand your ability to receive the nourishment and supports you need from life to walk your path, strengthen your boundaries from that which does not support your highest and greatest good, and develop greater discernment and willpower to choose what you are truly wanting to live a life you love.
Is Spiritual Integration right for me?
Spiritual integration can support people who have had a spiritual awakening, a spiritual emergency, an existential crisis, or who are going on or returning from meditation retreat, ceremony, or other psychedelic or entheogenic experiences. Spiritual integration helps update the body, psyche, and nervous system so that you can live in alignment with the emergent potential of the mysterious nature of life while meeting the practical necessities of the everyday world.
What happens in a Spiritual Integration session
Every session is unique to each person and what they're needing most, and I'm happy to work with you to create a plan that feels most supportive to you.
At the start of each session, if you would like, I offer a guided, grounding meditation to transition into the space together and to teach skills and practices you can use throughout your life. Then, you can share your story in a safe, non-judgmental, and normalizing space: what's happened in your life, what's happening now, and how is it affecting you?
After establishing quick, simple, and easy-to-use skills to regulate and calm your nervous system whenever necessary, together, we can gently explore the most distressing or challenging aspects of your current experience of life, always going at the pace you set and working only with what you're feeling ready to address.
It's also important to take time to celebrate your successes and triumphs: What might be improving in your life? What growth are you experiencing? I will help you feel these changes and developments in your body, integrating what's happening at the cellular roots of your being so you can even more fully embody your truth and walk your path.
Part of this work may include healing early childhood wounds and coping patterns that are inhibiting your development and fullest expression of yourself. Utilizing somatic practices, inner parts work, guided visualizations, and other therapeutic and spiritual techniques and interventions, I will help you release the pain around your experiences, memories, and stories, and bring a greater sense of ease and workability to your life. We can also connect with your desired states and experiences so you can start bringing them into your life today.
As you come into deeper connection with all parts of yourself, you'll be able to discard what's creating drag or resistance in your life while strengthening that which supports yourself most. The positive changes and potential you awaken will support your connection with your world and all others in your life so you can experience greater and greater harmony and beauty in your everyday experiences.
What you can hope to gain from Spiritual Integration
Spiritual Integration sessions can support you by:
Contextualizing and normalizing your experiences
Providing methods and practices for stabilizing and calming your nervous system when you’re feeling overwhelmed, dysregulated, or stuck in a thought loop
Offering appropriate resources (books, podcasts, teachings, etc.) from many different world wisdom traditions and mystical schools
Supporting your understanding of your experiences in practical and grounded ways
Helping you heal old and recent psychological, emotional, and social wounds that are blocking your path
Holding a space to grieve what may have changed or is changing in your life, while discovering and unlocking the gifts of what is emerging
Perhaps You’re Interested Spiritual Integration But Still Have Some Concerns…
Is this religious?
Spiritual Integration can support people in a religious tradition, people who are spiritual but not religious, and people who have no connection to spirituality. I have studied and practiced in many different world wisdom traditions in both academic and experiential contexts, including Judaism, Contemplative Christianity, Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism, Hinduism, animism and Shamanism, and others. With thousands of years of dedication to spiritual pursuits, these traditions offer a profound depth of understanding and guidance for living awake and meaningful lives. I support clients in deepening pre-existing connections to a religion, or in creating a personal spirituality or way of life that's not bound to any doctrine or dogma.
I don't have time to add spirituality to my life.
Modernity tends to separate the sacred from the profane, the spiritual from the mundane; but life is not inherently separated into such categories. Whether you call it spirituality or just normal life may not be that important to you. I want to help you find a way of living that feels most authentic, fulfilling, and deeply satisfying in every level of your being, whether you call it spiritual or not. In sessions with me and beyond, you get to decide how to use your time to structure and live a life that meets all your needs and goals.
I already have a spiritual practice and community, isn't that enough?
Many spiritual paths are aspirational and inspiring, focusing on ideal states of awakening and realization; yet they don't always know how to address the traumas and attachment wounds of our personal histories that can make living one's aspirations so difficult, if not impossible. Because I hold awareness of both spiritual paths as well as mental health and psychological issues, I can help you see how your unique life experiences have both supported and hindered your spiritual development, and work through any real-life obstacles between you and your spiritual goals in a personally focused, therapeutic, trauma-informed container.
If you think you could benefit from spiritual integration or want to learn more about how working with me can support your life path, please reach out to schedule a free consultation.