Vishwas is a support group for people going through a spiritual emergence or process during their mental health crisis and beyond.

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"Spiritual Processes — Vishwas"

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What is Spiritual Process in Mental Health?

The spiritual processes are all processes which can cause a shift in one's identity and reality, an acknowledgment of the cosmic consciousness, an expanded bandwidth of perception, phenomena which are very transformative if allowed to integrate into one's life. The phenomena of extraordinary experiences, otherwise known as transpersonal, numinous, transcendent, alternate states of consciousness, mystical or spiritual experiences, peak experiences, extreme states, etc., and their emergence within the mental health system, often labeled as "psychosis" and/or other psychiatric diagnoses are termed spiritual processes. The impact of pathologizing such experiences labeling with psychiatric diagnosis can be harmful.

These non-ordinary states are sometimes described as "a waking dream, where the line between reality and the psyche blurs and bends". They can feel 'realer than real' and are a valuable part of our shared humanity. Non-Ordinary states and experiences include visions, voices, precognition, telepathy, entities, uncanny synchronicities, changes to energy systems and traveling to different domains of the psyche and visiting archetypes and guiding figures, can be accompanied by Kundalini Awakening, out of body experiences or third eye opening.

Spiritual Phenomena

These phenomena need to be demystified and normalized and not pathogenized.

Stanislov Grof wrote "Many of the conditions, which are currently diagnosed as psychotic and indiscriminately treated by suppressive medication, are actually difficult stages of a radical personality transformation and of spiritual opening. If they are correctly understood and supported, these psychospiritual crises can result in emotional and psychosomatic healing, remarkable psychological transformation, and consciousness evolution" (Grof & Grof, 1989, 1990). I feel that Matt's podcast will help to eradicate fear and confusion and contribute to a strong community where we can realize the maximum potential of these experiences.

All forms of mental illness are a spiritual process in its own right and therefore labeling them as disease, failure or personal incompetence is wrong and needs to change. It's this view of the world which is the main problem that undermines and compromises a mentally ill person even more. Justlike how we approach and view "disability" as "differently abled", we need to view mental illness as a different state of consciousness or an extreme state or non-ordinary state of consciousness, made different by the chemicals within the body and a discerning and unique view of the universe. Such individuals that are going through a spiritual process during their so-called mental illness contribute to the society in their own ways. They have enormous creativity and numerous ideas and plans about caring for the planet which are all important for the collective unconscious as eloquently described by Carl Jung.

However, it is the attitude of the society which cripples them. For instance, in the Solomon Islands, if a tree needs to be felled, people go and stand around it and curse it and surely the tree dies because of the cursing of the people. That's how our society is structured. Socalled mentally ill persons are not able to be productive among the so-called normal people. And then they get put on psychiatric medications which further compromises their ability to perform making it difficult for them to sustain. as the daily work or Karmas need to be done and creativity needs to flow only then one can maintain their so-called currency or productivity or the basis of being part of the Universe.

We believe in harm reduction with psychiatric drugs as too much of the drugs benumbs and disassociates a person completely from their core self, core emotions and core soul. This is perhaps going off tangent, but the primary method of energy transfer in today's world is based on fossil fuels and therefore so called mentally ill persons often are not able to survive in this environment. However, the energy which emanates during the spiritual emergence is more profound and numinous in nature which guides and helps in many profound ways. This energy arises from the chakras from Kundalini and one's soul. It is a storm which gathers to know yourself and evolve. It makes the digestion and assimilation and all of these processes uniquely spiritual in nature.

However, when in this state, one needs to be around people who believe and know these energies and can guide in the process so one is not overwhelmed. It is not always possible for mental health workers who have not had first-hand experience of these energies to understand and empathize with the persons going through these processes. Often the persons affected are termed as manic, or high and dismissed with antipsychotic medications. It is only possible for persons who have had these lived experiences to guide and support through this process. Therefore, having peer support in these turbulent times or precarious moments can be extremely crucial in providing guidance and support as well as helping one manage their condition.

Breaking down or breaking through?

Are you breaking down so that you can break through? Mental health Healing through a Spiritual process

Have you or any of your loved ones ever been ridiculed or shunned for having a bizarre or out of the world spiritual experience? And did you find yourself feeling helpless, not knowing where to go. The usual pathway to support persons experiencing severe depression, fear, anxiety, mania, or similar symptoms is to be seen by a mental health professional a counsellor, therapist or psychiatrist who is trained in modern psychiatry. Modern psychiatry loves to classify and bracket individuals under various diagnostic and disease criteria often labelling them as bipolar, depressive, maniac or schizophrenic. It disregards the fact that one size does not fit all and that one's boon could be another person's bane. In other words, not everyone feels comfortable being treated in a hospital, taking psychotropic drugs or being rehabilitated in an asylum for their illness.

Mental well-being is important for realising one's full potential and is critical for everyone everywhere. Acceptable models for treatment for mental health ailments largely follow the Western medical paradigm that is based on the chemical imbalance theory requiring treatment with highly addictive and strong medication and hospitalisation in case of severe diagnosis subjecting them to trauma and distress. Globally, people suffering with mental health conditions experience a wide range of human right violations. Rather than open air green spaces, the battle with mental health is fought in asylums and caged chambers even till today.

Increasingly, narratives around mental health treatment are changing. WHO Mental Health Report 2022 warns that 'business as usual for mental health simply will not do' for 970 million people amounting to 13% of global population are living with mental disorders as of 2019. One in 8 people live with a mental health condition and 71% people with psychosis do not receive mental health services. The Covid-19 pandemic shook humanity and its existence in unprecedented ways and created several short- and long-term stressors for mental health. Conflicts and climate crisis are constantly challenging our sanity and resilience. No wonder, mental health could be the next pandemic.

Amidst this backdrop, there is a growing grassroots movement of spiritual awakening and healing that people with so-called mental illness, anxiety and depression have experienced. This positive transformative process is a culturally rooted and individually tailored approach to healing and dealing with one's mental health problems. It is manifested through meditation and a heightened sense of self awareness and consciousness about life, love and living beings and healing from past trauma. Self -expression is also facilitated through art and music. Traditionally too, cultural, and religious healing practices in Asia, Africa and many Indigenous cultures have focused upon treating so-called mental illness as non-ordinary states of consciousness through compassion and community support.

Receiving the right kind of guidance for identifying one's illness is extremely important. Social media is flooded with groups, discussions, webinars and forums of support for mental health and spiritual healing, garnering support from practitioners of modern medicine - psychiatrists, psychotherapists, social workers and psychiatric survivors who demand alternative treatments that focus on recovery, nurturing social connections, and finding meaning. The American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE) and the International Spiritual Emergence Network (ISEN) provide opportunities for education, narration and experience sharing.

Awareness on Spiritual Processes

Filmmakers and authors are doing their bit to spread awareness. The documentary CRAZYWISE by the celebrated documentary director Phil Borges explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience. Another film, Emerging Proud presents narrative accounts while providing a platform for support, interaction and experience sharing. The New York Times bestseller 'The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind and the Body in the Healing of Trauma' is a book backed by research that transforms our understanding of trauma whilst offering a bold new paradigm for healing.

Narrative accounts of persons who have felt traumatised, stigmatised, and baffled by modern psychiatric treatment are echoing the need for an alternative healing process that listens to their story while providing support and comfort during the most debilitating and undecipherable moments of their life. These people have sought comfort in care received through shamans and spiritual healers who have guided them to accept and find solace in their experiences thus liberating them from conventional treatment options that are prescriptive rather than voluntary. A psychiatric survivor spoke about how she did not accept treatment at a mental health hospital but sought asylum in a traditional indigenous healer. With disdain, she remarked:

"Spiritual awakening should not be a traumatising or shameful event for one and one's family rather seen as an opportunity to normalise and celebrate the inner voice." Research supports integrating and blending traditional healing practices with mental health treatment for treating substance abuse disorder in Aboriginal people living in Canada. In a talk from 2019, Prof. Joseph P. Gone, professor of anthropology, who also serves as Faculty Director of the Harvard T Chan School of Mental Health summarised the viewpoint of indigenous communities. The thought resonates through this discussion.

"People often say, 'We don't need the latest evidence-based practice or the latest greatest intervention that have come out of academia. We just need to go back to our traditions; we had our own healing ways. If we can just recapture and recover them, that will solve our problems.'"

Nevertheless, cultural healing practices must not just be limited to indigenous communities but extended to those who feel reluctant in seeking mental health treatment in a modern medicine setting.

Since the experience of spiritual awakening is so profound, surreal, and inflicting upon one's sense of being, it becomes unmanageable, isolating, terrifying and confusing. Collectively the group calls out the vital need for crisis support, safety and understanding. The stories of positive transformative process must be heard. Conversations must begin around an alternative healing space that nurtures an environment for letting out anger through a process of positive catharsis led by peer support and multi-dimensional approach. A place where individuals feel supported, guided, and grounded rather than feeling demonic and delusional.

Being adjusted to spiritual emergence

The process of being adjusted to mental health during spiritual emergence has the following requirements: