There is a sign, exquisitely framed, hanging on Sarah’s* wall: “Blessed are the CRACKED for they shall let in the light.” Her brown eyes smile as she points this out. “I laughed so hard when I read this, I had to get it.” Three years before, they called her “crazy;” said she was “out of her mind.” She walked around with her fingers “glued” to her lower lip, constantly fidgeting, eyes flitting left and right always seeing things that no one else could. Sarah, by all appearances, did not look well. But in reality she was letting go of what was no longer working for her. For about a week she was in what is commonly termed a healing crisis or, dark night of the soul.
What is a healing crisis? In medical terms, it is when the body is purging an illness and responds with the same signs and symptoms of what we are trying to get rid of. Psychologically speaking, it is when we are letting go of old habits that no longer serve our highest and greatest good, a breaking down of our old realities and outlooks that we don’t need anymore. Spiritually, this can be when our Kundalini opens up. This is our power center - seated at the base of our spine. The same place where women get tagged as tramps for placing a tattoo there. For some people this opening is a gentle and amazing healing experience. For others, it is Hell on earth. Because words are powerful, it’s important to label this in an empowering way. Instead of “healing crisis,” try “a healing transition.” As Holistic Psychotherapist, Jennifer Warner, LPC, says, “I don’t like to use ‘crisis.’ It’s all healing, after all.”
Whatever you call it, if you are experiencing it your whole reality has turned upside down. Some people see things others’ cannot, some people hear or feel things that someone in the “right frame of mind,” cannot. It is no less real for those going through this. Caroline Myss, Ph. D., in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, defines the symptoms as threefold:
It begins with an awareness that something meaningful is missing in our lives. That a mere changing of the order of things cannot placate. Different from “chronic complainers,” those in spiritual crisis, “…have a feeling that something is trying to wake them up inside.”
“Strange new fears are the second symptom…” You no longer identify with normal fears and have lost or begin to lose your sense of self.
The third and final symptom is the need for devotion “…to something greater than oneself.“
She equates this transition period to the opening of our seventh chakra – the spiritual center. This has happened to Mystics for centuries and is the beginning of us finding our true connection and true purpose in life. Once we are through this transformation, one can find an inner strength and peace that can move mountains or quiet a storm. But, for some, we have to face the inner loneliness, those demons that may have haunted our dreams for years.
“Loneliness is essential to come close to God. Don’t run from it,” Myss states. “Fall in love with it.” Not that which comes from feelings of abandonment, but the aloneness of Divine Companionship (para). Once those old feelings, habits and thoughts have a chance to come to the light, we realize they no longer can hold the power over our selves that they once had. It is the bringing to light that helps us find our power, helps us realize that either, things weren’t so bad or, in speaking out loud how we really feel – anger, sadness, shame, guilt – that we are able to release the pent up emotions. Those emotions get stuck in our bodies and can cause a myriad of illness from depression and anxiety to cancer or diabetes. Annie Lawrence, Ph. D., disagrees. “There is no such emotion as depression.” When I balk at this she chastises, “Listen. There is no such emotion as depression.” Emotion, she believes, is anger depressed, ignored for too long. It is in the base chakra, the root chakra that we deal with this emotion and, it alters the frontal lobes of our brain.
In the next article, we will address how a healing transition affects your body including brain functions and what steps you can take to help yourself or someone through it, such as doing meditation or yoga.
*Names and descriptors have been changed to protect the innocent.
Anatomy of the Spirit. Carolyn Myss. Crown Publishers. 1996.
Lawrence, Annie. Personal Interview, October 23, 2014. Sedona, Az.
Myss, Carolyn, Exploring Your Mystical Experience of God. Audio cd’s.
Sarah T., Personal Interview, October 7, 2014. Madison, WI.
Warner, Jennifer M., Personal Interview, September 9, 2014. Madison, WI