Many people report experiences of distressing thoughts and influences. When this happens, direct your thoughts to pleasant images. Practice thought-stopping to the extent that you are able. It is also a good practice to engage in activities that ground you in the material world, such as focusing on your breath or physical sensations. Pet a friendly animal. Take a walk. See a comedy at the cinema. Spend time talking with others. Make sure that you are eating and sleeping well. Exercise, garden, or otherwise keep your attention on activities that help you feel safe or feel good. Take baby steps; over time they will add up.
In general, the less attention you pay to these phenomena and the more you pay to the physical world, the better you will feel. The illusion they create is that they are impossible to escape; it isn't true. The intensity of such intrusive thoughts will diminish as you turn away from them; as you do, you will actually begin to create new neural connections in your brain.
If you find that you are frightened, depressed, or otherwise negatively affected by these experiences for more than a few days, we encourage you to seek the help of a mental health professional or trusted friend. Getting someone to accompany you through dark times is important.
The following organizations may also be helpful:
Spiritual Emergence Network
Spiritual Emergency Resource Center at California Institute of Integral Studies (SEN@CIIS)
The SEN@CIIS Information and Referral Service offers support and resources for individuals having difficult spiritual or psychic experiences. These can include:
- Loss or change of faith
- Existential and/or spiritual crisis
- Experience of unitive consciousness or altered states
- Psychic Openings
- Near-Death Experience
- Shamanic journey
- Difficulties with a meditation practice
Trained graduate students in the School of Professional Psychology respond to each caller, providing assistance and educational information regarding spiritual emergence. The staff can also make referrals to licensed mental health professionals in the caller's area. SEN@CIIS mental health professionals are respectful of the diversity of spiritual experiences and are familiar with a number of spiritual traditions.
Drawing on transpersonal psychology and the knowledge from the spiritual traditions which have investigated the stages and characteristics of spiritual growth, the mental health profession in the United States is beginning to understand that some characteristics of spiritual development can be confused with symptoms of mental illness. When accurately understood, these characteristics are often recognized as evidence of the normal, potentially life-enhancing aspect of natural human development.