When a person experiences a Spiritual Emergence episode the psyche opens up to a greater awareness of its potential, the Cosmos and the interconnectedness of all things. During a spiritual awakening unfamiliar psychic abilities can activate, such as, esp, out-of-body experiences, telepathy, channelling, precognition, sensing auras, awareness of spirit entities, clairvoyance, psychkinesis, remembrance of past lives, awareness of syncronisities, hands-on healing or strong instinctive intuition. Because these experiences are unfamiliar or powerfully intense, they can be so alarming or frightening that they send the person into a Spiritual Emergency or transpersonal crisis.
Considering the range of psychic abilities one can experience it is difficult to discuss all the symptoms here and now. Generally speaking, if you are experiencing a Psychic Opening, the nature of it will become obvious to you in time, once you can set aside your preconceptions of what is and is not possible. Psychic experiences that conflict with one's belief system can throw a person into profound conceptual confusion and cause them to doubt their sanity.
It certainly helps to have someone around who is clear-sighted enough to see or understand what is happening, to explain it to you or verify the validity of the experience. If this is not the case, sometimes a spirit guide or your own intuition will explain it to you. The initial experience can be very frightening, confusing and disorienting, so try not to panic. It may not be a common experience but it is quite natural.
Occasionally these psychic abilities (also called "occult powers") awaken in a person with no spiritual awareness, or the person may be born with them. Sometimes they can be learned in classes from teachers who have mastered a specific ability. But usually Psychic Opening seems to be associated with Kundalini awakening and/or Shamanic awakening. Such experiences arising during Spiritual awakenings tend to be temporary abilities which diminish or cease after the person returns to a more ordinary consciousness.
However sometimes it marks the beginning of an ongoing ability which will continue to develop and intensify. In such cases, the successful resolution of a Spiritual Emergency is associated with the emergence of some new capacity or psychic talent. At the very least, an increase in intuitive functioning is a lasting aftereffect of the experience. If this intuition is encouraged and developed in years to come, the psychic talent can often be developed later.
The attainment of psychic powers is not synonymous with the attainment of enlightenment. Many spiritual masters teach that the exploration of such regions of the psyche is a distraction along the path and a dangerous trap for the person's ego. Some go so far as to say these experiences prevent the possibility of cosmic consciousness because one is an outward path and the other an inward one. Most people who realise these powers during a Spiritual Emergence regard them as a gift which has been given them in order to help others through counselling or healing. Psychic powers can be used for selfish and destructive purposes or they can be utilised for the highest benefit of humankind. These are the choices.
Dangers of Psychic Opening
Bonnie Greenwell in [Energies of Transformation (1990) has this to say:-
"Most likely the dangers are not so much in using the occult, as in becoming fascinated by it or attached to it to the detriment of further spiritual development, and of power. There are numerous stories in India of persons with occult powers using them for manipulation, revenge, personal power and other preoccupations of the lower-chakra energies. When such powers are used for the wrong purposes, lifetimes of negative power may result. The challenge of the occult for one who wishes to become enlightened is to keep it in a perspective similar to that of other innate abilities or talents we possess as humans: thatis, using it without attachment, for purposes which are not self-serving, and being willing to surrender it along with other egoic positions in order to attain greater depths of spiritual awareness."
Anne Armstrong writes about her own experiences of Psychic Opening in the book [Spiritual Emergency (Grof & Grof 1989)]. After she experienced her initial awakening, she had to train for about six years before publicly practising. She has found that the channeller or clairvoyant can access different levels or depths of awareness and transmission within the "subtle realm". Some are very low, mundane levels where information is trivial and entities are spiritually underdeveloped. Other levels reveal information beneficial to the highest good and associated entities are highly enlightened. A lot seems to depend on the psychological clarity of the psychic and the extent of their training and personal development. She states:-
"...I have found that the more I cleared up my own psychological problems, the better the quality of the lecture material became. I also believe it is the reason I have not had an unpleasant experience in this area for fifteen or twenty years.
I feel that humanity can obtain a lot of help from this more subtle realm if it will prepare itself to receive that help. But it takes discrimination. Material received from the psychic realm must be judged just as critically as (or more so than) that from more mundane sources. The unscrupulous entities in these etheric realms will take advantage of personality weaknesses of the budding sensitive. Our mental institutions are full of examples. The less blatant examples are the corner psychics that will solve all your financial, marriage, sex, professional, and spiritual problems for anywhere between $5 and $250...
...I want to say again that this is an area for discrimination, examination, and skepticism. Budding psychics are not messengers from God. They are just members of the human race who for one reason or another have glimpsed a realm beyond the physical reality. Since most people want someone to solve their problems and tell them how to live their lives, the budding psychic has a fertile field to till. So many people are just waiting to feed their egos and give them all the power they will accept. If one begins to open up psychically, the information received should be used discreetly to improve one's own life. If one becomes a significantly better person as a result of psychic/intuitive abilities, one can then consider sharing with othersif asked to share."
Stanilav and Christina Grof [(1998)] mention several dangers associated with Psychic Opening. Some people find that they tune in so deeply into the inner processes of others that they experience telepathy, or insights into the future or past lives of the person...
"Their insights can be remarkably accurate and may be aimed at various areas that people ordinarily like to hide. Many people in crisis tend to indiscriminately verbalize their telepathic insights, which offends and irritates those whom the insights concern and aggravates further an already tense situation. On occasion, this can be one of the factors that lead to unnecessary hospitalization."
Another danger the Grofs mention relates to channelling while in crisis, when the medium first experiences a loss of their own identity...
"They can assume the other person's body image, posture, gestures, facial expressions, emotions and even thought processes. Accomplished shamans, psychics, and spiritual healers are often able to enter such states at will and use them for acquiring insights into other people's problems, and diagnosing and healing various disorders. However, inexperienced people in crises of psychic opening are often surprised by the sudden and unsolicited occurrence of such phenomena and find the loss of control and personal identity they entail very frightening."
And finally, a warning from the Grofs about our old enemy, the ego...
"When one becomes familiar and comfortable with psychic events and abilities, one might encounter problems of a different kind. It is easy to become fascinated by the opening realm of psychic phenomena and interpret their occurrence as an indication of one's own superiority and special calling. Since the goal of the spiritual path is transcending the ego, such an attitude represents a great danger of ego aggrandizement and inflation."