A spiritually-transformative experience (STE) is so powerful it may change your sense of who you are and what your true purpose on earth is about. It may also motivate you to transform your relationships as well as your work—and engage in new ways of living.
STE and NDE
A Near Death Experience (NDE) is a good example of an STE. There are many other types of STEs that include:
- Mystical experiences;
- Death-related STEs such as deathbed experiences, care-giver experiences, death-watch/shared-death experiences, after-death communications;
- Psychic/intuitive experiences of many types;
- Spiritual energy/Kundalini awakenings;
- Inspired creativity;
- Shamanic experiences.
-Excerpted from SpiritualAwakeningsInternational.org
A top neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander (photo left), used to believe that those who came back to life after being clinically dead reported visions that were just hallucinations due to stress, brain burps related to digesting the death they feared. Then, Dr. Alexander was overwhelmed with bacterial meningitis and had his own NDE. In a weeklong deep coma he interacted with God and dead relatives while monitors in the hospital indicated he was brain dead. While “dead” he experienced love more profoundly than ever before in his life. The experience was so compelling it made him change course, once he woke. He now facilitates workshops that expand one’s consciousness, giving participants something like the experience he had of the essence of love without having to have an NDE. The outcome: a greater peace and desire to live from the soul rather than the ego.
You can read about Dr. Alexander’s NDE in the book, “Proof of Heaven” which he wrote. He describes details of what it was like to be out of his body and fully alive in his spirit. He also reasons in the appendix from a medical perspective that his STE was not a hallucination.
STE and Spiritual Emergence
“Spiritual Emergence” refers to a process of growth whereby one continues to expand in consciousness. The ultimate goal is achieving direct communion, 24-7, with our Creator (call it God, the Universe, Source or the name you hold for it). Steps along the path to that ultimate goal will include many STEs as one sheds limiting beliefs about one’s identity, e.g. “I’m an American citizen”, “I’m a female”, “I’m a mother” before embracing “I am one with the Creator, I am one with all”.
The categories of experiences that are indicators of a Spiritual Emergence process are basically the same as STE. Where Spiritual Emergence is a process with an articulated end goal, STE simply gives a name to events that can occur in the journey.
Robert Bare, was a policeman for 20 years before he got a master’s degree in Public Administration. He was not inclined towards spiritual pursuits. His NDE took him into a profound life review in which he saw the impact that his words and actions had had on others throughout his life. He awoke from being clinically dead for 45 minutes (after a heart attack) with a deep commitment to do good works, i.e. to be in service to others, to be consistently kind, to be more spiritual. He is now the vice president of an organization he co-founded, Spiritual Awakenings International. Its mission is to align organizations and support individuals who are aspiring towards spiritual growth.
STE and Spiritual Emergency
Both Dr. Alexander and Robert Bare went through a period of disorientation and re-evaluation of their lives after their NDEs. They needed time out to physically heal and time to explore who they had become at a deeper level. Although the outcomes of their time outs were positive, they were having a “spiritual emergency”, a kind of personal crisis. They had experienced things that most people would call “impossible” or “unreal”. Yet, to them, it was fully real, positive, and profoundly life changing. In Robert’s case, a result of his NDE was he began to see spirits and read minds. He had to confront questions: “Do I want to be a medium?” “Do I want others to know what I see?”, “What do I do with this gift?”
Both Dr. Alexander and Robert Bare wondered, at times, if they were crazy. They wondered if they had sustained brain damage. In time each one saw evidence he had recovered his prior memories and knowledge and expanded his knowledge of his true identity. Each realized the transformation was not about becoming crazy but more awake.
When a spiritual emergence process includes a spiritual emergency it can take time before one feels both feet are on the ground again. Reevaluating your life and transforming your identity is no easy task. There’s not one recipe or “how to” that fits everyone. It’s a path that is unique to each person…and must be walked alone listening intently to the language of the heart.
Why Do It?
Is the disorientation and re-evaluation of spiritual emergency or STE valuable? Yes, absolutely. It may be uncomfortable for a time. However, if one has adequate support and can stick with the notion that positive transformation is happening–then the outcome can be extraordinary. More peace, increased wisdom and compassion, broader empathy and a strong desire to be of service to others.
Yes, an STE can be disruptive to our routine thinking…but consider the outcome. Let’s remember, for a seed to become a plant it has to completely burst out of its tight shell. For a caterpillar to become a butterfly it has to take time out, surrender to the transformation, and then be willing to stretch its wings and fly. Each one e