Have Your Say; Research Opportunity – Have you have had your spiritual experience misunderstood as a mental health problem?

Hi, my name is Nikita and I am a Trainee Counselling Psychologist. I have always been interested in the intersection between spirituality and mental health, and I am currently conducting my doctoral research on the topic.

My research question is “How are spiritual experiences constructed as mental health problems in therapy (or Mental Health Services) in the UK?”.

I feel that this is a very important area of work and research, not least to ensure representation within Mental Health services for all – from all backgrounds, faiths and belief systems.

I am currently recruiting for participants

Email: nikita.quartey@city.ac.uk

Criteria to take part;

– Anyone over the age of 18 who has shared a spiritual experience with a GP, mental health professional or therapist in the UK and feels it was understood as a mental health problem. 


– The commitment I am requesting for participation is a 90 minute online interview – which will be semi-structured and give the opportunity for the individual to share regarding their spiritual experience, and the experience of it being understood as a mental health problem. 


– The spiritual experience shared does not have to have been the main or initial issue of concern that the GP, mental health professional or therapist was approached with

– The experience does not have to have happened in the UK, although the interaction with a mental health professional, therapist or GP must have occurred in the UK 

Please email if you are interested in supporting this study by sharing your experience.

Nikita Quartey
Trainee Counselling Psychologist

City, University of London
Email: nikita.quartey@city.ac.uk

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Captivating personal memoir by Emma Goude, original #EmergingProud film Producer, just published

My Beautiful Psychosis: Opening the Doors of Perception

Don’t miss your glimpse into Emma’s world;

When I had my first episode of so-called psychosis, aged 27 years old, the psychiatrist wanted to know if I had heard voices. She wasn’t asking out of interest, but to confirm her diagnosis. When I told her that I had, she wrote something in her notes and didn’t ask any more about it. She didn’t want to know that the voice was positive. She didn’t want to know that I had only heard it once. She didn’t want to know that the voice seemed to come from behind me and not in my head. She didn’t want to know that it had helped me rather than disturb me. It had said, ‘You are beautiful.’ None of this was of interest to her. She was focused on confirming that she had made the correct diagnosis. She would then be able to rest in peace knowing it was another job well done. She may have made the right call according to her training but as one human being to another she had utterly failed me.

I have been given the diagnosis of bipolar, schizophrenia and even paranoid schizophrenia, depending on who I speak to. I am none of these things. I experience what the mental health services call psychosis, or cyclical psychosis to be precise. This does not mean I have a condition or an illness. It means I am particularly susceptible to my ego disintegrating and the doors of perception opening to a non-ordinary state of consciousness.

The perception of psychosis as being out of touch with reality is at best arrogant and at worst, false. For a start, there is no way of knowing what ‘reality’ actually is. It is something the brain constructs. Cats see everything blue and green but that does not make them deluded. It makes them better hunters. There is no reason why consensus reality of humans is any more real than cats. It is simply the one that humans have evolved to perceive in order to best function in our world. Perhaps there is another animal that sees reality more clearly than us.

An experiment shows that people with schizophrenia, the condition involving repeated psychoses, are actually able to perceive more accurately than so called normal people. It uses the Hollow Mask Illusion and involves identifying whether an image of a mask is concave or convex. All the participants with schizophrenia could distinguish between the two types of photos, whereas control volunteers without the condition were fooled 99 per cent of the time. ‘Normal’ perception is not something we can even trust as accurate.

During my own personal experiences of psychosis, I was able to see auras around objects and people, in real life and onscreen. I knew about certain traumatic events from childhood that I had repressed and forgotten. I saw a sparkler of light appear and form a figure of eight shape, the infinity sign, before disappearing again. I had memories from past lives play out with certain people around me. I could hear incongruent thoughts that people were thinking but denied so, which I thought was coming to me from their unconscious mind.

Even in times when I was not experiencing psychosis, I have had some unusual experiences that would be interpreted by our modern material reductionist view as not being real. I saw a golden ribbon of light come from my belly button and attach itself to the duster that I was holding. I have also felt the energy of spirits inside my body communicating to me how they had died, by taking the shape of the weapon that had killed them. Each time I acknowledged their death, they sent love into my heart as thanks before moving on. I have also communicated with dolphins, psychically. There is no way we can prove that any of this in not real. Unfortunately the onus is on me to prove that it is and that is not possible either.

To say a person is out of touch with reality is to ignore the validity of the reality that they are in touch with. This is not only disempowering, it fails to celebrate the journey that the person is on, albeit in their alternate reality. It is also, more tragically, a missed opportunity.

I have been able to study psychosis, first hand, as someone with a degree in psychology. I have also been a professional shiatsu therapist for 10 years, which has given me an eastern perspective through which to view my experiences. I now believe that psychosis is actually an attempt by the psyche to heal.

Psychosis comes from the Greek word for ‘psyche’ meaning soul and ‘osis’ meaning process. So it can be seen as a soul process. On the highest level, it is the soul attempting to return to wholeness. It does this by first moving the ego out of the way. The ego is an identity that is constructed by the mind in order to survive as a social species. It doesn’t exist per se, as a physical organ, like the brain. It is simply the mind’s created idea of who it thinks it is. The ego provides a useful function: making sure we behave in a socially acceptable way so that we’re not banished from the tribe and made vulnerable to predators. The ego helps us survive by taking care of ourselves as a separate body. If we were to remain like a baby, feeling oneness and bliss gazing into faces and eyes, we’re likely to walk across a busy road and get splattered. But when it comes to the health of the soul and the spirit, the ego is not only unnecessary, it can be an obstruction.

So once the ego is offline, the soul can take over. It can re-connect with Oneness, Bliss, Peace and Love. This is the point at which some people mistake their own Christ Consciousness for being the actual Jesus. Without the ego to remember who it thinks it is, mistakes like this are easy to make.

Next all of the repressed psychological material that the ego banished to the basement of the subconscious comes up to join the party. The love actually attracts it out of hiding. This psychological material needs to be fully digested in order to re-integrate rejected parts of the self that were treated by the ego as socially unacceptable. To fully digest it would be to accept and welcome it. When that happens, it no longer causes problems. To label these as symptoms is to miss a unique opportunity. Psychosis is a moment in time in which we have privileged access to our repressed nature. It therefore holds the potential for transformation, if we know what to do with it.

We can see it like a broken clock that doesn’t work because there is too much dirt in the mechanism. The mental health service puts the clock on the shelf labeled ‘damaged’ and gives it a little oil so it feels less bothered about the fact that it doesn’t work properly. But there is nothing wrong with the mechanism: it just needs a good clean. Psychiatry could and should be doing just that. I believe that psychosis makes the ego disintegrate for a very important reason: in order to access the dirt that is clogging up the mechanism. This dirt is the trauma from childhood and even further back. What if psychiatry were to help clean this out?

It’s time to tell a new story about psychosis. One that shows how it is process that holds within it the potential for transformation. My Beautiful Psychosis describes the process of 7 episodes of psychosis as I try to make sense of them. It is published by Aeon Books.

BUY YOUR COPY HERE
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Your invite to watch the most sought – after documentary, seeking to answer the extreme problems humanity is facing at this time

Are you looking to spend your weekend doing something worthwhile?

Curious to find out more about our current world crisis and what’s behind it all from grounded, scientific sources who have done extensive research?

Or do you just care about the future of humanity?

Don’t miss this EPIC documentary.

With over 90 million views in 27 languages, THRIVE I asked the question;

What On Earth Will It Take? 

Now, THRIVE II: This Is What It Takes, answers that question, with solutions bold enough to meet the challenges of our times.

Globally launched in 15 languages, the film is already living up to its promise.  Fasten your seatbelt, watch the trailer by clicking on the link below, and get your copy today!

ThriveOn.ontraport.com/t?orid=108297&opid=8

Thanks for supporting us to spread the word ❤

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Buy a Pocket Book and spread hope to someone in need for World Mental Health day 2020

Did you know? Thanks to your purchases, over 500 free books have been distributed from profits of book sales to mental health services, charities and individuals in need.

Our ‘Pocket Books of Hope and Transformation’ series are aimed at providing hope and encouraging people to re-think mental distress as a potential catalyst for positive change.

The main aim of our Kinda Proud book series is to decrease stigma, improve wellbeing and influence the saving of lives through providing a more compassionate and positive conceptual framework for emotional distress.

This project is unique because each Pocket Book of Hope has its own KindaProud Rep; a Peer who has personal experience of the theme of that specific book in which they tell their own story and encourage others to join them in doing the same.

We use all proceeds from book sales to provide free books to hospital wards and mental health facilities throughout the UK and Internationally, in order to inject much–needed hope for someone during their most difficult times

BUY A BOOK AND YOUR PURCHASE WILL HELP US TO DISTRIBUTE MORE FREE BOOKS TO THOSE IN NEED OF A POSITIVE MESSAGE OF HOPE

We have so far shared the stories of 86 people through a previously funded project and published 5 titles:-

-Emerging Proud through Trauma and Abuse
-Emerging Proud through Suicide
-Emerging Proud through Disordered Eating, Poor Body Image and Low Self-Esteem
-Emerging Proud through NOTEs (Non-Ordinary Transcendental Experiences – often labelled as Psychosis)
-Emerging Proud through Eye Sight Loss

Titles already in progress are:-
-Muslims Emerging Proud through Mental Distress

BUY A BOOK AND YOUR PURCHASE WILL HELP US TO DISTRIBUTE MORE FREE BOOKS TO THOSE IN NEED OF A POSITIVE MESSAGE OF HOPE


We were delighted when our project was recognised by a Researcher at Nottingham University and we were asked to partner with them in their study about the impact of sharing narratives. The personal stories collected through our work with people with lived experience are now contributing to the NEON Programme: a 5 year academic research study being conducted by Nottingham University, which is aimed at understanding how recovery narratives (personal stories of mental health problems and recovery) can be of benefit to people with mental distress – those who tell their stories and those who hear them – and is ultimately looking to inform mental health practitioners regarding their treatment of people with a more trauma- informed (humane) approach. 

Do you have a personal story that you are longing to share in your own memoir?

Find out how to get published through Emerging Proud Press and receive 100% royalties from your book sales HERE

Today is World Mental Health Day, do you bit and BUY A BOOK AND YOUR PURCHASE WILL HELP US TO DISTRIBUTE MORE FREE BOOKS TO THOSE IN NEED OF A POSITIVE MESSAGE OF HOPE

Wishing you all well during these crazy times,

Love #EmergingProud

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EYE INSPIRE; Emerging Proud through Eye Sight Loss, to be launched on Thursday 8th Oct, World Sight Day 2020

Each unique story included within this book demonstrates resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles at the highest level.  We know that the power of sport can change lives for the better but the powers of self-belief and courage of conviction can help change the world.

Alaina MacGregor, CEO of British Blind Sport

A note about this pocketbook

Are you a visually impaired person who just does not feel that there are any opportunities open to you? Are you a parent of a visually impaired young person, and at a loss for how to encourage your child to believe in themselves? Are you a charity that works with visually impaired young people and believes that hearing experiences of others will help inspire your youth group, or individuals and families you work with? Or, indeed, are you a sighted person who wants to hear amazing examples of triumph over adversity, to encourage you back on the path of positive mental attitude? During these times, we all need positivity, and this book has it in abundance.

In this fifth edition of our Pocketbooks of Hope and Transformation series, you’ll discover many stories of people who have felt just like you: life does not come to a halt or have to be restricted just because it throws a huge challenge our way.

All of these amazing faces experience impaired vision. Many of them experienced delayed or lengthy diagnosis periods, sometimes completely misdiagnosed. Indeed, many have experienced huge setbacks, have felt alienated, and that their life had no purpose or direction.

But all of these people have achieved amazing things, rediscovered and adapted a previous skill, or found a new passion and started to believe in themselves again.

Fancy hearing some positive stories for a change?

Come to the online launch this Thursday, 8th Oct, at 6 – 7.30pm UK – watch live via Facebook at;

https://www.facebook.com/eyeinspire2020

You can pre- order the book on Amazon;

Kindle version the Paperback will be available to order any day, keep your eye out!

Don’t forget to follow Rep Yvette on social media to follow all of the news; podcasts and events to come!

https://eyeinspire.org/

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A follow- up series to the original #EmergingProud film is here!

A Call to Awakening is a series of films, inspired by and made during the COVID-19 pandemic, about our times and how to navigate a changing world.


Directed by the talented Sameer Patel, these short films are about our individual and collective awakening and how we can use crisis to awaken and find our calling in order to make the world a better place. They are made from the interviews of those who themselves have experienced transformation, and now work in fields from psychology to human rights and spiritual healing. 

The first short film ‘THE AWAKENING’ is about how we can individually use this current crisis to awaken and transform.

The second short film ‘THE CALL’ is about how we can take that inner work and start to do the work outside, finding our purpose and working collectively together.


The last part of this series ‘THE VISION’ will be about ideas for a new society, and how we can create and sustain a more hopeful vision for the future.

You can sign up to watch the first 2 films and to follow the news about our third, here;

https://www.a-call-to-awakening.com/

And there’s more encouraging news for our Spiritual Emergence Community;

Our friends and colleagues Catherine Lucas, Mick Collins, Kylie Harris and Paul Levy have written an Open Letter to declare a state of GLOBAL SPIRITUAL CRISIS

The open letter calls for greater awareness and action to tackle the burgeoning global state of emergency that is rapidly engulfing the world. We believe that the spiritual emergence/emergency – SE(Y) – community, has an important role to play in assisting a collective process of transformation in these tumultuous times.

Read the open letter and sign the petition here: https://medium.com/illumination/the-rebirth-of-people-and-planet-in-a-time-of-global-emergency-ce83d222c813

Once this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be sent to the UN as a message from concerned citizens to declare a state of planetary emergency.

Watch the podcast explaining the rationale behind the open letter, airing daily over the next week:https://caravanofunity.eu/event/the-rebirth-of-people-planet-in-a-time-of-global-emergency/2020-09-13/

Please do share these links widely with your networks. Thank you SO much for your support. Together we absolutely can create ‘the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’!

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Sidra is Kinda Proud that she knows herself well enough to make it a superpower

Sidra is now happy to be herself, and so she should be! Her hardships – grief and pain due to a debilitating sight condition – have made her very wise, and she lives life with the healthy concept that, if things don’t go the way we think we want them to, then that’s because life has a better plan for us. Here Sidra shares the journey that brought her to this belief…

The Journey

Who am I? Is the question I asked myself at different points within my life and today I can say I have found somewhat of an answer, in order for me to tell you that answer I have to take you on a short journey.

1988 born within East London, a Muslim, British, Asian, female. I was brought up as an only child, with wonderful loving parents with unique stories of their own. Teaching from my mother and father has shaped me as a person, from a young age I remember sitting with my father listening to stories about Islamic history and stories of the prophets from the Quran. Sabr (Patience), Hikmah (Wisdom), Tawkkul (Trust in Allah) and Qadr (Decree of Allah) were all part of my life from a very young age, understanding of them came as I was brought up. 1999 Cancer I remember the day I stood in the corner of room listening to my father speak after he was told he had cancer “Alhamdlilah it’s all with Allah” (thanks be to God) he said. At such a young age I didn’t know how these words would shape my life. As the years passed I saw my father’s fight with Cancer, surgeries, radio therapy and hospital appointments. I watched as my mum took care of my dad, ups and down of cancer taking its toll, yet one thing that never left my father was his faith and values. At times I felt scared and worried nevertheless my mother and father always kept me smiling and happy. 2010- Stroke We were told half my father’s brain had died yet my father lived on but paralyzed from one side. Every day sitting by his side, him writing sweet notes to me and my mother, no matter how he changed he was still with us and we were hopeful. “Oh what type of life is this? Just like a vegetable” Someone once said, this comment affected me deeply, I wanted to scream yet all I could do was keep quiet and cry. The day it all changed 20.06.2010, on a hot summers day I kneeled beside my father’s hospital bed, his eyes were closed, all tubes had be removed. I gave him a kiss on his forehead, held his hand and inside my heart wished I never had to let go but I knew he was no longer in the land of the living. Coming home from the mosque after my father was buried grief hit me like a stormy ocean wave, drowning me, unable to breathe all I could do was cry. My hero was gone. “He’s gone, just accept it” one person said “get a grip, he’s watching you’re making him sad” another told us. At the time of my grief I was unable to eat and lost 9kg in two weeks, I felt I was unable to move forward. Comments people made did not help and I was unable to push them aside, it took me time to understand the needs of my mind and body. Grief comes in many different forms and lack of understanding and labels can cause dire mental health issues. 2017- Accepting an illness Keratocounus is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally dome shape of the eye (the cornea) changes shape, causes vision to decrease and in severe causes causing blindness. The time I was told I had the illness, I remembered my father’s words “Alhamdlilah for everything” I said. You see my mother also suffers from Keratocounus growing up I watch her struggling; when she arrived in England in the 1970’s she became a patient at Moorfield eye Hospital. Due to the lack of early care my mother became partially sighted, unable to see without hard contact lens.

August 2017 I had cross linking surgery on both eyes; this was extremely painful and traumatising. The healing process was lengthy, having to stay in a dark room for four months, unable to see clearly for one year, having to deal with the pain and scaring within my eyes. Accepting I have this illness was a major challenge in my life. The fear of not being able to see overtook my thoughts at times. I felt sadness and slowly accepted that my vision will decrease over the years. Here again I faced labels, labels that people put on me. Comments made in passing, without the thought of how it would affect me.

The Journey of learning

Who am I? Fear or challenge, uncertainty or opportunity, anxious or excitement, Sabr ,Hikmah, Tawkkul and Qadr. Label and words have always affected me, the lack of kindness or understanding in words can affect us all unknowingly.

Addressing this can be a challenge within itself, however in not doing so we only affect our own mental health. I found having an open respectful conversation with Hikmah of speaking we can address and challenge the labels others place on us. I have found positivity in having awareness of myself, placing healthy boundaries and growing as a person. When hearing or thinking something negative I now try stop it dead in its tracks, I counteract it with something positive. The days I feel overwhelmed by my emotions and thoughts, I embrace my emotions rather than suppressing them. It is okay to not be okay and own it. Our ‘imperfections’ make us who we are, and we are all beautiful regardless of words and comments.

  “No one is you and that is your superpower”- Dave Grohl.


In our lives we all have been in the situation where we have no control, death of loved one, illnesses and uncertainties in life. It’s okay to be honest about how you feel, what you’re experiencing and what you need or want.  It is important to understand your own mind and body, not to push yourself and accept the things about yourself you might not like.

Over the years I have found peace in Tawakkul, if you did not get something you want or something did not go your way know that Allah has something better planned for you. Alhumdulilah ala kulli haal (All praises are for Allah in every condition). I found that stories from the Quran helped me accept struggles within my life, understanding Qadr and having Sabr, helped me overcome my sadness of loss and accepting my illness. We go through life not understanding why bad things happen to us but when we change our perspective knowing there is a higher plan in everything that happens to us we come to a self-understanding, a deeper understanding of our own hearts. Today I am thankful to Allah for every hardship he put in my path as there is Hikmah behind every test and I feel I am who I am because of every test I faced.

Though my experience of my father and values I want to live a life of meaning, leaving behind a legacy and helping others with their hardships.

“Verily with hardship comes ease”- Quran 94:6   “Do not lose hope, nor be sad” Quran 3:139

I’ve learnt to overcome my hardship with the right tools, everyone’s tools are different and we each have our own stories. No one’s way of feeling pain is wrong it’s all about how we deal with that pain which defines a person. Self-love is knowing your worth, being kind to yourself, embracing who you are and forgiving yourself for your shortcomings.

                 Who am i?  I am me and I am happy being me.

Do you identify as a Muslim having been through emotional distress which has made you stronger? Would you like to join Sidra and the other brave voices aiming to end this silent stigma and #Emerge Proud for your own community and humanity united?

CONTACT US HERE to find out how to share your story 

CLICK HERE for more information 

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A Day in the life of Julian of Norwich; fortnightly story series, Part 8

One of our regular offerings for the Caravan of Unity bridging events is this story series based on the theme of ‘Awakening’;

A Day in the life of Julian of Norwich; fortnightly story series hosted by ISISIALLTHINGS

Julian of Norwich was a 14th Century mystic and visionary who understood the power of mindfulness and contemplation on our higher nature and sense of gratitude for life itself.  She became fully awakened when she had an NDE (near death experience) at 30 and was shown the totally unconditional love of the Source of all that is. The 16 visions she received sustained her spiritual inner world for over 40 years in self- isolation through many plagues, during which time she was inspired to write a book, “Divine Revelations of Love”.

Part 8 Margery Kempe paved her way to pilgrimage

We begin to see how Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe were truly bringing back the power of the feminine mystic, for healing and nurturing the wound of the patriarchy although they may have been unaware of the momentous work they were doing at the time. They made valiant efforts to return the balance of the sacred feminine and divine masculine by their hard-won choices, decisions that were based upon their direct connection to their God or what we may call Source today.

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Nigel defied death to live his wildest dreams with eye sight loss

Sometimes it can be the very thing that sent us down a path of seeming destruction that sets us back on our path of purpose. Nigel is now #EyeInspiring others due to reclaiming his passions…
Nigel (2)

Hello, my name is Nigel and I’m 55 years old.

8 months after my 50th birthday I was participating in a lifelong passion of mine, motorbike speedway, when I was involved in a freak accident where I suffered major brain damage.

When I finally woke out of my coma it was clear that I had some sight loss and was diagnosed with purchase retinopathy.  It took quite a long time for me to realise the impact of my eyesight loss, several weeks after I came out of my coma in fact because my brain was still swollen at that time. It really hit home when my wife sadly had a mental breakdown, got sectioned and put into a mental institution. I then started realising the impact of my eyesight loss, which had all happened obviously in the blink of an eye.

Until then I’d had my own business for 27 years, I was a successful business person and I had many passions and dreams and it was quite clear to me that my eyesight loss was going to stop all of these in one hammer blow.  So that realisation then sent me in a spiral of mental distress.  I’d realised that I’d lost my wife to the mental institution, and I’d lost my business.

I’d felt as though I’d lost the chance to live my passions again forever, so I then started to feel suicidal, which was never me, but at the time I felt that that was the only way out.  Thankfully I didn’t follow through with it and I’m now here 5 years later.

Ironically my success in life and passions was the Achilles heal that actually sent me on a downhill spiral. Ironically it was also my success, and my passions and my desire for life actually brought me back because I decided that I would like to regain  my passions, albeit in a different manner, and that drove me to chip away, day by day, at everything that I now do. I now also do motivational speaking.

I’ve ridden motorbikes since that decision; I do various challenges on motorbikes and in cars.  I’ve ridden a speedway bike, I’ve ridden a hot-rod, I’ve been away with the wall of death and one of my passions before my accident, my eyesight loss, was photography.

I was a semi professional photographer a number of years ago.  I’ve revisited photography and I had a successful photographic exhibition last year. I was due to have one again this year but the Corona virus stopped that so I’m aiming now for next year and the next exhibition I’m going to have will be based on my time away with the wall of death attraction.

My first exhibition was called ‘Life on Mars’ and included pictures to depict my life since my accident with my vision loss.

July 2020

Follow Nigel on Social Media here;
Instagram: @blindblokeracing
Paperback-book-Stack-Series

Due for publication later this year, our next inspirational pocket book of hope;

Eye Inspire; #Emerging Proud through Eye Sight Loss

LIVE online launch on WORLD SIGHT DAY 8th October 2020; CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP 

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