#Emerging Proud aims to create a safer society in which the often dangerous and terrifying spiritual emergence process can be more openly discussed and supported. As Marie describes, the fear of being pathologised and hospitalised can actually stop people from seeking much- needed help, leading to dangerous isolation. By #Emerging Proud with your stories, like Marie, you are helping to raise awareness, which we hope will lead to more accessible and appropriate mental health service provision…
Marie acknowledges how important it is to put the label of ‘professional’ aside in order to connect at the level of ‘Being human’ together by sharing our stories:
My initial spiritual awakening happened in January of 1979 when I was 25 years old. I knew nothing about spirituality, having been raised by Unitarian scientist parents. During post-graduate studies, I was given a book about meditation, and it seemed from what I read, that if I wanted to attain this “enlightenment” I had better start meditating early in my life. Six months later, after meditating daily, I had an awakening experience that was so expansive that I thought I was going crazy. I became terrified that I would be locked up in a mental institute. I found no one who could relate to what I was going through. My perceptions deepened to include telepathy, pervasive synchronicity, seeing through people’s bodies, spiritual experiences of bliss and ecstasy, and engrossment in the present moment to the extent of being unable and unwilling to assert myself in the expected social and financial business of life. I dropped out of my pre-med program and started searching.
In May I traveled to Colorado where I enrolled in a 3-month intensive to learn Tai Chi and QiGong at the suggestion of a friend. I lived in my van all summer, then decided that I needed 4 seasons in one place in nature in order to integrate what was happening. In September, a small isolated cabin in the mountains, into which I moved myself, my sleeping bag, and spiritual books. Whenever I relaxed, my body shook from head to toe. Whenever I fell asleep, I fell immediately into nightmares that awoke me in terror. I was exhausted. For the entire year I watched the trees and the sky and the earth and practiced accepting what was moving inside of me, waiting to see what integration would feel like. The following August, I was still not stable enough to return to society, but my money had run out.
I chose to attend a healing arts school, which eventually brought me income and revealed to me that I had a strong gift for healing. Split between wanting to engage in loving service in the world and craving solitude in nature, I continued searching and found little other than books to keep me company in my spiritual journey. Three years later I had adjusted to social life, but had not fully integrated my inner experience.
During the following decades, the schism between my worldly affairs and my inner spiritual experience shrank. I married, raised children, followed callings to healing arts, then ministry, then counseling, and eventually to spiritual direction and research of spiritual experience.
I now find myself on the brink of happiness and fulfillment. This past year has brought the joy of carrying out my research study to assist other people challenged by spiritual emergencies. Also during this year, I am co-founding Spiritual Emergence Anonymous 12-Step Program to create a foundation for others to have the safe, caring, and sane support I wish I could have had when I was going through integrating my spiritual awakenings.
Marie Grace Brook, PhD(c), LCSW, Cert. Spiritual Director earned her B.A. in English Literature at Duke University, Masters of Social Work at Denver University, Masters level Certification of Spiritual Direction at Fordham University, and is presently completing her PhD at Sofia University (Institute of Transpersonal Psychology). She has served as a mountain guide, Rolfer, Cranio-Sacral Therapist, mother, social worker, graduate school adjunct teacher, researcher, and Tai Chi teacher. Presently she has a private practice in spiritual direction, serves as a supervisor in a spiritual direction training program, carries on research in the field of spiritual emergence, and co-owns a modest retreat house with her husband in Santa Cruz, CA
More information will be shared on Marie’s new Spiritual Emergence Anonymous 12- step support program as it becomes available.