by David Edwards, Ph.D.
David Edwards is a newcomer to our pages, and a welcome one. He documents a process of intensive altered states psychotherapy as he works through the difficulties his client, “Marian,” encounters on her road to growth. Using breathing and bodywork interventions, he accesses and processes past lives related to the spiritual crises Marian was facing in her life. Dr. Edwards examines some ideas from psychoanalytic theory as they may relate to past-life therapy and spiritual emergence.
I am indebted to “Marian” for giving permission for the use of the material of her psychotherapy as the substance of this paper.
Stanislav and Christina Grof use the concept of spiritual emergence to refer to intensive processes of personal transformation such as psychic opening, Kundalini awakening, or shamanic initiation which are characterized by a series of powerful and often disorienting experiences (Bragdon, 1990; Grof, 1988; C. Grof & S. Grof, 1990; S. Grof & C. Grof, 1989; Edwards, 1991a). In the process of psychic opening, the individual may experience telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinetic phenomena, which are often a prelude to the development of skill in giving clairvoyant readings or exercising gifts of spiritual healing. In Kundalini awakening, a powerful energy is experienced surging through the body, especially up the spine. The energy surges can be physically painful and can be accompanied by a range of phenomena including emotional lability and the spontaneous experiencing of past-life scenes or spiritual visions. In shamanic initiation in traditional cultural settings, physical illness, dreams, or waking visionary states introduce a process of deep transformation. Many of the dimensions of consciousness and symbols of transformation that are accessed in spiritual emergence have parallels with the symbols and processes of alchemical transformation described by Jung.