R.D.Laing cites Kafka in The Divided Self ‘You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid’.
Do not wait until your Fifties, mine came mid-Thirties…the sooner, the better. You will look back on the subjective choice to invite an existential crisis and navigate its process, enjoying broad-ranging reward with ‘High-ten!’ appreciation. In retrospect, it will most likely be accepted as your finest and most lasting achievement. Call it what you will, a nervous breakdown, hiatus, spiritual S.O.S, or ‘just a phase’…whichever it is to you, welcome it sooner; it is likely the greatest contribution you can make. One’s emotional quotient should be highly regarded and nurtured. We’d do well to develop our ability to self-witness, for awareness begets learning. The intention is to advance our attitudes, adjust outlook and then convert our gaze.
It is a humane gesture, to attend the self, for all benefit as a result. Perhaps to be ‘most human’, most humane, could be the new global criterion for success, let’s hope so, for we need a new paradigm, and we need it now.
We are facing a juncture in the story of human civilization, one that clearly requires a collective emergence, an evolution in emotional and existential intelligence as a matter of urgency. It should be the central focus of all human activity at this time. A spiritual revolution, a renaissance in both thought and ways of being, with sustainable futures at the causal epicentre. If we are to recover the planet, and ourselves, we must each engage and attend our individual metamorphosis, the advisory of many of the great philosophies, thought leaders, and spiritual practises. To catalyse a new age of enlightenment we must become activated in this regard. It is a process of becoming, of individuation and sophistication. We must attend outstanding pains, with compassionate enquiry and curiosity. Awakening is gradual. Willingness, opening, and commitment are essential. Progression is lasting, and the benefits exponential. Enact personal responsibility now, for it is the key.
What I advise here, is to pre-empt one’s decline, by taking command and then action sooner, before you find yourself in crisis. I do not dismiss the severity and distress of critical states, having experienced a number myself. Furthermore, I do not suggest that you go it alone, enlist help and connect with community. The act of sharing brings certain relief and in turn, a reminder of the universality of the human experience, our shared humanity.
I recommend the aid of a therapeutic practitioner offering talk support, which has the highest efficacy. If you find yourself falling, and needing to, being in a nurturing and validating context is essential for full recovery. Choose a coach if you are present-focussed and forward-looking, and if interested in a personal retrospective, a therapist generally concerns himself more with histories, but either will be a welcome companion to co-navigate and at times guide.
In Becoming a Person Carl R. Rogers concurs ‘The motivation for learning and change springs from the self-actualising tendency of Life itself’.
Mine came as a transient psychotic break, or spiritual emergency, let’s say 4 years ago. Bizarrely, it felt more catastrophic than earlier major life traumas and was almost certainly a response to having avoided (out of necessity, fear or lack of context) addressing and healing from the origin of the pain which had, until more recently, defined me. The sudden death of my father in my teens ruptured our hearts and our lives. It is an entire experience, the heartbreak of loss, the most complete disruption. I was broken, and thereafter a fragmented self. I’ve had a number of minor but significant breakdowns, all of which have been life-halting, yet ‘minor’ compared to that colossus which came like a tidal surge and overthrew me.
It has taken me the best part of 20 years to recover from the impact of that trauma and other exponential losses and find my stride. I have struggled to come to thrive, to just be well in this world, to be in neutral even. Western society does not invite individual evolutions readily, and so ideally one has to side-step conventional living, allowing for healing and self-nourishing practises, which are essential to wellbeing, but by no means mainstream culture. Naturally, one cannot rush the pace.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to develop the self, yet it is also elicited, a created life pathway. We are works in progress, and as with any creative process, it is ongoing by nature and is participatory. There is no endpoint.
I had not known, that this could be my Life. That I could arrive at this inner landscape, one of clarity, peace and presence. A state of grace and of serenity. I had not known that ultimate healings were possible, but they are, and I can attest to that.
I am delighted to say that I have realised of late a great healing. An approach of relentless learning, twinned with a Buddhist practise of chanting mantra, were central to such a successful outcome. A beginning is mine. A potency for living has arrived. I have healed myself, without clinical intervention. Now comes a settling in. A feeling of being both wild and holy exists, returns.
A breakdown is a natural phenomena; a re-organisation of the psyche, a re-calibration, an organic response to untenable conditions. It is a survival drive towards recovery, wellness, and entirety. In essence, it is constructive. In tribal communities, those who move through such sacred process are revered as sages, the medicine men, the healers, the shamans. They are the enlightened ones. What we seek, for the most part, we find within, the means exist. Truth can only be self-attributed after all, given its experiential quality.
The crucible of healing comes as we surrender, letting go of former constructs and outdated narrative. The longer we hold on to the familiar, or that which does not serve, the less space there is for the divine to move through us, for the Great Mystery to flood our lives. In discarding ego, judgement, and control, we arrive at inner peace, presence and resolution. This realised state allows for flow and free-experiencing, an emotional freedom and constancy.
It is in the act of exploration that we discover and develop. If we stop, we cease to flourish and cease to achieve.
Healings release the individual back to the whole, both his entire self and that of the collective. There is less alienation, more belonging. Less the divided, more the united self. Less self, more together. Collectivism. Collaboration. Co-everything as an approach in attitude has its advantages. Separatism is a road to nowhere. A united self allows for unity with other, it is where the light enters in, where the fullness of life is accessed.
Suffering, by nature, is tunnel-vision, our lives become small and our perspective narrow. By transcending it, we can convert our introspection to a more outward looking gaze. It is what the world needs now, conscious contribution.
We should contemplate the relativity of the micro to the macro, and discern how we impact as individuals and how we can better function and feature in this great existence.
It is in avoiding our truths, that we disallow our own healings, thus spending a lifetime orbiting our genius, never becoming fully expressed or able to brightly project our gifts out into the world. Hence, only a partial life lived. Never resign yourself, or underestimate, for agency exists.
It is not in the ‘leaving it all behind’ that the triumph resides, rather in the coming home, to the former, unaffected, essential You.
So go ahead, take that sabbatical, lose the plot and rejoice! for you embark on a golden chapter.
As Leary stated, ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’, you will be able to partake in the arena of Life with a new grace, vigour, and humility beyond.
Don’t just do lip-service to progress, do the inner work first and let that be normalised, becoming an example and guide for future generations. Could a grand evolution be our legacy left? It’s been a long time coming. Let’s do it for our children, for they will thank us for it.
I am committed to democratising enlightenment and guiding others in self-healing. For bold bespoke coaching, and existential exploration reach me here email@example.com