Updated: Oct 29
What is the difference between a spiritual experience and a psychosis?
How to truly know if you’ve gone mad? I find this an intriguing question, and of course we may ask “define mad”. Historically in the West, many gifted healers and psychics have not been understood and instead have been declared a heretic or thrown into an asylum together with people suffering from mental health challenges (who also should have receive different support and care).
Perhaps people did not understand (or wanting to understand) that these were healthy functional individuals with special gifts and sensitivities that allowed them to perceive more than meets the eye. Perhaps it’s also a very fine line between being psychic and psychotic.
To explore this question I wrote down my thoughts coming from the spiritual and personal perspective to help stabilise, heal and support those of us that are gifted with "extrasensory perception"and / or having very real spiritual experiences, but struggle to integrate these, feel comfortable with them or are confused to accept them as “real” and valid.
(Please note I’m a healer /yogini / spiritual teacher and not a psychiatrist)
From what I experienced myself (spiritual experience):
A spiritual experience comes as an extra layer on top of your regular day to day experiences, while you can still remain connected to regular experiences that everyone else also sees, feels, hears and believes.
You can still relate to other people’s reality, while having different experiences of reality next to it in addition. While other people in your direct environment cannot confirm them, it’s likely you find validation from teachers and (ancient) spiritual texts that describe what you see / hear / feel beyond what’s in daily life. You accept and know everyone’s reality is different.
You perceive the dimensions and astral planes, just more dimensions / planes than most people can (as your channels are open). Depending on the astral realm you’re resonating with or are perceiving, the experience is peaceful / supportive (higher) or fearful / distressing (lower). Regardless, you are not identified with it. Although you can occasionally feel like you’re losing your grip on reality (mainly due to the fact few or none validate your spiritual experiences, rather deny it, and Western culture tends to shame you and tells you you’re mad / “it’s in your head”) you keep a feeling of agency and sovereignty over your own experience, you stay connected to the observer within yourself, the witnessing part of your consciousness. If you come close to the edge (becoming seriously destabilised), it is likely you find help from deep within, outside of yourself in the form of a coach or articles, or suddenly receive help – even in the form of divine intervention.
You function in daily life. People can follow what you say. You can acknowledge and validate other people’s reality as well as your own. You can regulate yourself.
You can stay in touch with daily life reality while also touching upon the other dimensions. You remain grounded. You find tools how to deal and how to heal.
Seeing and trying to understand “the mind of god/source” but accepting you can’t, you don’t identify, you let go and surrender into the not knowing and through that you know. When deepening the connection with yourself you expand into compassion, trust, effortlessness, connection and truth. You stabilize. You move into divine grace. It’s not your karmic predicament to get lost.
There is no pill for this (and no need). What helps you is being alone with yourself (reducing stimuli), being in nature (clear and healing astral realms), meditation (quieting the mind), energy healing, qigong, grounding-, shielding- and clearing exercises, yoga and spiritual practice. You need to take responsibility for your gifts. You cannot deny the spiritual realms as they aren’t denying you.
From what I have observed in others (psychoses):
A psychotic experience disconnects you and replaces your reality with one, destabilizing narrowed and distorted version. You cannot see the reality of the others, you deny it, and you only see yours, you got lost.
You only validate and acknowledge your own reality. Your thoughts and communication are erratic and twisted, people cannot follow you. You don’t make sense. You struggle to function in daily life. You lost touch with daily life, you lost your grip on reality.
It is also said to be an initiation gone wrong, i.e. a spiritual experience / awakening experience you fail to integrate (danger of forced awakening through plant medicine). Or the soul chooses to disassociate and check out.
There can also be karmic reasons, karmic residue: Ripping of the soul due to heavy karmic actions in past lives (mass murder, rapes, abuse, misuse of energy, black magic etc.).
You got lost in the dimensions.
Seeing and trying to understand “the mind of god” and fail, but you don’t give up (trying to control), you can’t let go and you identify, giving it too much value. You contract into fears, struggle, separation and illusion. You destabilize. You get stuck into mistrust, chaos and control. Medication (conventional drugs) stabilizes you.
The emotional and extrasensory experiences that can accompany the path of spiritual awakening / clearing of the energetic body can be destabilizing and intense. Our energetic body opens up, releasing old emotional and karmic blockages to be transmuted and healed. Our awareness starts to expand beyond daily life interests and beliefs, we become more sensitive to (extrasensory) stimuli, our perception changes, and even our body’s taste in food diet can shift — creating a process filled with moments that perhaps few of your peers can relate to.
Or perhaps you always already perceived the spiritual realms and are chronically misunderstood and left invalidated, doubting and ignoring your own perception. It’s possible you’re constantly talked out of your own experience, simply because for others that experience doesn’t exist and they refuse to allow room for another perspective.
Regardless: do what works for you
Whatever your form of (good) madness, what is most important is that you can handle it, ideally in a healthy way. Follow your intuition. Open up about your experiences only with the right people. Ask “does it feel light, does it helps me to live a good fulfilling grounded life, is it uplifting”. Do what works and what helps you be part of society. Make sure you can go up in the One, but know your zip code. How well can you pay your bills and connect to higher states of being. How much can you expand your consciousness without losing your balance and connection to the home station. To balance the material and spiritual planes is the true mastery. It is not about getting lost in either one.
Learn to regulate yourself, protect your energy, your sensitivity. Choose to be committed to your own experience, stand behind your own truth, seek grounding practices (nature is usually the fasted working remedy to calm inner turmoil, but I’ve noticed doing dishes and cleaning can be very grounding as well). Find teachers that can help you place your experience and explain to you where you are in your process. Develop a good sense of self. Choose who you listen to and who you give power over you (respectful, thoughtful, straight, with integrity, knowledgeable, kind, supportive, uplifting, helpful, professional people), and who’s opinions you reject and not allow them into your life as a truth. Accept where you are, as well as where others are. Spiritual awakening is a spontaneous expanding process of receiving more awareness, a constantly increasing higher spiritual IQ than most in that area, as you are simply (becoming) aware of more, that - in truth - has always been there.
A nice watch is the below TedX talk from Phil Borges, a social documentary photographer and filmmaker who traveled the outer corners of the world and met many special people. He also explored what defines something as a spiritual awakening or a psychosis.
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IMPORTANT NOTICE: This article has been written based on personal experience, and that of friends, teachers & clients. If you feel you’re struggling with mental health issues please contact a medical professional.
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