I wasn't sure how to to title this blog post nor quite how to talk about this subject, but here goes!
Not infrequently, I get people in my practice that are having real spiritual crises., usually as a result of what I would consider a "top-down" awakening. This means that the person's sixth and/or seventh chakras become way overdeveloped rapidly or are overly focused on while the lower chakras are damaged, blocked and ignored.
Here, let me explain a little bit both about American society and spiritual marketing. Most people how have met me know I'm a pretty no-BS person so I'm going to speak pretty plainly here. Most Americans like to jump into things at say, level 7 or 8 and don't like to start at the beginning. It's a hassle, right? Boring, right? It's tedious, often, to do things properly. And spiritual marketing for things plays right into this - 5 easy steps to enlightenment! And we have all the spiritual knowledge we could ever want right at our fingertips via the internet.
This does not work. Not at all.
Long ago, if you wanted, really wanted, to follow this kind of in-depth path you could. It was hard, hard, hard. You're going to have to go on some kind of pilgrimage for spiritual wisdom or healing; or, if you were destined to be some kind of spiritual healer, you'd be noticed and chosen at birth. Let's look at pilgrimage first.
Pilgrimage for deep healing would go something like this: You want to see that healer or spiritual person who has the ability or wisdom you crave. They're far - really far, like 100, 200 or 500 miles away. You live in the year 1032 (just picking. You could also be living in 1830 or 1930 in some places). No car but maybe you have a donkey, if you're doing pretty well for yourself. Maybe a family member can come with you, too. How long is it going to take you to WALK there? A. Long. Time. And you may not make it there or back - who knows what may happen? Robbers, disease, etc..The journey itself to the healer is going to clear many things from you simply because you are going to have to face these things as hardships during your journey. You will have to face multiple fears (1st chakra), be able to stand up for yourself (3rd chakra) be creative and have a deep enough sense of self to get there (1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras), etc. If you're not fully invested in your own healing you are going to turn around and go home.
Let's say you want to live in a deeply spiritual way and it's the year 1258 (or, like above, 1858 or 1930 or even today in some places). Okay. You are going to have to live in a monastery or nunnery (after you travel to one like above). What are you going to do there at first? Shit work, most likely, and meditation/prayer. Seriously. You would have spent most of your time as a novice doing work that no one else wanted to do or there is much of it to do and the rest of the time in prayer (that is meditation, BTW). Doing hard work and manual labor is very grounding, often because it's dangerous so you have to be very present. Being present in reality is grounding.
What if you're designated at birth to be a healer or spiritual leader for your community? Some societies would take you quite young (even in Europe in the Middle Ages they did this), and put you some place special to learn the things. This would be hard, especially if you were young. Druids reportedly studied 20+ years to learn their craft. My guess is that it certainly wasn't all posies and roses. Initiations could kill people, and sometimes did, or make them crazy if they lived through it but couldn't process what happened. There are still crazy people in indigenous societies; usually the people how cannot tell if who/what they're talking to is in spirit form or is in a body. If you'd like to read more about this, I'd suggest Joan Halifax's Shamanic Voices or Holger Kalweit's books.
High-level spiritual awakenings ("top-down" awakenings) can break people, especially if there's unhealed trauma stored in the lower chakras. Even if there's not, as I talk about in the above paragraph, there's always the danger the psyche could crack open. We have modern psychiatry for that as well as spiritual healing.
How to avoid this? Do your lower chakra work. How do you do this? Have a grounding and embodiment practice (I offer a free grounding video here. Password is GroundingMeditation). Do your personal work with a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist, if needed - there is no shame in doing this! Get energy healing work done (you can do both). A big, but good and thorough book to reference is Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith.
Think of this as literal foundation work. It's creating a literal foundation for the work on the chakras above. As an analogy, if you have a building with a foundation made of popsicle sticks, it's going to fall down if you install marble and granite upper floors. Another way of saying this is if you have collapsed and blocked lower chakras and work on creating a huge sixth chakra, things will collapse. What may also happen is that opening the upper chakras causes a surge of energy down into the lower chakras and uncontrollably brings all those lower chakra things up to be healed all at once. That can cause a cracking of the psyche and lots of energy leakage.
Things open in their own time as well. You can really damage your third eye (sixth chakra) by forcing it open before its time. One of the best analogies for this I've heard was to think of forcing a rosebud open with your fingers. It doesn