Spiritual Psychology and Dealing With Grief
This article is a shorter complied synopsis of Rev. Carey’s Ph.D. Doctoral Dissertation. (vcarey-phd-dissertation.pdf)
Trials, Trauma & Grief
Going through trials and trauma are not easy for anyone. The key is to not allow the past and actions of others to control you now or your future. We can’t go back and change the things we went through. But we can learn from them and heal ourselves in the process. My motto is: “You cannot change the past. You can only change the way you allow the past to affect your present and your future.”
What ever the situation, making change to deal with the trials of life, or letting go of the past is not easy for anyone. No matter what the situation or what the loss, be it the death of a loved one, the loss of a friendship or love relationship, the loss of innocence, allowing drugs or alcohol to control your path or a hurt that has been felt and carried for a long time; our psyche goes through a period of mourning.
In today’s world the line between Psychology, Therapy and Spirituality is growing thinner. Working on the issues in one’s life doesn’t mean throwing out your beliefs, nor does it mean your personal views and spiritual practices will be under scrutiny. Rather there is a growing movement to understand how both the mainstream concepts of therapy can be supported, expanded and enhanced by the spiritual beliefs of an individual. . After all, when more than 80% of the worlds population holds some type of spiritual belief, why wouldn’t we try to understand the human condition from both a physical and spiritual perspective. No matter what that path of spirituality is.
Merging Therapy with Spiritual Psychology
The movement to merge psychology and spirituality together again has been progressing for decades. It seems our modern times have finally accepted or broadened the definition of ‘spiritual’ to mean more than just mainstream religious beliefs. Today more alternative beliefs are coming out of the closet and working to reconcile the spiritual and physical aspects of our human self for healing the whole of a person; mind/body/spirit.
Long after the Freudians a new concept of psychology began to develop known as Existential thought. This therapy starts with the belief that although humans are essentially alone in the world, but we long to be connected to others. People want to have meaning in each other’s lives, but ultimately we must come to realize that we cannot depend on others for our validation. The result of this revelation is anxiety in the knowledge that our validation must come from within and not from others.
This perspective is widely held in Metaphysics as an accurate hypothesis for discussing the responsibility of the soul to the choices and conditions of the individual spirit. In other words, we cannot blame others for the choices we have made, nor the spiritual choices we selected to work through in this incarnated embodiment.
In 1980, Irvine Yalom identified four major areas of existential thought. He defined these as Death, Freedom and Responsibility, Isolation and Loneliness, and Meaninglessness. Yalom suggests these areas do not answer the ultimate questions, but rather views them existential fears, which individuals must learn to cope or deal with.
In Yalom’s area of Death, he suggests it refers to the cycle of life and that of a physical death. But it is also symbolic of human limitations or what we might break down into situations of life. Which can cover the end of a relationship, job, lifestyle or any number of emotional criteria that affect the human condition.
Yalom’s existential thought defines Meaning as the meaning behind life. This search for meaning can be summed up as the center of the existential issues and stands behind or underlies all the areas of this approach to therapy. Simply put, individuals feel the need and are almost driven to find the meaning behind things. To attain the answer to why and reasoning of a situation or event.
Spiritual Psychologists can build on these concepts of Existential Psychology which support religious concepts to a point. We can add to them the affects and influences of the spirit and spiritual belief of the individual and broaden the search for the answers of why and how come. Including in the analysis, the concepts of reincarnation, karma, and spiritual lessons that can help individuals discover the answers they seek to these ultimate questions of the Meaning of life.
The Mind, Body, Spirit
In 1994, Michelle Lusson described Spiritual Psychology as a method that seeks to understand the three layers of the human being. The person we display to the world, the person we see our self as, and the person we really are within our spiritual existence. This process of understanding helps an individual gain insight into the trials we feel that have moved us away from our spiritual path, created karma, and consequently caused us to feel separated from the Divine force within our life and our own Higher Self. Through spiritual work and therapy, we can let go of these pains and fears to gain understanding about the lessons our soul seeks to acquire and to see ourselves in a new light. To bring about a holistic healing for the whole being of mind, body and spirit.
Additionally, these layers of the human are represented in the levels of being or the Mind, Body and Spirit Consciousness of an individual. Through an understanding of who we are at a sub-atomic level, we can begin to see how the layers of an individual are developed, intertwined and support or hold back the mental health of a person.
Mind, Body and Spirit
Everyone has heard about these bodies of existence known as the mind, body and spirit. But how are these areas related to the individual human. In the simplest of terms, we are made up of 4 levels of being.
1. The physical being – the physical mind (body)
2. The soul being – the soul mind (mind)
3. The spiritual being – the spirit mind (spirit)
4. The Divine Consciousness – the Divine mind
These levels of being, the Mind (2), Body (1) and Spirit (3) can be seen in action when we look at the corresponding levels of consciousness within the individual self.
The Conscious Self: The Physical Mind
The physical brain is the mind of the Body. This is the individual’s conscious mind, the part of the self that governs day-to-day activities. Where individual reasons and processes information that interact with and where they hold their current life memories. The Higher Conscious Self: The Soul
The sub-consciousness is the mind of the Soul. This area of being is also called the higher consciousness of the self. This is the part of the self that talks to an individual’s conscious mind and represents the true self of a person; this is the spiritual presence in this incarnation. If an individual is someone who holds a lot of doubts about who they are, those thoughts are held in the subconscious mind. No matter what the physical mind does, or tries to present to others, the energy behind the doubt is still held in the subconscious mind. This is one of the reasons that what an individual thinks of them self is so important to their overall health. To over come obstacles, an individual must start with their subconscious mind.
The Super Conscious Self: The Spirit Mind
The super consciousness is the mind of the Spirit. This is where an individual holds the aspect of the Divine within them self. Some call this level of consciousness the Divine Self or the God-Self. You might think of this as the controlling mind of the whole being. This is where an individual holds all past life memories; it’s their reasoning center for making choices on a spiritual level, and the connection or bridge to the greater Universal Divine Spirit.
The Divine Consciousness: The Universal Connection
The Divine Spirit is “The Everything, The All” that exists. It’s everything connected together through out all of creation through energy. It is, for lack of a better word “God” and we are each part of and connected to that Divine consciousness. The Divine Conscious mind within an individual is the connection or bridge to the knowledge and energy of the greater Universal Divine Spirit.
Spiritual Psychology strives to help an individual discover the knowledge, wisdom and the answers they hold within their levels of Consciousness. Not just to understand whom they are and why they are here, but also to help face the challenges of life. To discover understanding behind the issues or events that cross their path in order to address them and heal from them when appropriate. It works to build a bridge between each of these levels to work together in harmony instead of as individual components that can sometimes work against the individual.
From this perspective, handling day-to-day trials and traumas can be learning lessons for the soul and provide experiences to evolve the spirit. Understanding the spiritual lesson, connections and karma behind an event can lesson the confusion, ease the pain and help an individual heal from the grief associated with any situation. It’s through combining these two approaches of Existential Therapy and Spiritual Psychology that an individual can face grief and deal with the trials it may bring into their lives.
What Is Grief
Grief occurs from a large number of events in an individual’s life. It is during Grief that many people feel the most alone and segregated from the world around them. Perhaps in this context, Grief is the ultimate example of Existentialism in action.
Grief comes in many forms of loss. Loss of a loved one, a relationship, a family pet, a job, one’s health or independence, even one’s own freedom. And dealing with loss comes in many forms, from depression to denial or more serious reactions that affect an individual’s well being and mental health. We all have a way of dealing with every day grief, but I think everyone would agree that prolonged grief is never a good idea and can be detrimental to the wholeness of mind, body and spirit.
The Phases of Grief
Grieving itself is a very individualistic emotion. No two people will approach grief in the same way. It has been my experience that it can be sometimes dangerous to assume that everyone will react in the same way to a traumatic situation or event. Individuals can through extremes of emotions from shock, denial, and anger or experience a total break down in emotion that boarders on emotionless expressions or the alternative extreme, hysteria.
We can define the phases of grief into a structured and simplified set of stages for any individual to apply to their life.
Shock / Acknowledgment
Shock is often the first stage of grief. It is accompanied with disbelief or not wanting to acknowledge the loss. On some level most people acknowledge the notification of news of a loss. Assault victims may subconsciously acknowledge the event, even if they attempt to block out what happened. But it’s important to note here that acknowledgment doesn’t mean acceptance. Acknowledgment on this level refers to the taking in of information. A crude comparison would be the acknowledgment of seeing an email in your in-box. You know it’s there, even if you haven’t accepted its delivery.
Denial / Acceptance
Not wanting to accept that the loss has occurred is very common and follows quickly on the heels of shock. Denial can be a powerful response when dealing with grief and loss. “I don’t believe it” or “No, this can’t be happening” are very common thoughts during this phase.
I have yet to counsel a client that is dealing with a loss that hasn’t had feelings of guilt on some level. It’s common for people to start blaming themselves for what has occurred. “If only I had done this”, “If only I had not done that” are questions an individual may begin to ask of themselves. Especially if the loss is something you think you could have controlled, such as being laid off from a job, a relationship or a suicide of someone close.
Depression often comes and goes through out all stages of grief. But it maybe exceptionally difficult in the early stages when an individual is begging the Divine for help and their prayers seem to go unanswered. Everyone needs time to cry, feel sad or lonely and feel the loss they’ve experienced. Without an individual giving time to the self to be sad, they are not able to release and heal the emotions that have been opened.
But there are varying levels of depression that should be monitored. Severe and deep depression can cause new issues and sometimes can create new dangers. Clinical depression can be triggered by a variety of stresses in an individual’s life. The losses of a loved one, a relationship or some type of violent situation are certainly big triggers for kicking off a serious condition of depression.
At some point everyone gets angry after a loss. Blaming the person who left, the people or organization involved, or the situation that caused the loss takes some of the burden off the guilt the individual may feel toward them self.
The first step to healing in grief is Forgiveness. Absolving the self, the situation or others involved who have shared in some way with this loss. Forgiveness comes in many forms and for many reasons. Each situation is going to be different. And each person is going to have specific details from their own perspectives about what has occurred, what needs to be addressed and what needs to be forgiven. It’s not about what others think an individual should do or address, because those outside influences may or may not have any affect on the inner sub-consciousness of the individual. This is about the individual self and how they look at the grieving situation through their eyes and sub-conscious mind.
Hope / Action and Letting Go
The forgiveness, action and letting go are the hard parts to dealing with any loss. But through inner reflection, counseling and meditation, an individual can learn to forgive and let go. Sometimes forgiving and letting go on a spiritual level can help release the pain and emotional hurt felt on a physical level as well. Through all this a person can rediscover hope.
There’s no way to pinpoint which of these phases is the most difficult to move through, as each individual is different along with their situation. Putting thoughts into action is one way of moving through grief and discovering the steps of healing. One way this can be done is through a “Letting Go” meditation. The method I use for clients is provided in Appendix A and lays out a step by step process for putting thoughts to paper and releasing the anxiety, pain and anger associated with mourning and loss.
Dealing With Grief
Sometimes sitting down and trying to meditate is the last thing an individual wants to do. But this type of inner reflection can provide insight into what an individual faces on a subconscious and super-conscious level. Even if an individual feels to distraught to relax for meditation, a Spiritual Therapist has the ability to help guide an individual through the process. The most successful therapies adapt to the strengths of the individual, but also to the potential of the Therapist as well. The healing process is a joint effort. Even though the primary burden is on the client to allow healing to take place, the Therapist has the ability to guide or direct the client toward a path of understanding and healing.
From a metaphysical perspective, an individual can find comfort in understanding the lesson behind the situation or what karmic issues were involved. In 1967, Noel Langley reported the approach taken by Edgar Cayce on the concepts of reincarnation, the soul’s ability to choose lessons, to understand those choices and take accountability for the events in our lives. This can be done through Meditation to connect the areas of the conscious, subconscious and super conscious minds to gain understanding and “see” situations from a Divine perspective.
The general process for this type of Meditation is by practicing at least once a week for 1 month. You can certainly meditate more often, but in either case, stick to the one month practice before moving to the next step. Next find your sanctuary and visit it for at least one month. By this time you should feel comfortable enough in your own space to meet your guides. Talk with them, learn from them and share with them what your goals and desire are. After one month of communing with them, ask for their help to gain understanding and healing with the situation at hand.
This approach along with therapy can help an individual discover the underlying causes and the more important why and how come behind events that bring sorrow and grief.
Dealing With Trials and Traumas
In order to resolve issues or problems in your life, you must go through the process of Acknowledgment, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Action and Letting Go. If you feel as though you’re carrying baggage around on your shoulders, your on your way to healing.
Acknowledging and acceptance is often the easy steps to getting rid of unwanted emotional baggage. The forgiveness, action and letting go are the hard parts. But through inner reflection, counseling and meditation, you can learn to forgive and let go. Sometimes forgiving and letting go on a spiritual level can help you release the pain and emotional hurt you feel on a physical level as well.
Whither you’re letting go of past bad habits, an old hurt, a bad relationship or something more serious, meditation is a good way to start. Meditation designed to raise your consciousness and connect with the inner cause or the person you feel hurt by on a spiritual level.
Dealing With Death & Grief
The physical loss of someone or something doesn’t mean we can’t communicate on a spiritual level. Whither that communication occurs through dream, meditation or a consultation through psychic talents. Individuals sometimes only need an opportunity to say goodbye, apologize for a perceived injustice or inquire as to why a situation occurred and what they could have done differently. We may not communicate in the same way as when they were alive, but in some cases we might be able to communicate more often or even on a more compassionate and loving level. A Spiritual Therapist has in their armory of tools, access to psychic mediums (if they are not one themselves) that can assist a client in connecting to and interacting with spiritual communications.
The easiest method in communicating with the deceased is to ask them to come to you in dream. Your mind is at rest, but your subconscious mind is open and able to communicate on a spiritual level in this state of altered awareness. The problem with dream contact is that you can’t always control what happens on your end. Some people can remember bits and pieces, but not a whole conversation. And others become frustrated because they can see their relative, they know they talked to them, but their conscious mind won’t let them get to the point of believing they actually had a conversation vs. it was just their desire and imagination in dream.
If you don’t care much about listening to a response, you can simply light a white candle sit down and talk to him. Say all you have to say and then let it go and move on. That is helpful to a lot of people and for some it gives them a sense of closure.
There is a third alternative that takes a little effort and learning first. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort to listen, you can still talk with them as well as you did when you picked up the phone. The best way to talk to your relatives is through meditation.
By using meditation to seek answers within the Divine Self, an individual gains a powerful tool that can guide their physical actions through out the immediate situation and through out the grieving process. This helps each person walk the path of their soul, making choices that lead them closer to fulfilling the purpose of their soul and the intent of their life in this incarnation. While at the same time, helping them to see through Divine eyes the issues and circumstances, or the meaning behind why situations have occurred as they have. From working on karma, spiritual lessons and working through grief the view of spirit can bring about comfort and peace within the person in mourning.
You might also like to try these other special meditations guides. They’ve worked very well for many people in my classes. I hope you find them enjoyable too.
© 2020 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.