Initiation and Your Spiritual Essence
To become aware of your spiritual essence is to experience an initiation. Sometimes called a rebirth or peak experience, a spiritual initiation involves a profound shift in perspective as you experience that you’re more than just your body or your identity as an individual. It expands your identity beyond “me” to “me, who is part of the we that has always been and always will be.”
Humans naturally yearn to reconnect with their sacred nature and feel their oneness with all other beings, with all consciousness, and with the cosmos. This spiritual longing is a quest for a sense of belonging and interconnectedness.
Initiation is an energetic shift into not just believing in but experiencing a great matrix, one that intertwines all of creation and that consists of energy and consciousness.
Indigenous medicine men and women of old as well as shamans of today believe we are all connected to each other and to all that exists, and that energies that exist in the collective affect us as individuals even as we affect the larger energy field. In shamanism, initiations often involve a ritualistic enactment of death to help the individual overcome their fear of actual death. In a sense, a spiritual initiation is a dying off of the old you and a birthing of a new self, one who is aware of your spiritual nature and your interconnectedness with the matrix.
In the early twentieth century, Carl Jung identified a collective unconscious of which we are all a part and which we all contain within our individual unconscious. He also identified the existence of archetypes, energies that influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You might think of initiation as happening as the result of an archetypal energy—an initiatory one—that shifts you into a new way of being and perceiving.
If it’s important to you to experience an initiation, it’s best to reduce the activity of your conscious mind so that your unconscious mind can become more open to initiatory energy. It’s the conscious mind that gets caught up in identifying with our physical nature and with our thoughts about who we are and our place in the world. It limits our perceptions because its beliefs are based in the past, on what we’ve already experienced, and it closes us off to possibility.
To quiet your overactive, conscious mind and open a doorway to your unconscious, sit in a quiet place, free of distractions—perhaps outdoors in nature, where it can be easier to relax your nervous system and feel your interconnectedness with creation.
Set an intention to experience your interconnectedness with your spiritual essence and with the great matrix, opening space for a sacred experience. You can do this ritualistically by saying a prayer of invocation: calling on Source, Spirit, or God to help you achieve your intention. An invocation acknowledges that you are consciously setting an intention to experience the numinous. Opening sacred space by invoking Source is a way to connect with and honor the vibratory, energetic essence of the universe and all that is in it, including yourself. You can also call on energies from the world of the sacred—including the forces of nature, renewal, infinity, timeless connections to spiritual beings, and new possibilities—to help you experience a spiritual transformation.
Next, cleanse your energy field: Imagine that you are bringing in a brilliant light that infuses your body and the space around it while also clearing any dark, heavy, or painful areas of your body or your personal energy field. Make yourself a vessel that’s as clear and as receptive as possible to the transmission of initiatory energy from Source.
Focus on the sensation of your breathing until you feel yourself very calm and very open to this experience as it unfolds. You might experience a very intense, profound shift as you open up to initiatory energies. Then again, the experience might be quite subtle as you sense that you are being filled with replenishing, cleansing energy. Keep in mind that it may take more than one session to feel an intense opening and reconnection with your energetic, spiritual nature.
After you have opened yourself to initiatory energy and remained present long enough to feel an energetic shift, simply observe what happens. Your intuition will tell you when it’s time to close sacred space because you have taken what you can from this experience. Return slowly to ordinary consciousness and close sacred space, thanking Source for working with you. Ultimately, it is Source who initiates us into experiencing that we belong to the universe and are an expression of Source.
A spiritual initiation facilitates greater awareness and connection to Source so that you can live your life more fully and be better able to choose what to give attention to and what to jettison because it no longer serves you. You gain a sense of freedom to choose new possibilities for yourself and your life. Old identifications die as you differentiate from them and then are reborn within you in fresh configurations as you integrate the new. How you parent, teach, heal, advocate—how you do anything—can begin to change as you recognize that you don’t have to be that same kind of parent, teacher, healer, or advocate that you have been.
While the initiatory experience can be humbling, it can also be empowering as you recognize that whatever you do in this life can have positive effects beyond what you can see. You might start to believe for the first time that you truly can make a meaningful difference in the world.
Consciously choose to ensure that any initiatory energy you have experienced coming into your energy field does not dissipate. Commit to regularly acknowledging your spiritual nature and altering the quality and content of your internal conversations with yourself. Commit to taking action toward expressing your spiritual essence in ways that you find pleasing and that you sense will please Source, too. Then you may find your life transforming in ways you may not have thought possible.
A version of this article appeared in OMTimes magazine.
You can learn more about initiation in the award-winning, best-selling book Change the Story of Your Life: Using Shamanic and Jungian Tools to Achieve Personal Transformation.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.