Adam’s last couple of months in Ron’s garage haven’t been without its challenges. Ron had just moved in with his girlfriend Melanie a month before and decided to let Adam stay in the garage, even though Ron had planned to use the space to start writing about his time in Iraq.

Not only was Adam on pain medication to handle the excruciating pain of a severely broken jaw, but he had left a community of people–the homeless in Maui–that had given him a lot of support.  Even though he now had a stable place to sleep at night and was back with his old friend Ron, the property was quite isolated and he found himself mostly alone for days on end.  Occasionally he could arrange a ride to visit his mother, who was at home undergoing chemotherapy for her very advanced cancer. Because of some unresolved issues with his family, Adam did not feel comfortable spending too much time at his family’s home.  Consequently he spent his time in the garage meditating, and self-medicating (with marijuana and occasionally mushrooms) to deal with fairly frequent panic attacks along with the PTSD symptoms he was experiencing from the attack in Hawaii.  Luckily after a few weeks, Adam jaw is healing well; he is able to stop using the pain medication and learns that a second surgery won’t be necessary.

Adam’s panic attacks, though sometimes emotionally painful, are helping him to face and resolve past traumas. He looks at them as healing experiences that are confronting him with the lessons he needs to learn and in that sense, they “are beautiful”.

James Baraz has been teaching meditation for over thirty years. He is a co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and leads retreats and workshops around the United States and abroad.  He speaks with us about how opening up to other dimensions of consciousness through mediation can be terrifying, but in the best of cases it does result in a deep sense of trust in the universe. He states how, in addition to meditation, it is important to have a guide who is familiar with the territory, has the tools to help someone deal with all the emotions that arise, and can be the loving presence needed for a spiritual emergence to lead to a healing spiritual transformation.

3 Responses to “Living in Ron’s Garage: Facing Pain”

  1. Teresa McLaren

    Do you think psychosis is a spiritual emergence or a spiritual emergency? Is psychosis the calling or the warning that you are not listening to your calling? The push or the pull? What do you think?

      • Teresa McLaren

        Thanks, I realize this wasn’t really the best question to ask. I have now been through the whole blog and I really admire what you are doing. Its really got me thinking. Thanks for providing me a space to discuss these ideas. It struck me after listening to the transpersonal psychologists the possible parallels with childbirth. I think there are two things you don’t really need to hear when you are psychotic – one is that you are ill and the other is that you are special. I think, and this is just my opinion, that it is part of a natural process people go through; maybe just some people but probably more than we know. Like childbirth, this process would have traditionally been something facilitated at home ideally with the help of a midwife or birth attendant who had been through the process themselves – a shaman or elder. I’m still trying to figure out if psychosis is a necessary part of this transition or just a very common side effect, regardless, some kind of alternate form of consciousness is likely a necessary part of this transition. Also like childbirth, the process is messy and potentially dangerous and because of this we have pathologized/over medicalized the symptoms of this natural process. Im not saying that there are not some situations where medical intervention isn’t needed, but as in childbirth it should not be the norm. My worry is that by supressing the symptoms with meds, truncating the process we are, in effect, aborting the birthing of some peoples true human potentials. I also agree with, Joan Halifax, that if the Buddha or Jesus were alive today you would probably find them in a psych ward.


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