International Journal of Transpersonal Studies


A study of 161 temporary awakening experiences showed that over 23% were triggered by, or associated with, intense turmoil and distress (Taylor, 2012b). Examples of some of these turmoil-induced awakening experiences are given, illustrating the wide variety of traumatic experiences involved. (The type of trauma was found to be less important than its intensity.) These temporary awakening experiences are contrasted with permanent suffering-induced transformational experiences (SITEs). A distinction is made between a primary shift, involving the establishment of a new self-system (which occurs in SITEs), and the secondary shift which may occur after temporary awakening experiences, when the individual’s self-system remains fundamentally intact, but she or he experiences a shift in perspective and values. Possible reasons for the connection between psychological turmoil and awakening experiences are discussed, arguing that the experiences cannot simply be explained away as self-delusion or a psychological defense mechanism. It is suggested that there is a connection between turmoil-induced awakening experiences and the dissolution of psychological attachments, together with an intensification of energy.