Navigating Spiritual Crises: Finding Light in the Shadows of Faith

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Anshu Bahanda: Welcome to another episode of Wellness Curated. This is your host, Anshu Bahanda. And as you know, we get you ideas, trends, and techniques that will help you lead a healthier, happier, and more hopeful life. And this season, we’re focusing on spiritual well-being. And today’s topic will be very relevant to a lot of people. We’re talking about navigating spiritual crises. A spiritual crisis is when we go through an unsettling time in our lives because our beliefs value our sense of purpose and all that has been challenged. We have Caitlin Marino. She’s an internationally recognised virtual energy healer and teacher, and she has over 16 years of experience. Welcome to the chat, Caitlin. And thank you for taking the time to be here with us today.

Caitlin Marino: Thank you so much for having me, Anshu. Thank you.

AB: You’re welcome. So, Caitlin, will you explain to our listeners what a spiritual crisis is? So when someone is going through a spiritual crisis, how would they identify it?

CM: I’ve been through a spiritual crisis personally, but the definition of the Dark Night of the Soul, St John of the Cross’s definition, was what resonated most for me. So I wanted to share that at the start of our conversation today, and that is the method followed by the soul in its journey upon the spiritual road to the attainment of the perfect union of love with God. So these spiritual crises sound scary and difficult to go through, but they’re actually propelling us towards closer connection with God, the source, the universe, the divine, whatever you’d like to call it. And when they come up for us in our lives, they can look like hitting rock bottom in some way. Disconnection from yourself, from God, or from your spiritual source can feel like one of the hardest times in your life, where maybe you are feeling completely alone. And these times humble us. They can bring us to our knees, so they can really bring us to a place where we don’t have any other move but to pray, meditate, or be in solitude and contemplate where we are in our lives. And then, hopefully, we emerge and awaken our lives in a new way, with more harmony, a sense of purpose, a sense of connection, and a different worldview or belief system that serves us. And a lot of times, people come out of these experiences feeling like they want to serve in some way, like they want to help other people.

AB: So Caitlin, in my life, what I have found, and in a lot of people’s lives, it’s normally a personal situation or a situation that they’re going through in their life that causes the spiritual crisis to happen. Is that true, do you think? Or are there other triggers as well?

CM: I think it’s both. So I think our souls create these to be exactly what we need, so that our souls have the exact experience we need to have in order to evolve. And we are not just spiritual. We are not just physical. We have four bodies. We’re physical, we’re emotional, we’re mental, and we’re spiritual. So any crisis, upset, or difficult situation that arises in any of these bodies can and usually does trigger a spiritual crisis. So these bodies are connected. They’re not independent of one another. So if you have an illness or an injury, like people who have lost limbs, it propels them on this new path forward to overcome their injury and lead a different life and show others and inspire others how they can do the same and find strength through that. That’s an example of a physical incident that causes a spiritual awakening—a profound shift in someone at a foundational level. And the same with emotional upset; maybe grief or something like a loss, heartbreak, or anything like that would be like an emotional upset that could trigger a spiritual crisis. And again, not every loss triggers a spiritual crisis. I had a grandmother who was 100 years old who passed away, and it was lovely to witness that she had such a long life. And I’ve lost other people; it felt so tragic to me. And it really made me contemplate my own mortality. I think a lot of times when people have situations that arise that cause them to contemplate their mortality, that can really be a good trigger for a spiritual crisis.

AB: Thank you. So, Caitlin, you talked about the ‘dark night of the soul?’ Would you say the ‘dark night of the soul’ is what a spiritual crisis is? Is it the same thing?

CM: I would say so. I believe so. Others might argue. But in my experience, if you are going through a ‘dark night of the soul,’ it usually, like I said, impacts every aspect of who you are, right? There’s a physical aspect; there’s an emotional, mental, and spiritual aspect. But I would say so. Like the times I would describe in my life where I was in a spiritual crisis or going through a ‘dark night of the soul,’ I was either questioning my spirituality or really relying on my spirituality to bring me through that time in some way.

AB: So what you’re telling me, interpreting what you’ve said, is that when we question our spirituality, or even when we rely on it, that is a spiritual crisis. Is that right?

CM: It can be. Yes. I’m sure I’m not done with the spiritual crisis in my life. I think they come and go. But I do think that there are times that could be a crisis for people that are not because of their spirituality and their worldview, which’s serving them very well through those times. And they feel strong, guided, and connected. And then there are times when someone’s belief system or worldview no longer serves them. And it can be like a shattering of a worldview that happens where they have to find their way through that darkness and into the light, where they feel that connection with themselves again, with their source, with their spiritual path.

AB: Now, tell me, are there any practical strategies that you have for navigating a spiritual crisis? Because I feel like there are a lot of people today going through a spiritual crisis. It’s almost like there are energies that are descending onto the planet that are making people question everything, right down to the core, right down to their soul. So tell us practical strategies, do spiritual or philosophical frameworks help? 

CM: Yes, I think so. I would say these are very simple, practical things that I’ve done for myself. So the very first thing I would tell people to do is to ask for help. Like to find whatever you believe in—God, source, universe, the divine, whatever you want to call it—and ask for help every day. Ask for divine intervention on your behalf for your greatest benefit, because we have free will. The divine cannot intervene in our lives without that request. So that’s saved my life in the past by doing that. And I’ve read in many books where people have done that, and it’s saved their lives. So I would recommend first asking for help every day. And you don’t need to be in a crisis to do it, and it may help you avoid a crisis. And then, when it comes to practical techniques or tools you can use to help navigate, the first would be to recognise that you’re in crisis and have that awareness. I’m really going through a time right now; this is a crisis for me. And you can go back to the basics. You want to be gentle with yourself in these times. Things aren’t easy. So I would break it down into the four bodies for myself. Again, I would do something physical every day. It could be a walk, a yoga practice, something easy and gentle, and then something emotional, like an emotional tool like tapping. Or you could use flower remedies to help support yourself. Or you could do journaling, chanting, or mantras, and maybe find books. I would recommend that people read books that they’re called to read. So whatever is calling you, whatever you’re interested in or drawn to, or whatever shows up for you. And then, for spirituality, you may feel really disconnected spiritually in these times. So you would want to look for meditation practices, some kind of service that appeals to you, maybe a religious service or prayer group, or even just creating a daily ritual that you offer up as an offering—to the source or God—to keep you very present and conscious.

AB: Okay, so let’s talk about coping strategies. Now, when you’re in your deepest, darkest hour, so to say, you mentioned a little bit of meditation. Tell me, how would meditation or mindfulness help? Tell me, how can something like the role of community or social support help? And also, if you can give us something that people can do by themselves, like a little exercise or something, that would be very helpful. 

CM: So, it’s not easy for a lot of people to do meditation. I would say if you’re going to do a meditation practice, start small with five minutes, or even three minutes if you need—to every day, and try to work your way up. Set a timer on your phone, and make the meditation purposeful. So say I’m going into this meditation asking for clarity, asking for guidance, asking to be shown the way through this, asking for help, and then you don’t necessarily need to receive the help in that meditation, but it will come. You may be doing the dishes later, and you have an insight that really helps you move forward. So you’re being conscious, and you’re again asking for help and inviting it in. And then you want to recognise that help when it shows up, and it’s not going to look like what you expect it to look like.

People who are going through a spiritual crisis are vulnerable, and community can be a very beneficial and helpful thing, but it can also be detrimental. Like, I would definitely use discernment about the community you’re surrounding yourself with during these times. I know there are people who could take advantage of someone who is going through a spiritual crisis and may not have that person’s best interests in mind. So you just want to be very discerning about who you’re spending time with and surrounding yourself with. It might feel good to be with family or people who have been through something similar; they’re on the other side of it and understand what you’re going through. Or it might feel like your family sees you as how you were and you’re undergoing an inner transformation, and you feel very different from how you’ve been. So I would be discerning and spend the time alone, spend time with myself. 

AB: So one message that’s coming across loud and clear is that you should always set your intent. Whether you’re praying, whether you’re meditating, whatever it is that you do, be very clear about what you’re asking for. Whether you’re asking the divine, whether you’re asking the universe, whatever you call the light, the life force, be very clear that you’re setting your intent.

CM: I would also say we think we know what’s best for us, and we think we know what we need and want. But once you open up that request for help, you may be surprised by what shows up for you. It may be things you never would have thought to ask for an overabundance of. So you just want to be open to what comes from that intention that you set and be very aware that it almost never looks how you think it’s going to look. The universe has a way of providing things that are different. It’s not linear, so it may look a little bit different than exactly what you’re asking for, but you get what you need or more than what you need.

AB: That’s wonderful. Now tell me, Caitlin, are there any specific books or online platforms that you would recommend that can help people in a spiritual crisis? Or courses or anything that you think people can dip into and get a resource that’ll help them?

CM: I would recommend what I mentioned in the beginning, the St John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul. It’s just a little book, and it talks about the spiritual crisis, and it talks about it in this very positive way, because once you’ve been through it, it’s really a great blessing. And I would say beyond that, in the times when I was in a spiritual crisis, I read a lot of books that really called to me. So I think it’s important to move in the direction that your soul is calling you to move in. It could be books about butterflies, evolution, or herbalism. It could be anything. But your soul is trying to show you a different way of being, so you just want to really tune into what you’re being drawn to. I think that’s really important.

AB: And, Caitlin, tell me, would something like therapy or counselling help at a time like this, or would you advise people to find a spiritual guide?

CM: Yes. I would say, again, that you want to be very discerning because you’re in a vulnerable state, and if you’re going to seek help outside of yourself, that could be very beneficial. Especially if the practitioner you choose is spiritually minded and has been through something like a ‘dark night of the soul’ or a spiritual crisis, and they have found spirituality or a path forward and purpose out of that. So if you’re working with a practitioner who hasn’t or isn’t very spiritually minded, that might be a little frustrating at that time. So it would be beneficial if you found a therapist, counsellor, mentor, healer, or some kind of guide who’s been through this, who you can really trust, who has your best interests in mind, and who doesn’t have another agenda. That could be really helpful, just to have someone to talk to.

AB: So in the Vedas, we have this concept of a guru who basically takes you on your soul’s journey and helps you go forward on the journey of your soul. But what I found in my life is that—even though I have a lot of gurus—there’s not one particular person who’s taught me. I have so many. I learn something from people every day. I’m learning so much from you. I learned so much from you when we chatted earlier. So should people have one person, if they find that they’re lucky enough to find that one guru, to help them forward? Or is it just that all of life is a learning? 

CM: I love what you just said. Yeah, I think all of life is a learning. And I have had teachers, and you can have people who are gurus or guides who are spiritually minded and in that role, with that title, that are certainly helpful. But you are your guru, right? And your life is showing you the way through. And a guru could, like you were saying, be a secretary at a doctor’s office who shares a thought, insight, or book recommendation with you that shifts you profoundly. So I love the way you said that. I agree completely with what you just said. 

AB: And also tell me about the role of acceptance and self-care when you are going through a spiritual crisis.

CM: It’s important to be really gentle with yourself in these times. It’s always kind of important to be gentle with yourself. But especially when you’re in this kind of vulnerable state and you’re doing a lot of self-reflection and changing, self-acceptance and self-care are not always easy. It’s not always like a massage. Right? It can be discipline. It can look like discipline and really making sure you’re showing up for yourself. So I think those are imperative, and they’re part of the way through these kinds of crises. 

AB: And I also think it’s not just acceptance and self-care during your spiritual crisis. It’s during your whole spiritual journey. There are things that you need to do to stay on this path of growth. 

CM: Yes. And it’s a way of life. I think it eventually becomes a way of life. So it becomes woven into the fabric of your daily life—these practices of self-care, the way you arrange your space, what you eat, and your routines. When you emerge from a spiritual crisis, you will be different. And for me, I’ve completely changed my diet after one of these, how I take care of myself, and what type of doctors I visit. And that’s the point: to learn how to care for yourself.

AB: Give me some examples of when you’ve seen a lot of personal growth come out of a spiritual crisis with your clients or with people in your life.

CM: So I can use myself as an example for this, I think. I had a spiritual crisis that was triggered about 17 years ago. And at that time, I loved my life, but it looked nothing like my life now, and I didn’t have a lot of purpose. So what started as a severe, life-threatening physical illness brought me to a very dark place, very alone, feeling very alone, and really desperately seeking help. And once I asked for help, the way showed up. It was energy healing, herbalism, and homoeopathy. I had never known anything about any of these ways of healing, but I had a talk with God when I was dying, and I said, If I survive this, I will dedicate my life to studying, practising, teaching, and sharing whatever it is that helps me, thinking I’d be like a rheumatologist or something afterwards. The piece that helped me was energy work. So I went through this long healing journey, and it started out physical, like I said, and it was very physical, but it was also very spiritual. I emerged as a completely different person with a very different worldview and a complete sense of purpose, feeling very in alignment and knowing without a doubt what I was here for. And I haven’t really looked back. And that is not a traumatic memory for me. That whole experience was the catalyst that propelled me into this very purposeful life—a very spiritually connected life—that I live now, which I love. So that’s the best example I can give you, because I know it, but I see it all the time with my clients. They’ll seek me out because they’re in these spiritual crises, or they’ve been through spiritual crises in the past, and something’s come up and they’re like, this reminds me of what I’ve been through, and I’d like to navigate it differently. So they have a lot of success being very conscious, implementing their tools and their spiritual practices to mitigate the length of the spiritual crisis, and they come out much stronger.

AB: Thank you, Caitlin. That was beautiful. I can totally identify with it because I’ve been through something similar in my life, and I can totally identify with what you’re saying—that it completely changes you. And I’m a totally different person from the person that I was. And that’s why I do what I do, because I really feel compelled. I mean, it’s almost like there’s a hand behind me that’s driving me to do this. But, Caitlin, what I know you’re very good at doing, from having worked with you in the past, is giving these lovely little exercises or tools that make it easy to handle a situation. Can I quickly ask you to do a very quick one with us today?

CM: Yes. Would you like me to do a little guided visualisation, just for a few minutes?

AB: If you can do it very quickly, like two minutes, is that possible?

CM: So you just close your eyes and tune into the centre of your chest, the very core of your being, and notice the light that goes up to the top of your head and down to your feet. And you’re going to take conscious breaths in and out. And with each exhale, you’re going to expand that core so that it contains your entire physical body, inhale and exhale, and expand it further. It’s a global expansion in every direction. Above you, below you, to your right and left, front and back. And then, as you inhale and exhale next, you’re going to expand that core of light out as far as you can so that your entire energy field is contained within that core of light. Above you, below you, to your right and left, front and back. You’ll expand just beyond your energy field. Your entire energy field is contained in the core of light. Everything that you are: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. And notice how you feel, and then you can open your eyes.

AB: That was wonderful. And I actually felt my energy field expanding as we did that.

CM: So a lot of times we contract when things are challenging, difficult, or just like doing our lives. But when you expand that core of light out and it contains your entire field and being, it’s easier to navigate, and you feel less constricted and less reactive.

AB: Thank you. Now, Caitlin, if there’s one piece of advice that you would give someone who’s going through a spiritual crisis, what would that be? 

CM: It is what I said before, and it is to ask for help. So you don’t even need to know who you’re asking for help from. But if you tune into the highest vibration available to you, if you just ask or set that intention and ask for help, ask for guidance, ask for clarity, ask to be shown the way, and surrender, your path will become easier.

AB: That’s lovely. Now, we end every session with a quick, rapid-fire round to summarise the session. So here goes. One trigger that tends to set off a spiritual crisis?

CM: I’d say illness and facing one’s mortality.

AB: Thank you. One meditation and mindfulness practice that can aid in the process of navigating a spiritual crisis

CM: Daily meditation with intention.

AB: And the last one, advice for someone going through a spiritual crisis

CM: To ask for divine help, intervention, and guidance every day.

AB: Thank you, Caitlin; thank you so much for your time. That was such a wonderful session.

CM: Thank you for having me. Thank you so much.

AB: You’re welcome.
Thank you for listening to us today. I hope you learned something new, and I hope we helped you in some way to lead a healthier, happier, more hopeful life. If you enjoyed this, please press like and please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to my channel, because that way I can get more and more speakers and I can provide the service for free. I also have a booklet that I’ve developed called ‘The Book of Affirmations.’ You can put it by your bedside and look at a new affirmation every day. It’s actually what I use myself, every morning. So, if you’d like a copy of it, please DM us. My email address is Anshu@wellnesscurated.life. I repeat, it’s Anshu@wellnesscurated.life. If you want a copy of this booklet, if you have any questions or topic suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Thank you for being here with us today. See you next week.