The self-esteem roller coaster for me and other spiritual seekers

My self-esteem and optimism were very high when I started Transcendental Meditation in 1972. I had new spiritual experiences in TM, I noticed benefits in activity, and a whole new vista of possibilities opened up when I learned about Cosmic Consciousness and enlightenment.

My self-esteem remained high when I went on TM residence courses. I had the mentality that I could pop into enlightenment at any time so it was an exciting time.

My self-esteem dropped very low for one day on the TM-Sidhis course. I expected to get some results from practicing the TM-Sidhis. For example, when I practiced the siddhi on friendliness or the siddhi on the strength of an elephant, I expected to at least experience some flavor of the siddhi. I was bummed when I didn’t experience anything other than the normal feeling of being in a deep meditative state. Therefore, I thought that I may be far away from enlightenment, and that bummed me out!

When I hopped while practicing the TM-Sidhi technique on levitation, my self-esteem soared. When I returned to my home town after the TM-Sidhis course, I felt special being a TM-Sidha which was something others couldn’t even comprehend.

As years passed, my self-esteem came down a little when I became aware that I still wasn’t enlightened after doing regular meditation and lots of residence courses for two decades. I thought I might still be far from being enlightened so I doubled down in attempts to get to enlightenment.

When I had my kundalini crisis in 1990, my self-esteem was 100 on a scale of 100! I was over-confident, and I thought I was enlightened, and  I had a special relationship with God.

When I realized my supposed enlightenment was actually a grandiose delusion, my self-esteem tumbled. Self-esteem adjusts dramatically when your self-assessment changes from being enlightened to having the mania of psychotic illness! These adjustments took me at least 10 years because I gave up different aspects of the delusion bit by bit. Also I avoided thinking about my kundalini crisis.

I gave up the premise of enlightenment over 15 years ago. Instead of seeking enlightenment, I now seek to feel good. Feeling good is great! And I have a lot of that.

Self-esteem is important for mental and physical health. I obtain a substantial part of my self-esteem from everyday accomplishments and from having come through a kundalini crisis.

For 18 years, I gave my all to become enlightened. After 1990, I began to suspect that enlightenment could be a false myth. In writing my book, my self-esteem grew some more as I pieced together a fairly comprehensive analysis on how I and others have been wrong about enlightenment and kundalini.

It will be difficult for spiritual seekers to change their mind about enlightenment. It will be difficult, but I think it will be worthwhile. Self-esteem will rebound.

How to go from spiritual mindset to terrestrial mindset
After realizing that euphoria and other peak experiences do not indicate that one is growing to higher states of consciousness, it will take time to come to terms and to change one’s mindset.

It is not a small thing to question a spiritual teaching, the guru, or the nature of one’s previous experiences. How can you extract yourself from a way of living that you have been immersed in for a long time? How can you have any self-esteem left when a major part of your prior self-esteem came from being on a spiritual path?

It will take courage to change the status quo, persistence to trudge through uncomfortable territory, and optimism that your future can be better.

Here are some of my ideas on how to change your mindset:

  1. I suggest distracting yourself in the simple activities of daily living. This will get you away from the grim, heavy thought processes of coming to terms with why you are changing your approach to living.
  2. Don’t dwell on the shenanigans of the guru and the spiritual movement from which you came.
  3. Get practical everyday experience under your belt so you will know that you can live successfully having a new mindset. You can experience triumph every time you do something without thinking about spirituality whether it be just doing the dishes or just taking a walk. You can experience triumph when you realize you have gone for longer and longer periods of time without thinking about spirituality.
  4. Gravitate towards friends who are grounded and/or not in the spiritual movement. Give an honest excuse to former friends that you are taking a mental health break or that you are going to get more balance into your life.
  5. Instead of getting your self-esteem from being on a spiritual path, raise your self-esteem by realizing that you are going to persist in a very difficult transition to a practical, terrestrial life.
  6. If you need help, seek help from family, friends, and/or professionals.