Based on an experience which marks a distinct turning point in my life. I didn't have the words to describe it then but have come across and used several in the years since: an opening, an awakening, a release, a breakdown, a breakthrough.
At the time I was feeling increasingly trapped in my life and, eventually, trapped in my mind. I'd dealt with general and existential depression and anxiety for most of my life but over a period of weeks it seemed like all of it was converging more and more intensely to a single point - to a single incessant thought. After weeks of compulsive circular thinking, the mechanism powering the process seemed to have collapsed. I went to bed overwhelmed with dread and woke to a still and silent mind, and I found myself looking around with previously inaccessible clarity and understanding. It was like seeing the world illuminated with fresh eyes.
Over the years I had come to consider life a burden and myself to be ugly, dumb and broken, but on that day I became aware for the first time of my own inherent beauty and value, as well as that of everyone and everything around me. With this came an awareness that I was not intrinsically defective as I had come to believe but that the suffering I had experienced and caused throughout my life were a result of deeply internalized confusion, conflict and pain. This brought immense relief and gratitude for everything I was and had.
I also came to a clear recognition of God, and of what that word really meant. I had previously been a staunchly rational atheist but I suddenly knew that I was neither separate from the universe nor the person that I had, until that moment, believed myself to be. I realized that these ideas had merely been internalized from others, just as my other beliefs about myself and the world had been. God now seemed obvious within and all around me, which opened the dimension of spirituality into my experience.
I was reconnected with my sensitivity and emotions, which I had been unwittingly cut off from for decades (I later came to learn that this had likely come about as a defense mechanism in childhood). I was overwhelmed with what must have been decades of suppressed emotion and, for the first time in years, let myself cry without judgement or restraint. I felt truly joyful and free for the first time in as long as I could remember. It was to be the first of many times that I would be overwhelmed with gratitude to the point of tears.
All of this was so far removed from my previous experience that for years I couldn't put it into words. I knew that my friends and family would worry if I tried to explain what had happened, not just because of the sudden and inexplicable changes but because I had always kept the extent of my suffering to myself. So rather than speak of it I chose to ride the waves of emerging peace, confidence and clarity and determined to make changes in my life. It turned out to be the first of this kind of experience but not the last, as I was soon to be faced with ever deeper layers of unresolved pain and beliefs.
As the years passed I found that I wasn't the only one going through something like this, as I encountered others describing similar shifts of their own. I hope that some of them will find and resonate with this.
"The main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neurosis but rather with the approach to the numinous...the real therapy. In as much as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology." - C.G. Jung