Collage of impactful experience with pictures of ecstatic peak experience in natural setting, or with assistance, and traumatic life threatening events.

Impactful moments that critically affect life and well-being

Enlightening expansive experience can be an accelerator for change and growth

A dynamic, momentary, or more prolonged experience can alter and mold your life and its expression.

Any of us can recall certain impactful events that may have significantly impacted our life experiences and choices. Today, for instance, was boiling and muggy with overhead threatening storm clouds and a distant rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. It took my mind back to a past eventful summer’s day. I was seventeen and had worked hard that summer, earning enough to have my first car, and began dating my childhood sweetheart, my future wife. My older brother, who was working with a seasoned builder and involved with a construction project, hired me for the summer to assist the job superintendent with whatever help he needed. I felt both lucky and proud to be relied on for everything that came up. I remember one of the heavy equipment drivers who was always bragging about his smooth ways and dating life. He would tease me about being green behind the ears and maybe a little spoiled.

I had to get up early before the sun came up to drive to the remote work site in a nearby city. On this day, it was a hot, humid day with dark threatening storm clouds overhead. The clouds opened with torrid, heavy rain with a loud burst of thunder. I was running for cover and got drenched. The super yelled at me to head for a trailer used as a construction office. The moment I grabbed the metal door handle, a loud burst of thunder snaked through the sky and struck a power line that fell on the roof of the construction shack. My body shook as electricity transmitted through the metal structure to my grasping hand and body. I was stunned and thrown back through the air for at least ten feet. I was shaken, scarred, and still stunned, but I could gradually get to my feet with the help of a kind employee. He said, “Young man, you’re lucky to be alive, and remember to always touch things with the back of your finger before grabbing.” It turns out he was also an electrician and always did that when there was any chance of getting a shock. But of course, I didn’t know the construction shack had a live wire on it.

I was deeply affected and imprinted with the idea of our profound connection and interdependence with nature and the forces of immensity beyond our small, fragile, and vulnerable existence. I had survived and realized the need to walk with more caution, humbleness, and respectfulness of all beyond our knowing and control. It no doubt became part of my inner narrative and growth into adulthood. Later that hot summer, when things seemed to fall into more of a routine, and I was accepted more and befriended by the other employees, an unexpected event gave me the first foreshadowing of my future career in healthcare.

 Later that same summer, not too long after the instance above, the supervisor at the worksite yelled for me to run over to one of the partially constructed buildings where there were low-hanging exposed metal beams that would be covered later in the construction. He said, “Take a towel for the carpenter injured there and cover his wound with pressure. He and his buddies had several beers with lunch and, when running back to get to work on time, ran through the building with the exposed beams. His head hit one of the beams, and his scalp had been partially ripped off, reminding me of the Western movies where people got scalped. Luckily, he could keep enough pressure on his injured scalp while I drove him to a nearby ER, where they quickly took him in and sutured him up. He thanked me and apologized if he had gotten any blood on my car seats. He probably was drunk enough to be spared some of the pain of the injury. I thought they would fire him, but as he was one of the lead carpenters and led one of the crews, he was warned and kept on the job. It was one of my first experiences overseeing a medical emergency, which I’m sure portended and influenced my later career choice, as was my earlier traumatic life experience with a hospitalization for an early form of polio, but that is another story.1

The underappreciated dramatic or profound effects of highly charged emotional experiences

In modern psychology and psychiatry, much has been said and popularized about the impact of severe trauma and life-threatening events on a person’s mental health and life. The sometimes underappreciated dramatic or profound effects of highly charged emotional experiences have mostly had attention in religious, spiritual, and Eastern cultural philosophies.

Just as traumatic negative experiences can change and shape lives, so can a very intense time of experiencing and being flooded with positive emotions and feelings such as belonging, ecstasy, love, inclusiveness, sensory expansion, quietness, peacefulness, and unity. Such experiences often have revelatory ideas, insights, and an expanded sense of clarity. The choice of pursuing or being open to such experiences may greatly benefit some. Still, it may, in others, lead to an addiction or obsessive search for a sustained state of continual gratification and release from pain and suffering.

Escape from ego mind entrapment and self-centeredness

Historically, efforts occurred to release individuals from ego mind entrapment and self-centeredness towards group dependence, responsibilities, cohesiveness, and allegiance to something greater and more powerful than the separated, isolated individual. In indigenous cultures, there were offerings by healers as shamans with ceremonial groups and spiritual practices, along with hallucinogenic plant medicine, music, dancing, or movement.

Now, therapies using similar modalities have gradually entered the mainstream of medicine and psychiatry. Today many therapeutic modalities are pursued with different motivations, such as a search for a life-changing, unlocking experience to gain more profound wisdom or for relief from the suffering of depression, PTSD, addictions, or purely for the sake of adventure, spiritual awaking, or the seeking of clarity, enlightenment, and inspiration. Mind-influencing natural and psychedelic agents help in treating psychological and emotional dysfunction.

Caution and admonitions with new, innovative, and psychedelic therapies

In the Psychotherapy field, there have been group therapies, intensive therapeutic encounters, and now psychedelic drugs, as indigenous people use some natural plant agents in their communities to induce spiritual and awakening experiences to enhance community bonds. Today, with ketamine, psilocybin, MDMA, Ayahuasca, LSD, and others, it becomes worthwhile to understand the ecstatic or revelation experiences and effects on users.2,3,4,5,6,7

Besides the promising benefits, some practical precautions need consideration as there are sometimes unforeseen consequences, such as the possible harmful or traumatic experience with mind-affecting or altering therapies. See reference to recent articles below about psychedelics, exploring the history, potential benefits, and risks.

Often it is recommended by mental health practitioners doing medication or drug-assisted psychotherapy or intensive group therapies that whatever occurs or comes up often needs reflection and processing over time, as with continued discussion or therapy. The time required may be several weeks or months, or longer, to allow the novel perceptions and ideas to mature and integrate into the context or person’s living space, current inner-narrative, and core beliefs is highly encouraged before jumping to any decisions or significant life-altering decision. 

Difficulty describing a profound and highly impactful event

Some will claim that profound momentary, insightful revelations or insights speak the truth or that deep wisdom guides them in finding a more authentic life direction or meaning. Attempts to describe such an unusual and profound happening are difficult. Many expressions come up to capture the essence, such as revelation, epiphany, spiritually enlightening instant, expansive, spontaneous, highly charged, or insightful, emotional experience. Most fall short of imparting the depth and full meaning, and value of the occurrence.

From a neuroscience point of view, a rationale for doing a more intensive therapeutic intervention is to unlock the intelligence, thinking, planning, contriving, and patterning mind, which can get stuck in a blind brain neuro loop. Getting free from a fixation sometimes requires feedback or new input to see the larger context or perspective about what is beyond our current scheming, conceptualization, contriving, or planning. Sometimes there is a push or drive to seek an experience or something to bring clarity and the perspective for changes or to allow completion to what we are trying to achieve, to gain the gratification of a triumphant accomplishment or the deeply felt need to grow and mature. 

The idea of revelation goes back through history, including those described as spiritual or religious experiences, felt to be transpersonal and inspired ideas or understandings that were closer to the truth or actual reality of things. There is the trap of the belief that what has been generated is an authentic perspective, which may be a derived or biased proposition drawn from one’s desperation, prior felt needs, wishes, and desires. The thought that there has been the transmission of supernal ideas or communication to the chosen or deserving or as a gift for adherence to intense rituals and practices may reinforce a person’s self-centered, selfish needs and reinforce deeper needs to be special and difference with entitlement to act out against others and social norms. There may be a deep-felt need to have meaning and belief in an absolute being or authority that supports already ingrained beliefs and brings agency, and order beyond the person’s felt limited existence, personal struggles, and suffering. Reinforced entrapment and suffocation in a restrictive ego mindset and belief in a limited self that must survive through any means can lead to a downward spiral, decline, and decay.

Vulnerabilities when falling into despair

To the extent that one falls into despair might intensify the desire to find relief with rituals and practices. A spiritually enlightening instant, or a spontaneous, highly charged, insightful, emotional experience can occur, that there is a larger essence and potentialities from an untapped, more extraordinary infinite resource, or as termed in eastern religions, the ground of all being, or as G-d in the western religions. When coming out of despair and hopelessness, the experience might include intense feelings of happiness, ecstasy, love, inclusiveness, and acceptance by something more significant than the isolated, self-absorbed person. When there is too much clinging to self-interests or tribal interests, eventually, there is a shift from love to hatred, fighting, and destruction between individuals and groups. Acting on a profound feeling, revelation, spiritual awakening, ecstatic connectedness, or communication believed to be from a divine agency is perhaps not the best time to make any critical decisions about significant life changes until the experience has had time to mature and integrate with one personal life and the practical needs of self and significant others. 

Tips and Points to Ponder:

  1. Deciding or planning at the time of a profound mind-influencing experience might be an opening for change and growth or a disaster with dire consequences. A revelation or profound insight often has the potential for growth and enlargement of perspective. Still, it needs to be integrated with the larger context beyond one’s current level of experience and knowledge to bring value to the experience. Otherwise, such an experience might reinforce a constrictive tendency to become more self-absorbed into a constrictive personal ego or drawn to others that reinforce a needed idea, belief, or new identity. It could further descend into destructive or radicalized “group thinking” that feeds hatred and division.
  2. Every change or seeking growth entails a certain amount of risk, so wisely choosing your opportunities and course of action is essential. Many offerings to meet your desired or even felt desperate needs require careful consideration, and as the adage goes, “Buyer, be aware.” When necessary, find an experienced and professional helper you can trust to engage in dialogue to help you explore all the issues, allowing you to find your clarity and perspective with your decision-making, integrating new insight from intensive experiences, or getting unstuck in making wiser choices.
  3. It is natural sometimes to feel overwhelmed, confused, or have a loss of perspective, mainly when suffering arises in one’s life, and there is the consideration of seeking change or alternatives. When in a bind on how to proceed or decide could cause emotional distress, interference occurs with health, relationships, work, creative endeavors, productivity, or the ability to make accurate risk assessments. Getting direct advice from others who are often biased with their self-serving points of view may not be a benefit. When necessary, find an experienced and professional helper you can trust to engage in dialogue to help you explore all the issues, allowing you to find your clarity and perspective with your decision-making, integrating new insight from intensive experiences, or getting unstuck in making wiser choices. Doing so can be critical for resolving dilemmas, especially when caught in confusing and complicated situations. The article the-art-of-decision-making-and-more-predictable-outcomes explored ways to avoid dubious or destructive outcomes from unwise choices and decisions.6
  4. If wanting to expand your horizons and grow beyond the limitations of your habits, customs, and constrictive inner narrative, fears, emotions, or other felt limitations, carefully search for alternatives that may provide guidance, insight, and growth. It is essential that whether it is in professional services such as holistic mental health programs, a program that teaches practices and techniques deeper in your own religious or spiritual community, or trusted ways from other traditions and cultures such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation, take time to be sure that the services or offers are with trustworthy people, with experience, certification, and professional training when required. Get help by doing your own research or from community and resources where services are reviewed and evaluated. You certainly, and hopefully, would do this if looking for someone to do home repairs or for a surgeon to do an intricate procedure.

Mind Wise is a valuable resource for your search and interest in mental health and well-being by Ron Parks, MD, MPH, an Integrative Psychiatrist, Holistic Medicine consultant, and writer.

Dr. Parks offers sessions for help in gaining clarity and perspective. If interested, click here to schedule a session.

Featured Image Caption: Life-altering experiences – by RRP design with Canva & stock photos

The original article in its entirety, along with the archives of all Dr. Parks’ articles, can be found at:

  1. COVID-19 & Polio Past, by Ron Parks, MD, MARCH 29, 2020; What will be the outcome as COVID-19 continues? Can we look at past viral epidemics in the country to clarify where we are now and what to expect? My worse fears had become a reality when I was afflicted with the poliovirus at age 9 in 1952, a peak year during the polio epidemic. Read full story
  2. Psychedelics Are a Promising Therapy, but be fully informed and approach with caution:;

anxiety, depression, holistic therapies, holistic treatment, integrative approaches, Integrative Psychiatry, psychedelic assisted therapy, PTSD, trauma


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