Spiritual Awakenings International™

Conference 2023

"Spiritual Awakening: The Dawn of Expanded Consciousness"

Spiritual Emergency Experiencers Panel

Sean Blackwell

Sean Blackwell

The Spiritual Dimension of Bipolar Disorder. People tend to think of Spiritual Awakenings and the acute psychosis usually diagnosed as bipolar disorder as completely different experiences, with one being beneficial and the other damaging. Sean’s 15 years of research into this area reveals that there is no clear separation between the two conditions, and that the vast majority of people labeled with bipolar disorder have a powerful spiritual component to their non-ordinary experiences which hold the potential for the healing of emotional trauma and, perhaps, spiritual breakthrough. Sean will discuss both ends of a spectrum of experiences which range from “madness” to “awakening,” helping to promote deeper understanding of what has the potential to be a deeply healing process.

Sean Blackwell has been researching and teaching about the spiritual dimension and healing potential of bipolar disorder since 2007 through his YouTube channel, bipolarORwakingUP, which has recently been renamed Bipolar Awakenings. His videos graphically illustrate subjects such as spiritual emergency, depression, and the evolution of consciousness, always demonstrating how these themes relate to transcending the bipolar condition. His book, Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?, describes his own bipolar awakening, subsequent hospitalization, and complete recovery, which happened in 1996. In 2013, Sean started The Bipolar Awakenings Healing Retreat, a pioneering program for people who wanted to heal from their so-called incurable condition. In 2016, Sean received his certification as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator with Grof Transpersonal Training, who have publicly endorsed his work. This education was fundamental to the development of the healing retreat process. In 2020, Sean launched two online healing modalities, Distance Surrogate Breathwork and Conscious Emotional Clearing, as safe healing practices which can be done at home.

Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr

Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr

Wings Unfolding: A Spiritually Transformative Experience. Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr will share nine After-Death Communications (ADCs) that she experienced with various family members over the span of four years (2019-2002). Six ADCs were spontaneous; one was an assisted ADC; and two were facilitated ADCs. Her second spontaneous ADC resulted in a mystical experience and catapulted her into a Spiritual Emergency which lasted for over two years. During this time, she experienced many psychic and intuitive episodes. She is now grounded and ready to share her Spiritually Transformative Experiences with others. She is currently writing a book about her experience, Wings Unfolding: A Spiritual Awakening of Healing, Growth, and Unconditional Love.

Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr, BS, MEd, PhD is an Associate Professor of Education at Lebanon Valley College, a small liberal arts college in Central Pennsylvania. Ann has been teaching in higher education for the past 30 years. Specifically, she teaches literacy courses and research courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs in teacher education.

Mariam J. Saleh

Mariam J. Saleh, Esq.

Spiritual Emergence and the Intersection of Ethics, Policy, and Law. The range of phenomena commonly referred to as spiritual awakening or Spiritual Emergence
have existed throughout history, but are increasing in frequency due to the rising popularity toward Emergent Practices: meditation; yoga; psychedelics, breathwork, and use of VR or other neurotech/perception-altering devices; etc. While Emergent Practices are routinely advertised as lacking adverse effects, numerous sources describe a range of undesirable, destabilizing, and life-threatening experiences. These effects can mimic psychoses or other psychiatric disorders, resulting in improper treatment and creating great risk for involuntary commitment, forced medication, social rejection, impaired functioning, etc. Additionally, there is an unexplored body of ethics/legal issues related to human rights; informed consent in the use of psychedelics or neurotech for recreational/therapeutic uses; meditation and yoga as alternative treatments; and the regulation of psychedelic and neurotech use as they relate to Spiritual Emergence. Current society is unprepared for the imminent upsurge in Emergent Phenomena.

Mariam J. Saleh is an attorney in San Diego, California. In 2019, she inadvertently began a journey of spiritual emergence via a meditation practice designed to simply lower stress. Mariam’s journey into the Dark Night was a pivotal experience of transformative destruction, which lasted years. Her litigation career could not continue as she found herself becoming an energy healer and intuitive medium. She eventually began working as General Counsel with Emergence Benefactors, a nonprofit organization developed to primarily support the researchers of the Emergent
Phenomenology Research Consortium. The EPRC is a network of scientific researchers studying Emergence in order to improve clinical care outcomes. Mariam’s current research and advocacy work is centered on the intersection of Spiritual Emergence, ethics, and law.

Lara Bazant

Lara Bazant

“One for The Ages”: A Love Story Gone Wrong. Using Creative Tools to Survive Fragmentation. After becoming a single mother and losing her corporate job, Lara survived a violent spontaneous Kundalini Awakening and 12 month overshadowing/spiritual walk-in from a dark Twin Flame attachment. Her transformational journey is an intense and inspiring story of self-love in crippling crisis. Turning to the traditional mental health system for support resulted in absolute chaos and she had no choice but to search for strength and answers within. For the past year Lara has used dance and comedy to forcibly push herself out of the madness brought on by Kundalini. Lara will share her story of hope and survival to help others experiencing Spiritual Emergency to move past the depths of darkness and evolve into peace.
Lara Bazant is an NYC-trained, Toronto-based musical comedian and urban dancer who courageously returned to the stage after a 20 year stint at corporate life. She has recently been seen at Second City, Yuk Yuk’s, SoCap Comedy and Comedy Bar performing snippets from her one woman show “Mid Life Momster” and can be found busking her unique style of freestyle street dance at Toronto’s Harbourfont when the sun is out.