Spiritual Awakenings International

Conference 2024

“Spiritual Awakening: The Dawn of Expanded Consciousness”

STE Researchers – Panel

Sunday, June 9, 2024 – 6:30 PM EDT

Jeffrey S. Overall, PhD

Jeffrey S. Overall, PhD


The Antecedents of “Kenso” Spiritual Awakenings: A Mixed Methods Approach.
The purpose of this research is to understand: (1) the categories and themes that emerge in interviews with individuals who have experienced ‘kensho’ spiritual awakenings and (2) the various combinations of antecedents that can lead to kensho spiritual awakenings. In the first phase of this research, I use a qualitative methodology to assess the themes that emerge in conversations with 13 individuals who have experienced a kensho spiritual awakening. The main categories that emerged from my interviews include: dark night of the soul, prior awakenings, childhood spiritual experiences, constantly seeking something greater, trauma, and the role of the ego. From these results, I conducted a QCA and found that the input variables that were the most important antecedents to kensho spiritual awakenings were: prior awakenings, childhood spiritual experiences, and a career in spiritual healing. The main contribution to knowledge is providing a model for kensho spiritual awakenings.

Dr. Jeffrey Overall is a professor of conscious economics and entrepreneurship. He studies the link between consciousness and: mental health, optimum performance, sustainability, and wakefulness. He has nearly 50 publications with 25 of these in peer-reviewed academic journals. He is the author of the recently published Capitalist Buddha: Waking up to Conscious Economics that is available through Amazon. He has 25 years of experience working directly with entrepreneurs within start-ups, incubators, and SMEs across various sectors and countries. He is the president and co-founder of the Global Institute for Conscious Economics – a forum dedicated to awakening business leaders to the benefits of consciousness. Dr. Overall has been an academic for over a decade. He was a tenured professor at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Before that, he held professorships at Nipissing University in Canada, Ryerson University in Canada, and Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany.

Valerie Leigh Varan

Valerie Leigh Varan


How the Latest Science is Validating Spiritual and Non-Ordinary Experiences. The after-effects can be difficult for those who experience spiritual beings, mystical dreams/visions, intuition, psychic phenomena, manifestations, near-death, out-of-body consciousness, multidimensional realities, and other non-ordinary events. Among the worst may be when loved ones or medical practitioners dismiss these as “crazy.” An experiencer herself, Valerie has spent much of her adult life reviewing what science can tell us about how these happenings are indeed possible. For instance, quantum physicists suggest that “things” exist at once as both wave and particle, and that energy and information reside beyond local spacetime, in multiple states at once, as a “field of potentiality” until consciousness plays a role in manifestation. Quantum neuroscientists have found evidence of quantum oscillations within our neurons. Evidence for psychic perception is strong. And research on near-death, “past life” and out-of-body consciousness is mounting. Come listen and be validated!

Valerie Varan, MS, LPC, NCC, is a holistic psychotherapist and coach in private practice since 2006. She is author of Living in a Quantum Reality: Using Quantum Physics and Psychology to Embrace Your Higher Consciousness. The book was written as a self-help guide for those who have had spiritual or non-ordinary experiences and are seeking support and validation. Valerie is a lifelong spiritual experiencer, the impetus for her deep dive into quantum science, the Bible/other ancient wisdom, near-death, shared-death, out-of-body, paranormal, psychic, energy healing, and other such fields of research. After 40 years of synthesizing what we know, she is eager to share how it is possible to experience beyond the body, link with other minds and multiple dimensions of reality. Valerie’s work has been endorsed by physicists Claude Swanson and Amit Goswami, former NASA engineer and transpersonal psychologist Neil Helm, and energy psychology’s David Feinstein and Fred Gallo.

Janet Elizabeth Colli

Janet Elizabeth Colli, PhD


When Spiritual Awakening Becomes Spiritual Emergency. What differentiates spiritual emergency from spiritual awakening? At times, the evolutionary process of spiritual emergence becomes a crisis, and ego defenses suffer a breakdown. Yet a dark night of the soul or transformational crisis may initiate a radical personality transformation, and higher-order functioning. A historical perspective begins with Stanislav & Christina Grof’s concept of spiritual emergency. We’ve come a long way since Kundalini awakening was framed as transcendence versus psychosis. Aside from Kundalini awakening, what issues may spark spiritual emergencies? As trauma may play a role, psycho-spiritual support, including trauma therapy, and physiological support with Functional Medicine, may be vital. When are transformational processes at odds with Western psychiatry, and when is the medical model warranted? This presentation derives from case files of a transpersonal psychotherapist who has provided support for spiritual emergencies for over 20 years.

Janet Elizabeth Colli, PhD is a psychotherapist in the Pacific Northwest of the United States specializing in spiritual awakening. With expertise in clinical and transpersonal psychology, she bridges psychology with the extraordinary, and the mystical. Catalyzed by a spiritually transformative experience in the context of cancer, Janet now facilitates Spiritual Emergence Seattle — a consultation service integrating psycho-spiritual, physiological & community support. She has presented at the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE) conferences, as well as International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) Conferences. Janet authored the highly acclaimed books: “Sacred Encounters: Spiritual Awakenings During Close Encounters,” and “The Dark Face of Heaven: True Stories of Transcendence Through Trauma,” and with Thomas Beck, Ph.D., “The End of Homo Sapiens: And the Birth of a New Species.”

Ann Berger-Knorr

Ann Berger-Knorr, PhD


Understanding Consciousness: Transcending the Boundaries of Reality as We Know It. In October of 2020, Ann experienced a profound (and spontaneous) mystical experience. For months, she experienced expanded and altered states of consciousness. Having no conceptual framework for understanding the experience, she turned to the literature of transpersonal psychology to understand consciousness. In this presentation, she shares research behind Maslow’s peak and plateau experiences and self-transcendence, Yung’s collective unconsciousness and individuation, Alexander’s higher states of consciousness as described in Vedic psychology, and Wilber’s model of human development and Integral Spirituality. She makes the case that spiritually transformative experiences (broadly defined) are normal (i.e., developmental) and natural (i.e., biological) — and often innately healing. Moreover, they are evolutionary, as our souls seek to transcend normal boundaries and ascend to a higher calling or connection with God or the Divine.

Dr. Ann Berger-Knorr is an Associate Professor of Education at a small liberal arts college in Central Pennsylvania. Ann has been teaching in higher education for over 30 years. Specifically, she teaches literacy courses and research courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs in teacher education. A social scientist by profession, Ann has spent the last three years researching mystical experiences and expanded states of consciousness in an attempt to understand her experience more fully. In addition to her mystical experience, Ann has also experienced other types of spiritual/peak experiences, including various forms of after-death communications.



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