Transforming Trauma Episode111: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Spiritual Integrity With Jac O’Keeffe
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In this episode of Transforming Trauma, Emily speaks with Jac O'Keeffe, President and founding member of the Association for Spiritual Integrity (ASI), an organization committed to bringing higher levels of integrity to the culture of spiritual leadership. The pair discuss Jac’s educational and spiritual evolution, the role of empathy and accountability within ASI’s anti-authoritarian model, spiritual bypass, and the link between agency, trauma healing, and personal divinity.
The impact of any religious or spiritual practice usually rests on the self-knowledge and integrity of its leaders. Jac is passionate about supporting those spiritual leaders who’ve failed to address complex trauma in their personal histories. This omission prevents many leaders from effectively supporting their students, or worse, leads them to perpetuate spiritual misconduct and outright abuse.
“I want to help spiritual leaders do better,” affirms Jac, who’s been on her quest for continual improvement as an independent spiritual teacher for over 15 years. Her work––which includes teachings, talks, retreats, and the books Born To Be Free and How To Be A Spiritual Rebel––empowers individuals who are done outsourcing their spiritual awakening. Jac envisions a future where spiritual leaders, regardless of tradition or affiliation, hold trauma work as part of their spiritual practice rather than antithetical to achieving enlightenment. “It's about the inclusion of all aspects of our experience. The inclusion of everything is what brings us towards the divine oneness,” she says, adding, “There’s no part of ourselves that can be shunned.”
With its compassionate code of ethics and inclusive peer support, ASI invites spiritual leaders to learn more about trauma and specifically address their own unresolved trauma. This includes a greater understanding of spiritual bypass and the way this leads to acting-out. “The disconnection from our body – which can happen through extensive spiritual practice – leads us to denying, to having our own traumatic experiences in the shadows,” warns Jac. She says spiritual leaders, teachers, and guides must visit these “enclaves of humanness” so that their spiritual integration becomes a process of maturation that they can then extend to their students.
Transforming Trauma is galvanized by Jac O’Keeffe’s work with ASI to promote accountability, robust ethical principles, and trauma healing among spiritual leaders and their communities.
Jac O’Keeffe is a theology graduate from the Pontificate University of Ireland with postgraduate studies in adult education. Working as an independent spiritual teacher for more than 15 years, she guides people in the unfoldment of their own spiritual journey. In her books, teachings, talks and retreats, she supports the empowerment of individuals who are done with bypassing, done with hiding, done with outsourcing their spiritual awakening to gurus. Her books include Born to Be Free and How to Be a Spiritual Rebel.
Jac is the President and founding member of the Association for Spiritual Integrity (ASI), an organization with a mission to bring high levels of integrity to the culture of spiritual leadership.
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