Peak Experiences: What Are They and Who Experience Them?
Peak experiences are experiences that characterize transpersonal and ecstatic states. According to Maslow, peak experiences involve opening up one’s vision through limitless horizons, individuals feeling of greater power or helplessness, failure to place in time and space, and the conviction that valuable happenings. These experiences strengthen or transform an individual’s daily life subjects and events. New experiences are triggered by a number of events. They can occur in response to nature, through sexual encounters, or religious involvement and experiences. According to Maslow, the experiences are exciting and joyous life moments.
The experiences are associated with sudden feelings of well-being and happiness. Intense negative situations such as severe illness or confronting death influence the development of the experiences. Powerful peak experiences make self-sense dissolve into greater unity awareness. Although the experiences are transitory in nature, studies show they last long and have the ability to transform an individual’s life. These studies prove the role of the peak experiences in individual integration, fulfillment, and personal growth. Reports on people’s peak experiences show distinctive characteristics such as lasting significance, joy, freedom, fulfillment, and sense of self, among others.
Self-actualized people are the main but not the only people who experience peak experiences. Self-actualized, especially those who are more religious, philosophical, poetical, and musical self-actualized people. However, some individuals experience them during their childhood, a development stage where self-actualization is underdeveloped. The experiences are limited to practical people who involve real-world scenarios, politics, and reforms when working in the social world. Peakers have an altered and awe-inspiring perspective of perceiving the world. Peakers are inspired by deep meditation, overwhelm of nature’s beauty, or the use of substances such as marijuana.
The experiences transcend individuals ego, affirms the value and meaning of existence, and changes individual to their better side of life. Although every individual must have encountered a number of peak experiences throughout their life, many people take the experiences for granted, whereby they suppress and resist the experiences. Many people often consider peak experiences to be personal and find no need to report their peak experiences to others. This makes people assume that some people are nonpeakers. Although there is a small number of people who have never experienced peak experiences, the majority of those who claim to be nonpeakers ignore, resist or suppress the experiences. They all need to be provided experiences should be introduced to them to enhance integration, fulfillment, and personal growth.
Peak experiences can be experienced at any stage of human development. Those who experience the experiences during their early stages of life, especial before the sense of self-recognition, are likely to think they are nonpeakers, especially when the experiences are limited in their adulthood. Studies show that even individuals with delayed development are capable of experiencing peak experiences. This is among the few episodes which Maslow referred to when he argued that some peak experiences are self-actualization evidence. However, most individuals in the lower level of development rarely allow themselves to accommodate such experiences, unlike the self-actualized individuals. This explains the reason why the experiences exclusively occur to self-actualized individuals.