I like talking about my spiritual process because I think it helps others contextualize their own spiritual processes with terms that are in use today. Buddhism, yoga, Christianity, and many others have lots of terms, but I think many people are off-put by the archaic nature of them. Hence, we've had a plethora of new teachers suddenly erupting since somewhere in the mid-nineties (Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron, and many more). I believe that they've helped to re-frame the process in today's terms. It's not that the old traditions lack anything, but it seems like there's been a needed translation.
From my point of view, I'm interested in the emotional, psychological, and physical rigors of the process, and a lot of what I'm writing is straight from the maelstrom, the eye of the hurricane, the pavement beneath the running of the bulls (seriously I've felt completely trampled at parts of this process). I am sure that in years forward my perspective will change, but at least it'll be recorded of what it was like at this point. Hopefully this will be helpful to you.
Ringing the Bell
The spiritual awakening process seems to need to ring the bell. This is when you make some big connection to the divine or spirit that alters you. But you probably have some very practical questions like: How the hell do I do that? and Where is the bell and how do I ring it?
Personally, I find it helpful to break things down into the chakra system as I understand it (this system seems to be widely adopted, and yet I think there are lots of different kinds of understandings. Subsequently, I'm sure a purist would have some different interpretations). Anyone into Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs will see similarities in this post. I tend to see cross-over with spirituality across many disciplines.
To get to that spiritual turning point (at least without having a major trauma that forces you to the divine or to sever your connections with your body and ego), here's the rough path that I've followed.
1st Chakra: Survival Stuff and Family Concerns
Taking care of a home and earning enough money to meet our most basic needs is essential. Anyway, it's enough to say that I took care of this stuff. I got a job; I get along reasonably well with my family. That type of stuff was in hand. Plus, it didn't hurt that I took care of my body and didn't have to clean out lots of drugs and alcohol, which can really screw up your perceptions (And being able to interpret all the new information you get on this path is hard enough).
2nd Chakra: Sexuality and Creativity
I've always been very creative, and I've had one or two lovers that allowed me to express myself in this space. This area didn't seem to be mandatory for me to hit that spiritual tipping point, but I see it as an important space that will expand as I manifest this spiritual presence in me (more on this in a later blog).
3rd Chakra: Personal Power and Ego
I've always had a very strong sense of self since about the time that I started picking out my clothes and saying "Mommy, do self." My mother is smiling as she reads this. If anything though, the opening for my spiritual process involved a dismantling of an overly controlling ego in myself. In most of the chakra levels, it was about meeting those needs. With this one, it became about minimizing the amount of energy I had in it.
4th Chakra: Heart
Will the 3rd chakra was getting shrunk or reigned in, this part was vastly expanding. Most of my friends post-2007 see me in a very open-hearted way. Maybe more of my older friends saw me in that light than I realized, but I definitely didn't move with my heart in most of my decisions and ways of being as I do now.
5th Chakra: Voice and Self Expression
I've always been pretty good at expressing myself, but what happened here is that I was talking about spiritual topics. It's stuff that I've always known, but hadn't verbalized much outside of my family. Having a community to discuss this with and be a sounding board for me really helped, and I believe this was my accelerator into a spiritual awakening. While I was talking about a lot of stuff, I really hadn't had that big ring the bell moment. (There are lots of ways that you can accelerate into an awakening. Sexuality actually can be one of them; it's one of the ways to enlightenment. Usually, there's too many issues in that space for someone to focus that energy that way, or perhaps that's just this culture.)
6th Chakra: Intuition and Intellect
Opening the mind to intuition and the messages from God/the Universe/Great spirit/[insert your favorite deity's name here] allows you to find the flow in your life. You can discover what your truths are, and then you can talk about them. My 5th and 6th chakras definitely worked in tandem on this. The intellect is also extremely important in this puzzle. Mine was already super-strong, which allowed me to contextualized, own, and deeply realize a lot of my intuitions. I did have to work to let go of judgments around what I'd intuit, but my family's openness to intuition had already given me a lot of space to do that.
7th Chakra: Connection to the Divine
This is very simple. It's faith. It's profound trust. I'd had a couple moments in my life where I felt that God had revealed something to me or protected me. So, I always felt reasonably open.
And Then, Ah-Ha!
Activating all these chakras, fulfilling them, then the space gets set up for something to happen. There's no magic moment that I can describe that will make it happen. I've found a lot of tools such as meditation, community, a spiritual teacher or three, fasting (although I never really go into it), aligning to your body's true needs for health and diet, journaling, journaling, journaling, and being willing to jump like a damned idiot into the fire (spontaneity/faith/kamikozi-ness). It all lined up in a motel in Oregon of all places in August of 2007, and I haven't been the same since.
However, your moment will come only when it's ready. But if you work through your different chakras to clear and open them, then a lot of stuff can move into your life. You'll find out a lot about yourself in the process, and God save you, a spiritual awakening may suddenly ignite in your life.