Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

spiritual awakening, spiritual awakening signs, spiritual awakening symptoms
A spiritual awakening is the abiding re-connection with reality. It's reconnecting you and the divine, which are ultimately one and the same. From that connection, your true self arises to heal old wounds, move you into alignment with the Divine, and shift you towards your truest way of expressing yourself and living your life.

Some of the things that a spiritual awakening reveals to us--along with the truth--are our self-imposed limitations. A spiritual awakening is felt throughout your body, heart, mind, and soul, but no sooner has that erupted then you are forced to see how limited you have been in so many regards. That bright light shining in the inner most depths of us asks us a potent question: "Now that we know the truth, will we clean up our home or will we try to ignore our illusions, pain, and misconceptions?"

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Many Initial Spiritual Awakening Experiences

There's no one way that people experience an awakening. The awakened state embraces all experiences and states of awareness. However, there are some common trends in awakening. For some, spiritual awakening is a sudden, penetrating moment where something is seen and realized. Sometimes there's a lot of energy to it, which is hallmark to what many people call a kundalini spiritual awakening. Sometimes, a spiritual awakening is a profound moment of clarity about something or some aspect of one's self. Sometimes, a spiritual awakening is a kind of collapse where someone finally lets go of something, and the truth is revealed.

People experience spiritual awakenings in many, many ways, and while they should not be confused with a spiritual awakening opening, there's no one way it happens to someone. However, the arising of the truth within you definitively stays, and your life is altered in a spiritual awakening. The question is do you embrace it or do your resist?

Reality Versus Illusion

From the perspective of the mind, a spiritual awakening offers you a clearer understanding of what is real versus what is illusory. You may perceive all the things that are made up, and when you get right down to it, just about everything is made up. The initial awakening may not be earth-shattering for most people. It may be more gradual as the individual begins to see how s/he bought into a certain way of living, decided some things were important and others were not, and so on. The basics of life also become very simple as the focus organically moves towards things like unconditional love, truth, and integrity to others. But in awakening, it also means giving up and letting go of tons of illusions about who you thought you are.

This is how the mind often views a spiritual awakening. Remember that awakening will affect everything--your heart, body, and subtle energy. Be aware that intellectually understanding a spiritual realization during awakening is just the beginning of embodying it.

I Get It!

Truly a spiritual awakening is an amazing moment, and as I've mentioned, it comes in all shades and shapes for everyone. I had one friend who says that she went around for a couple of weeks just saying, "I get it." And there's nothing more to be said really. This is very frustrating for all of us in the West where we quantify and explain the importance of everything. This spiritual awakening blog is in itself a bit of an oxymoron because I can't really explain a spiritual awakening. I can only point to something with these words, but these words are not awakening.

Another friend had a powerful experience where he simply asked, "Who am I?" In that sincere moment, the glass shattered, and the truth that he did not know who he was was seen. From that awakened moment, the truth erupted and began to re-shape his life.

When Your Spiritual Awakening No Longer Matters

Spiritual Awakening Signs

I am very cautious to label things as signs of awakening. In truth, a spiritual awakening is just the beginning. It is the light coming on in the house so that you can see everything for what it is. Now comes the immense urge to clean-up, heal, and expand your space, and all of this comes naturally in a rush of intelligent energy. Sometimes, it can feel so strong that the unconscious ego that may be clinging on will feel like this is all "happening to you." But be sure, you have chosen it, and if you don't feel that way, then now is an especially important to time to consciously choose what is already unfolding in your life.

In general, some real spiritual awakening signs are these:
  • Unconditional love
  • Being able to clearly see what is real
  • Loss of desire or need for anything external to complete you / wholeness as you already are
  • A profound sense of calm, peace, or serenity
  • An abiding energy that moves you intelligently and continually

This last part is key. Many people have profound spiritual openings and glimpses of awakening, which is wonderful. But in an opening or glimpse, the window opens, and then it shuts. When it shuts, a person can go back to the way they were acting before. This happens all the time after people have gone to spiritual retreats or spent time with spiritual teachers. But in awakening, the divine energy is now in motion. Your perspective, emotions, and physical sensations all move and align seemingly on their own. The lights in the house are all on. Sure you can close your eyes, but you know the truth. There can be a feeling that there is no going back.

All other spiritual awakening signs that you hear about can arise from awakening if the above ones are present. They're secondary spiritual awakening signs or symptoms, although I don't prefer the term spiritual awakening symptom. The word "symptoms" has connotations of experiencing a disease. In fact, you are being cured of the illnesses you have been living in.

Without the above spiritual awakening signs, there's all kinds of reasons people can feel fatigue, energy shifts, and what not. Many people are trying to self-diagnose a lot of issues, and so we must be very mindful about what we "blame" on awakening.

The Dark Awakening

I want to add a new term to this spiritual awakening blog post, and that's the dark awakening. When someone awakens and has tons of pain, they may plunge into a period of ego and/or physical collapse. This can be a time of undiagnosable physical ailments and all kinds of emotional pain. They feel totally in the dark and often feel very helpless. I've seen this happen with three students, and it can be confusing because there is no sense of peace, love, clarity, or wholeness. Instead, that abiding divine intelligence starts moving the person right into their issues, and any sense of bliss or clarity doesn't arise until much later--even years later--in their spiritual journey. Hence, many people who have a dark awakening don't even realize they've awakened.

The key in knowing if you've awakened or not is that spiritual inner work makes a huge difference. There are lots of reasons someone can get plunged into some kind of unknown illness or deep depression. However when someone awakens, spiritual help and inner work open up spaces inside that need to be healed and which are being pressurized by the awakened energy. As someone embraces the pain and learns to listen to it, they start to learn how to break down the walls that are resisting this inner truth and love. The darkness recedes, and they start to feel better. They begin to understand themselves and find clarity. With dedication, there tend to be moments of the aforementioned love and truth, and a person who has had a dark awakening might even have a moment of bliss that arises. However, a blissful experience is not the goal. Freedom is the real opportunity here, and in a dark awakening, the path to true spiritual freedom starts immediately by embracing pain.

How to Find and Release Physical Pain During a Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Awakening in Eugene, Oregon

I have had many, many types of spiritual experiences, spiritual revelations, and spiritual realizations, but the one where I really was suddenly "here" was in a motel in Eugene, Oregon. I love saying this because so many spiritual seekers are running all over the place to India and ashrams and sacred sites to find themselves, but really, we're always right here. You're always with you. You can't get away from you--even if that's sometimes what you want to do.

No, no, my awakening wasn't in any sort of spiritual place. It was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling of a motel room. It wasn't a comfortable bed. I remember it being stiff/hard and far too small for me. There was no aromatic incense in the room, and I'm not sure that I'd even meditated that day. In general, I didn't meditate at all during the time running up to my spiritual awakening (Meditation is important, but not in achieving enlightenment/awakening. Read this spirituality blog post about Spiritual Self-Work Turns to Self-Care for more on this topic)

Back to my story. And then, there I was. All the noise shut off in my head. It was like coming out from a really noisy concert into a silent inner room. I didn't need to do anything or go anywhere. All desire dropped away except possibly the desire to share the experience, which came later.

But I was here fully in the present moment, and then the inner work begin.

Letting Go and the Grand Revealing

Spiritual awakening (or enlightenment or ascension or many other words--they're the same to me) is not a new thing. It is always here with us. It cannot be attained because it is innately part of all of us. As such, spiritual seeking is often a little backwards. It can be useful to get started, but eventually, letting go is the truest way to this deep space of love and connection. I want to emphasize the connection part of this path. The unconscious ego gets us caught up in duality--separation. We get separated from ourselves mainly because we believe we are separated. The more we get caught up in the external world, in ideas, in experiences, and so on, the more separated we tend to get. This includes on the spiritual path. Some of the most unconscious people you will ever meet are on the spiritual path. The worst are the ones spreading hate about other "non-believers" of their path. This is in no way spiritual, even though the Divine loves them and holds them too.

Loving people who spread hate is a profound love, but it's a love to which we all have access. In a spiritual awakening, people find an amazing new depth of love and connection to all beings, although everyone gets different flavors. I wouldn't have described my spiritual awakening as having that dominating love flavor at first. That flavor has come out as I've moved into my self-work to pull away my lies and illusions. For others, love is a huge initial flavor while truth and clarity may be hazy for awhile. They don't really know how to express what they know. All ways that people experience a spiritual awakening are beautiful, but as I've said, what really sets this arising apart from the many, many other kinds of spiritual shifts is that it abiding. When the energy abides, healing and spiritual growth arise intelligently on their own.

Lost on the Spiritual Path

Spiritual Shifts Beyond Spiritual Awakening

There are many kinds of spiritual shifts. Spiritual shift is my catch-all phrase. Many people speak of spiritual awakening as the catch-all phrase for spiritual experiences, and I only point it out so that you're clear about how I'm discussing this topic. Spiritual shifts can be things like:
  • A small spiritual epiphany that someone's critiques at work are their way of helping you.
  • A spiritual realization that you're not happy with your marriage or job even though you've gotten what you thought you wanted.
  • A spiritual revelation such as you are not your mind or the thoughts that have been talking to you your whole life.

However, even with a spiritual revelation, people don't necessarily change. Some do. But a lot of your spiritual journey at this point is very manual: you have to put in the work. You have to figure some things out. It doesn't mean that hard work doesn't come with a spiritual awakening, But an awakening tends to drive you towards things in a way that frightens a lot of people at first. You don't know where you're going. Even if your latest revelation is that you never know where you were going in the first place, people tend to hang on to familiarity against their best interests. It should also be said that epiphanies, realizations, and revelations abound in an awakening. Integrating all of them into your heart, body, and mind can be more than a little exhausting.

The Paths to Spiritual Awakening

The spiritual path is not necessarily an easy path. Few people turn to the spiritual path because they're happy with their lives and don't want to lose what they've got. The path of outward success only works for those who have found that all the things they've achieved haven't given them the fulfillment they sought. The path of failure is much more often the path that leads people inwards. In failing, you're willing to open up to something greater because you feel like you've got nothing to lose. This is also the path of great healing, and spontaneous spiritual awakening does arise for those who never wanted it or sought the spiritual path. Truly, the path to spiritual awakening is many and varied.

Ultimately, the point of an awakening is to be able to live your life freely and without fear. It's about touching the deepest levels of love and connection, and it's already right here, right now.

Today's picture is a gift from my regular blog reader, Ricci.

Next blog: Why do You Want a Spiritual Awakening?

You can also enjoy my video on the topic here:

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