Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

spiritual awakening, spiritual awakening signs, spiritual awakening symptoms
A spiritual awakening is a realization of what is real. Wow. That's not very helpful at all, is it? It's just this side of circular logic: "realization of what is real." Okay. Let's try another one. It's reconnecting to you and the divine, which are ultimately one and the same.

How about that? Is that better?

One of the big things that a spiritual awakening reveals to us--along with the truth--are the vastness of our 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 all of 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 glimpse of 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 is earth-shattering for most people because they start to see how they 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 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 understanding a spiritual realization during awakening is 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.

Spiritual Awakening Signs

I am very cautious to label things as signs of awakening, and 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 like a rush of its own intelligent energy. Some times 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/need for anything external to complete you/completeness as you already are
  • A profound sense of calm, peace, or serenity
  • An abiding sense of one or all of these

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, it is always with you, and things move and align on their own. The lights in the house are all on. Sure you can close your eyes, but you know the truth. There truly is 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. It's connotations frame this beautiful shift as a kind of disease. In fact, you are being cured of the madness 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.

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.

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.

That's a profound love, and 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. 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 the 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. And healing and spiritual growth start to arise intelligently on their own.

Spiritual Shifts Beyond Spiritual Awakening

There are many kinds of spiritual shifts. Spiritual shift is my catch-all phrase unlike how others are speaking today. 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 this still is very manual. You have to put in 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. 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 as 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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