Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can a Spiritual Awakening Go Wrong?

I've had this question posed to me a couple of times, because of the tremendous pain--sadness, fear, rage, et al. that many people have to process and heal. Spiritual awakening is a tremendous force to move through the heart, mind, and body. It is this profound realization of what is real that immediately starts clearing out the stuff that doesn't serve us. And it can truly be intense. But can it actually go wrong? Here are some thoughts.

Higher Truth Vs. Truth of the Moment
As I mention in this blog about the two truths, higher truth is something like "everything is love." No thing can go wrong in this space. Everything is unfolding exactly as it should. This includes the Renaissance, Reformation, Dark Ages, and Holocaust. It's a profound space of understanding to connect to this deeper flow where the conditional statements of good and evil pass like ghosts of thoughts. From this space, no. No spiritual awakening can ever go wrong. Nothing can go wrong because there's no longer a judge presiding over everything to evaluate what is right and what is wrong, although in our hearts we know when something is out of alignment (which is a little bit different).

The truth of the moment speaks to the fact that some things and experiences are right for us and others are not. I'm not okay with the Holocaust. I think that anyone who thinks genocide is an okay solution needs to be locked away and healed. There are many things that aren't okay because they actively perpetuate pain and suffering. Murder, rape, and so forth are on that list. And so are some simpler things. There are old ways of behaving in the world that are no longer appropriate for me, and as someone moves through their spiritual shifts, it actually becomes clear what's right and what's not right for someone in that sense of what aligns to their higher truth. In that way, the higher truth I just mentioned becomes the foundation for appropriately seeing what is appropriate or not appropriate, what alleviates suffering or perpetuates suffering, in any given moment.

Feelings, Pain, and Deeper Understandings of Spiritual Awakening
Now with all that said, to say that a spiritual awakening is going wrong is kind of a misconception. The awakening happens, and it lights up all the things in your way to fully embodying your light. Subsequently, people can find themselves in intense pain from emotional to physical ailments, and they can think that that means that something is going "wrong."

And from the vantage point of the truth of the moment, there may be something that isn't right in your process. But in spiritual awakening, you look at it differently. You look at it as, "How can I create space to experience this pain that is coming up in a safe space?" You don't look at it as, "How can I get this f'ing sh*t over with and get away from these awful feelings?" Those are two fundamentally different attitudes. The latter is usually the ego still holding on to what it thinks it's desired spiritual experience should be. But spirituality leaves nothing out. And for much of our lives, we've repressed and stored up an excess of pain that we didn't allow ourselves to feel. Well, the bottle is open ladies and gentlemen. Lots of stuff is going to come up, and you can't rush that part. So when you're experiencing old issues, you need to allow them. Embrace them and let them go. Don't squelch them down. That can slow the process, although I don't think anything is even necessarily going wrong in those cases.

Potential Causes of Concern in Awakening
However, there are a couple of things that I've seen that tend to suggest that someone needs more outside help and more internal allowing/letting go. The problems people face in awakening is almost always (about 90%--because I totally can measure spiritual stuff :) from internal resistance. You're stuck on some ideas about what your process should be like, when you should have it, or if you should even be having it. This thinking can get you stuck because it is thinking that is stuck in ideas and not the reality you are living in. The resulting pain can become excruciating.

So here are a couple causes of concern:
  1. REALLY, really, REALLY intense fatigue. This goes beyond you're really tired from the five marathons that you're running internally. This goes beyond needing to sleep about 14 hours a day. This is going towards non-functionality. Whatever is holding on needs external help to give you the additional energy to push it out because while spiritual awakening can be exhausting, it should not be debilitating, generally speaking. Usually what's being exhausted is the ego, but deep trauma, really old karma, and other issues stuck in the physical, emotional, and energetic aspects of you can be exhausting as well. In these instances, you may need some help.
  2. Despair leading towards complete emotional shutdown. This is the near to the bottom of the abyss. I would say that the ego is holding on here so hard that it is subsequently repelling all external help. The ego may also be so shattered it can't piece anything back together into a semblance of a coherent way of living. Everything has been moved around so much that the individual is quite lost. This is where some edge cases can feel suicidal especially if they have a lot of self-hatred and abuse issues to work through. It is also a place where the individual needs a lot of helping hands.
  3. Extreme rage bordering on self-violence. This person actually has a lot of pent up energy. The first two are situations where the energy has been really blocked out or dissipated in some way. In this one, the energy needs direction, and most likely, its needs a physical activity to release some very deep-seated issues. Physical activities and things like rites of passage can be important for someone in this space to have a deep and physical letting go. As with the other two, this is often an ego issue, although it can easily be some other long-seated karmic issue. The unseen issues that are stuck in people are certainly the hardest to root out at times (early childhood abuse can be one). As I also mentioned, in almost all cases, it's time to get external help to move through these blocks.
You Still Haven't Answered the Question
You're right. I haven't answered the question if a spiritual awakening can go wrong because I think it's an individual question. Everyone has to go through what everyone has chosen to go through. Some people may have chosen a path to awakening that also goes deep into that place of despair. Some people have chosen to find the very bottom of self-hatred. It's horrible to most of us to think of it, but there are deeper truths at work that we cannot see and deeper divine work at play. All I can say is that if you feel like things aren't going well and you don't know what to do, it's time to get help. It's time to find other spiritual tools, healers, friends, and spiritual teachers to boost you through those tough parts. That's true of anyone regardless of how "well" things seem to be going. Sometimes, when things are "going well" and we're having lots of "pleasant" experiences, we're actually avoiding the stuff we really need to dig out.

And you can't compare your awakening to anyone else's. It is so intensely individual, which is another reason why I can't tell you if it can go wrong or not. I kinda don't believe that it can. I kinda believe that when this deep integrity has started moving in us and has come alive that we've already made a big course correction in our lives. Whether we can acknowledge it or not, we're now a lot closer to the truth.

Letting Go of Evaluating Your Spiritual Awakening
In all of this, there's a little ego game going on. The ego is now trying to get spiritual awakening right. It's trying to win at it or something. Stop. Just stop. There's nothing to win at. It will be what it will be. And so long as you've focused on love and kindness to yourself and others, what else could be more important? Nothing, I should think. The evaluation is part of the problem. You don't let go of your mind in this process. You have to retrain it. In so doing, you learn how to better be with pain while letting go of this evaluating function. Feeling pain is the real issue here when people ask about if an awakening can go wrong. Everyone assumes that if they're in pain, then something is wrong. Well, yes and no.

Good Discomfort and Warning Pain

I always like to do a vinyasa yoga example with pain. There's good pain, and there's bad pain. The good pain, which I usually refer to as discomfort, is when you're focused and working an area of your body that is inflexible or weak. There can be a real fiery feeling to that exertion, and afterwards, you may feel a lot better for having done the exercise. The bad pain is when it feels like you're just about to tear open your knee cap. It's warning you that you're going to damage something. So one of the pieces that you have to learn in your spiritual awakening is to differentiate what feels like discomfort that is clearing and what feels like pain that is warning you about doing permanent harm. This, in and of itself, is a blog topic for another time to really explain and talk through. But if you have questions, you're welcome to contact me directly to discuss it more. Just remember that a lot of the pain we experience has been there inside us for a long time, and one of the big ways we make room for the fullness of spiritual awareness is to clear out this junk.


Last Thoughts on Awakening and Right or Wrong
Having said all this, if you don't make space for your awakening, I think you can end up in some really painful and inconclusive places. I describe awakening like a river in many of these posts. If you do the work to give the river some guidance, it is a powerful force that can do a lot to guide your life in return. If you don't, it can overrun the banks and go everywhere, making a big nasty bog. In this place, you get stuck. And the dams that have been holding you back can't get cleared out without enough focused force. Those blocks tend to stay in place if you don't embrace your awakening. Hence, this is a situation where you can find yourself exhausted and in deep despair. It certainly may not be easy to give this awakening banks/guidance at times, and there may be more force and water than you know what to do with. But as I like to remind people, you are getting exactly what you've chosen to experience, and only you can find the tools to guide it. This awakening is meant for you. You know how to be with it and what to endure and what to open up to. Trust yourself if nothing else, and remember that there is always help available when you truly need it.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...