Monday, September 26, 2011
How Long Does a Spiritual Awakening Take?
Awakening Is Timeless, But You Live in a World Working Off of Time
It's time for another reminder that spiritual awakening is a time-free event. It happens in a moment. It happens in less than a moment. It usually happens in some amazing instant of letting go of everything. The rush of beauty and aliveness that comes to you is unparalleled. If this is more than a transitory opening, the gears of change have been flung into a high speed, and the process of integrating this awareness with your entirety begins.
The way I've experienced awakening and how see it is unique to me. How it will work for you will be different. I think that's always important to say. Some people will be able to awaken and integrate their awakening entirely in an instant. That's their path. But for many of us, we still don't fully let go. It's like walking out of the darkness of a cave into broad daylight. We're so sunblind that we scramble back towards the cave. Along with that metaphor, there is an adjustment time period to be able to handle this new way of seeing and interacting with the world. That's just part of living in a body, and I don't want to lead you on to think that there isn't some ongoing work and self-care that goes with awakening. And for the purpose of this blog, a lot of that work goes to clear away the inner resistance that you have from remaining fear, anger, sadness, and the usual suspects. How long that takes for you will determine how long it takes for your awakening to fully integrate.
Time Has No Meaning to Awakening
It is hard to wrap your brain around how awakening functions outside of time. In this plane of existence, it's more a function of our own inner resistance. I usually like to compare it to water. There's a way that we have to give ourselves to the flow of it, and yet at the same time, we have to remember to use our paddle. For some of you, you may be making your paddle and learning to use your paddle at the same time. It depends on your upbringing. If you've been living in a very abusive family your whole life, it can take awhile to re-orient yourself so that you know how to interact with your family from a space of integrity for yourself while also making appropriate boundaries for yourself to hold and protect this awareness. I know that protect isn't exactly the right world in the land of "spiritual jargon" because it is an ego function, and from the highest level of awareness, there is nothing to protect. But down in the world of time and abusive step-fathers, a glass hurled at your head hurts. And making a boundary will be saying that that's not something you want to experience while taking steps to protect yourself or remove yourself from that situation.
Lost in the Endless Loop of Pain
Everyone also moves through different issues and levels of karmas at different speeds and in different ways. For one person, an issue around desire may be easier to heal than for another. So, you can't think about how long something will last for you based on what worked with a friend or someone else. You have to do the work, and then allow the process based on your needs. That to me is part of the exhalation and inhalation, the contraction and expansion of the spiritual awakening. It is very alive, and you will feel as you contract down into your smallness and down to where core issues are anchoring you in old pain. In these contracted moments, you are gifted with the opportunity to clear more of them and breathe more awareness into these spaces. As you do that, your next expansion is much broader and more stable because there's less to pull you back down into the pain. The less pain you hold onto, the bigger energy space you can potentially hold (although it's entirely different for everyone--it kinda depends on what your life work will be as to the type of space you hold for yourself and others).
What you can't do is to just lie on the floor and hope it'll all go away. There is a necessity for lots of rest and so much self-care. You are like an infant after an awakening. You need to treat yourself that way and be very careful with how you expend your energy. But if you think that just lying around and not doing anything will help you or is some kind of acceptance, you're going to find out much to the opposite. There's a lot of low-energy, heavy karma that tries to pin many people down in their awakenings, and feeling victimized by an awakening (which believe it or not, you aided and abetted in one way or another) is a nasty trap. The ego is turning the awakening into some kind of vile perpetrator, and it is also trapping you to re-experience pain endlessly. The process of clearing pain is a matter of experiencing and releasing. A lot of the spiritual tools that we use during this integration time period are ways to do those two things. If meditation doesn't work, use chanting. If chanting doesn't work, find someone who can do a vision quest with you. There's a lot of tools at hand, and you're going to need to use a lot of them as well as different ones at different times for different issues.
Not Getting Stuck on One Spiritual Tool
Continuing this theme of using different tools as they are appropriate, I see and hear a lot of people who just try to meditate through everything. I don't know what they're expecting will happen. It's like trying to use a hammer for everything. It's great for putting nails into wood or yanking nails out. But it can't cut wood, drill holes, or paint the ceiling. Yet, some people get stuck using inappropriate tools for a wide variety of situations. For instance, if your job is now unbearable and doesn't suit your deeper purpose anymore, you have to job-hunt and find a new one. You don't generally meditate out of the job unless you're clearing space to think, imagine, or intuit a new job. After that, you apply for jobs. You probably don't have to find your ultimate ideal job; you probably just need a job to act as bridge to take care of finances while you figure out yourself through this process. But lying around meditating at night hoping your work situation will change will not get you where you need to go.
In many ways, the embodied awakening that is happening for many of you is about conscious action. So we meditate. We learn to understand ourselves. We learn to speak our truth. We learn to love ourselves and others, and we learn to take conscious action to create the world that we want to live in. Now, we don't have to rebuild everything all at once. Life is just a moment at a time sort of deal. Just build one piece at a time, and put one brick in place at a time to your new life. Doing this tends to help activate that energy flowing through us and dissolve fears around the unknown that are still lingering inside. It really has helped to smooth my transition into the space of spiritual teacher and awakened being.
Learning to Understand Your Own Cycles and Shifts
One of the things that often surprises people is how attuned I am to my cycles and shifts. I am very aware of the number of months and years in different big and smaller cycles in my life--different combinations of expansions and contractions. I encourage you to pay attention to yours. I would even encourage you to look back in life to see if there are bigger patterns that you've moved through in general. Look at when big life events have happened and how much time has passed between them. Perhaps you can even categorize different times of your life. Some parts were more focused on outward relationships, others were focused on work. Some are more difficult, and some are easier. There's a lot of ways to do this, but it can give you an idea about how the natural intelligence of your life is evolving. That may give you some idea about the timeline that you're naturally working on. It may not. It may also not give you the answer you want because a part of your ego really just wants this awakening and integration crap to be done with.
One thing at a time.
Spiritual Awakening and Continuing Evolving Cycles
Of course, we aren't static beings, and just because we move through the big awakening and shift doesn't mean we're going to suddenly become stone statues. It's my personal theory that awakening is a big shift because it's been building up for years under the lid that we put on top of it to keep it down. So there's a huge excess of built up energy that erupts forth. As it dies down, we move into softer and more manageable shifts that will likely be with us our whole lives. Now that we aren't resisting them, they can come and go more easily. We can integrate the pieces that we need more easily and let the wave go again, trusting that it'll return with additional awareness and energy that we need as we're ready for it. It's a gentle sea, and while life itself will be full of its own turbulence, tapping into this deeper awareness is an invitation into a deep and timeless serenity that can hold us through any storm.
Don't worry that you can't see the end of this shift right now. No one can. Only the ego is so bold to think that it can predict anything much less the profound and life-changing shift that is a spiritual awakening. So let go. Let go more deeply, and then let go again. This process will take as long as it needs to. Just be sure that you engage with it and do your part to make space for it to live and breathe and transform your life.
For more thoughts, check out this spiritual awakening video about the topic: