Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Make a Spiritual Awakening Happen

My regular readers are probably already wise to where this topic is going. They already know that you can't MAKE a spiritual awakening happen. You can no more make an awakening happen than you can make a seed sprout regardless of how much fertilizer you use. Yet there are a growing number of people who seem to want to "make" an awakening happen. In this blog post, I am actually more interested in helping you to uncover your motives around this because those will show you where your greatest growth lies as well as what is actually standing in the way of awakening.

Preparation and Readiness for Awakening
In a post I wrote called "An Unexpected Awakening," I differentiated between being prepared for awakening and being ready for awakening. Preparation is what we do in this world. It involves clearing out issues and fears through whatever tools you feel drawn to choose. This may be going to a psychologist, doing yoga, having a meditation practice, following your heart, and other things. However, readiness is a soul decision. You soul knows if it is ready to burst forth in this world into full awakening.

Now I won't say that a lot of tools like shaktipat and kundalini yoga don't do a lot to move internal energy. They do. And I'm a little concerned for those people who are using some of these tools who don't fully understand them or have teachers that fully understand the process. Many people just like the feelings they get from the practices, or they want to get somewhere by using them. Every now and then, someone's soul is going to be ready to awaken, and without the right mindset, the reality of awakening can really overwhelm the individual. It's part of why I write this blog. There are so many spiritual tools now available that were heretofore circulated within small circles of spiritual devotees and initiates, and usually, there was a spiritual teacher who understood the process in its entirety who could help assist people when things really erupted. Now, you can get a kundalini yoga practice online and try to figure it out for yourself. It's not that this is bad, perse, but we've entered a new era of spirituality because of the Internet. With that, many people have brought a lot of juvenile notions about what spirituality and what awakening are, and that causes interesting challenges to arise like the "unexpected awakening" that I blogged about.

Preparing For an Awakening Without Expectations
The big thing in Western Culture are around expectations and trying to get a pain-free life. People hear things like "being free from suffering," and they confuse that with never having difficulty again in life. That's just not how it is. Look at the amount of pain and difficulty that goes on for people around the world just trying to eat on a regular basis. That's not going to go away with awakening. Maybe if the whole world awakens, we'll do a better job of distributing wealth and resources, but there will still be famines, floods, droughts, disease, and crop-failures. That's part of the world we live in. Where we are free of suffering is that we don't turn these events into stories about ourselves, saying: "Oh poor me, this is just my lot in life." Instead we accept them completely and take appropriate action to take care of ourselves and our communities.

So you will still feel pain if you have an awakening.

What Else Is in Your Head?
What else is that you think awakening will get you? "Get" is a keyword here for a lot of people. Western society has been taught to get and accumulate things. If you have an awakening, no one gives you a trophy. You probably won't get much adulation. Any praise I get on this blog is beautiful, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I'm called to do it. I do because I want to clear out the half of a dozen blogs that are downloaded regularly into my head so I can sleep at night. I do it because I love doing it. So in truth, the best way to prepare for an awakening is to let go of any expectations about getting anything and surrender to love. Follow love. Love will lead you down the path to awakening, but she may use sharp knives and heavy hammers. Many people whom you thought you loved and whom you thought loved you will show their true faces. You'll see a lot of lies, and suddenly, you may feel quite alone on the spiritual path. You will see that the lessons you are being taught are much more challenging than any ideal you may have about living in a constant state of bliss where the whole world loves you.

Be prepared to see the fullness of love for the first time ever.

Working With Me and the Preparation I Offer
I titled my ebook: Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening. I did not title it: Everyday Spirituality: Creating an Awakening. You can't do that exactly, although those of you intuitively purifying right now are doing so. Only the soul and that intuitive awareness know how to create all the right circumstances. This is not a mental game, nor should it be. This is a sacred space that is created for the right moment, which ironically enough is always this moment.

And some people don't have any preparation. Their soul is just ready and sprouts forth in untilled land with rocks and thorns and no water to feed it. This is a harrowing time for people who are unprepared. That's another reason that I do the work that I do with students. I help them to cultivate the land. And just in cultivating the land, there's a lot of benefits. You are removing fears and creating space for things to grow naturally in your life. If awakening doesn't happen, that's fine. Just keep working the land--working with yourself--with love. There are plenty of wonderful things that you can enjoy and ways of being to embrace without having an awakening, although ultimately I'd love to see everyone awaken. That is the great hope that many of us have because it will change the whole world.

Nonetheless, I am patient with students, and we work through different layers of stuff as it is appropriate. Just learning the tools to heal issues and open up internal space is a profound practice. It creates that much more space for an awakening, and if it were to spring forth, I'd like to think that anyone withwhom I've been regularly working would be a little more at ease in this sacred shift. Because ultimately, our resistance is what cause so much pain and difficulty in an awakening. And as I've always said, awakening happens in a moment. The spiritual awakening process is the process of making changes in your daily life to embrace that awakening, and hopefully if you are preparing, you can do so with a little more ease.

Ways to Enhance the Energy in Your System
For those of you who really, really, REALLY feel called to awaken, pretty much everything in my ebook is aimed at helping you to do so. You can also look at the blogs in the starting out section. If you sincerely practice a lot of these tools and tips, things will move in your life. You may be surprised. Embracing the fullness of the spiritual path is embracing the fullness of you. Anywhere you've played small in your life or have not lived in your integrity are places where you are going to have to make changes. Hopefully, you'll begin to see the cost of following this path before the big bang hits because then there's no turning back. I want you see what is being asked of you because I want you to mentally choose to let go of everything because you want to and not because you feel like you have to (even though ultimately the person asking you to let go of everything is YOU).

Some other tools that are great to get moving are many of the usual suspects. The spiritual path isn't necessarily about some new fancy technique. It's about purity of heart and intention. This isn't the quick and easy path for most of you. This is the path that requires patience and diligence, and God help you if something comes quickly (Of course, you know where to find me if such a thing happens :). With that said, here are some tools:
  1. Regular meditation. Call your energy back to yourself. This can become an internal prayer during your meditations (30 to 45 minutes per sitting if you want to get focused in it). Let go of other energies and ideas as you call back your energy and attention from the many corners and experiences of your life.
  2. Sexual practice. Claiming your sexual energy and your sexual space is profound. Sexuality creates life; it can also be channeled to ignite an awakening. This is one of the thousand-pound hammers on the spiritual path. Use it sparingly. Also notice that I said claiming your space. Spiritual sexuality starts with you and expanding your awareness of energy before including a partner.
  3. Journaling and Psychology. As I am writing today, these feel like they go hand-in-hand. The idea hear is to look at the workings of your mind. Sometimes an external party is helpful for doing that. Sometimes the journal is enough by itself. Sometimes you need both.
  4. Working With a Spiritual Teacher. Not all spiritual teachers are the same, as I've discussed in "What Is a Spiritual Teacher." However, if you find the right one for you (I'm not always going to be the right one for everyone, btw), a lot of healing and opening can be facilitated. It's a sacred relationship and one that I don't recommend you take too lightly or cavalierly.
  5. Energy Transmissions. Some lineages work in energy transmissions, which is what shaktipat is (I referenced this earlier). This can be a lot of energy to internalize, which is why the other suggestions I've listed are also important. If you flood a field that is unready to receive water, it runs off and doesn't soak in. I've seen it happen in awakening. So this is a tool that really needs the support of a broader practice so you don't just have lots of movement that you can't integrate and own in your own energy space.
Proceeding Gently in Your Preparations for a Spiritual Awakening
Above all else, I encourage you to proceed gently. Give yourself space, rest, lots of clean water, and time to integrate major internal shifts. Don't rush to the next. Some of you can do this; I have done this, admittedly. But we're not all built the same on the inside. You need to find your rhythm, and when things start to get a little uncertain, that trust in your own rhythm will help you to go with the lessons you are being shown and help you to appropriately guide yourself through different swells and storms that the seas of life will bring to you. Because as I said, there's no real telling what will happen.

And there's no life that can be lived that won't have some level of difficulty. Your awakening may bring you more difficulty in life, but if it does, it's likely to be far more rewarding than any ease or luxury you've experienced in the monotonous or potentially miserable safe life you've been trying to live. It's an unknown, and that's just part of the awakening path. In truth, that's just part of life.

Today's lovely photo comes from my student, Jenn. Thanks!
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