Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spiritual Awakening and Pain: The Torment of Internal Resistance

A metaphor for spiritual awakening and resisting the process.
The Spiritual Road Isn't As Cold As It May Seem
One of the most common concerns around spiritual awakening is the arising of pain and discomfort. There's this very juvenile thought that spiritual awakening brings with it the end of all difficulty in life. It doesn't. It brings with it the opportunity to be released from suffering, which is very different. Suffering is of the mind. It is how we try to make life fit our ideas of it, and because life will never comply, we endlessly suffer. Awakening illuminates the folly of this and shows us the truth of our lives. But along with the beauty awakening may show us, it will also show us the trash and debris that we've filled our lives with.

However, many people still will cling to these attachments, fears, desires, and needs. And with the rush of awakened energy opened up inside, there is the meeting of resistance and flow. Then the pain starts.

The Bliss Subsides

For many people, spiritual awakening brings immense bliss and enjoyment. It's like floating in this other world that you never knew could exist. You see the reality of life. You see the beauty in life. You may see the beauty in suffering as in pleasure, and you understand these truths.

But as these truths descend into you to take root, they most often hit resistance. The moment you resist this energy--this flow of change and love--is the moment the bliss state begins to fade, potentially to never return.

And of course, how could it return? This is a very special time frame, and you have to be in a certain space to experience bliss in this way. In many respects, most people experience bliss in a very naive way since they've never touched it before. The more integrated experiences of bliss are much different. They aren't floating and surreal. Instead, they bring an intense clarity and love to your life in a whole other way. And these moments may appear, but resistance has to be released. Inner space has to be made for more of the awakened you. But you're most likely going to have to do some inner work to create that space.

The Pain Grows and Intensifies

People love to blame things, situations, and other people. The same goes for spiritual awakening. Sure, it was all fun and games until something had to get a little deeper and more serious. Suddenly, the light switch that went off in your inner world is showing you the leaking sewage in your basement, but you didn't want to see that. You just wanted to feel good all the time like a perpetual sugar rush. Oh, humanity...we have become so childish.

And so many people avoid this situation. They run to a spiritual teacher, retreat center, meditation group, commune, or something else. They try to constantly do kind acts for others thinking that they can over compensate for the issue or something. But still, the sewage leak continues in the basement. This issue may be undealt with pain with family members, fear of being alone, fear of following your heart, anger at a past lover, and so many more things that I won't even attempt to continue this list. It's all there. All the pain that you've experienced or inflicted on others is there. It's why I spend so much time talking about the importance of healing on this blog because if you don't do it before an awakening arrives, you most certainly will have to after it comes.

Excruciating Pressures on Parts of the Body

But instead, people continue the avoidance of the issues, and so the pain intensifies. Now, this doesn't mean you're a bad person either. That's not how this situation works. You aren't being punished for your sins or forced to endure a terrible ordeal. You're being asked to open up to love and to release old pain. You aren't meant to suffer on this path, and you aren't being asked to do anything super-human. You are merely having to face yourself, and with that can come an immense amount of intensity.

One of the easiest to point out and most common types I've heard about are pressures on the top of the head and forehead. Abiding that you have been checked out with the local MD community, those pressures are usually examples of where your mind is getting in the way of the energy. It's usually holding onto its ideas about what it should be experiencing or how it wants to have this awakening or not have this awakening. That's like building a dam in front of the river, and the pressure is building. It will build until it bursts or until after some long period of time, the energy gets all dammed up again. And awakening is an afterthought, although you never really go back completely to sleep. You simply will know that you missed something, and there may be this sad, painful longing and regret that washes up inside you from time to time that chills you and that you cannot seem to forget.

And the Pain Grows Further: Movement Becomes Difficult

I'm going to keep going here because people have so much resistance inside that they can practically debilitate themselves. It tends to be even worse when someone has deep trauma or pain, and if you stir in a really, really un-relenting ego with potentially some past-life issues, then you've got the recipe for someone who may get locked in suffering for some time. This person will hate the awakening, and s/he will very likely blame it for ruining her/his life. Jobs and doing pretty much anything become impossible. This person may not even be able to move very much without feeling pain. It's not necessarily because you shouldn't be working; it's more because all your energy is diverted to this inner war.

The suffering is immense and unrelenting in this situation. It can bring about severe depression, at which point it is high past the time for getting external help and support. But these egos that get to this point are so mired and dug in that the individual often won't go for help. And if you are one of these people, I strongly encourage you to seek out help if pain has gotten so severe and all the Western doctors keep saying, "We can't find anything physically wrong with you." There are those of us who do understand, but it will always have to come from you to ask for help and then do the work of letting go inside.

The Amazing Magic of Letting Go

Then one day, the individual makes a decision to let go. Often this is a kind of giving up. This is when the individual finally realizes that s/he can't beat the awakening. In truth, this is a wildly unfortunate perspective. Because the awakening is just that person. The awakening is taking the individual towards love and whatever s/he treasures most--even if the person doesn't know what that is. But life is an imperfect thing, and so sometimes, that kind of letting go is good enough. Some of the resistance releases, and then there's more relaxation again. The person may have a momentary expansion and move back into a high state experience--although if things got really painful, it may not be that high of a state. Furthermore, the more you integrate spirituality, you're moving your energy into a naturally higher state, but let's not get too stuck on this idea. I don't want you to get lost in the ideas of higher or lower. Let's just say, you'll probably feel a lot better.

The Renewal of Pain and More Inner Torment

Yet, if someone has gotten into this much pain, there's probably a lot more inner resistance to release. Resistance is anyway that we fight the flow of life, and there are different types in the mind, heart, body, and energy field. Energy field resistance can be the most subtle to work with, but usually by the time someone is working in this space, they've gotten comfortable with the process even if the process isn't exactly comfortable.

I know that for me right now as I write this blog, I'm working out resistance in my body. It feels like it's down in my very bones, and yoga has been immensely helpful along with breathing exercises, meditation and energy clearing, showers, and general mindful presence. It's nothing like some of the inner resistance I've dealt with before, and I'm not in any kind of immense pain. But there is discomfort. So I see it and meet it instead of running from it (which is a kind of passive resistance in and of itself).

Finding the Right Help at the Right Time

Ultimately, being present and letting go are the most central ways of dealing with inner resistance. Every spiritual tool that I may suggest is just a way of encouraging you to do those two things. Within those things are love and acceptance of what is. You have to stop resisting who you are and the spiritual integration process. If you don't stop resisting, the pain will continue needlessly. And it's important to emphasize that it is needless. There is discomfort that we face, and there is pain that we create. Life is full of uncomfortable things from the loss of a loved one to hitting our hand with a hammer. Pain is constantly thinking about the lost loved one or blaming ourselves repeatedly for hitting our hand with the hammer. Do you see the difference? If not, feel free to contact me.

With all that said, different help is appropriate for different types of resistance. For stuff going on in my body, I'm not trying to write it out. My body understands movement, and so I move it mindfully. I'm also not trying to force out the resistance. I lean into it. With the heart, releasing resistance may be forgiving a loved one, someone who hurt us, or someone we hurt. With healing the mind, it may involve acceptance and having more faith in what is happening. Whatever resistance and pain you may feel during an awakening, it can be released, and there are many tools, teachers, healers, and modalities out there to help facilitate it if you need the extra helping hand.

Today's lovely photo comes from my friend and reader, Becky Stiller. Please feel free to check out her beautiful work on this flickr link.
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