With all that said, having in-depth clarity about your inner workings is incredibly illuminating, but like most things, if you don't really pay attention, you can miss some important and helpful details for knowing yourself. While ultimately we are all "That Which Is," knowing ourselves and our patterns in this world and in this body can be immensely rewarding and provide better ease and clarity in moving through our lives. In that way, we can take a spiritual awakening (or really any spiritual shift because there are many: check out this blog for more on that) as an excuse to understand our triggers and hot buttons. In knowing them clearly, we can dissemble and remove them.
The Engine Breaks Down
There is now nothing to do but look inwards. You're not going anywhere. There's nothing to do, really, and even if there is, you don't have the energy, interest, or will to do it. Obviously, something important is going on here: something soooo important that everything else is now on hold. This is a sacred time to know yourself and to come deeply into the truth of your life. Consequently, the engine had to breakdown. It was already broken down. You've been pushing the car for most of your life, so now you've noticed. That's all that awakening really did--and awakening isn't really a doing, either. It simply shed light on the fact that the engine isn't working, never had, and never will. In seeing this truth, you begin to look at the parts and pieces that make it up and begin your own handyman, or handywoman, work.
The Leg Bone Is Connected to the Hip BoneWe are all interconnected. We are interconnected systems of capillaries, veins, and muscles. We are interconnected cities, gardens, farms, roads, and electrical wires. We are all one. But how did you create your interconnection with life? How did you create your inner connection with yourself? It's time to look.
When you first look at something and it is brand new, it probably doesn't make sense. You don't know why a slurping sound sends you into a rage, and for most of your life, you simply got made at people for making the noise instead of inquiring within yourself in any significant way. You don't know why you always buy cheap clothing. You don't know why you always have to be the center of attention. There is oh-so-much that people don't know about themselves, and then we wonder how we get into such messes.
But the awakened space brings with it the light of your awareness and your inner knowing. Now you can start to see it how it all interconnects. You can start to see how physical triggers create a domino effect that hit mental stories which trigger emotional feelings. You start to see the broad web of your own inner world, and it can be quite expansive and frightening.
One Thread At a TimeThere is, however, no rush. There's no hurry to get anywhere, but do start looking. That intention alone will help bring stuff to the surface. In awakening, the energy of you is already alive and kicking. It's probably already surfacing all kinds of stuff that your ego self has ignored, avoided, or doesn't want to admit having. This requires a lot of space and time for meditation, journaling, and whatever inner work you feel is necessary. Because while the profound reality of presence is instantaneous, sometimes we all need a little time to work things through and understand things in our daily lives.
With that said, I encourage you to follow issues one thread at a time. Let's look at an example together.
- You always hated your father. You don't really know why.
- That spilled over into your relationships with men.
- You, consequently, avoided a lot of men because of a growing aversion to male traits.
- This influenced how you acted physically, so you'd constricted your body to protect yourself when men were present.
- Because there are men everywhere, you got used to having a constricted body that started causing health problems.
- You also grew increasingly angry about feeling constricted and your health problems.
- That anger triggered the story in your mind to assume that whenever a man was nearby that he was doing something threatening.
- That increased the anger. The physical constriction increased.
- You attacked (verbally, physically, emotionally) or had to leave the situation (fight or flight).
Putting aside whatever this person's issue with their father is, I hope this shows how these triggers domino onto each other. They set up certain life paths because a core issue has not been dealt with. This diverts the flow of your life in a certain direction, and it's part of why most people have to go backwards to their childhoods to reclaim themselves and find out where they stopped growing naturally to start over.
The Melting of Internal IllusionsAs the awakened self abides more and more, it's like you're turning up the heat on a block of ice. The more you rest in this space that you are, the more heat there is to melt more of the old egoic-ice chunks. Things start flowing quicker. There's a very real feeling that you can have while lying on the couch that you're also moving extremely quickly. It's a surreal sensation, but it's one that I'm very familiar with.
Part of embracing this awareness is to continue to see how an emotions elicits a mental story, which evokes another emotion and then triggers a physical response. These triggers can work in any number of directions too. The physical sensation can trigger a story than an emotion. A mental story (say you're listening to a political debate) triggers an emotion and then a physical sensation. There's numerous iterations of how triggers work. From clear sight, you start to notice and pull apart the triggers to disconnect them.
One of the more profound ways of dealing with fear or any upsetting emotion is to just be with it. Look at it. You'll notice that the mind will try to explain the emotion. It'll try to justify it, deny it, or avoid it. But building a story around it doesn't help. No matter how awful and intense the emotion, it will pass. If you let too much of a story get built around it, then it can live on. You can easily get lost in creating tons of spiritual tools to deal with it. Now, as many of you know, I'm all about using spiritual tools effectively, but they still ultimately are leading us back to the truth of letting go and being in love with all as it is. That is where this path goes; that is where this path is. So feel free to use spiritual tools as you need them. Your growing clarity will actually make it exceptionally clear when you need a tool (like meditation) or outside support (like a spiritual community). For much of the rest, I encourage you to just melt into yourself and see what arises.
Physical Sensations and TriggersThe intense physical sensations of a spiritual awakening can be overwhelming. These tend to trigger latent fears of death. Sitting in intense physical discomfort truly is its own type of spiritual work, and from experience, I can tell you that I can think of at least ten other things that I'd rather do. However, consider this a kind of spiritual rolfing. All the intensity of that discomfort is showing you is that you are already in discomfort and deep inner resistance. You're getting kneaded apart on the energetic level and any hate, grudge, fear, sadness, despair, or even positive experiences that you're clinging to have to be released. They have to be released so that you can flow into your natural awakened rhythm. Anywhere there is resistance and remembered pain (because the body remembers everything that we do or have had done to us in this life) will be pressurized so that we can release it and heal. In healing, we can finally start growing normally.
If anything, all these triggers serve the same purpose: to keep us stuck. They are here, however, usually because we think they keep us safe. It is an important distinction, and it is one that you must uncover for yourself. The more you understand the triggers you've put inside you (because you are the only one responsible for perpetuating these ways of thinking, feeling, and acting), the more you can naturally release them and find healthier and more suitable ways of responding to life.
Life Won't Stop Triggering YouBecause ultimately life won't stop triggering you. People have gone to great lengths to avoid upsetting situations and live in a rubberized world with soft padding on everything. But life is inherently dangerous. Life always ends in death on this plane of existence. That is just how it flows. So we can't avoid every upsetting thing to keep us safe, and controlling others can't keep us safe either. All we can do is find these triggers which usually are about safety issues and let them go. Just let them all go. See how you constructed them, unwire them, unhinge them, and leave in the recyclable bin. It's better that way.
Because tomorrow someone will cut you off in traffic. Because even though you are awake, you'll still get tired and frustrated when one of your teenagers comes in late or the baby is projectile vomiting at three in the morning. Because at work, someone may yell at you. Because there will always be something going on that doesn't meet your ego's preferences and triggers a response to fix, correct, or get away from things so that you don't feel something, have a certain emotion, or listen to a certain mental story that comes up in your head. In this way, life's mercilessness and ruthlessness is a gift to encourage us to let go of those triggers so that we can live our lives in inner peace.