Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Am I Having a Spiritual Awakening?

spiritual awakening, flower, nature, spirituality, nature
I get this question a lot: "Am I having a spiritual awakening?" The short answer is probably not. Spiritual awakening--as I define it--is actually quite rare. That doesn't mean that you're not having a spiritual shift, but allow me to expand your spiritual vocabulary. Our English language is quite lacking in this regard, and while I am making up definitions, they're only meant to be pointers to help you address your situation appropriately.

Because there are all kinds of spiritual shifts. Spiritual shift is my over-arching term for pretty much any movement towards greater awareness and consciousness. Under that umbrella term, there are little spiritual epiphanies, spiritual realizations, major spiritual revelations, and of course, spiritual awakenings.

None of this is meant to diminish whatever experience you may be having. It's meant to help you best assess what kind of help and support you need. In truth, language is always supposed to be at our service and not the other way around where we attempt to fit ourselves to other people's ideas as well as our own. That last point is part of the great insanity and sickness of our times, and it has caused so much misery.

With that said, let's get to work on helping to answer your question of if you are having a spiritual awakening.

Am I Awakening Spiritually?

I know there are lots of ways people are talking about spirituality, and I know that some of you have probably seen the lists of "spiritual awakening signs and symptoms" that read like a horror story or could fill up a full tome of Encyclopedia Britannica (Is that thing still even around?). Don't worry. I only have five signs of spiritual awakening for you. Here they are:

  1. Feelings of immense love for all of life (yourself included)
  2. Deep sense of calm and peace
  3. Profound clarity on what is real in life
  4. Loss of the need for anything to make you happy
  5. Abiding awareness that naturally moves you and shifts you

And that's it. I'm sure I could think of a few more, but that's most of them. The last one is the most important to what I consider to be spiritual awakening. For someone who has touched that awakened space in an abiding way, shifts arise naturally. They're not necessarily fun, and any amount of the bliss state someone once felt soon disappears to open you to the truth of your being. To be sure, the awakened awareness does not make a preference over how you feel. But the tendency is that as we confront pain, then we release it and drop more deeply into peace. That typically feels pretty good, and it helps us to choose to embrace the spiritual awakening and root out more unconscious stories.

For more about my five signs of spiritual awakening, please check out this blog post:

5 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening

From these main spiritual awakening signs, a whole host of other byproducts or secondary spiritual awakening signs and symptoms often arise. These are what fill up those lists you may have been reading. Consider these three:

  • Loss of relationships. This is often a result of relationships not being in alignment with love (spiritual awakening sign number 1) and the resulting loss of needing life to fulfill you (spiritual awakening sign number 4--although truth be told, it is a byproduct of number 1).
  • Chronic fatigue. Shifting into alignment with love can be intense on all levels--heart, body, mind, and subtle energies. Spiritual awakening sign #5 can really create this issue because some of those who awakened don't feel like they have any space from one shift to the next to catch their breath.
  • Loss of job or sense of purpose. This is often a result of the first awakening sign because what you may have thought was meaningful can turn out to be a big ego game. People can get stuck holding on however, and if they do, this issue transforms into deepening places of apathy. To resolve this issue, you have to let go of who you were and embrace what is arising.
For a general definition of spiritual awakening, please refer to this post:


A Glimpse of Awakened Awareness

As I said, there are many, many kinds of spiritual shifts. We are shifting all the time, although I won't talk about the shifts into unconsciousness and greater delusion. Those shifts happen all the time as well. It's why I'm not going to opine on whether the world is becoming more or less conscious. However, the Divine embraces shifts into delusion just as much as any other shift. That's the nature of God and the nature of true love. And if you have issues with "God" take it up with your definition of God and ideas you've been enforced to swallow. It may be time for a redefining of your definition as well as your relationship to the Divine.

So what other types of shifts are there? Well, you can have all four of the above signs of spiritual awakening with any spiritual shift. People have it happen all the time during spiritual retreats, sitting with spiritual teachers, spending time in nature, and honestly, at any moment where you really, really, REALLY let go. I call these glimpses of spiritual awakening. For more on that, check out this blog post:


A glimpse of awakening can inspire different levels of awareness in the heart, body, mind, and subtle awareness. Also, please understand that these openings to greater spiritual awareness are just that--openings. They're opening to something that is already inside of you. Nothing new is being gained. That's why a lot of spiritual awakening is about letting go and uncovering the truth.

However, if you don't embrace the awareness that is shown to you in a glimpse, then that window soon closes. You are pretty much right back to where you were before in awareness.


Many, Many Kinds of Spiritual Shifts


Okay, so here are my terms for different types of spiritual shifts. I'm cutting these up into three categories. Think of them as low, medium, and high, but don't get hung up on the words. 
  • Spiritual epiphanies
  • Spiritual realizations
  • Spiritual revelations
A spiritual epiphany is like realizing that you don't like gossip. You've been doing it your whole life with friends, but until now, you thought you enjoyed it. This epiphany probably doesn't change that much, but like any spiritual shift, it is pointing you towards changes to be in better alignment with truth. To take action on this would be gossiping less with friends and no longer buying tabloids. This will have effects on your life, but it's not exactly earth-shattering.

A spiritual realization could be when you realize you have been very mean-spirited your whole life. You suddenly can see all the ways you've hurt and ridiculed others, and you realize that you don't like that. You may start to see how all your social circles are built around and reinforced by these behaviors, and to move forward from a realization like this will mean leaving those social circles. At this point, it is unlikely that you know who you do want in your life, and you don't know who you are. You may not even know to really question who you are yet. But because this can really shake up someone's life and often results in changes such as marriages dissolving, many people will confuse this spiritual realization as a spiritual awakening.

A spiritual revelation might be the sudden knowing that you are love. It could be the understanding that you have to leave a situation (relationship, job, country, etc.) immediately. Revelations pack a punch. They're much harder to argue with because more of your heart, body, mind, and spirit have come together. You are understanding a spiritual truth on more than just a mental level (a spiritual realization can be deeper than a mental discovery, but not necessarily). As such, you are likely to need to make dramatic changes.

However, this last one--as powerful as it is--is still not a spiritual awakening. While a lot of changes can start to ripple out from a spiritual revelation, you still don't have to do anything. In an awakening, it truly feels like you don't have a choice, and that avoidance brings an enormous amount of suffering (In truth, it is SHOWING you the suffering you are already in). The abiding clarity of what is truth tends to stay present in a felt way for those in awakening. Even a spiritual revelation can be forgotten. As changes calm down in the instance of a spiritual revelation, there is a typical settling of someone's life, and much of the old ego identity often re-clothes itself. You are likely to seek a reason to stop your spiritual path or avoid old issues once more.


The Path of Spiritual Healing

Now, let's not forget the path of spiritual healing. For some people, they collapse under the weight of their pain. Depression, trauma, and other issues can force someone to glimpse the truth and any of the above spiritual understandings can occur. This too can be confused spiritual awakening, and many of the secondary spiritual awakening signs are often present like apathy, loss of relationships, chronic fatigue, and others in a collapse of ego that can occur when healing is urgently needed. If you mix in someone who is energy sensitive, all kinds of interesting energies may start to get noticed as the body attempts to stop you from doing stuff long enough so that it can heal itself from whatever wounds you may have. It should be said that the path of spiritual healing is one of the most profound because people who are deeply wounded often are more willing to commit to the deep change of the spiritual path. If things have gotten bad enough, a person needing healing will feel like they've got nothing left to lose. In so doing, they often can go further because they are no longer frozen by a fear of feeling more pain or the fear of the unknown.

However, that being said, this path is also fraught with peril in that someone will go part way and stop. They get on the path of spiritual healing to feel better. If they feel a little better or okay, then there is a tendency to quit--even when deeper issues or trauma are finally about to be healed. So the need for a lot of external support tends to be particularly important for those of you on the healing path.

If this section describes you, please check out this blog post after you're done with this one so that you can find the right help for your path:

Spiritual Healing

If you have sexual abuse in your background, please read this post:

Healing Sexual Abuse

What Is a Kundalini Spiritual Awakening?

Then in all of this, there is the kundalini spiritual awakening. I consider this to be a subset of spiritual awakening. The definitions I've read about kundalini spiritual awakening are very specific. In essence, someone feels the energy working up and down the spine. If you don't feel energy in this way, that doesn't mean your kundalini isn't awakened, in my opinion. Furthermore, working with this type of spiritual awakening is no different than working with anyone who is energetically sensitive (and not everyone who awakens is energetically sensitive by the way).  For more of my thoughts on kundalini spiritual awakenings, please read this post:

Kundalini Awakening and Kundalini Experiences

What About Spiritual Ascension? Enlightenment?

Spiritual ascension, enlightenment, Moksha, Nirvana, and other words to me are saying the same thing. They're spiritual awakenings. However, different traditions are more specific about what their words mean, so I don't use Moksha and Nirvana. Enlightenment tends to be confused with the mind being educated. Spiritual ascension sounds too much like you're going somewhere, and it confuses many people into thinking they're better in some way. I like spiritual awakening as my term of choice because it is more difficult to think that you're going somewhere or that you're special.

I'd like to emphasize that awakening doesn't make you special. Those who have awakened profoundly (and there are different depths) know that you simply are that which is. This isn't a badge of honor. Awakening dissolves the ego who wants the badge of honor. But regardless, whatever term you care to use, none of this is something to seek. The awakened self simply is. It's always been with you, but now, you may really know this.

Unconsciousness and Consciousness

Having any kind of spiritual shift may seem to do all the work for you. Especially in awakening, it seems like you are along for the ride. However, we cannot let ourselves get stuck in the duality of the mind that thinks that something is being done to you or for you. A spiritual awakening may open the flood gates, but you have a choice in how you join with it or resist it. The more you join with it, the more you discover that you are now on what I call the conscious path.

The conscious path is the path to know ourselves. It is about becoming more aware of ourselves. It is different than awakening because in awakening nothing can be perfected or changed. All is perfect. From that perfection, you get the seemingly paradoxical desire to change and to grow. Because we all awaken in our own ways and at different levels of unconsciousness, awakened people can still be amazingly unconscious and unaware about many things. Truly, a spiritual awakening is the beginning of the journey right at the time when you realize there are no beginnings or endings!

I know this sounds contradictory, but I'll allow that those of you who are ready to understand this will understand it. In the return to truth, we have a much clearer understanding of who we've been trying to be and who we really are. The conscious path propels us to cut away those old belief systems and pain that constrict our natural growth. It's like an apple tree that had tried to be a vine its whole life. Now it has the hard job of learn to grow straight. It may seem challenging at first, but as you allow this growth and trust in your inner intelligence, you'll find that nothing could be more natural for you.

Life Doesn't Necessarily Get Easier on the Spiritual Path

One last thing is that all of you should be embracing the conscious path regardless of if you have had a spiritual awakening or not. In the world of duality, we can all grow. We can learn more, and we can embrace our life to be kinder and more compassionate people. From the awakened space, however, we are always perfect. At no time is the seed, sprout, young apple tree, mature apple tree, or old apple tree ever rejected. Such is it with us, and as I said, that understanding, tends to propel towards certain ways of living.

But just because we embrace our inner apple trees doesn't mean that the spiritual path will make our lives easier. This isn't the easy way out. This is the path to what is most meaningful to you, and some of you will go into greater difficulty from here on out. That won't always be the case, but I don't want to leave any immature ideas floating around that spirituality gives you all the stuff you want. It doesn't. Mainly, it helps you to get rid of immature ideas and question why you think you want what you want.

Your Next Steps in Your Spiritual Shift

So with all of this said, I hope it shines greater light on your question if you are awakening or not. If you really feel like you are after reading this post, please read on in the Awakening section of this blog. I recommend these two as your next blogs to read:

The Shadow and Dispelling the Darkness Phase

The Process of Releasing Pain From Your Energy Body

The second one is good for everyone, but for those in awakening, it may help you to conceptually understand the expansion, contraction, and healing going on so rapidly (and it can be incredibly rapid--that's another reason why people can feel so tired).

If you think you've had a different spiritual shift and especially if you are new to me, I really recommend checking out my ebook. It offers a holistic way to understand yourself heart, body, mind, and spirit. In general, the Starting Out section is a good place to hang out too on this blog.

Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

Any of the spiritual blogs on this link should be helpful as well:

Becoming More Conscious on the Spiritual Path

With all of this said, I hope this post is helpful, and feel free to reach out to my with your questions or if you're interested in a one-on-one session. Be well and be free!
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