Monday, May 16, 2016

Feeling Alienated After Awakening

spiritual alienation, spiritual awakening, snow, sagebrush, desert
One of the common feelings people have after a spiritual awakening is of being alienated from other people in their life. Usually, this experience comes after any blissful experience that may have arisen.

For many people at the very outset of a spiritual awakening, they have a bliss phase, which ultimately does not last. No human experience lasts. As they come out of that particular experience, they suddenly notice that most people aren't remotely interested in changing behaviors to be in alignment with love and truth, and some people don't even like the fact that you're changing to be in alignment with such things. This can feel quite alienating.

For others who are walking the conscious path and haven't awakened, the gradual stepping away from old unhealthy patterns creates the same type of situation. For as kind as you can be, many people don't want to accept you as a new person, and so you may find yourself far more friendless than you would have expected.

The root of the issue in both scenarios is basically the same and where you might expect it: it's in the ego. So today, I'd like to talk about facing this feeling of alienation and letting go into the deeper space of oneness where all is embraced and no one is alien from another.

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Light-washing the World

In the early phases of a spiritual awakening, everything can suddenly appear beautiful and amazing. To some degree, this is the true nature of everything. We are all light and love, but there is a much more truthful understanding that must be reached. Initially, people may see some of this true reality after awakening, but there is also a very common tendency to project one's own light onto other people. In this way, people look more luminous and beautiful in their humanity than they actually are. This is what I am calling light-washing.

In many respects, this isn't that much difference than wearing rose-colored glasses. In that situation, we are intentionally not looking at people's darkness and faults. When someone is newly awakened and light-washing everything, they are usually seeing some truth, but not the whole truth. As I said, we are all beautiful beings, but to see true beauty must involve seeing people's darkness too. Could you imagine what the Mona Lisa would look like if we didn't see any of the dark colors that are part of that painting? In this way, this is what a lot of people do, and it also naturally brings about another phase of our spiritual growth where we have to see darkness more clearly.

Dropping Out of Bliss

As I mention regularly on this blog, bliss is just one human experience. It does not last. It is not inherently what a spiritual awakening is. It is a feeling that sometimes arises when someone drops into true reality. I should also mention that not everyone has a bliss phase when they first awaken. Many people immediately drop into their issues and inner darkness, and in going into that dark place, it tends to be very easy to see the darkness in others. This too is often mixed with a person projecting their darkness onto other people.

For instance, let's talk about your mother. Yes, your mother. You all have one.

In a bliss phase, she is a luminous being. You see the kindness in her and can more clearly see and receive the ways she offers kindness to you more than you ever have. When you drop into your issues, suddenly, you see her darkness, especially since some of yours was probably learned from her for most of you. It's easy to project anger and fear onto her because she is partly the genesis of your issues. But it is also true that you are seeing some of the darkness that she has inside of her and which won't go away until she deals with it. If you strip away your projects of light and dark, you are now actually see the whole being (at least as much as a human being can--we all naturally have limitations )--that is your mother.

Seeing the pain in others does not necessarily help you to deal with your own. It's why you can't fix others to heal yourself. Instead, the mindful student goes towards his or her pain instead of projecting that out. In many respects, most people don't see other people at all. They usually see some set of their own ideas (good, bad, strange, or indifferent) that they project onto others. So someone can very easily go from light-washing others to seeing their darkness in other people. Because we don't tend to like our darkness very much whether we see it in ourselves or others, this can be very alienating for many people. We tend to pull away from it.

Plus any sense of oneness that was pleasurable in the bliss phase is now gone. This leaves a deepening oneness with pain, which people don't tend to like or understand. Becoming one with our pain is often rejected, even though this is how we heal it. Anyone and anything that reminds someone of that pain can be viewed negatively. Thus, a person creates a stronger and stronger sense of alienation with the world the stronger they feel their own pain and darkness.

The Unconscious Ego Still Hard at Work

Because it is rare that someone lets go of all of their unconscious ego after initially awakening, this old part of the person starts making new stories almost as soon as the person awakens. Now, you're this awakened being, and you're supposed to behave this new way. Which means this is aright way to live life, and other people should behave in this way. When they don't do what you want, you don't like them. You don't "feel" connected to them, and a whole host of other ideas erupt.

And of course, a certain kind of feeling of connection is what is being sought. As I mentioned already, people don't want to feel connected to pain. If you felt any kind of bliss state and think that's what you should feel all the time, true oneness is a most unwelcome guest. The unconscious ego will then try to fight this reality in hopes of regaining bliss and other good feelings. This creates more and more separation and alienation from reality. So, let's be clear that the unconscious ego is at the root of any kind of alienation we have with others, and the ego is alive and well at the start of shifting after awakening.

The Unconscious and Conscious Egos

I always like to emphasize that an ego is useful. It is a particular lens on life that helps us parse through billions of bits of information to make choices. It's helpful to remember how to drive to the grocery store, where it is, and what we want to buy. But in its unconscious form, the ego doesn't know what it is. It doesn't know all the inner programs that are running and making your decisions for you. So most people have no idea why they act the way they act, and they are subsequently controlled by their unconscious egos.

The conscious ego knows it is made up. It knows it can be unmade and re-made as is necessary. It doesn't have to exist, and in understanding that, you have a flexibility to be present and evolving with the current moment that the unconscious ego typically does not give you.

But you have to be really persistent in digging inwards to find all the root programs that define how you think and view the world. If you don't, they'll keep telling you who to like and who to not like, what jobs you can and can't do, what foods to eat, where to live, and basically how to live your life. This is nature of the slavery most people live in.

Finding the Roots of Alienation

We spend so much time trying to control our feelings, but most of our feelings are choices. They're choices by the ego. The programs can be incredibly complex or incredibly simple. They can be, "If someone smiles, then I'll be happy. If someone frowns, then I'll be sad." In regards to today's topic, there are probably several programs that say when you should feel alienated and when you should feel connected to others. One of the roots of this issue is around looking for a feeling from others. When we depend on the external world to make us feel a certain way, we put ourselves in a huge trap. The external world is always changing, and so we will be constantly striving to get a feeling from something that won't stay the same. This leads us to more disappointment and frustration.

For instance, your partner rejects or otherwise does not support your lifestyle changes since awakening. You feel alienated because you want a certain kind of experience from your partner. This also means you are inherently rejecting your partner for not behaving a certain way. To come into deeper places of love and clarity means that you have to accept your partner where s/he is. This acceptance doesn't mean you like them more. It means that you see them--light, dark, and everything else--as they are. That is the nature of true love.

How to Find Your True Love

Deepening Into True Self Love

One of the aspects of a bliss experience that people forget is how connected they are to themselves. When someone is deeply connected to him/herself, then they naturally feel connected to the world around them. Thus, alienation can easily be looked at with this question: "When did we become disconnected from ourselves?"

"At what point did we reject ourselves and some experience we are having?"

Especially when our issues begin to arise, our perspective of how at peace we can be versus how agitated and upset we are when pain surfaces makes the experience particularly awful. If we are always in pain, we learn to numb it out and ignore it. Once we know real inner health, going back into pain feels ten times worse. But this is how it has been for many people. Most people live in varying states of inner pain, and the worse the inner pain, the more likely someone is to lash out at others.

Many spiritual people who don't think others are being "conscious" enough can lash out in many ways too. This merely reflects how much inner pain is emerging from the individual, and they are likely to project that out onto partners, friends, bosses, employees, and other spiritual people. This emerging pain will very likely feel really alienating to you, and in these moments, it should now signal to you that it's time to go inside to do your work.

Going Through Layers of Inner Work

As you work on an issue like feeling alienated, you are likely to work on the mind first and then the heart. The process isn't linear, but until the mind is really brought into the right state of understanding, there is a tendency to regurgitate pain inside. If we are mentally unhappy, the heart and body tend to follow. So understanding that alienation is a choice on our part helps us to look at why we are choosing to have that feeling. In so doing, we can find parts of our body that are still holding onto old memories and moments when we first felt rejected. We can learn to listen to our hearts and all the stories remembered there, and we can release more subtle karma and energy as we relax into deeper issues. As we release more issues, more of us comes together. We merge more deeply into oneness as we find all the parts of us we have alienated. In this way, we get to more of the roots of the feeling of our alienation.

As always, relaxation is one of your greatest spiritual tools in this healing processs. For more on that, check out this blog post:

How to De-energize Old Pain With Relaxation


Realizing Deeper States of Oneness

As you confront the ways that you stay separate from others, the sense of alienation can dissipate. You start to see others as they are, and you let them continue on their journeys for the most part. Most people aren't ready for much of an intervention unless they are becoming violent towards someone, including themselves.

For some of you, that means fewer people who understand you and your spiritual path, so you must learn to be at peace with this lack of understanding in your relationships. You may also find yourself spending more and more time alone. But when you are connected to yourself, alone-ness is more like all-oneness. Any time you feel lonely, look for that sense of being alienated, separated, and cut off inside yourself. See when you created that separation and go towards it to re-unite with yourself.

And if you do happen to find a spiritual friend walking in the deep places like you are, then treasure him or her. Love them as they are, for this true kind of Friendship is a rare gift. It is something that Rumi sought after and found in Shams, which he writes about all the time in his ecstatic poetry. That kind of Friendship furthers your growth, and it helps you move beyond any sense of alienation because it helps you move beyond any sense of ego self. In this way, dissolving into oneness dissolves any feelings of alienation. You are the universe. You always have been, and how could you ever actually be alienated and disconnected from that which you are and is always all around you?

For more on this topic, you can check out this video:
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