What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

spiritual awakening, alpine lake, spiritual nature, pct, mountains,
A spiritual awakening is the dissolving of the illusion that you are separate from oneness.

In this profound revelation, a person's energy moves and starts to transform you. It heals old wounds, dissolves false beliefs and illusions, and shifts you towards your truest way of expressing yourself and living your life.

A spiritual awakening is realized throughout your body, heart, mind, and soul, but no sooner has that erupted than you are forced to see how limited you have been in so many regards. That bright light shining in the inner most depths of us asks us a potent question: "Now that we know the truth, will we clean up our home or will we try to ignore our illusions, pain, and misconceptions?"

By the way, for those who are interested, I have a newsletter called, "The Wake Up Call," in which I regularly talk about this and other topics. Sign up for free below:

Sign up for the Wake Up Call Newsletter

If you are starting on the spiritual path or feel like you have gotten a little lost, my ebook may be able to help guide you:

Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

If you feel like you are awakening, here's a blog post with a number of tips to help you:

Spiritual Awakening Help and Tips Guide

Many Initial Spiritual Awakening Experiences

There's no one way that people experience an awakening. The awakened state embraces all experiences and states of awareness. However, there are some common trends in awakening. For some, spiritual awakening is a sudden, penetrating moment where something is seen and realized. Sometimes there's a lot of energy/heat/sensation in and around the spine, which is a hallmark to what many people call a kundalini spiritual awakening. Sometimes, a spiritual awakening is a profound moment of clarity about something or some aspect of one's self. Sometimes, a spiritual awakening is a kind of collapse where someone finally lets go of something, and the truth is revealed.

People experience spiritual awakenings in many, many ways. However, the arising of the truth within you definitively stays. Your life is the altered by the awakened energy. This energy takes over, and for a time, a person feels rather out of control and even lost. But the person has been found, and the question now is: do you embrace the awakening or do you resist?

What Should I Do After Awakening?

Spiritual Awakenings, Openings, Revelations, Oh My!

Choosing the Conscious Spiritual Path

Reality Versus Illusion

From the perspective of the mind, a spiritual awakening offers you a clearer understanding of what is real versus what is illusory. You perceive many of the things that are made up, and when you get right down to it, just about everything in society is made up.

The initial awakening may not be earth-shattering for everyone. It may be more gradual as the individual begins to see how s/he bought into a certain way of living, decided some things were important and others were not, and so on. The basics of life also become very simple as the focus organically moves towards things like unconditional love, truth, and integrity to others. But in awakening, it also means giving up and letting go of tons of false beliefs and illusions about who you thought you are and what you thought life should be.

This is how the mind often views a spiritual awakening. Remember that awakening will affect everything--your heart, body, and subtle energy. Be aware that intellectually understanding a spiritual realization during awakening is just the beginning of embodying it.

Spiritual Truth and Paradoxes: Expanding Your Mind Beyond Simplistic Ideas

Feeling Crazy After Your Spiritual Awakening

I Get It!

Truly a spiritual awakening is an amazing moment, and as I've mentioned, it comes in all shades and shapes for everyone. I had one friend who says that she went around for a couple of weeks just saying, "I get it." Another friend quit smoking, and whammo, got hit with an awakening. Yet another friend had a powerful experience where he simply asked, "Who am I?" In that sincere moment, the glass shattered, and the truth that he did not know who he was was seen. From that awakened moment, the truth erupted and began to re-shape his life.

However, this sense of "getting it" is only the beginning. A spiritual awakening is more like someone's first glass of water after living, dehydrated in the desert. It seems like the best thing ever! That "taste of divine water" may get experienced as:

  • Deep peacefulness
  • Bliss
  • A profound sense of oneness and lost of separation that feels amazing
  • Tremendous inner quiet, and other experiences

But it's only the first glass of water. It may not even be the best kind of water, and there is a real trap in how people can cling to their experience of that first taste of water rather than to become a sincere seeker of the vast endless clean-water ocean of the Divine that awaits them.

Lost in Spiritual Bliss

How to Let Go of Your Ego

Spiritual Awakening Signs

I am very cautious to label things as signs of awakening. In truth, a spiritual awakening is just the beginning. It is the light coming on in the house so that you can see everything for what it is. Now comes the need to clean-up, heal, and expand your space. All of this comes in a rush of intelligent energy. Sometimes, it can feel so strong that the unconscious ego that may be clinging on will feel like this is all "happening to you." If you don't feel that you have chosen this radical spiritual transformation, then now is an especially important to time to consciously choose what is already unfolding in your life.

In general, some real spiritual awakening signs are these:
  • Unconditional love
  • Being able to clearly see what is real
  • Loss of desire or need for anything external to complete you / wholeness as you already are
  • A profound sense of calm, peace, or serenity
  • An abiding energy that moves you intelligently and continually
This last part is key. Many people have profound spiritual openings and glimpses of awakening, which is wonderful. But in an opening or glimpse, the window opens, and then it shuts. When it shuts, a person can go back to the way they were acting before. This happens all the time after people have gone to spiritual retreats or spent time with spiritual teachers. But in awakening, the divine energy is now in motion. Your perspective, emotions, and physical sensations all move and align seemingly on their own. The lights in the house are all on. Sure you can close your eyes, but you know the truth. There can be a feeling that there is no going back.

All other spiritual awakening signs that you hear about can arise from awakening if the above ones are present. They're secondary spiritual awakening signs or symptoms, although I don't prefer the term spiritual awakening symptom. The word "symptoms" has connotations of experiencing a disease. In fact, you are being cured of the illnesses in which you have been living.

Without the above spiritual awakening signs, there's all kinds of reasons people can feel fatigue, energy shifts, depression, disconnected and what not. Many people are trying to self-diagnose a lot of issues, and so we must be very mindful about what we "blame" on awakening. When it comes to the body pains and discomfort, when in doubt, check in with a doctor to ensure that your body is healthy.

5 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening

Will Awakening Turn me into a Brainless Hippy Zombie?

Spiritual Loneliness and Feeling Disconnected

The Dark Awakening

I want to add a new term to this spiritual awakening blog post, and that's the dark awakening. When someone awakens and has tons of pain, they may plunge into a period of ego and/or physical collapse. This can be a time of undiagnosable physical ailments and all kinds of emotional pain. They feel totally in the dark and often feel very helpless. I've seen this happen with three students, and it can be confusing because there is no sense of peace, love, clarity, or wholeness. Instead, that abiding divine intelligence starts moving the person right into their issues, and any sense of bliss or clarity doesn't arise until much later--even years later--in their spiritual journey. Hence, many people who have a dark awakening don't even realize they've awakened.

The key in knowing if you've awakened or not is that spiritual inner work makes a huge difference. There are lots of reasons someone can get plunged into some kind of unknown illness or deep depression. However when someone awakens, spiritual help and inner work open up spaces inside that need to be healed and which are being pressurized by the awakened energy. As someone embraces the pain and learns to listen to it, they start to learn how to break down the walls that are resisting this inner truth and love. Issues purge. The person heals.

Then the darkness recedes, and they start to feel better.

With dedication, there tend to be moments of the aforementioned love and truth, and a person who has had a dark awakening might even have a moment of bliss that arises. However, a blissful experience is not the goal. Freedom is the real opportunity here, and in a dark awakening, the path to true spiritual freedom starts immediately by consciously embracing pain.

How to Find and Release Physical Pain During a Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Depression and Unconscious Resistance After Awakening

Spiritual Awakening in Eugene, Oregon

I have had many, many types of spiritual experiences, spiritual revelations, and spiritual realizations, but the one where I really was suddenly "here" was in a motel in Eugene, Oregon. I love saying this because so many spiritual seekers are running all over the place to India and ashrams and sacred sites to find themselves, but really, we're always right here. You're always with you. You can't get away from you--even if that's sometimes what you want to do.

No, no, my awakening wasn't in any sort of spiritual place. It was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling of a motel room. It wasn't a comfortable bed. I remember it being stiff/hard and far too small for me. There was no aromatic incense in the room, and I'm not sure that I'd even meditated that day. In general, I didn't meditate at all during the time running up to my spiritual awakening.

And then, there I was. All the noise shut off in my head. It was like coming out from a really noisy concert into a silent inner room. I didn't need to do anything or go anywhere. All desire dropped away except possibly the desire to share the experience, which came later.

But I was here fully in the present moment, and then the inner work begin.

This experience was not even close to the level of profound understandings that followed in the years that came. All it did was turn the system on. A whole lot of healing and growth followed. In this way, my awakening is kind of forgettable, and the further you go inwards towards spiritual freedom for yourself, the more your rebirth will be much like your birth--an important moment that happened, but is now something you no longer think about.

Be Here Now

When Your Spiritual Awakening No Longer Matters

Letting Go and the Grand Revealing

Spiritual awakening (or enlightenment or ascension or many other words--they're the same to me) is not a new thing. It is always here with us. The awakened state cannot be attained because it is innately part of all of us. As such, spiritual seeking is often a little backwards. It can be useful to get started, but eventually, letting go and surrender is the truest way to this deep space of oneness.

The unconscious ego gets us caught up in duality--separation. We get separated from ourselves mainly because we believe we are separated. The more we get caught up in the external world, in ideas, in experiences, and so on, the more separated we tend to get. This includes on the spiritual path. Some of the most unconscious people you will ever meet are on the spiritual path. The worst are the ones spread hate about other "non-believers" of their path. This is in no way spiritual, even though the Divine oneness embraces them too.

Lost on the Spiritual Path

How Oneness and Duality Can Co-exist (video recording)

Melting Invisible Issues and Moving Into Oneness

Spiritual Shifts Beyond Spiritual Awakening

There are many kinds of spiritual shifts. Spiritual shift is my catch-all phrase. Many people speak of spiritual awakening as the catch-all phrase for spiritual experiences, and I only point it out so that you're clear about how I'm discussing this topic. Spiritual shifts can be things like:
  • A small spiritual epiphany that someone's critiques at work are their way of helping you.
  • A spiritual realization that you're not happy with your marriage or job even though you've gotten what you thought you wanted.
  • A spiritual revelation such as you are not your mind or the thoughts that have been talking to you your whole life.
However, even with a spiritual revelation, people don't necessarily change. Some do. But despite the powerful push of awakened energy, you have to put in the work. You have to figure some things out even as awakening drives you towards realizations on its own. Nothing is guaranteed, and there's a dance between action and surrender that is absolutely critical.

People who resist, fight, or control awakening get stuck just as much as those who are too lazy to more deeply engage with what is revealed to them. In general, there's a lot of ways people utterly fail and waste the opportunity of awakening.

The Unwanted Awakening: Denying Your Self and Your Love

Laziness and a Wasted Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Revelations and Realizations Roll Through You

Dedicating Yourself to Spiritual Freedom

As mentioned earlier, an awakening is just the start. The real gold at the end of the rainbow is spiritual freedom. In spiritual freedom, we are alleviated from the suffering of the ego, and we are truly able to think and live in ways that feel divinely inspired and true to us.

It is no small thing to arrive at spiritual freedom. Many people try to find shortcuts like trying to conceptually go there by intellectually believing, "Yes, I am one with everything. I can do anything I want. Nothing matters." The list of misunderstood spiritual truths is long, and it is far easier to say and think such things than to really let go of the deep attachments and fears that chain people to the ego.

In short, awakened energy gives people tastes of freedom, and it helps point people in the right direction--the inward direction. The initial spiritual awakening experiences may feel like the whole of freedom all at once, but going back to the metaphor of the first couple of water after the desert, this little taste is only the beginning. The ocean of freedom is far more vast.

But the choice to go further must be decided upon by you because the human tendency is to stay in familiar patterns. And I can only encourage you to embrace your awakening and through dedication, you can find out just how vast spiritual freedom is.

For more thoughts on spiritual freedom, check out this blog:

How to Find Spiritual Freedom

If you are truly interested in going from your awakening to spiritual freedom, here are some testimonials about working one-on-one with me:

Testimonials on Working with Jim Tolles

You can also enjoy my video on awakening your energy here:

edited 8/18/2019


  1. Very beautiful observation, James. This definitely describes the process well. Thanks for your helpful insights.

  2. Help!!!!

    I have been told several times aout my psychic ability, however I went to a supper the other night and a lady there (she was a medium)got quite angry with me!

    I asked her how it started and she said I should know, she said that I'm denying it and that I should be on her side of the table, not going to see them!

    I am not sure I want this to happen but she said it was too late and it's already begun.

    She then started talking about an awakening? and that they had already tried but I'm stopping it happening??? She said their getting angry and I needed to accept the awakening! And have I noticed the bed shaking?

    At this point I was in tears telling her I didn't want it too but she said it's too late aand that when I do let it happen I will be very powerful????

    Help, thats all the info I have and I really don't know whats happening! I do have long conversations in my head and that she said is how I communicate?

    Please help!!!

  3. Hi lgriggaz. Thanks for reaching out to me. I've got plenty to say on this subject, but if you could contact me through the contact form, then we can talk privately via email.


  4. Dear Jim, I came across your blog when I was searching on the topic of Ego yesterday. ;) I Love reading your posts and I believe I'm going through this process too, in the early stages I think :) just want to say "Thank you" for all these and it's great to have people around experiencing stuff like this ;) there aren't really people around me who talks about spiritual awakening, so I'm glad I can find like-minded friends here ;)

  5. That's great. I'm glad that these blogs are helpful to you. Let me know if there's anything else that I can do for you, and my ebook also pulls together a lot of blogs into a coherent, easy to follow book.

  6. Thank you! I'll certainly approach you if I need any form of counseling or help, for I have finally found the right person to go to. :)

    Feedback: I realised that I can't have access to the ebook because I'm staying in the Asia region.

  7. Glad I can help.

    Hmm. That's too bad about Amazon's limitations for the ebook. Well, if you message me through the contact form, I'll see you a free copy anyway. :) It'll be in a pdf format.

  8. I want to thank you for being accurate with your information.

  9. Hi Jim! I just finished reading through your posts on Spiritual Awakening and listening to your video. Thanks for couching some of these concepts in plain language. I am a long ways from my own first Awakening, and as you say every Path is individual. However, I had not seen anyone write clearly about the Dark Awakening. In retrospect and with the gift of hindsight, it seems likely that this describes my experience in many ways. I lived for several years in that Darkness. When I was brought into the Light it was such a shock (a mostly good shock) that I shed countless layers of old self in a very short time.

    So, interesting! I mostly like reading a blog that doesn't reduce the Spiritual Path to a formula, to a series of steps or instructions, or just misleads entirely. I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy it and it makes me think. I'm not generally much of a "commenter" but I am a regular reader.

    All the best,

  10. Thank you, Jim, for these awesome insights. I've more clarity on various aspects of my own peculiar encounters and experiences.

  11. Well done! Sounds like you got it nailed.


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