What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

spiritual awakening, alpine lake, spiritual nature, pct, mountains,
A spiritual awakening is the abiding re-connection with reality. It's reconnecting you and the divine, which are ultimately one and the same. It also dissolve the illusion that you were ever separate from that oneness.

From that connection, a person's energy moves and starts to transform you. It heals old wounds, moves you into alignment with the Divine, and shifts you towards your truest way of expressing yourself and living your life.

A spiritual awakening is felt throughout your body, heart, mind, and soul, but no sooner has that erupted then 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 do feel you are awakening, here's a blog post with a number of tips to help you along:

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 to it, which is 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, and while they should not be confused with a spiritual awakening opening, there's no one way it happens to someone. However, the arising of the truth within you definitively stays, and your life is altered in a spiritual awakening. The question is do you embrace it or do your resist?

Spiritual Awakenings, Openings, Revelations, Oh My!

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 become able to perceive many of the things that are made up, and when you get right down to it, just about everything is made up. The initial awakening may not be earth-shattering for most people. 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 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.

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 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! 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.

When Your Spiritual Awakening No Longer Matters

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 immense urge 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." But be sure, you have chosen it, and if you don't feel that way, 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 you have been living in.

Without the above spiritual awakening signs, there's all kinds of reasons people can feel fatigue, energy shifts, 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.

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. The darkness recedes, and they start to feel better. They begin to understand themselves and find clarity. 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 embracing pain.

How to Find and Release Physical Pain During a Spiritual 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 (Meditation is important, but not in achieving enlightenment/awakening. Read this spirituality blog post about Spiritual Self-Work Turns to Self-Care for more on this topic).

Back to my story. 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.

Yet, this was not even close to the level of profound understandings that followed in the years that come. All it did was turn the system on, and 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.

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. It 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 is the truest way to this deep space of love and connection. I want to emphasize the connection part of this path. 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 spreading hate about other "non-believers" of their path. This is in no way spiritual, even though the Divine loves them too.

Loving people who spread hate is a profound love, and it's a love to which we all have access. In a spiritual awakening, people find an amazing new depth of love and connection to all beings, although everyone gets different flavors. I wouldn't have described my spiritual awakening as having that dominating love flavor at first. That flavor has come out as I've moved into my self-work to pull away my lies and illusions. For others, love is a huge initial flavor while truth and clarity may be hazy for awhile. They don't really know how to express what they know. All the ways that people experience a spiritual awakening are beautiful, but as I've said, what really sets this arising apart from the many, many other kinds of spiritual shifts is that it abides. When the energy abides, healing and spiritual growth arise intelligently on their own.

Lost on the Spiritual Path

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 a lot of your spiritual journey at this point is very manual: you have to put in the work. You have to figure some things out. It doesn't mean that hard work doesn't come with a spiritual awakening, But an awakening tends to drive you towards things in a way that frightens a lot of people at first. You don't know where you're going. Even if your latest revelation is that you never know where you were going in the first place, people tend to hang on to familiarity against their best interests. It should also be said that epiphanies, realizations, and revelations abound in an awakening. Integrating all of them into your heart, body, and mind can be more than a little exhausting.

Dedicating Yourself to Spiritual Freedom

As mentioned earlier, an awakening really 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 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 such things than to really let go of the deep attachments and fears that chain people to the ego and find out the reality of the truth.

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

The Paths to Spiritual Awakening

The spiritual path is not necessarily an easy path. Few people turn to the spiritual path because they're happy with their lives, and most don't want to lose what they've got. The path of outward success only works for those who have found that all the things they've achieved haven't given them the fulfillment they sought. If that happens, then they start to seek something else, and if they're lucky, they find someone to point their search inwards.

The path of failure and pain is much more often the path that leads people inwards. In failing, you're willing to open up to something greater because you feel like you've got nothing to lose. This is also the path of great healing, and spontaneous spiritual awakening does arise when people are finally willing to change and let go what they once thought was important. And strangely enough, a spiritual awakening can arise for those who never wanted it or ever did anything spiritual. Truly, the path to spiritual awakening is many and varied.

Ultimately, the point of an awakening is to be able to live your life freely and without fear. It's about touching the deepest levels of love and connection, and that space is already right here, right now if you are truly sincere in seeking it.

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


  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,


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