Spiritual Wandering and the Lost Years

The intensity of spiritual awakening is amazing. For awhile, you can't imagine living any other way or in any other state of mind. But all states are transitory, and the initial awareness that runs over you rarely stays put. For some, they are so ready to embrace this awakening and the effervescent, beautiful unknown that they walk into a new life and never look back. But for most others, they really don't know what's just hit them. They know that they like it and want more of it, but because they have no real understanding of it or a way to implement it in their lives, they become stuck, holding on to two worlds. At this point, the lost years of spiritual awakening begin, and you can become lost.

Holding On To Two Horses Going in Two Directions
Your initial ego wasn't eradicated in your awakening, and you haven't been able to figure out enough of who you really are to live in the world. So, you're now trying to live two lives. I've done this. It's still kind of amazing to me because I knew that I was in a spiritual awakening, but still, I tried to have my cake and eat it too. I thought I could do the same jobs as before and develop my spiritual practice, but everything kept blowing up in my face. This went on for a couple of years. I got really energetically depleted. It was hard to get motivated to do anything. Everything felt wrong and bad to me. I lost my sense of clarity and vision, and I was really, really upset.

Eventually, the spiritual support network that I had did help me figure out what was going on and to get out of the situation that I was in (in this case, living in San Francisco--a horrible energy for me; in general big cities have very dense and negative energies that make it difficult to live in when you're fully awakened). Then it took awhile to piece myself back together. Even with all the tools that I had, the rebuilding took quite some time--about a year and a half.

So, when people talk about you can't go wrong on the spiritual path, I would say that that's ultimately true. At the highest level, all things are spiritual and love; you can't do this wrong. But in the truth of the moment, you're going to find that there are some things that are really wrong for you, and it's important to honor that.


Developing Your Spiritual Toolkit
I was lucky to have a spiritual focus. It was the golden thread that guided me through and kept me from falling into the abyss. The abyss is a very real thing. It's very different than the void. The void is the universe's womb--the place of creativity, the loving unknown. It's scary to the ego, so people can confuse it with the abyss. In embracing the void, you are embracing the unknown and every possibility in life without judgment. The abyss, however, is the downward spiral that leads to your total destruction, and this isn't the good kind of destruction of the ego-self. This is the destruction of the soul, taking you to a point where the only way out may feel like suicide or death. I've seen people play really close to that edge; it's not a pretty sight.

This is why developing spiritual practices and growing your awareness after a spiritual awakening is so important. It helps you to smooth out the transition so that you aren't lost wandering. It helps you trust your inner knowing. After a spiritual awakening, you are both in the best place to know exactly what's right for you and the easiest place to make mistakes. So many people have so much ego left over that they just try to grab back to that old way of living, and that's when the pain starts to grow. I've seen at least one friend holding on to both sides, and it's not a pretty sight. So along with developing a deeper and more embodied spiritual practice, you have to choose to walk the spiritual path and let go of who you've been before.


Leaving the Desolation and the Wilderness
Part of the pain that we feel after awakening is simply coming into awareness of how painful our lives have always been. Spiritual awakening rips off the callous that's warded off a lot of unpleasantness, and now we can feel EVERYTHING. That's intense. That's also why many people try to run back to their old lives, thinking that they can forget everything that's happened. But it doesn't work that way. You've seen too much. The only way out is the way through. And that way through is taking you right through your pain and unworked out issues. It can start to seem like you're screwed either way, but the reality is that in the path of spiritual awakening, you can clear that pain and never have to feel it again. The other way will continue to have you suffer and go through the same painful cycles in life, over and over again. So while things are now intense and difficult and you feel all alone in the wild, the truth is that that's where you've been the whole time. Now, you can actually get out of it.


Spiritual Wandering: Not All Are Lost
I do want to be clear that exploration and discovery are very much part of the spiritual path. Just because it doesn't feel like you have a clear direction or goal doesn't mean you're wandering. To someone on the outside, they may think you are, but as you trust the deeper part of yourself, you'll know that's not true. You're actually making a very clear bee-line towards something. Maybe you know what it is, maybe you don't. But you are headed that way.

For me, that way was towards the spiritual teacher, speaker, healer, and writer. I've always wondered if I was a kind of modern day medicine man (I like the alliteration of the M's =). But I was afraid to claim it. I thought I needed to earn something or achieve something, but that's not how it works in spirituality. You already are who you are. Certainly, you learn how to more fully embody aspects of yourself, but no one can tell you that you're officially a teacher, leader, healer, or any number of other core archetypal patterns that each of us carries (sometimes we carry several). If you are a healer, that's what you are. That's probably what you've been doing your whole life in a variety of ways. What tools you choose to learn in this lifetime to embody that healing (becoming a doctor, energy healer, counselor, Reiki master, etc.) may be up to you, depending on what feels true to you. But deep down, you already know who you are. Embrace that truth, and you will no longer be lost.

Thanks to Arran Thomson for today's picture of Columbia Gorge. You can see more of his photography on this Flickr link.

Comments

  1. ok. The initial part of this is so much like what I went through, what I am going through. But thanks to one of my teachers and her belief in Nature as a replenisher of the Soul- we are on a constant dose of Wordsworth and other Romantics. It helps me bring back into my Life what I attained and keep losing most of the time.

    I would be happy if you went through one of my experiences of both the states at http://loonytrash.blogspot.com/2011/01/hour-of-life-through-my-eyes.html

    By the way, you have a beautiful blog- my blog needs major revamping- I am keeping that as my summer task :)

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  2. Hi Apeetha. Thank you for your comment and your compliment. I'm honoring by what you've shared with me.

    I did look at your blog post, and I have a couple things to offer.

    I really feel like your ego self is striving to control the awakened state. It's trying to encapsulate it in definitions and put it in a box, and then it's trying to set up rules around it. So, I hear a lot of stuff still mixed up as your soul is trying to come into a state of embodied being. That's the state where the schism between ego self and true self is obliterated. Two become one. In many respects, you've experienced that, but only briefly.

    For instance, you said: "I no longer need to worry about changing Men. It won't happen- cause it doesn't matter." The first part is so true. You don't have to worry about changing anyone. But it's because all is change, not that it won't happen. And it does matter. Most people are so horribly out of touch with the divine that billions of people have been and are being hurt.

    Coming to the depth of connection with the universe and your true self will root out these ego misperceptions which is still terrified of what is being experienced in oneness. Nature is a wonderful source of connection to nourish yourself, but you probably need others, especially where you can ground your energy in your body (yoga for one, tantric practices for yourself is another).

    I hope you know that I'm writing with a great deal of kindness. The ego self will want to see this as being critical; I simply hope to shine some light on the things still holding you and keeping you caught in between two worlds. You have to choose one now, and in many respects, you probably already have made your choice. Just let go. Let go of that old reality and ego. Let go and just be. It'll be all right.

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  3. I completely understand, and I wonder sometimes how I can be so "myself" - worrying over petty things, imagining myself as great- it gets me worried sometimes.
    I am planning to do some serious Yoga this summer when I go home.
    And it is just so hard, to let go and stay in this place at the same time- as in if I let go I need to find a way to live without getting offended or putting up defences. It seems impossible to continue to hold onto that state!

    And when I meant "Man" it was a reference to the Dark Night I went through. Man here is entire Mankind. And I was getting heavily depressed, sometime back, about not being able to change the world- it was a huge roller coaster ride- the emotional state, but then, the end was the question becoming the statement in itself. I cannot be responsible, individually for all the change to happen. and that realisation relieved me.

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  4. Hi Apeetha. Yep. I knew what you meant by "Man." Letting go is a practice for all of us as we come into authentic ego--ego in service of spirit--and release our old ego self that is trying to control everything and generally just get what it thinks it wants. I don't know about you, but I've found out that my ego doesn't really know what it truly wants. I think that makes it easier for me to let go and trust the divine plan. In some respects, the letting go is a lot about having faith.

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  5. Hi Jim

    I just found your blog recently and have been so grateful to find something that makes sense of what's going on for me in such a down to earth way. I found this post this morning (some time after you wrote it, I know) and it is such a comfort; I am exactly in that place 'between' and it feels like I'm in constant battle with myself, wanting to let go and not being able to stop holding on at the same time. It is so exhausting and feels like I am wasting precious time; everything feels pointless (not in the way it used to when I had depression, but still not fun) and I can't seem to make sense of anything, or make any meaningful choices about my life and what comes next.

    It's like I know what I need to do in theory - I read a lot and think a lot (can't help it!) - but am unable somehow to put it all into practice. I had a glimpse of what it feels like to live in spirit for a few hours a few weeks ago, but it hasn't returned and since then I just seem to go up and down, back and forth, and don't know how to let go enough for it to change! I know it is as simple or as hard as you make it, but 'just let go' doesn't seem to be cutting it!

    This has become a bit of an essay! Anyway, thank you for writing this blog, it's good to have somewhere to turn when I need to see that it's not just me! :)

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  6. Thanks, Tara. Check back on the blog on Wednesday for a post about the deep apathy we can get stuck in. All I can say is that developing your spiritual community and tools are essential. Only you know what you are resisting, and only you know where you really want to go. You have to accept that knowing, and then forge out into the scariness of trusting that part of you. You can't fight your inner knowing any longer even if your ego screams that the path ahead isn't safe or won't work.

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  7. Will do, you're in my reader. :) Definitely a trust thing going on over here. Things to do with letting go of 'old me' and fully stepping into 'new me'. And letting go of things that other people won't like me letting go of! Thanks Jim. :)

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