After the Awakening: The Spiritual Path Goes On

I've been waiting for awhile to start talking about the after the awakening part of the spiritual path. In truth, I've been waiting for my own transition to settle enough that I don't feel like I'm completely channeling the information without any grounded experience myself. And maybe I still am.

It's important to re-distinguish what I'm talking about. The awakening is the singular point of a shift where we understand what's real. It's like we irrevocably link into the higher source and our higher selves, and after that, we have to do the work to align that higher level with the human level. Depending on your path, a huge energy rush--like a surge of water busting through a dam--comes pouring into our beings. For some of us, it's debilitating because we're being changed deeply on every single level--intellectual, emotional, and physical. It can feel overwhelming and like it's a too much for us to hold. But we're only getting what we can handle, and we can handle this shift. And as that initial surge abates, we move into the natural flow that we've always been in, but had been blocking. In this natural flow, the spiritual path goes on.

But I Still Feel So Human
I was at a talk by an author who wrote Enlightenment Ain't What It's Cracked Up to Be: A Journey of Discovery, Snow, and Jazz in the Soul. He did a wonderful job of pointing out how profound this shift can be and how disappointing the reality of enlightenment is to our egoic ideas of what enlightenment should be. Awakening doesn't make us infallible, charismatic, or any more "perfect." We are still incredibly human, and our very humanness feels like it's enhanced tenfold. I wrote in a recent blog that awakening feels kind of like being pushed face down into your best and worst parts. That in and of itself makes the initial transition overwhelming. We live in such an insipid and lifeless world that both our great light and our great darkness are too much for us. We have been living on the weak tea and barley diet, and suddenly the full flavor palate of life is in our mouths. What to do?

And then we do something. Some of us embrace this change fully. Some resist it deeply, and the initial surge eventually dies down either way. How this goes for you will be distinctly your own experience. I can't generalize that, but I can say that the initial intensity will pass. Going back to the water metaphor in the first paragraph. After that first great wave of water, the ensuing waves become softer and more gradual. Some times they are bigger, and some times they are smaller. But they are unlikely to be like the first (of course it depends on your path), and as you go, you come into the deeper acceptance of these ebbs and flows. They are part of the natural waters of the universe.

What to Do Now?
For those of you who have embraced this flow and filled yourself with this life force blasting you, I doubt you'll have this question as the first great swell subsides. You will probably know, and in embracing this transition, you'll have been actively manifesting what you want. Because you understand that this awakening has been taking you towards what you are truly here to do and what you truly want to be. It can take you towards nothing else. That's the nature of it.

For others of you past those great initial shifts (they can come in multiple intense waves--as I said, it's different for all of us), if you didn't really embrace it, you may feel slightly abandoned. At times, this energy is like having 50 people from a party all in your living room with you. You feel crushed and crowded, and then it dissipates. A lot can go away if you haven't been making space for it. If you haven't had a dedicated practice and have numbed yourself with old habits (work, sex, drugs, etc.), you may feel sort of lifeless and lost. This type of resistance can be done. People can beat down enough of this to not really embody much of what's being offered, but then the misery you go through just becomes a bad phase of life. And you never really go back to sleep. You know. You know what's real, and you'll also know what you did to yourself. And in all the ways that ego uses guilt for you, a part of you will feel like you missed the bullet train to that golden city of your dreams. So now for you, you still will need to build your spiritual practice and will have to walk that journey of 1,000 miles.

The Speed of Life Slows Down: You Come Back to Earth
Going back to those of you who are embracing this shift of consciousness and the trials and tests that it brings so vigorously and forcefully, you'll notice the shifts start to slow. The intensity starts to "reduce." I put this in quotes because the frequency may still be really high, but if you've been integrating it, then it won't feel like it's dragging you so far up into the clouds. As I've mentioned in other blogs, "high states" can go away for a lot of people who wake up depending on where their vibration wants to rest. Part of this is because you have to have two states of awareness to distinguish a high state from another state of awareness. If you are on top of a mountain, but there's no up or down anymore, how do you know that you're on top of a mountain? The concept of the mountain goes away. You are where you are, but you still feel very human. High states function off of having alternate points of reference. Integrating your awakening takes many or all of those away, and you can simply feel very normal.

You have come back to earth.

Doing the Work Before You
You will still have bad habits. You will still argue with people and get mad over stupid shit, but perhaps not as much. You will have the ability to step back from any situation and bring a lot of awareness to things. You will, however, still make mistakes, and all of this is okay. Every emotion and every mistake is as much of a gift as being able to feel open and loving. Nothing is static. Everything is dynamic, and you are embracing that dynamism. If you are cold, you can appreciate and embrace the cold. It's not winter's fault. You learn to put on a jacket. In the same way, if someone yells at you at the traffic light, you can learn to let go of those hot, angry emotions. They have nothing to do with you. You know where you are going, and you are grounded and trusting in that.

Yet doubts may remain or ebb and flow. You'll still have your spiritual work to do to take care of yourself. Spiritual work now is as much about self-care as any kind of improvement. You can always improve because as long as you draw breath, this spiritual path continues in front of you. You can always find a way to open further, but only if you chose. You understand more fundamentally that you are perfect in whatever way that you consciously choose to be, and you don't need to grow or improve if you don't feel called to it. That's not an ego decision. That's simply understanding your own path in a very deep and profound way. And of course, you will likely change and evolve with what your path looks like as you go along. It is always changing, and it is always the same.

One Step In Front of the Other in the Post-Awakening Era
The quest for enlightenment is over if you were on that quest. It wasn't what you thought it was. It was a realization. It was a moment of profound "Ah-ha!" But life goes on. You're back in your everyday life, and you have to decide how you're going to live it with this new awareness that is also so old. This awareness is you, and it's always been here. Now you are looking at your home and realizing all the things that no longer suit you. You may have already done a lot of this work, and over time, the renovating of yourself becomes much smaller and subtler. There's not much to do. When you align with yourself, you may be surprised just how effortless and perfect things are, and at other times, it will still require a lot of effort. It's perfect either way, but it's still one step at a time. It's still one breath at a time. There are still assholes in the world. There's still murder, rape, and thievery. There's still the duality of good and evil on this planet. But you can see it for what it is, and you can see that your path is always right underneath your feet.


  1. Beautifully written and profoundly important
    to teach, for me half of the realization of an awakening, is what it is not about and the letting go of egoic ideas of the super-human being you are not going to emerge as.

    Let the being dragged far up into the clouds ( followed by being dropped, of course) calm down into a state of complete okeness, even when you are humanly "not okay".

  2. Thank you for your beautiful comment, Lila. Much love to you on your path.

  3. hello jim,

    Do you think it is possible for somebody to briefly, very briefly go through the awakening process and then a year later become what they were before? Is it possible to forget that moment and energy? Was that an awakening at all?

    1. Hi Apeetha. Good to hear from you again.

      This isn't a simple question, and it's not one that I can answer for you. You have to answer it for yourself. I can give you some possibilities to consider. Find what feels true.

      1. You had a profound opening. An opening is different from an awakening because it is set up by and dependent on external conditions. As those conditions go away, the opening closes. Then you feel pretty much the same. An awakening will continue subtly or overtly. You know what's real and true, and you can't live your life in a way that isn't in integrity with that Truth. The awakening energy, however, isn't always profoundly dramatic as it can be at the outset of the shift.

      2. Integration. We don't feel the same way throughout an awakening. It comes through us, and then it integrates. The more it integrates, the more it becomes our normal state of consciousness. I can't compare my state of consciousness now to the one I had when I was 26 years old because I don't operate from that space of density. I am where I am, and while I can feel the difference, it's not how I am with it. I simply AM with it.

      3. The Waves. Some awakenings go through waves, and if you have gone through an awakening, you may be in a dormant period. Another wave is coming, and if you really want to embrace the change, you have to, HAVE TO, dedicate yourself to the work to open yourself and to clear out pain (fear, anger, hatred, etc.) to hold more of it.

      I hope this is helpful. Feel free to email me more if you want to talk about where you got stuck.

  4. Thank you so much for your article. I have gone through what I would call my initial awakening process about 10 months ago, and I have been urged to make changes in my life that I have been resisting out of ego and fear. I recognize this. I want to make these changes and I know that it is inevitable... however I have been dragging my feet. Now, I have been sort lf depressed because I am not where I want to be on my journey. I feel I have been slipping backwards. I am just frustrated with my own choices since I know they aren't for my highest good. I would love any feedback or wisdom. I have been feeling lost. And I miss the sense of my soul soaring when I forst awoke... although that may not last - I hope I xan get back to a state of consciousness where I truly feel connected again.

    1. You are always connected, my friend. It is the illusion of our separateness that makes it seem otherwise. This is why inner work is important. In learning to actively dissolve our ego attachments, we realize the truth, although the truth is not a feeling of connectedness. So any attempt to reclaim a feeling should be abandoned; such an attempt will create more suffering for you.


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