Building a Mind Strong Enough for Awakening

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This post is the start of a short series of blog posts around preparing for awakening. In the following weeks, I'll have posts as follows:

Building a Heart Strong Enough for Awakening

Building a Body Strong Enough for Awakening

This series is speaking to the reality that there is a lot of intensity in a true spiritual awakening. A true awakening moves intelligently and independently through someone, transforming that person. It's a lot to take on, and if someone isn't strong enough, problems arise.

To be sure, I am not using the term "spiritual awakening" in the common way. The common way is more about consciously learning about oneself. I call this the conscious path. People can step on and off it at will. After a true awakening, people can't stop, at least not for awhile. It's like being in a rushing river while the conscious path is like walking on a trail. Sure the trail has its ups and downs, but the person can stop, rest, wander away from it, and go backwards any time they want. The river has a mind of its own.

On that note, I want to talk about what a person who seriously wants to awaken should consider doing to prepare him/herself for awakened energy.

Why Do You Want a Spiritual Awakening?

The above subhead was actually the title of one of my earliest blog posts. The question is just as relevant now as it was in 2010 when I wrote the post about the topic.

Why do you want to awaken?

For many people, awakening has been sold to them as the latest fix to make you feel good all the time. For others, it's a way out of pain. Still others like the idea of getting to be "special" somehow by having an awakening. They see other spiritual people getting all this attention and assume that all that attention is good and that they'd like it.

All of these assumptions are wrong.

Awakening dissolves the ego and shows you what is. Some days life feels good, and others, it feels bad. Pain is part of the human experience. Letting go of ego suffering doesn't get rid of pain or make you immune to being wounded. And being special is nothing but an ego game that hides deeper core issues. Dissolving the ego doesn't make us special; it makes us nobodies.

Confronting Core Issues (video)

The Path to Nowhere

Before thinking about awakening your energy, it is important to have a long, deep conversation with yourself about what you really want. For most of you, the true answer is happiness, safety, and/or healing. But the awakened path is a path to freedom, which is often very different than the above 3 goals, and a true aspiration for spiritual freedom is a whole other mindset.

Addressing Outstanding Mind Issues

Awakened energy transforms everything, and transformation puts a lot of stress onto what is being changed. Some of you had growing pains as children going through the natural and healthy process of developing into adults. Those pains weren't a sign that anything was wrong. They were simply a sign of development.

However, the above example presumes a child in good health. If someone is not in good health, growth becomes much more painful. The mind is no different than the body in this regard. If it is healthy, it can take a lot of intensity and change. If it is not, it can get hurt.

From time to time, I get messages where someone has gotten mentally fragmented from a spiritual experience, not even an awakened experience, although that happens too. What happened? The mind was not prepared, and it may already have been weak.

A weak mind isn't just about diagnosable mental health issues; it's about incorrect thinking. Incorrect thinking includes what I mentioned about wanting to be special or to feel good all the time. Those beliefs and the core issues they hide make the mind weak. When an awakening does arise, those parts cry out because awakening isn't anything like they were expecting. Now, they feel bad, and they feel like they're becoming nothing. This isn't what those issues wanted to have happen. So the person holds on. They resist. This causes more psychological friction. This friction is the holding on of the ego to its beliefs, desires, and fears as something truer sees reality. While truth doesn't cause us pain, our ego reactions sure do.

This can lead into all kinds of downward spirals, and the crowning achievement of the unprepared, wounded ego is the dark night of the soul. Hitting this bottom doesn't mean you'll come back up, and if someone does end up here after awakening, they may have no further desire for the spiritual path. But it's too late now, isn't it? The dam is broken open, and this person has probably got a few more years--yes, YEARS--before things calm down enough that they can semi-crawl out of the river.

The Dark Night of the Soul

So if you already know of different ego issues you have like lack of self-worth, scarcity fears, the inability to say what you think, and many more, start working on them first. Don't look to awakening as a way to get away from your issues. Actually, it'll send you straight into them.

Learning to Work on Your Mind

The body and heart are ultimately intertwined with the mind, but let's separate some things out to help you focus appropriately if you're serious about wanting to awaken and find spiritual freedom.

How to Find Spiritual Freedom

For starters, here are some basic things you need to accept to start to work on your mind:
  • You are ignorant about yourself.
  • You are ignorant about life.
  • You are not your ego, meaning your identity/ideas of yourself.
  • Your beliefs are not yours, but have been given to you by others and unconsciously--for the most part--accepted by you.
These four are probably more than enough to trigger an ego reaction in most people, but those reactions are to be expected. Part of preparing the mind to handle an awakening is being able to be with truths your ego doesn't like. If you think these four are a lot to handle right now, try dealing with 20 spiritual realizations while the awakened energy also simultaneously transforms your heart, body, and energy field. I've only given you a sip of truth with the above 4 spiritual statements, and if you can't handle that, don't go running to the ocean just yet.

Meditation, Journaling, and Going Within

My long-time readers have heard me talk about meditation, journaling, and going within a lot. I discuss it so much because few people are very good at it. Meditation is confused as a way to get somewhere or control the mind. Journaling becomes a space of continual complaining, and going within, well, sometimes that's just ignored entirely.

The point of these tools is to pay attention to the ego-mind. In this way, you strength your mind's natural abilities to perceive and begin to create some separation from your identification with your ego. What identification means is that initially we think we are our egos. We believe everything we think, for the most part. If our ego tells us we suck, then we suck. If our ego tells us that we're right about everything, then we're right about everything. If our ego tells us that the lady's holiday shirt is tacky and should be taken from her and set on fire, then we believe that too.

Most people believe their ego thoughts so completely that they never realize that they can think otherwise and that all of these thoughts are choices. Furthermore, the ego-mind is not the totality of your mind. You mind is very flexible and able to think and perceive in a huge number of ways. The ego-mind limits your abilities to think and perceive, and it cuts people off from deeper levels of their own mind's natural intelligence.

This is where meditation, journaling, and going within come in. By paying attention to what is going on in your ego, you can begin to question it and start to face the underlying fears and attachments that are part of the ego. This work feels uncomfortable at first, but once you get the hang of it, greater depths of clarity become possible. That clarity then lends itself to going deeper and seeing bigger issues as you tap into the greater depths of your mind's intelligence.

Getting Outside Support

However, it's tough to see all of our issues by oursevles, and finding neutral third parties like spiritual teachers, therapists, or newer spiritual friends can be helpful. What I mean by "newer spiritual friends" is that our older friends tend to reinforce our ego beliefs. We don't generally create social circles that conflict with our ego ideas. That doesn't mean our friendships are nice. Some are quite mean. If someone has a big self-worth issue, they may have a group of friends with similar self-worth issues as well as friendships some abusers. From the outside, another person may see what is going on. They may ask the other person why they let a friend treat them so badly, and it's this type of outside perspective that helps someone realize that they're in unhealthy relationships, which reflects their own ego issues.

There's a whole host of ways that outside support is critical to strengthening the mind's ability to see the truth and to see ego beliefs that skew how they understand things. Building social support is also key if you want to awaken one day. You'll need it to help you through the years of transformation. But at the beginning, getting outside support to help you learn about uncomfortable truths and learning to be with your ego discomfort are important lessons.

Choosing Your Spiritual Friends Wisely

Limited Reading

Reading spiritual texts can also be useful, but it's tricky. It's tricky because many egos love ideas, and they love to become a collector of ideas rather than a knower of truth. The collector reads endlessly, watches innumerable videos, and goes to countless talks.

Conversely, the person who is not as comfortable in the world of spiritual ideas needs to spend more time here. These types of people are usually more comfortable living focused on their bodies or on their heart's emotions.

With that said, reading a few select spiritual teachers can be helpful to get the mind thinking in the right terms. I would recommend Eckhart Tolle's work for one. He's excellent at helping people understand the ego. Here's a link to one of his books:

The Power of Now

Secondly, I'd also recommend Rumi. His poems may not always be straightforward, but as someone opens their mind, the deeper meanings of his work become more accessible.

In regards to myself, well, you've got a whole blog full of my thoughts, and I have a YouTube channel.

Jim's YouTube Channel

Additionally, my first book is essentially about preparing for awakening:

Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

The main concern with reading and finding spiritual information is that if someone reads too much from too many sources, they then become very confused. They can get stuck trying to reconcile different ideas that don't reconcile, and at the beginning stages, people aren't very good at discerning a good spiritual teacher from an incomplete teacher--and there are a lot of incomplete teachers. Between Eckhart Tolle and Rumi, you'll be pointed in the right direction.

Going Deeper

As you do the steps mentioned above, you can go deeper. You can deal with issues that you are more attached to, and you can discover more of your own ignorance. Illuminating ignorance isn't a one shot deal. It tends to be like peeling an onion, and each time, it can still be quite surprising what issues remain.

Finding out You're Wrong About Yourself

In going deeper, you tend to become more humble, and you learn that you can't control the process. The process of self-discovery guides you, and when someone allows for this, they can avoid problems and traps like trying to skip steps or thinking that it's all mind over matter. Actually, the mind that is becoming more conscious starts to see its true role. It is not the master of the heart and body. It is a co-creator with them, and as someone sees this, it becomes possible to step into working on the level of the heart.

Healing Trauma and Existing Mental Health Concerns

It should go without saying that if you know you have a trauma, you should heal that before doing anything serious with awakening energy. Similarly, if you know you have a mental health issue like bipolar, dissociative identity disorder, borderline personality disorder, and/or other mental health issues, it's best to work on them first rather than hoping awakening will fix them.

Awakened energy is deeply healing. But you need to have a lot more social support set up before messing around with it if you've had trauma and trauma-related mental health issues like PTSD as well as if you have other mental health issues. Awakened energy puts tremendous pressure on someone, and if someone has had a trauma, reliving it as the energy pushes that stuff up and out of someone is intense. You have to be prepared for it at the level of the mind as well as the body, heart, and energy. If you are, awakened energy can potentially clear the trauma.

However, I would say there are other ways to fully clear trauma, and they should be pursued rather than using awakening for that purpose. When the trauma is cleared on all levels of someone, then awakening energy can be considered.

As for the wide variety of mental health issues out there, I recommend the slow, conscious path instead. Don't try to awaken your energy at all. Choose the conscious spiritual path and allow yourself to move towards spiritual freedom at a gradual pace.

Choosing the Conscious Spiritual Path

Qualities of Mental Strength

A strong mind is different than what a lot of people may believe. It's not about being able to remember lots of stuff. It's not about being "smart" as society currently defines smart. It's not about being able to hold onto beliefs. For this last one, mental strength is usually the opposite.

Some of the signs of mental strength on the spiritual path are:
  • Flexibility
  • Openness
  • Groundedness
  • Resilience
Flexibility is about seeing the truth and not staying attached to false beliefs and ideas. When you are focused on the truth, you don't have to defend it. Spiritual truth is like gravity; whether someone beliefs in gravity or not is irrelevant. It exists because it exists. As someone focuses on reality, their beliefs can shift and change as needed for the truth of the moment. This shifting has nothing to do with the ego getting what it wants or manipulating anything or anyone, including the person him/herself. Sometimes what the present moment asks of us is not anything we want, but it is necessary. A strong mind gives us the ability to deal with that necessity in a thoughtful, considered way.

Openness is inherent in flexibility. The open mind can perceive and receive new ideas because it is not constantly trying to defend or project ego false beliefs. It also doesn't immediately accept everything. Openness allows for discernment because the person is interested in seeing the truth and not what others are trying to present as reality. This type of conscious openness allows the mind to grow, and that growth is central to being able to integrate a spiritual awakening.

Groundedness is about how the mind is able to accept its role as a piece of our experience and perception. It is linked to the heart, body, and subtle energy. Because the mind allows for these other levels of truth, it doesn't get lost in fantasies that are not possible or try to avoid other emotional or physical difficulties. The grounded mind knows that ideas must be workable in everyday human life. This groundedness makes a person very practical.

Finally, there's a resilience that emerges from all this work. The mind learns to handle the strain of the ego getting triggered, and as this mental resilience increases, the person can handle quite a bit of emotional and physical suffering too. This is vital to being able to undergo a profound spiritual awakening. Without this mental resilience that keeps saying, "yes" to intense transformation, a person can get stuck in some very ugly and painful places.

The Importance of Mental Resilience After Awakening

5 Outcomes of a Spiritual Awakening

Even after awakening, the outcome of a spiritual awakening is not guaranteed. The unprepared or under-prepared mind can lead to these three very common outcomes:
  • Stagnation (no development--the person just holds on for several years)
  • Plateau (some development--the person does what they feel like they have to and then stops the minute they can)
  • Greater unconsciousness (reverse development--the person fights awakening and what they discover and finds ways to actively avoid, numb, or even self-harm to not accept the transformation)
I'm sure these outcomes are not what some of you expect particularly with some of what gets said on the Internet. But these are what often happen for those who are unprepared for awakening.

The last two outcomes are:
  • Flowing consciously
  • Total freedom
The last is the rarest because the dropping away of the ego seems to be a gradual thing even after a spiritual awakening. In general, an awakening is a starting point, not an ending point. And flowing consciously refers to being aware of the ego and deeper issues, but now they are more easily seen and quickly dissolved. The transformation is complete in a way for a person in flow, but the dissolving of the unconscious impulses still continues until the soul arrives at whatever level of conscious awareness it chooses. Rarely is that total spiritual freedom.

5 Outcomes of a Spiritual Awakening (video)

Spiritual Awakening Is not a Toy

In Western Society, people are constantly seeking and searching, but they do so in the most immature way. They are looking for quick fixes and feel-good moments, and that is not what a spiritual awakening is. It is not a toy for Westerners to play with and then put down. It is a life-changing event, and it should be regarded with the respect any major life change is given and probably even more than that.

The bounty of spiritual freedom is immense, and I could go on and have for some time about the beauty of dissolving the ego. But lately, I've been getting these messages from people who want to awaken but clearly have the wrong ideas about it. Hopefully, this blog post and other posts will change that as well as offer a clear avenue forward to preparing someone. By being truly prepared on the mind, heart, and body levels, a person can have the ability to move consciously through the awakened transformation and arrive in a state of awakened flow or even total freedom.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post Jim. One question: If after awakening, certain patterns of behaviour are realized as having roots in Childhood trauma, how can one start the healing process?

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    1. You're very welcome, Yeab. I've written a lot about healing, so any of my posts about healing should help. I would also recommend talking to a trained psychological/therapist to help you sort out the trauma at the mind and heart levels.

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    2. Ok, I'll refer to those posts. Thank you!

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  2. In my case, I find the awakening process to appear like a range of mental health issues such as bipolar. It's been no fun and games to spontaneously awaken.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jack. Thanks for your comment. Yes. The shifts in mood and emotions can be dramatic after awakening. That's precisely why I advise people with pre-existing mental health concerns to go the slow road or not try to awaken their energy.

      If you haven't read this blog post yet, I recommend it. I think it'll help you to process the emotions that are coming up for you. Let me know if you have questions or if I can help. https://www.spiritualawakeningprocess.com/2015/05/after-spiritual-awakening-unleashes-all.html

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