By the end of this post you will:
- Discover what a spiritual awakening and how it relates to the sleep state
- Gain clarity on the 5 clear signs that you are awakening spiritually
- Practical advice for having or deepening this experience
I still remember it like it was yesterday even though it was many years ago, my first big awakening experience. I was sitting in my car when it was pouring raining outside contemplating the stuckness I felt. The tears welled up in my eyes and I felt as if I might fall apart completely. I reached into my console for a tissue and found an old card with the saying “life is just a dream, remember who you really are”.
In that moment, something BIG shifted inside. I felt this inexplainable knowing that I was whole, complete and that everything was truly okay. Through the tears, a smile appeared and I began laughing. As the days went on I felt more and more joy and couldn’t even force myself to take things so seriously anymore. As time went on, the intensity of this experience faded but has stayed with me in the background ever since.
What Is A Spiritual Awakening?
According to the author and researcher Steve Taylor, author of “The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening” a spiritual awakening can be defined as waking up from discord, suffering, and limited awareness. When we are deep in the sleep state of consciousness, we are unaware that we are asleep. It is so common, even for those on the spiritual path, to get continually pulled back into this sleep state of consciousness again and again.
Over time in our spiritual practice of mindfulness, yoga and many other spiritual disciplines, we develop a heightened awareness which helps us stay out of the sleep state for longer periods of time. To fully understand spiritual awakening, it’s important to first acknowledge the specific characteristics of this sleep state so you can recognize when you are waking up out of it.
One of the biggest indicators of being in the unconscious sleep state is seeing yourself as separate from anything you see outside of you. This includes people, situations, nature, animals, and objects. We suffer with the amnesia that we are one with all that is.
Our grasp on reality is oftentimes determined by duality: good vs bad, right vs wrong, yes vs no, me vs you. While it’s useful to see yourself as an individual in the world to expand on the spiritual path, we can easily get pulled into the disconnection. This is not only detrimental to our well-being, but keeps us stuck in this sleep state.
Identification With Thoughts
While a characteristic of the ego mind, it’s helpful to see how identification with thoughts can keep us from moving forward on the spiritual awakening path. In the identification with thoughts phase, you believe your thoughts are who you are. You know you are doing this if you are completely consumed with whatever your mind is making up in the moment.
Meditation is the ticket to calming the mind and helps you to see that you are the awareness behind all the thoughts that seem to be so important. If you remembered every day that your mind is a product of personal and collective conditioning, you would smile at the thoughts that arise- instead of identifying with them.
Anxiety, Depression and Discontentment
In the ego/sleep state, nothing is good enough. We aren’t good enough, our partner isn’t good enough and nothing in our lives is as it should be. The mind creates a negative shadowing that keeps you from enjoying the present moment and remembering the beauty of being alive right here, right now.
The ego mind will jump into the future, which then in turn creates anxiety or takes you into the unresolved past, which can create depression. Take a look at your every day life- as you look around notice the minds tendency to find fault, flaws and unhappiness no matter how many positive things may be happening in your life right now.
5 Clear Signs You Are Awakening Spiritually
While there are many signs that point to awakening on the spiritual path, below are several clearcut signs that you may not have considered before. As you read through these, see if you can find times in your life that you have experienced these changes.
1. Your Values Are Changing
You may be recognizing that what you believed to be important, isn’t that important anymore. For some people it may be that they prioritized work over family connection and are now realizing that more money will not bring anymore happiness.
It might be that you start to prioritize stillness, meditation, being present with others, taking your time, engaging in self care, and giving selflessly to others. You might discover you’d rather engage in activities that help you connect with your Higher Self. These activities might seem boring to others such as taking a quiet walk in nature or having electronic free days.
2. Letting Go With Greater Ease
Since the mind is only an accumulation of thoughts conditioned through upbringing, society and the collective consciousness, it’s worth noting that when you clear that junk out of there, you awaken to who you really are. In other words, we are not becoming more spiritually awakened beings – instead we align with the truth of who we are when we release what is no longer serves our highest benefit.
When you are awakening spiritually, you notice that it’s easier to let go. You can let go of that fight you had with your spouse, you can let go of the resentment between a sibling, and you can release the struggles you have identified with for so long. All of a sudden it becomes easier and simpler to choose this present moment over an imagined future and an unhappy past.
3. Feeling Connected And In Tune
A spiritual awakening means that the boundaries between you and the world are no longer visible. You can see how things connect, how you are one with the grocery bagger, your previously annoying coworker, the sound of the garbage truck, or the dirty dishes you used to loathe having to wash. In this state, there is peace, joy and aliveness in every moment. You are able to sense that beyond the physical there is an infinitely spiritual connection with every single person, place or thing in this world.
This also means fear stops running your life, it may still be there in times of chaos, but it plays a backstage role. Many people on the spiritual path experience this at some time or another with varying intensities. This is sometimes one of the first awakening experiences to lessen in intensity or disappear altogether due to being drawn into the busy, doing based world we live in.
4. Dis-identifying With Old Belief Systems
You might start to notice that you are no longer as attached to labels or beliefs. This includes all the major identifiers such as: religion, spirituality, political viewpoints, family roles, and more. This can be a very confusing time as it’s possible to feel as if you don’t know who you are anymore.
Many people might experience a “dark night of the Soul” at this phase which signified a time of great turmoil but it is making away for profound spiritual growth. If you find yourself here, rest assured that you’ll find stable footing again. This is the reorganization stage of awakening where the ego mind becomes less and less of the driver of the story of your life.
5. Witnessing Thoughts and Emotions Instead Of Becoming Them
Detaching from thoughts and emotions can be a big indicator that you are awakening spiritually. This is very different from the typical dissociation and disembodied behavior that is much more common. Dissociation and disembodiment means you can’t feel, sense or tap into your body. In this state, you use the mind to escape from your body/the present moment, this is the current collective state of consciousness.
Instead during a spiritual awakening, you will notice you are having thoughts and emotions while staying grounded and anchored in the now. You might even start to develop a higher level of compassion for yourself and others as you recognize all the suffering created by the mind.
How To Have Or Deepen A Spiritual Awakening
A spiritual awakening is typically an organic experience that comes about as a result of an intense amount of suffering and/or engaging in spiritual practices that help you cleanse the mind and body of old patterns. In truth, you can’t really create a spiritual awakening experience, the very desire to do so can keep you from it since the ego mind can be very tricky. In order to make it more likely that you will have a spiritual awakening it’s important to have a daily practice that facilitates change in mind, body and spirit.
The important thing to note is that you must let go of the burning desire to have the spiritual awakening in order for it to arise. Desire keeps us wanting and pushes away the knowing that we already have everything we need within us. The following is helpful for anyone on the spiritual path, whether you want to have or deepen your experience.
Here are some ideas:
Ideas To Start Or Deepen Awakening:
- Mindfulness Meditation every day (start small and work up to an hour if you can)
- Start a dedicated yoga practice such as Kundalini yoga (and there are many others as well!) to help you awaken your energy
- Work with a spiritually oriented counselor or coach to help you work the blind spots that might be keeping you from moving forward in your growth
- Practice letting go- choose to let go of old beliefs, behaviors, and resentments. Spend at least a few minutes everyday identifying what you are attaching to, and make a conscious choice to release it (yes, you are that powerful!)
- Replace one activity that isn’t serving your highest good (cut back on Netflix binge watching, cut back on watching the news, set up limits on your phone) with an activity or open time in your schedule to be fully present. Close your eyes and feel the wind on your skin, hear the sounds around you, smile at the knowing that you are alive!
- Engage in informal meditation- wash the dishes, take a shower, brush your teeth, drive to work with mindfulness and ease
- Look into the eyes of those you speak to- at the store, at home with your family, at work. Remind yourself that this person is a human being in disguise, and that deep within they are a divine spirit just as you are
As Much As Possible
- Attend a mindfulness based retreat for a long weekend or a week if possible at least 1-2 times a year
- Set aside 1 day a week for self care and spiritual practices as a way of resetting and coming back home to yourself
Spiritual awakening is a journey, and while enlightenment is the goal for many, the nature of the universe is change and growth. We will never find ourselves at an end state, somewhere where life stops progressing and altering. We will constantly be challenged again and again on the spiritual path, but it is the most insightful and fulfilling journey if you open to the possibilities.
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