A spiritual awakening is the dissolving of the illusion that you are separate from oneness.
In this profound experience of dissolving, your energy intelligently breaks down your sense of separation, typically starting with your ego.
A spiritual awakening is realized throughout your body, heart, mind, and soul, but no sooner has that erupted than 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?”
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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 people, spiritual awakening is a sudden, penetrating moment where something is seen and realized. Sometimes there’s a lot of energy/heat/sensation in and around the spine, which is a 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. However, the arising of truth within you definitively stays. Your life is the altered by the awakened energy. This energy takes over, and for a time, a person feels rather out of control and even lost. But the person has been found, and the question now is: do you embrace the awakening or do you resist?
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 perceive many of the things that are made up, and when you get right down to it, just about everything in society is made up.
The initial awakening may not be earth-shattering for everyone. 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 false beliefs and 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 quit smoking, and whammo, she got hit with an awakening. Yet 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. Many of the experiences that people call a spiritual awakening are like someone’s first glass of water after living, dehydrated in the desert. It seems like the best thing ever! That “taste of divine water” may get experienced as:
- Deep peacefulness,
- A profound sense of oneness and lost of separation that feels amazing,
- Life going into high definition all around them,
- Tremendous inner quiet, and other experiences
But it’s only the first glass of water. It may not even be the best kind of water. After the desert, any water is better than no water!
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.
Spiritual Awakening Signs
I am very cautious about labeling things as signs of awakening. 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 are 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 in which you have been living.
Without the above spiritual awakening signs, there’s all kinds of reasons people can feel fatigue, energy shifts, depression, disconnected and what not. Many people are trying to self-diagnose a lot of issues, including serious trauma. Serious trauma should always be treated with professional trauma healers!
So we must be very cautious 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, 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. Issues purge. The person lets go.
Then the darkness recedes, and they start to feel better.
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 consciously embracing pain.
Let’s Talk About Trauma
Okay, we need to talk about trauma now.
There are many, many kinds of awful traumas people experience, including:
- Sexual abuses outside the family,
- Physical abuse,
- Emotional abuse,
- Severe neglect and abandonment,
- War trauma,
- Psychological gaslighting, manipulation, and brainwashing, and plenty more awful things.
As someone lets go, trauma tends to come up to resolve itself. Sometimes, this is what people think the term “dark awakening” is. But it isn’t awakening at all. It is trauma trying to resolve itself, and I strongly encourage people to find a trained trauma healer and to build a healing network to help themselves through it.
Additionally, spiritual teachers are not trauma therapists. Nor should you expect the spiritual path and/or a spiritual awakening to heal you if you have trauma. Healing trauma is a lot of work, and every level of the person–heart, body, mind, and subtle energy–will need to heal. At which point the person will feel safe in their body again.
Furthermore, I want to emphasize that spirituality is not a bypass or escape from trauma or any issue or attachment. It sends you right into the truth of you, and if that is trauma, then that’s where you will go. In which case, it’s time to focus on healing modalities to help you.
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, 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.
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 began.
This experience was not even close to the level of profound understandings that followed in the years that came. All it did was turn the system on. A whole lot of healing and growth followed. In this way, my awakening is now forgettable.
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 many other words–they’re the same to me) is not a new thing. It is always here with us. The awakened state 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 and surrender is the truest way to realizing oneness.
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 who spread hate about other “non-believers” of their path. This is in no way spiritual, even though the Divine oneness embraces them too.
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 despite the powerful push of awakened energy, you have to put in the work. You have to figure things out even as awakening drives you towards realizations on its own. Nothing is guaranteed, and there’s a dance between action and surrender that is absolutely critical.
People who resist, fight, or control awakening get stuck just as much as those who are too lazy to more deeply engage with what is revealed to them. In general, there’s a lot of ways people utterly fail and waste the opportunity of awakening.
Dedicating Yourself to Spiritual Freedom
As mentioned earlier, an awakening 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 we 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 and think such things than to really let go of the deep attachments and fears that chain people to the ego.
In short, awakened energy helps point people in the right direction–the inward direction. For some people, the initial spiritual awakening experiences may feel like the whole of freedom all at once, but going back to the metaphor of the first cup of water after the desert, this little taste is only the beginning. The ocean of freedom is far more vast.
But the choice to go further must be decided upon by you because the human tendency is to stay in familiar patterns. And I can only encourage you to embrace your awakening and through dedication, you can find out just how vast spiritual freedom is.
For more thoughts on spiritual freedom, check out this blog:
If you feel like you are awakening, here’s a blog post with a number of tips to help you:
You can also enjoy my video on awakening your energy here.