For most of our lives, a lot of us try to put a good face on things even when we feel awful. We end up using drugs and alcohol and even sports as ways to let out pent up frustrations and emotions. They’re more like steam vents; they let the steam out, but they don’t take care of the fire that’s burning inside. When spiritual awakening strikes and even as you move along in your path, emotions come up. It’s often very involuntary. They simply arise, and you suddenly find yourself face-to-face with a lot of anger, sadness, or fear. The old inclination to repress, avoid, or do something else to remove the feeling may kick in, but this is precisely the moment when we need to allow. This is precisely the moment when things get a little messy.

It Ain’t Pristine on the Spiritual Path

Because there’s this image of starched white robes and silent retreats that gets stuck in people’s heads, I write a lot of blogs like this precisely to help you re-humanize spirituality. We’re not escaping the muck of life when we’re following the path of transcendence; we’re going right into it. And because life is messy and we’ve got a messy inner space, things get messy around us. We cry. We scream. We get intensely scared. We get so scared it makes our teeth hurt. Now it is important to make a differentiation here. Clearing emotions on the spiritual path goes through a couple phases:

  1. The emotion rises to your consciousness.
  2. You experience the emotion.
  3. You release the emotion.

This is not an emotional tantrum. You certainly aren’t using your emotions to manipulate situations and people. If this has been your path, you’re going to actually have to re-experience those moments and how it feels to be manipulated. It’s a wholly different thing than just having a nervous breakdown because one of the key things is that after you release the emotion, you feel clearer and cleaner than before. You feel a little less weighed down, and you probably are feeling pretty raw and/or exhausted.

Finding a Safe Space to Be a Mess

Unfortunately, most of our lives aren’t set up to make space for messy breakdowns. I’ve really appreciated the conscious dance circles in the SF Bay Area because when people have emotions come up during dance, there’s actually a lot of permission for people to have those emotional out-pourings. I don’t know that I’ve seen it too many other places. Even some meditation groups don’t really understand such things. They just think you can’t be quiet and aren’t meditating “right.”

With that said, you need to develop places in your life where you can be a mess–if only for 15 minutes. Whether you have time set aside in your bedroom away from your family or whether you actually can get away to a retreat or even a camp-out, it’s crucial to have this space in your life. You’re going through one of the most profound deep cleaning cycles of your life, and for those of you already in awakening, it all has to get washed out. Not one inch of you is going to be left untouched.

Finding Comfort With Intense Emotions

Because so few of us are actually taught how to be with intense emotions, there’s going to be an adjustment period where you have to consciously give yourself permission to have these feelings. It’s not going to be easy. You’ll feel it through your whole body. One of the feelings that I’ve had is this feeling of dying. I really don’t like it. In many ways, some old emotion, karma, or old self is dying, but it can feel so tied in to who I think I am that the sense of dying comes through. It feels like I’m dying.

Without a lot of permission around this, you can manifest phantom diseases or even real diseases. In many ways, the body complies with whatever the mind fixates on. If you believe it enough, it just may come true. So when it feels like you’re dying (abiding you are actually in good health and you get your regular check-ups with the doctor), you’ll have to learn how to make space to detach from the feeling. You’ll need to learn how to watch it and be with it. In many ways, this feeling isn’t about you. That’s a key realization to come to. So just let it go. Let it die to you.

Cleaning Cycles: Wash, Rinse, Twirl Around Like a Goofball, and Repeat

You most likely will have cycles of cleansing too. This can be part of the awakening timeline that I mentioned in an earlier blog, or it may simply be about healing, which is making space for a deeper awakening awareness that has not yet begun to move in you. It’s all very subtle, and only you will know exactly what it is. But it will come and go. You’ll go through one of these cleanses, and then you’ll come out of it. You’ll usually feel a lot better. Depending on your path, you can feel really amazing shortly after one. It’s how some of us get to be spiritual workaholics. Once you find out just how amazing you can feel when you clear out old junk, you want more so you can find out just how much more awesome you can feel. This is one of the addictive qualities of the spiritual path, which has it’s own challenges. But initially, it feels damn good.

Your Spiritual Support Network Comes Through

Depending on the intensity of the clearing or awakening, you could be a real hot mess. You may not be able to do much of anything. This is when a spiritual support system is so important. The people who are in it may not even seem to be very “spiritual.” They just may really love you (which is about the most spiritual thing I can think of). And so they’ll support you, and you’ll need to let yourself be supported to turn your attention to the fullness of the experience. That’s the only way to fully release it. Don’t do none of this nonsense around being independent. It gets you nothing. The same way being a helpless victim gets you nothing on this path. You have to stand up, and then receive this experience, which then may knock you on your ass. These are almost always all the emotional experiences you’ve avoided having all your life. They’ve been sitting down in the basement of your soul for too long. Now they need to come out. It’s what we all have to do before the deeper fullness of ourselves can come forth.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. I find that my hot mess comes are really odd times and towards people I love dearly….. raging horror and I feel sorry for me feelings 🙁

  2. Thanks for your comment, Ursh. It sounds like you've got a lot of emotions and issues to be with. Make space for that to come out in your life. In the other times when you're with people, see if you can find a way to channel what's moving through you without reacting to the feelings.

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