It’s time to expand our spiritual vocabulary again. Too often we get stuck inheriting words that don’t really explain things, so it’s up to us to make our words work for us. This is part of mastering our lives rather than being caged by the beliefs and definitions given to us. So today, we’ll add the term “spiritual plateau” into our spiritual lexicon, and I think a few of you will really appreciate having this term.
Firstly, I’m not talking about being spiritually stuck. Most part aren’t even started in their inner growth. Even those who have been on a spiritual path for 30 years are often just going through the motions rather than being moved by the inner intelligence inside them. That kind of stuckness isn’t a plateau. It’s not even started climbing the mountain. I’m also not talking about a spiritual rest period. Sometimes, things get very quiet in our spiritual journey, but if you’re in a spiritual rest phase there is still this movement. There’s just not a lot of chop in the waters, so you are flowing along without any major inner challenges to disturb those waters.
What I am talking about is after a spiritual awakening, there can be a point where things just stop moving. It’s usually the result of resistance, and that resistance comes with a variety of ego motives. Usually fear is at the root of them all, but they can include not feeling like you have the space to go into issues. You may not trust yourself. You may not like where you think things are headed, and you may feel enormously uncomfortable and just want the discomfort to end. So the individual holds on and stops doing any kind of inner work as soon as things seem settled enough to stay wherever they are internally and externally. This can be particularly true for people who have had a lot of physical pain come up. The minute things calm down, they’ll often stop all work because they don’t want to deal with the physical pain again that may come with deeper healing and spiritual growth.
Unfortunately, this can put people into a no-person’s land where you kinda know and feel the truth, but you’re cut off from a lot of yourself. It makes how you perceive the world very strange and a little contorted. You aren’t seeing clearly in this space. It’s like one eye is open and the other is closed, and that creates confusion and misinterpretations of life that can be enough to drive you back towards doing your inner work.
Allowing Rest Periods in Your Spiritual Growth
It is okay to rest. Doing inner work can be powerful and profound. There are times to put down the torch and stop lighting yourself on fire. Eventually, many of you will become one with the fire. When there are no more issues or unconscious parts of the ego to burn, you won’t even notice that you’re on fire. You’re burning bright, and that light illuminates the world within and around you.
But along the way, it is important to appreciate our human-ness. We can only handle so much of our issues. So stepping back from the flames can be important, and often as you join more deeply with your inner process, you’ll find that your process offers you resting points. When they come, embrace them. They won’t come according to any ego idea. They simply arise when it is time for them to arise.
If you pay attention to how your spiritual process goes, you may start to notice daily, monthly, annual, and decade cycles. In so doing, they’ll help guide you towards doing more inner work as well as when to let go of the focus. To be sure, these cycles go on independently of your ego choice. As always, I like to emphasize the metaphor of the river. The more you give yourself to the river, the more it shows you where everything is flowing inside you. Sometimes, it gives you those rest periods, and other times, you have to paddle a lot more.
Signs That You’ve Plateaued
One of the fundamental aspects of people who plateau tends to be a seeking of stability and safety. They’ll grab any branch in the river in hopes of being “saved” by that branch. Sometimes people come to me hoping that I am that branch, and of course, they are often quite surprised how the intensity of the river seems to speed up when they connect to me. More often, I am associated with the river, and when someone thinks they’ve found “safety,” they climb out of the waters I’m floating in and high-tail it to dry land. Once they’re high and dry, they think they’re safe, but really they’re beached and going almost nowhere. As such, that quality of not feeling like you’re going anywhere can be one aspect of a spiritual plateau. When we’re flowing, there’s an unmistakable aliveness that moves through us at all times. There’s also a powerful intelligence at work that is very different than what most people call going with the flow. When we plateau it’s almost like something goes dead.
On a spiritual plateau, there’s no flow, and there can be a loss of a sense of meaning and purpose on the inside. This can be surprising even when someone feels like they have all the things they want in the outside world. It can be very confusing because the person may have thought s/he arrived in life. That can be another reason some plateaus. They think they’ve achieved what they wanted to achieve. However, they’ve stopped moving instead. Arriving is one of the many lies of the unconscious ego that believes your happiness is in the distance through a purpose, action, belief, or something else. Once it thinks it has it, the ego now wants to defend what it has. As such, there may be a hidden or not so hidden rejection of the current moment in a spiritual plateau because the ego perceives the next part of your spiritual healing as taking you away from what you “want.”
This leaves a person with two main choices: to give up the spiritual plateau and get back to work or to make up a new ego story. Let’s talk about the latter first.
The Emergence of the Renewed Unconscious Ego
Depending on the person, you may not want to accept that you are no longer flowing or are still confronting by issues that you’ve already worked on. You may want acknowledgment and even an award for all the hard inner work you did to get here. These are all elements of an unconscious ego that has not been fully released. The ego is also likely to create an elaborate spiritual story about who you are and your purpose as well as to justify how things are going. The thing about ego justification is that they leave out important details if they don’t fit with your story. So, if you are on a spiritual plateau and feel this inner stagnation, it is easier to justify it as necessary or part of this current cosmic cycle or some other egoic nonsense. Of course when the external world goes well for you, the ego will justify this and give you credit where none is often due. The unconscious ego has many games, and this spiritual ego is a big problem because it uses spiritual ideas to mask issues.
But your soul is not fooled. God is not fooled, and a lot of other genuine spiritual people won’t be fooled either. This can lead to some difficulties for the person who has plateaued because other stalwart spiritual friends may pass them by. It’s not that there are levels on this spiritual path, but there are certainly ways that we can become more or less conscious. The person on a spiritual plateau may also be frustrated by the wisdom coming from others because it points out their blindness and unresolved issues. Thus, the person can become more defensive of their point of view, which is a classic ego tactic. There is nothing to defend on the spiritual path. The real you can not be hurt by words from another, but the spiritual ego doesn’t want to hear any of that. The spiritual ego still believes you can get others and life to play nice with you even when you may verbally acknowledge that such a thing is impossible.
What’s worse is that people can begin to backslide. When someone backslides, they may leave the plateau and start returning to old unhealthy patterns. This actually shows where someone’s issues are still hanging out, but part of the backslide is a return to ignorance. So the purpose doesn’t mindfully look at what they’re being drug back into. Once again, the spiritual ego will find ways to decide that this is okay to do. It can even claim that you are soooo spiritual that you can do whatever you like because everything is spiritual, right? This kind of ideological manipulation of spiritual truths is nothing but nonsense, and a person will trap themselves in these beliefs even if they’ve learned better at one point in their journey.
So in a spiritual plateau strange new egos grow up out of the roots of the old one. And you’ve got to get to the roots of the unconscious ego if you want to be free.
Getting the Energy Moving Again
Earlier in my path (and you can find this in my earlier blog posts) I didn’t really think you could stop this awakened energy. For me and some of my friends, it just takes over, and it feels like you have to embrace the change. But everyone’s path is different. Some people have greater inner and outer challenges, and some people may not have as powerful of an inner energy to move through it all. I can’t really explain these things. All I know is that some people–even those with profound spiritual awakenings–can plateau or even backslide back into ignorance and darkness. Some of these people know it, and they realize they’ve given up a profound gift that is rarely offered in life. They also realized they’ve given up a lot of themselves to remain in a small unconscious ego self.
This leads to the obvious question of how to get the energy moving again.
There’s no specific spiritual tool for getting started again. You probably need to return to where you stopped in your process. When did you make a decision that you couldn’t handle something or didn’t want to face something? That is one of the key points to which you need to return to address when you got off the spiritual awakening bus. It may be subtle, but more often than not, it isn’t a subtle choice at all. When we are honest with ourselves, it becomes readily apparent where we quit on ourselves whether it is needing to sit by ourselves and be or move to a new region or quit a job or start a new job or start a family. There are all kinds of ways that something significant comes up, and then we say, “no.” Well, if you want to get moving again, then you have to return to that point and say, “yes.” Then trust the process that arises.
However, there are no guarantees that it will move again. Ironically, the awakened space is always alive and moving within us, but for some reason, people can manage to get themselves so cut off from it that things seem to stop. I’m not even sure this is the right way to talk about it. But there’s just this sense that some kind of inner resistance to the awakened presence locks up and doesn’t let go once someone chooses to exit from the awakened freeway. What it takes for someone to start the engine again and get back on the freeway is different from person to person. Some people have had second awakenings, and then they are confronted with additional pain and suffering that they’ve added on since the first awakening. Because people don’t stop building layers of pain until they deal with their issues, and the plateau is very much a turning away from inner work. So some surface level issues may get cleared, but cutting the tops off of dandelions doesn’t get rid of them. They’ll just grow right back up, which can make a second spiritual awakening truly miserable.
The Arising of a Second Spiritual Awakening
A second awakening is not something you should assume or hope for. In fact, I would suggest that it is highly unlikely. If you are so fortunate as to have grace burst open the dam doors again, then be truly grateful. Most people don’t get one spiritual awakening much less a second. I hope you take this second opportunity.
And I hope you are ready to really buckle down for a lot of misery. While nothing can be predicted about someone’s process, when you’ve been building up more ego defenses since the first awakening, you are likely to be confronted by even more pain and suffering inside of you. This can make the healing process truly excruciating. Once again, I can’t say that it’ll happen like this, but in this instance of a spiritual plateau, you probably weren’t doing much inner work. That’s the nature of the plateau. You want to stay where you are. That’s very different than the more gradual conscious path that most people are on where they take small steps in their inner work. So the bursting forth of your divine self once more is likely to find even more baggage, which probably makes this second spiritual awakening even less convenient and comfortable than the first. It may be ironic because it’s usually because of the inconvenience and discomfort that someone choose to plateau in the first place.
Following Your Heart and Soul
The most important way to get off the plateau is to embrace your inner pain and follow your intuition. Listening to your heart is often a conduit to the soul’s guidance–your intuition–but intuition is more than a feeling. It’s a deeper abiding place of calm and quiet that can help you navigate the energy river that is a spiritual awakening. This is the place that you may have heard loud and clear during awakening, but perhaps, it’s been difficult to hear this inner truth since you hit the plateau. The loss of intuitive direction is definitely a sign of a plateau or even a spiritual backslide. This is different than if you simply don’t have any important intuitions right now, and once again, only you can distinguish whether this is a time where not much intuition is needed or you are blocking yourself from hearing it.
This is all part of being honest with yourself. A spiritual plateau is a big kind of self-denial and a kind of dishonesty. You are not acknowledging your truest needs and are not listening to what is most needed for your soul path. This is not honest. Your soul knows where you need to go and what you can handle. So if you’ve gotten stuck on a spiritual plateau, it’s time to be brutally honest with yourself about why you got stuck, why you let fear make the decision for you, and then return to the fork in the road. Once there, you can then get back on the spiritual awakening freeway towards your truth and love.