There are a lot of spiritual experiences and spiritual shifts on the spiritual path, but the spiritual vocabulary in modern day English is particularly useless. As such, I am often adding my own twist to different spiritual words to make them more illuminating or occasionally making brand new terms like ECIMS. Because if the Eskimos can have 50 terms for snow, I think we are all more than able to make a few more terms to describe different spiritual experiences.

As such, I wanted to return to a couple of terms that I often use to help you better understand your spiritual path and therefore make clearer choices for yourself in your spiritual healing and growth.

Spiritual Awakening: Kicking Down the Doors

Spiritual awakening means many things to many people, but this wide variety ends up making the word kind of useless. It’s used like the word “plant.” Sample dialogue:

“I have a plant,” Person A.

“Me too! I water it all the time,” Person B.

“What! You’ll kill your plant,” Person A.

“What do you mean? If I don’t water it a lot, it won’t live,” Person B.

Obviously, you see the problem. The term “plant” is too vague, and so they can’t really communicate well or effectively on the topic. If Person A had said she has an iris, and Person B had said he has a cactus, the conversation would have flowed differently.

This example illuminates the importance of vocabulary and why for certain things I am precise. Awakening is one such term.

These days, I define a spiritual awakening as the arising of a sustained inner movement towards consciousness. The inner part is key because in my definition, your awakened energy flows regardless of your spiritual practice and any actions you take.

Spiritual Openings: A Common Spiritual Occurrence

Far more prevalent are spiritual openings. That’s like someone opening the curtains so that light comes into your room. Then, these curtains tend to close again. In comparison, awakening is like the light switch comes on in the whole house and doesn’t switch off. You are forced to see what is in your house, although some people do find ways to close their eyes.

Both can then lead to realizations, revelations, and epiphanies of all sorts, which I’ll discuss shortly.

The spiritual opening, however, doesn’t force people to do anything. People are often very inspired to change themselves by what they discover, which is awesome. In particular, highly-sensitive people already seem to want to energetically flow naturally, and openings seem to help them to trust that inner flow that is already available to them. Many people have an enjoyable experience associated with their openings, but that makes many people just want to get the experience back, which can become a spiritual trap. So a spiritual opening can bring a peaceful, joyful, loving, or some other pleasurable experience. An awakening can too.

They both can bring painful experiences depending on what is revealed. When that happens, it is time to get to work. The awakening will usually force a person to do that work, but the person with an opening has to choose to do the work. Otherwise, they can usually ignore the issue.

Spiritual Revelations, Realizations, and Epiphanies

From the light offered by an opening or an awakening, spiritual revelations, realizations, and epiphanies tend to spring up. Let’s look at these three on the the mild to super spicy spiritual taste-o-meter.

Spiritual epiphany–A spiritual understanding that impacts how you see life, but it’s not hugely profound. It could be something like realizing you are sensitive to energy. It won’t overwhelm your palate.

Spiritual realization–A spiritual understanding that deeply shakes your understanding of yourself or life. It could be realizing that you are not your mind/ego/beliefs. This is when you start feeling those beads of sweat popping out and your eyes start watering as this flavor hits home.

Spiritual revelation–A spiritual understanding that rocks you to the core of your being. It can be something like experiencing oneness with all of life. Now this is a three-alarm fire, and you probably can’t drink enough water to process what you just “tasted.”

These three can hit you in the heart, body, mind, or energy, and the more you have all of those areas ignited at once, the more deeply inner change can arise on its own. So, a revelation that hit heart, body, mind, and energy can definitely spark inner change even if you are just having a spiritual opening. But usually after that big inner shift, things stop moving and settle again.

The inner movement is really the key distinction I make between awakening and an opening. The openings require you to figure out inner work to keep flowing, healing, and growing while the awakening shows you how inner work goes and does a lot of it for you at first.

Creating Your Own Spiritual Definitions

But please don’t feel limited by my definitions. I’m just offering some new ways to look at the many, many kinds of spiritual shifts we can have. BTW, a spiritual shift is a change at any level, and so that is kind of my catch-all spiritual term, which is kinda how a lot of people use the term spiritual awakening. I also can use spiritual shift in regards to becoming less conscious because we certainly can become less conscious. But let’s not get into that for now.

Just know that you can create any definition you need if it helps you to accurately understand yourself and open more deeply to the truth.

Additional Spiritual Reading

For some more of my thoughts on this topic, you can read the following blog posts.

What Is a Spiritual Awakening?

Am I Having a Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual Revelations and Realizations Roll Through You


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

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