Spiritual awakening is an awakening of a dimension of reality beyond the confines of the ego. The ego is our exclusive sense of self or “I.” This awakening occurs for a reason and that is when the ego let’s go so that a Tue-Self can arise within.
In the same way that people who are physically asleep are not aware of what is going on around them – people who are spiritually asleep are also not aware of what is going on around them.
When you start to awaken spiritually, you become aware of concepts, ideas, understandings, and perceptions that you were not aware of while asleep. “Spiritual awakening”, at least for me, is a lot like “learning” or “remembering” in the sense that it comes with knowledge or understanding.
Spiritual awakening is not as simple as an on or off switch. There are varying degrees of “spiritual awakening” and varying degrees of being “asleep”.
For me, spiritual awakening was not a sudden event but a rather gradual process it never ends, but it does evolve over time.
The Seven Stages Of Spiritual Awakening
Of course the spiritual awakening process is different for everyone. There is no precise number of “stages” to the awakening or enlightenment process.
In my opinion, spiritual awakening is the early phase of enlightenment – it’s the stage in which we start to become aware or “see the light”. Enlightenment in a proper sense requires subsequent dedication and application of the wisdom and knowledge you gain during your spiritual awakening.
Enlightenment isn’t a destination or something you “acquire”, enlightenment is a practice. It is a continuous effort to embody heightened awareness and virtue.
The English language is very restrictive and makes it difficult to describe something that is way beyond words. People often get really wound up about the use of this word or that word. Rather than focus on precise terminology, just try to get the idea about spiritual awakening and see if/how it applies to you.
The following stages are based on my own observations and experience.
Your own spiritual awakening will depend greatly on your upbringing, your current life situation, your current relationships, your belief system, and how open or closed your mind is to new ideas.
You might have seven stages, you might have three, you might have 20. Here is what I was guided to offer in terms of the “7 Stages Of Spiritual Awakening”.
Stage 1: Status Quo
At the status quo level we are basically still “asleep”. The status quo is the reality most of us are born into. As children we are trained to depend on our parents for survival, and this idea that we are dependent on others for our survival continues into adulthood. The status quo is when we effectively “buy in” to the mainstream ideology of who we are, what we should be doing, and where we should be going in life.
When we are not spiritually awakened we are greatly influenced by the media, the ads, the news, the weather report, what our friends say on Facebook, and what our boss tells us we should do.
We let the world “out there” determine who we are and what we should think. During this stage, we care mostly about what others think about us, our status, our job, our income, our material possessions, and all of the other fear and greed based stimuli.
During this stage we are constantly looking for more of something, and it feels as though there is never quite enough of something to make us “truly happy”. Unfortunately, many of us remain in this sleeping stage for most, if not all of our lives.
Eventually our spiritual awakening will lead to a sense of empowerment that we are the ones responsible for creating our reality, but usually, there are many stages to go before we get there.
Stage 2: Questions
For many of us, at some stage in our life, questions begin to arise. These questions could arise from a deeply painful experience, some type of external shock, or simply a book or piece of information that “triggers” more questions.
Often the questions arise when we witness or experience corruption, violence, or extremely egotistical and psychopathic behavior in our external world. We start to recognize that many leaders (business, politics, religious or others) will lie, cheat, and steal their way to gain power and material gain. In some cases, we are challenged to do things that seem and feel wrong. We are told, “that’s how the world is”, “that’s the way things work around here”, “do you have what it takes to succeed?”, “welcome to the real world”, or “look out for yourself” at everyone else’s expense.
Many people swallow their pride and their morals and continue to support people or ideas they don’t agree with, either because they think they need the money, they think the world really is full of selfish maniacs, they are afraid to question authority, or afraid to stray from their colleagues who are also participating in the same types of activities. Many people carry on through their whole lives in this stage – full of questions, but not really willing or able to “wake up”.
Stage 3: Friction & Snap
For some of us, we reach a breaking point in which we can no longer support the inhumane, immoral, or unethical behavior that we are either directly involved in, or, more likely, indirectly supporting in some way or another. Usually, this is all brought about by relationships with people who are close to us. For some reason, we no longer resonate with their agenda. At some point, we snap.
Whistle blowers are good examples of people who have “snapped”, but those are just the high profile versions. Many thousands or millions more of us have had our own “whistleblower moment” when we withdraw from the status quo, in a dramatic or not so dramatic telling moment. Often this inspires us to quit our job, get a divorce, or take some other rather drastic action that breaks us away from our dependency on a particular person or group of people.
Stage 4: Dark Night Of The Soul
This is where it gets interesting. Suddenly, the media, the news, the fake smiles, and the brash symbols of “I am better than you” become repulsive. It becomes a chore to even deal with “normal” society. Old friends don’t resonate, normal activities like “watching the game” or “going out for drinks” or “barbecuing with the Jones’s” become nearly impossible to handle. Depending on who you are and your cosmic background, this can very much feel like hell on Earth. In the same way that a happy family waves at a hamster in a cage, remarking on how cute it is, you feel like you are the hamster. This stage is challenging because your old self does not want to die. It tries to pressure you in to “giving in” and returning back to stage 1 – status quo.
Stage 5: Awakening and Seeking
Just when things seem so bad they cannot get worse, an inner voice, sixth sense, intuition, or other internal push directs you to change. You might find yourself in the self-help, religious, or spiritual section of the bookstore. You might also start attending a support group, joining yoga, or start looking for guidance.
You might find yourself asking questions like, “Who are these other compassionate, earth loving, spirit-loving-hippie-types who write books about God, Love, and Empowerment?” or “Who are these people who seem happy without putting money/greed/status at the forefront of their lives?”
During your awakening, you buy some of these books. The words feel good but you aren’t sure how to incorporate the principles into your life. The rest of your life still appears to be “normal”, and after you put the book down, your problems are still there.
Depending on your religious background, you might also be struggling with deeply ingrained ideas about God, Heaven and Hell. You might be struggling to let go of those ideologies, or find out which parts of those religions or ideologies still fit with you.
Stage 6: Practice
Whether it was a book, an insightful moment, or a rough sleepless night, you wake up one day with a new sense of determination. You are going to dig yourself out of this hole, this routine, this rut. You realize that it is YOU and only YOU that can make a change and you have nothing more to lose.
You start yoga, exercise, meditation, church, or attend a spiritual retreat. You notice a real improvement. Although things haven’t changed on the outside, you feel different and better on the inside because YOU did something, you took the effort and took a risk at trying something new. Maybe you try to break an addiction you’ve had.
You start to realize that as you make changes from within yourself, your outward reality also starts to change. You start to realize and believe that the world does not happen TO you, it happens FROM you. You realize THIS is the same message all of the self-help books were trying to explain, you just didn’t really believe it until you saw it, and now, you are seeing “it”. “It” is simply YOUR power, it is a realization that YOU are the one calling the shots, making the choices, and attracting the things to your life that you need in order to learn and grow.
You might also recognize that all of the world’s major religions agree on the basic idea that YOU hold the keys to your life and your reality, it is only that religions tend to also have a lot of extra baggage attached that can contradict this simple concept. As you awaken, you realize that you can merge a form of spirituality with your past idea of religion, if you just let go of the parts that never made sense in the first place.
Stage 7: Faith
If you are persistent enough with your practice, you start to feel better than you ever have. You know without any doubt that you are a different person now. You see yourself as the Creator of your reality rather than its victim. You might start sharing your ideas and experiences with others. You realize the gift of life is about helping others first in order to help yourself. If your old friends can’t relate to your new realizations, you seek new ones. You look for opportunities to give, help, and be of service to others.
This positive energy you are sharing comes back to you in a sense of betterment, well being and peace. You no longer feel a sense of “not enough” – not thin enough or not rich enough – but instead become grateful for the simplest things in life – a smile, the sun, nature, free time, and a breath of fresh air. You spend more time enjoying hobbies, creative pursuits, nature, art and music.
At this stage, many people enter new careers as healers, teachers, care givers, environmental defenders, or other human and earth service oriented work.
The “awakening” never ends, there are always parts of ourselves we can continue to “light up”.
Signs and Symptoms Of Spiritual Awakening
My spiritual awakening process has brought about a gradual upgrade to my awareness. It was not an instantaneous occurrence but rather a slow dawning.
Contrary to what many might expect, the process has NOT been overly “pleasant” so far. At first, there were no moments of bliss, no moments of pleasurable energy, no moments of flashing light. In many ways, it has been extremely difficult due to the immensity of change that is taking place.
So here are my list of “sign and symptoms” of spiritual awakening that I can share with you:
- Desire to be alone, reclusive. I spent 4 years practically as a hermit, learning and reading (remembering) about spiritual concepts.
- Difficulty associating with old friends. People I had known for a long time started annoying the heck out of me, almost like they were doing it on purpose. Almost like they could read my mind and know exactly what to say to push my buttons, massage my fears, poke at my issues, and prod me into self destructive behavior. I could not tell if it had always been that way and I was only now aware of it, or if they had actually changed the way they behaved around me.
- Occasional gentle warming or (not at all painful) pressure around my third eye in the middle of my forehead.
- Desire to eliminate attachments – business, investments, friendships, stuff, responsibilities, newsletter subscriptions, even a place to live. I began detaching myself from everything and everyone.
- Writing – my desire and ability to write and be creative (even sing!) has increased immensely.
- Lack of interest with mainstream media, sports, or really any information that would be considered mainstream.
- Desire to eat little or no meat.
- Desire to help people and help heal mother earth.
- More keen interest in yoga and meditation.
- Difficulty understanding my role in life.
- More emotionally sensitive.
- Life review, recognition of the major events in my life, ongoing review of many small past moments, realization that all of my memories are still there, stored somewhere, and each had a purpose.
- Ongoing temptations from the outer world to do something harmful or foolish (make a bad investment, join a distorted “spiritual group” whose teachings are bogus, become foolishly attracted to the wrong member of the opposite sex). Finding less and less satisfaction from anything external beyond food, water, breath and shelter. Unwillingness to “chase” egoic symbols of success, mainly due to the realization that they are not truly obtainable.
- Desire to ‘open my heart’, knowing that is the “right thing to do” but uncertain about how, and finding limited or uncertain results (so far).
- Unwillingness to identify with or contribute to any form of negativity. I can’t laugh at insulting jokes, I can’t watch violence on TV, I can’t participate in anything negative. I try to turn my eyes and ears from any sort of negativity.
- Desire to read books like Oneness, over and over again.
- Feeling of Oneness, yet feeling somewhat disappointed in how the world appears to be (not) working, how others continue to suffer, why my life doesn’t feel like heaven at all. This is teaching me acceptance.
- Greater sensitivity to sounds and music. Some music gives me tingles/shivers or seems to be felt in my auric field (around the outside of my body as opposed to only in my ears/head).
- Sense that I am aging more slowly.
- Remembering more of my dreams and becoming more “aware” while I am dreaming.
- Belief that I have the power to heal myself and others with my awareness and my hands.
- Sense that I can read other people’s minds, or they are reading mine. Group mind.
- Greater awareness of my thoughts, more effort keeping my mind clear, positive, joyful. Realization that recurring thoughts about supposed ‘problems’ or unresolved questions are a form of mental vexing that I have to clear through meditation and prayer.
- Greater awareness of nature. Babies smile and stare at me, dogs approach me, exotic birds find me, rainbows and other rare natural sightings happen more frequently. I can feel nature and even communicate with plants and animals, as though I can sense their awareness of me when I apply my awareness to them.
- Greater generosity.
- More gratitude.
- Close calls with major Earth events (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes).
- Understanding that we change the world with our thoughts and actions.
- Seeing “11” everywhere, especially on the clock.
A spiritual awakening can generally be defined as a newfound awareness of a spiritual reality. No person can fully define a spiritual awakening for another. Of course, each person has a different outlook on life and defines things differently. It can happen at any moment or period in your life.
I wrote this for my friend Watsuki and the journey she is on..