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The awakening process for some is gradual with peak experiences followed by plateaus of processing and integration. For others, the impetus to walk a spiritual path can be abrupt and jarring. Usually being born out of a life transition, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, illness or an unusual experience that cannot be explained through their current level of understanding. However it presents itself, it is a journey towards being more present, and the conscious exploration of what is alive in each of us. This is a destructive experience too, that is both spiritual and philosophical, that peels back the illusions of the small self so that the big Self has the opportunity to emerge. However, this looks for you, there are five common components that prompts or precedes this awakening process.
1. Life becomes uncomfortable
There tends a be a general unraveling of the status quo right before a person takes their first conscious step. What used to satisfy you, whether it be a job, a relationship or a worldview, no longer provides you with a sense of security, understanding or pleasure. That is to say, what used to fit has now become ill-fitting. From an energetic point of view, this happens because things are now out of resonance or no longer in alignment with who you are or how you understand the world to be. Our habits, especially, will become uncomfortable as our awareness expands and there misalignment is so obvious it is impossible to ignore. Our discomfort is just a signal that we are ready to grow and evolve beyond our current confines.
2. Exploring purpose and the meaning of life
This desire for growth leads us to explore some soul level questions about life. It is the questions themselves that are important not necessarily the answers. As our answers grow and develop alongside our own development. For myself, the meaning of life is the evolution of the soul, i.e. that our souls are here to learn and experience so that consciousness may understand itself. That may not be your reason, but the mere fact that the big ‘why you are here’ questions is on your mind means that you are on a journey of awakening. This quest to understand your life’s purpose and the meaning of existence is also coupled with valuing personal growth and self-awareness. This may have prompted you to begin a meditation or yoga practice or read books on other people’s exploration of these questions.
3. Witnessing your stories
An important piece in this process is learning the value in witnessing your stories and the stories of others. Our stories are all the ideas we have about our small self and our interaction with the external world. When we are present, we learn that our thoughts and emotions are not who we really are. They are not our core essence or big Self. Sometimes this means we need to take a 30 000 foot view of the world and situation we are in and sometimes it means an in-depth exploration of our beliefs, expectation and ‘the shoulds’ that drive our behavior. An example of a story is “things never go my way; I am the most unlucky person in the world.” When you start to witness the way the victim, or wounded child or the addict archetypes show up (for example), you begin to see how the stories you tell yourself about the world and your role in it either empower you or keep you stuck.
4. Taking responsibility
There is a certain re-framing of situations that happens as your begin your awakening process. This is the movement from seeing life as happening to you, to you being the co-creator of your life. This doesn’t mean that unfortunate things will never happen, but you understand that how you respond to those circumstances is up to you. We don’t accept this level of responsibility from a place of shame, guilt or fear but rather as an opportunity to be empowered. This means not putting other people in charge of your own well-being or trying to control others through your wounds. It is here, we first start to glimpse our shadow sides and understanding that they play an important role in our growth. So we begin to look at challenges as an opportunity for growth and discovery rather than as a mistake or failure that needs to be overcome.
5. Having unique experiences
When you first start to notice the patterns and synchronicities that surround you, it can be a magical thing. It could start with something as simple as someone recommending a new book and then you hear about that book or author several times over the next week. These synchronicities are like the Universe’s breadcrumbs assisting you in finding your path. Peak experiences are another example, they are moments of profound connection or unity to all that is. This could be the aha moment where suddenly something makes total sense. This can be accompanied by a feeling of bliss or ecstatic joy when you feel like you’ve seen or felt Truth. These experiences assist us in not only having an intellectual understanding of concepts but also move us into the experience of being alive in a dynamic, co-creative, emergent universe.
Wherever you are on your awakening journey, remember to be compassionate with yourself. This isn’t a race or a competition. It is an invitation to find passion, purpose, and meaning in your life. It is to truly feel alive and connected to all that is. It isn’t easy or always filled with love and light. In fact, some places are dark, uncomfortable and destructive, but it is a richer, fuller existence. As Maria Erving describes it, “Awakening means you’ve come home to yourself, that consciousness shifted back to its original nature.” From that place, anything becomes possible.