Today, terms such as spirituality and spiritual awakening have become an integral part of the mainstream conversation. It appears as if a vast majority of the population today is living under the paradigm of spirituality as well as believe to be spiritually awakened.
While I am not completely dismissing the existence of the above mentioned observation, I do believe it’s only valid for a very small portion of individuals out there.
Now, does this mean most people are lying?
The short answer is no! At least in most cases.
While trying to fit with the broader mainstream theme has certainly fuelled the claims of many to be spiritual and spiritually awakened, I believe the biggest reason is the lack of understanding of what these terms truly mean. Accordingly, let’s explore what Spirituality and Spiritual Awakening means.
What is Spirituality?
Although what spirituality means can vary from individual to individual, a common theme does seem to exist. Often many of us connect spirituality with religion. Many believe being religious and being spiritual are the same, which unfortunately is not true. The reason being, while religion can vary from one individual to another having a spirit is universal—something that we all have.
Spirituality is the quality of our being beyond the material and physical domain of our existence. It involves knowing the fact that something bigger than us exists. It’s a deep sense of connectedness and abundance, which transcends us beyond our ego (the “lower-self” or, the “I” or the “self”) and into the spiritual (higher) state. The ego is always thinking and duelling while the spirit knows and accepts.
What is Spiritual Awakening?
With above definition of spirituality in mind, Spiritual Awakening is simply an awakening beyond the limits of our ego (lower-self) and known reality.
Holistically, spiritual awakening is an expansion or shift in consciousness to a higher level. It happens when we let go of the ego and let our spiritual (higher) self rise. It’s an act that ruptures our common beliefs and day-to-day reality through which a state of abundance, union and uniformity emerges. In this state we perceive reality at a heightened intensity and feel a powerful and acute intimate connection with our inner-self as well as our surroundings.
It’s a state of harmony which pervades the cosmos. It involves a sense of oneness where we are concurrently aware of ourselves as well as our connection with the entire universe. To better understand this simultaneous existence, awareness, and connection, let’s consider ourselves a wave in the ocean. At any given time we are the wave and we are the ocean as well. While the wave is aware of its individualism and existence, it also recognizes the fact, that it’s connected to an infinite (relatively speaking) source of energy and power of the ocean. It’s a unique experience where both separation and connection simultaneously exist.
Spiritual awakening is an experience that changes our entire perception and truly liberates us (nirvana). It’s when we no longer consciously and more importantly unconsciously depend on our ego to feel alive.
What causes Spiritual Awakening?
The two themes behind what triggers spiritual awakening are rather polar opposite to each other.
Some or a combination of spiritual practices including practicing silence, solitude, meditation, mindfulness, self-reflection, detachment, surrendering to universe/grace, honouring the inner-curiosity flame, spending time connecting with nature, involvement with spiritual texts, books and teachers can trigger the spiritual awakening process. It’s worth noting, spiritual awakening isn’t a one day process.
On the other extreme, spiritual awakening is often induced by a state of mental turmoil, intense form of depression, relentless despairing experiences, tragedies, or trauma. In other words, spiritual awakening is the soul’s cry for freedom.
I think all of us could connect to the fact that often it’s our excruciating circumstances that lead us towards various forms of spiritual practices. There are very few of us out there who lean into spiritual practices while things are going well in life. So essentially, even in most cases when spiritual awakening is triggered by spiritual practices, the root cause could very well still be some deep form of despair, depression, tragedy or trauma driven conditions or events. Although many psychology researches have confirmed this observation, my favourite one continues to be the work done by Alister Hardy on this topic and articulately outlined in his famous book “The Spiritual Nature of Man.”
Listening and following this inner beacon’s call can truly transform one’s life of misery and pain into a sanctuary of freedom, joy, love, peace, and fulfillment. Conversely, the implications of ignoring these signals are obvious.
Stages of Spiritual Awakening
As mentioned before Spiritual Awakening process isn’t a one day phenomena rather it’s a multi-layered and complex process that varies from one individual to another. With that said, below are some noted stages that one can expect to go through as part of their personal spiritual awakening.
We caution our readers that spiritual awakening is neither a linear nor perfect stage-by-stage driven process. It’s a very personal journey full of twists and turns. It is very common to sometime jump from one stage to another without going through the one in the middle. Additionally, sometimes one will find to circle back to earlier stages of the process before advancing forward. With that in mind, let’s explore the various stages involved in the spiritual process.
Stage-1: Feeling lost
This is the time when we are in a state of mental turmoil, intense form of depression, relentless despairing experiences, tragedies, or trauma. Often during this stage an unbearable feeling of emptiness lives within us causing us to experience disconnection, dejection, confusion and hopelessness in several aspects of our life.
Stage-2: Perspective shift
This is the stage, which is often described as the moment of “awe” by many. It’s here when our perception starts to transcend higher and we start to part our ways from our ego, deep-rooted beliefs, old habits and social conditioning. The autopilot and complacent way of living slowly starts to get replaced by purposeful living.
Stage-3: Experiencing breakthroughs
As our perspective expands, we start to establish connection with the metaphysical world. With our older ways of living and perception slowly dissolving and as our higher (spiritual) self rises, a sense of progression and fulfillment becomes evident. It’s during this stage we find ourselves soul searching and discovering oneness, life purpose, spiritual destiny and connection with the infinite power that exists beyond our physical world.
Stage-4: Diving deeper
After we have personally experienced the potential of our infinite being through experiencing spiritual awakening, we come to the realization that nothing external has ever, and can ever, bring you true happiness or fulfillment. This profound realization leaves you craving for something deeper, and richer. It’s in this stage when we make elevated level of awareness as well as spiritual practices our true life-long companions.
While the breakthroughs and relief from existential suffering is liberating, the real reward of spiritual awakening is experienced when we integrate this transformed state and elevated level of awareness into our day-to-day living. I mean what’s the point of getting this far and then drifting back to our old ways of living. Now without a doubt there will be fluctuations but there is absolutely no need to get discouraged by them. Have faith and stay one with the universe.
To conclude, why wait to hit rock bottom in your life before drawing on to spiritual awakening? Perhaps, it’s worth exploring and embracing abovementioned spiritual practices today to trigger spiritual awakening and truly transform our life into a sanctuary of freedom, joy, love, peace and fulfillment.