In an effort to more accurately express all that awakening encompasses, this post has been altered from its original version, and I imagine it could be altered many more times as I further understand all the complexity that is involved when one experiences this dramatic shift.
So, what does it mean to spiritually awaken? If your experience has been similar to mine, there is no single word that can capture all that awakening entails. Sometimes you will find yourself expanding and growing, reaching significant new understandings about yourself, others, and life itself. Hopefully, you will have a few magical, mystical experiences that help open your eyes to seeing life through a new, radically different perspective. And I hate to be the one to deliver the news on this one if you aren’t already aware, but you will likely sometimes find yourself stuck in the muck of old, unresolved issues that you know you need to face if you hope to drop the weight of the past. You will hear your soul calling for you to do what is necessary to experience a major rebirth and transformation, but at first, you may feel resistance and a clinging to your old way of life because you have no clue where this path of awakening is going to lead you.
In this post, I would like to share my spiritual awakening experience so that others who are currently facing significant challenges will know they’re not the only ones struggling with this strange, sometimes beautiful, and sometimes overwhelming path of discovery. I would like to mention a couple of things before that. One, I don’t think the journey of awakening ends once you step foot on this path. There are endless ways to keep growing and shifting, so I don’t think any of us can expect to cross a finish line and be done with the process. Secondly, although I will focus on the challenges involved with awakening, I certainly don’t view awakening as a negative experience. I will dare to say that it is the most profound experience that a human can undergo.
As I have mentioned in other posts on this blog, my spiritual awakening began in April of 2014. Prior to that, I had no understanding of what it meant to be spiritual. Spirituality is something I had always lumped with religion, and religion had never filled any purpose in my life. I rejected religion from a very young age, despite the fact that I grew up in the Bible Belt. I could not convince myself to believe there was a man in the sky who would severely punish others if he was such a compassionate, loving man as others described him. I saw too much hypocrisy in all of it, so I decided what was best for me was to be an atheist and to reject anything that lacked logic and reason.
Three months prior to awakening, I experienced the loss of my brother. Then approximately a month after experiencing that loss, I became friends with someone who was very interested in spirituality. She was a bit surprised when I revealed that I was an atheist, and her comment that she thought there was a lot more to me than that baffled me. I was pretty convinced, at that time, that I would always remain an atheist and never delve into anything spiritual. So, as you might imagine, a spiritual awakening was really one of the last things I ever expected to happen to someone like me.
The awakening struck without any warning, just a couple weeks before my graduation from graduate school. Essentially, what happened is I noticed that several synchronistic events occurred within a couple of weeks. In the past, I had always been quick to assume that synchronistic events were just random coincidences that weren’t worth any attention, but there was a completely different feeling about it this time. The coincidences were coming my way so frequently and rapidly that it really caught my attention. I knew there was something strange going on, but I couldn’t name what it was at first.
After telling my boyfriend about the recent coincidences, we started recalling other strange coincidences from the past that we had failed to notice. That’s when it hit me. I started to understand that those eerie coincidences weren’t just coincidences. They were synchronicities, and it was an indication that things happen for a reason and that someone/something was trying to communicate with me through these signs I had been ignoring all my life. Once I came to those realizations, life didn’t seem so random and meaningless to me anymore. That’s the day I quit calling myself an atheist.
The next few weeks following my awakening were pretty positive. It was initially very exciting and mind-blowing to make that transition from atheist to a spiritually awakening soul. A small part of me was slightly freaked out, in a good way, because I was suddenly able to see just how magical and beautiful life really is. I was simply awestruck. I knew something special was happening, and I felt grateful for it.
After graduating, I followed my intuition that told me to take a break to overcome the stress and burnout I had experienced as a graduate student. I was also beginning to sense that I was meant to go down a different path from everyone else. I had no clue exactly what I was going to do with my future, but I no longer felt like I was meant to go down the traditional path like all my classmates. I felt my soul calling me to find a new path.
I spent the next few months trying to understand the debilitating fatigue that struck after I graduated. Instead of feeling better after a couple of months of being out of graduate school, like I had expected, I ended up feeling a million times worse once I slowed down and got away from all the stress and deadlines that I had become accustomed to during grad school. The fatigue had turned into a horrible, unwelcome visitor that I could not get rid of after I graduated.
I tried to be patient and hopeful that my energy would finally be restored, but I ended up having to visit a naturopathic doctor after suffering from constant fatigue for months. I’m still not sure if the intense fatigue was simply a symptom of stress from grad school and the experience of losing my brother two weeks prior to my last semester or also part of the spiritual awakening process, but I can say with certainty that it was the second most difficult experience I have faced up to this point. There were days when I felt so desperate and frustrated about my lack of energy that I would cry. Then after several months of nurturing myself through nutrition, gentle exercise, and efforts to minimize stress, some of my energy began to return.
Despite the overwhelming fatigue I experienced for almost an entire year after the awakening began, there were pleasant moments interspersed here and there. Specifically, I remember having some sort of out-of-body experience. I felt very ungrounded and disconnected from my physical body, as if my soul was floating somewhere out there. It was a disorienting yet beautiful experience. I felt expansive, like I was united with everyone and everything instead of feeling stuck in this little human body. At that time, when I heard others speak of unconditional love, it would move me to tears. I felt connected to everything and saw overwhelming beauty everywhere I looked.
The truth is, those feelings of expansion, freedom, and connection did not last. In my journey so far, the blissful feelings come and go. That’s what my awakening process has been all about–ups and downs. I truly don’t know what to expect from day to day, but that’s ok. Growing and shifting into a new way of being cannot always be a comfortable experience.
The biggest challenges I still face are a lack of motivation and learning how to let go of my old identity. Regarding the lack of motivation, I suspect I still have some health issues to tackle, but I also partly see it as part of the awakening process. A lot of my old goals and desires have lost their meaning as I have been discovering what really matters to me, so I am still in a place of trying to understand where I should go next during this phase in my life. Regarding the loss of my identity, I have had to encounter that downright scary feeling of not having a clue about who I am anymore. There have been days where I’ve seen myself in the mirror or in an old photograph and felt like I didn’t know who I was looking at anymore. It feels like the old me has died and existed in a completely different lifetime.
I have also had to face the reality that I have been unconsciously holding onto fear and pain for years, and I am still in the process of working through some of those old issues. Then there is the fact that my sense of isolation and loneliness has increased as I’ve let go of relationships that don’t seem like a good match anymore. I must admit, it has been hard to let go of some things from the past. It’s human nature to resist change, but the path of awakening can show us that some things from the past simply aren’t serving us well anymore. We learn how crucial it is to embrace new relationships, new goals, and new environments that help us connect with the newer, more authentic self.
There is no doubt that pursuing the spiritual path requires a lot of strength and courage, but I have come to understand that it is so worth the effort and the struggle. It means we must abandon many things from our former life, including our identity, but we can become lighter, freer, and more complete as we make this transition into a more spiritual being. We can love ourselves more and love others more easily as a result of that. This planet is definitely in need of more love, wouldn’t you agree?
If you currently feel lost, confused, frustrated, sad, anxious, hopeless, or afraid, I hope you will rely on your inner strength to get you through these challenging times. If you find the spiritual awakening process too challenging and decide to give up to go back to your old way of living for a while, I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to pass judgment onto you. It is your path. Your development and evolution will occur when it is right for you. We are all somewhere along the spiritual path, whether everyone is conscious of it or not, but I believe you will become a true spiritual seeker when you are prepared for a total transformation.
Just keep in mind, this planet and where humanity is right now could use some healing and a major transformation, and that transformation starts with you. I hope you’ll find the strength and courage to get through it. Once you start the awakening process, I think you may find it too challenging and painful to go back to the old, less awakened way. I embrace this transformation I’m going through, and I hope you will embrace yours, too.