Spiritual Awakening: Intense Fatigue & Identity Loss

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I recently received a comment on an older blog post from someone who was seeking feedback on how to cope with the fatigue and loss of identity that occurs after a spiritual awakening has begun. I think there are a lot more people who are experiencing these symptoms than we realize, so it seemed like now might be an appropriate time for a new blog post about these symptoms so that people can receive some validation for what they are experiencing.

So of course each person’s awakening experience is unique, but there are certain patterns that frequently occur. A common experience is that someone will feel like they are progressing through life on a steady course. They have goals, desires, and dreams, yet they remain unconscious of how much society, culture, media, their family, and their peer group have influenced the decisions they’ve been making their entire life. They’ve built up an image/identity based on all this programming from external sources. Their main concern is with material, physical, worldly pursuits, and they are highly attached to their false identity, a.k.a. the ego. Then a particular event occurs in their life that causes the ego to crack open and eventually fall apart. Whether it’s a mystical experience, a near death experience, the death of a loved one, job loss, or a debilitating illness, something significant happens that causes the person to question their purpose, their role, their identity, and maybe even the meaning of existence.

When the ego cracks open, that’s when things often turn messy. There is suddenly so much uncertainty about everything. “Who am I? What am I supposed to do now? What are we all doing here on Earth? Where do we go once our physical body ceases to function? Who/what created all of this? Why do people suffer? How do I make sense of this complicated mess called life? How can I function and maintain an identity now that everything seems like an illusion? How do I move forward and strive toward achieving goals, like I used to, now that everything suddenly seems so meaningless?” As awkward and uncomfortable as it feels to start questioning everything, it is a wonderful sign that a soul is evolving and trying to come back into alignment with their higher self and their higher purpose. The process of deprogramming has begun.

If you have spent the majority of your life thinking of yourself one way, and now that old sense of self you created is falling apart, it’s no surprise if you feel a lot of pain and confusion. Your foundation has been knocked down, causing you to feel quite unstable and without a sense of belonging nearly everywhere you go. You may feel fearful and insecure about your ability to go back to living a fairly ordinary existence like everyone else. Your perspective on everything may be changing so rapidly that it’s hard to adjust and remain grounded in physical reality. At this point, people often get so desperate to return to the sense of control they felt when the ego was in charge that they will attempt to return to their old life or build a new identity. The problem is, rebuilding an identity will no longer work in the way it used to. The reason it will feel like you’re chasing after a prize that doesn’t exist is because an identity truly does not exist! You know now that creating identities is a silly game that people play. Many people are tricked by this game, but you have become dis-illusioned. The illusion that your ego is who you are has been shattered.

When you suffer, it is because your ego is desperately grasping and aching. It’s aching to regain complete control, but those days are over now that you have expanded your awareness of who/what you really are. Once you’ve expanded your awareness, you cannot contract it and pretend not to know what you now know. You can go into denial, but you won’t obtain the inner peace and fulfillment you desire by going down that path. Going back to what was familiar is likely to feel like a horrible fit for your new expanded awareness. It will just feel so wrong to go back to the way you were. Maybe you can’t get any sense of direction about where you’re heading, but you know waking up has forever changed the course of your life.

Losing your sense of self can be very painful. This challenging phase of awakening is sometimes called “ego death” or “the dark night of the soul.” The dark night can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. Some people say their dark night lasted for nearly a decade! I find it hard to give specific advice on how to get out of a dark night because, for one, I am still dealing with these challenges. I also think what works for some may not work for all. Even if I could predict a solution that would work for you, now may not even be the best time to apply that solution. Remember that when someone starts to lecture you about what you should do, they are on their path, and you are on yours. It’s great if they found a solution that worked for them, but you may be facing slightly different challenges with a different set of lessons to learn.

I believe you will discover a solution when the time is right for you. My main piece of advice is to remain patient. Let the process unfold. Let the pain transform you. Just be patient and see where this journey takes you. It might take you further into emptiness, confusion, panic, exhaustion, or isolation for a while longer, but I believe this challenging phase will serve its purpose in the end.growthWhen you feel inspired to act on something, then act, but do not try to rush ahead of the process and force things to happen out of fear or impatience. If you want to rest and withdraw most of the time, do what is necessary for your survival and then rest a while. If you want to read an endless amount of books and articles on spiritual topics to absorb as much knowledge as possible, then read. If you want to spend hours meditating, meditate. If you want to do nothing, do nothing. Try to stop putting judgments on what you think you should be doing right now.

When you think about how hard it is to function, to socialize, or to stay grounded in reality, remind yourself that you are ok right now. It might feel like your world has fallen apart, but you are where you are right now. Remind yourself that you are being brave by diving completely into the process. It is no easy feat to drop your old life and begin navigating your way through so much uncertainty.

I have one last thing to say about the ego. I think on some level, we have to construct a form of identity in order to function in the 3D world, but a spiritual awakening causes you to lose attachment to your ego. When you play the silly game of creating identities, instead of deriving pleasure from it, you know you’re just playing a game. You know an identity is a false, temporal creation that can change from day to day or hour to hour or even minute to minute. You are really so much bigger than any label. Words will never be able to describe our limitless nature. What an amazing, beautiful creation we are when words can’t even capture the essence of all that consciousness is.

Now, moving on to the other common symptom–chronic fatigue. One theory of why fatigue occurs after awakening is because when the kundalini energy suddenly comes through the body, it can be too intense and burn out your endocrine/hormonal system. The thyroid and adrenal glands are most affected. Search for information about adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism to get an idea of whether you might be suffering from hormonal imbalances.

My main advice for anyone struggling with fatigue is to get a lot of rest, limit stress while increasing pleasurable experiences, engage in meditation or relaxation techniques, eat nutrient dense foods, and avoid having expectations of when you hope to recover. After almost four years of dealing with fatigue (mine was triggered by stress), I’ve noticed small, gradual improvements. Sometimes I feel like my energy is finally returning, and then another bout of fatigue takes over, causing me to feel hopeless about my ability to return to a normal life again. What I have come to understand is that some people are highly resilient to stress and bounce back rather quickly. Others who are highly sensitive, like me, are more prone to suffering from ailments like chronic fatigue. Differences in our biological makeup can affect recovery time, so as I said, try not to have too many expectations or get discouraged if it takes you longer than average to overcome fatigue.

I know how hard it is to be patient when fatigue becomes an everyday experience. It can feel like your life has been robbed from you when it’s gone. And then when your sense of identity is suddenly gone, too, it will put you in a very tough place where it feels like there is no escape. I think we are facing these challenges so that we are forced to stop participating in the external world for a while…until we’ve looked within ourselves deeply enough to reach a new level of spiritual development. We’ve been actors in the physical world for a while. Now perhaps is the time to slow down so we can learn, heal, and discover who we really are. It is time to get in touch with our soul and listen to whatever messages it is trying to convey. It is time to follow our inner guidance and stop letting the voices all around us control the direction of our life.

I am sorry to say that the awakening experience is not just about feeling peace, connection, and bliss. It can get really messy and uncomfortable for some of us, especially when there are unhealed wounds and our ego keeps trying to grasp for control again. It’s quite common to feel like a raw, confused, and ungrounded mess shortly after the awakening experience has begun, and those feelings can last for a while. Try to find comfort in knowing that your path is unfolding exactly in the way that is most beneficial to your growth. Remind yourself that other people have been in very similar situations, and no matter how bad the storm got, they survived and grew so much because of it.

To the person who posted the comment related to identity loss and fatigue, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your difficulties with me. I hope all that I shared here helped in some kind of way, even if it only helped normalize what you have been feeling and thinking lately. Have faith that you will continue to be transformed in significant ways through your awakening experience. Fortunately, I think the longer you stick with the process, the easier it becomes to surrender and accept where you are. After only one year into the experience, I felt more impatience and confusion than I do now. I wouldn’t say the experience is necessarily less challenging now, but I feel calmer and less resistance to sitting with uncertainty.

To anyone who is dealing with a dark night of the soul, ego death/identity loss, or post-awakening fatigue, here are a few things I recommend that you explore:

The Awakening of Involution

The End of Your World by Adyashanti

Disillusionment as a Positive Process

Spiritual Awakening Symptom: Feeling Tired

Stages of a Spiritual Awakening: The Dark Night of the Soul

Dark Night of the Soul & How to Feel Better

7 Signs of the Dark Night of the Soul

Ram Dass – Dark Night of the Soul

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4 thoughts on “Spiritual Awakening: Intense Fatigue & Identity Loss

  1. Thank you, thank you! I’m so happy I’ve found your blog. It’s been hard finding another person who seems to be at a very similar “stage” in the awakening process as I feel that I am in at this moment or at least, as I read your words it feels as though I am reading my own thoughts. How amazing! Speaking to hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue specifically, I can certainly relate. Summer 2015 I had an incredible spiritual experience on mt Shasta. Afterwards I entered the ‘dark night of the soil’. Incredibly painful. After about 8 months of this, needless to say I was stressed and exhausted always. I was then diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I had no choice but to, for first time in my life, slow down and evaluate, rest and focus on my health. This is still all I really have the energy for. After I read your post, I am thinking now that I had a kundalini experience (I certainly felt God) and my thyroid/glands got ‘burned’–makes sense! Ever since that summer, there have been moments of great clarity, beauty and connection but also many moments of deep pain and sadness as the layers of ego slowly peel away but above all, an inner knowing that I must keep going. I admire your courage for speaking out and sharing your experiences so intimately. I came across your blog at just the right time, when I was feeling pretty low–now I feel some fire coming back into my heart again. Thank you!

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    • Hi Sheena,

      Thank you so much for your comment! It really put a smile on my face to know that my blog helps validate what you’re experiencing. Although I doubt you were enthused to receive a diagnosis, I kind of wish I had received the same. My numbers always came back normal, but having so many symptoms of hormonal imbalance, I just decided to tackle the issue on my own with natural remedies. It will definitely take some time for your body to heal and for you to regain inner balance due to the dramatic transformations you’re going through now. It’s an up-and-down ride, for sure, and not one that a whole lot of people understand. You’re right, once we get a glimpse of our true spiritual nature, we have an inner sense and a deep yearning to keep trekking through in order to learn and grow. Continue getting lots of rest, look into taking some herbs for energy and hormonal balance…do whatever you need to do right now. It will gradually get easier. I think for now, we’re still in a bit of shock and are doing our best to adjust to something that we were not expecting! Take care of yourself, dear. And most importantly, listen to your soul’s guidance 😉

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  2. Thank you. I have been stuck like this since my second son was born. I am beyond tired now. I don’t want to be alive any more. What am I fighting?

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    • Hi dear, I’m really sorry that you’re feeling so tired. I feel your pain. I really do. I know what it’s like to question the point of living when you can’t muster the energy to do much of anything but eat and take multiple naps throughout the day. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? The endless fatigue can lead to a rut, and then being stuck in the tired rut becomes depressing. This is not an easy experience to go through. I can’t say with any certainty why you’re feeling tired, but I’ve heard about a possible connection between pregnancy and adrenal fatigue. Maybe your body experienced some significant hormonal changes during or after the birth of your son that has led to fatigue. If you were dealing with a lot of stress prior to or during the pregnancy, that could definitely play a role. Consider researching adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism if you haven’t already. Hang in there. Our bodies can heal once we find the right solutions. Sometimes the thing our bodies crave the most is simply rest and relaxation for a while. I hope you find what works for you. Please reach out if you have any more questions.

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