A spiritual awakening is just that. A "spiritual" awakening. What's left after you awaken? Everything that you still have to work on as a human being. At the beginning of my conscious spiritual journey, I would read stories of other people who had these "awakenings" and about "enlightenment". I always saw it as this "thing" that was going to happen. It seemed exciting, elusive, and I put these individuals on a pedestal. How could I not? It was a special event where the entire ego just fell away. Of course, that was my ego still talking, though I didn't know it at the time.
In 2013 I experienced the deepest spiritual awakening I had yet. I was able to deeply access the feeling of love and joy within myself despite still being aware that I had an ego. This stage of my creative healing coincided with a dedicated commitment to complete the ACIM workbook as well as a an elimination of wheat, alcohol, and most sugars from my diet.
It was interesting. I could sense my ego's unhappiness, while at the same time realize that it was not who I really was. I could experience my true self fully and I felt incredibly happy. I had made the full shift into my true self and could completely step outside the ego. Even though my ego was still there, I had complete awareness of it and it felt like a huge relief.
This went on for several months. I knew something "big" had happened and yet at the same time I was confused. I still felt like the same person with the same patterns to overcome and yet I also felt more like myself. I had a glow about me. People would notice that something had "changed". I went through the deaths of my beloved cat Pecan and grandfather and had this inner knowing that I didn't think I would have been able to get through those experiences without this new "feeling" I had.
At some point though, the reality of the grief hit me. It completely came out of nowhere and hit me harder than it ever hit before in the form of a great depression that I experienced for many months.
Grief will open us and crack us open when we are ready to allow it. The deaths of the closest and gentlest beings to me was a doozy. And when we humans experience grief, all of our previous unhealed hurts, wounds, and griefs arise to the surface.
For so many years grief, loss, and rejection had crippled me because I had experienced so much of it at an early age and didn't receive the emotional protection or nurturing I needed that I would just shut down and close more deeply. However, because of the healing work I had been doing, I was able to at least keep a window open so I could look at what was going on, despite the fact that I was pretty hijacked by the depression for the better part of two seasons.
How interesting that we can be spiritually open and yet still not emotionally sober. Interestingly, I I started to realize with time that I wasn't as spiritually open as I thought. While I had come a long, long way, I still experienced deep abandonment pain, obsessiveness and fear based thinking in dating, judgmentalness of myself and others, shame, and a deep mistrust of people and fear of opening up that I wasn't even aware of at the time. This all translated to how I viewed a higher power. It was something I taught about but I hadn't truly accessed a feeling of support, safety, and peace.
As I worked through more grief and layers of my human experience, I started to judge myself for why I was not feeling that same deep connection and joy. Was I doing something wrong? How could I get it back?
I became fixated on trying to "achieve" that state without even realizing it, thinking that I would be "better off" once I felt that way again. I started to feel guilty while meditating. Then I couldn't concentrate. I felt undeserving of feeling that elated inside and completely tangled in my own mind and ego trappings.
This went on for many months. The inability to achieve the open states that I had been going to previously were gone. A pervasive fear of what was going to happen next erupted. I think most of the time I was in some form of shock and confusion. I spent a lot of time working on this with with my therapist and she would guide me to just be in the shock and the confusion.
As time went on, I was called to start yoga teacher training. All of a sudden, yoga became an obvious next step, like it had been waiting there all along for me to fill in the blank in my personal and professional life. Something had been missing and yoga and incorporating movement with the body was it. I didn't understand this fully at the time, but now I see how important, necessary, and vital this step was for feeling emotionally sober and spiritually connected.
How could I feel safe with other people and in life if I didn't feel safe in my own body? My body was on high, hyper-vigilant alert for decades, it wasn't just going to drop its guard now.
I started to bring up my continuous guilt about meditating with a Yoga Teacher and we discussed privately about what happened over the past year and a half. He said something along the lines of, you experienced a spiritual awakening, and it's a beautiful thing that is rare. We don't know why you experienced it or what's to come, but you don't have to put pressure on yourself to know the answer either. Just know that it is meant to take you to the next place in your life personally as well as with the people you are helping. He also stated that if I spent my time trying to achieve that exact experience again, it would be impossible.
I likened what I was doing to a drug addict wanting another hit. All along I didn't realize that I was looking for that hit of the awakening and guilting myself because I couldn't get "high" enough anymore.
He also suggested that I let go of thinking so much about it and just try to enjoy something that was really worth experiencing. Hmm, my mind intellectualized. If I am constantly thinking about it, no wonder I can't experience it! I am so busy trying to label and compartmentalize something that can't be labeled that I am talking myself right out of it!
In that moment, I felt validated. All the while I'd just been looking for someone to tell me that what I was experiencing was what it was and at the same time, let me know, it's okay, it's normal. It's a natural process of life.
And then I got it. Spiritual awakening is just being more like myself. It's not a crazy everlasting high. It's not this unattainable state in the future. Both my yoga teacher and therapist agreed that it would be impossible to sustain that over time anyways.
My yoga teacher even suggested that maybe since I already was feeling more "like myself" I didn't need the intense hit of more awakening intensity because I was already "here".
I instantly allowed myself to soften into the moment after that conversation, letting go of any expectations and just being where I was at. I felt seen and heard.
Interestingly enough, shortly after that acceptance, I instantly felt the rush of my true inner happiness rush back in again. Judgments fell away. I was able to spend an entire day following my inner voice like I hadn't in months. Guilt had diminished drastically and my mind was able to wrap itself around my Course in Miracles teachings which had seemed so disjointed for months.
I didn't know that I was in for an extremely raw and visceral next stage of my journey with the body, yet this was an extremely important stage for me in order to feel safe enough to start to venture into where all my trauma was stored.