It begins the moment we are born.
The humbling miracle of new life floods in; flowing amidst waves of extraordinary pain, joy that weeps and unconditional love. The struggle to take our first breath becomes a prophetic parallel to the ambiguous journey ahead. As we invite the very essence of life inside us, we embark upon a sacred mission to not only create but demonstrate the difference between life…and existence. The intent of the mission is to become an example and light for the rest of humanity to witness.
From infancy, we are prepped and primed to become upstanding contributors to the society we’ve inherited; without necessarily being taught or encouraged to contribute to our own state of well-being in the process. Who we are, how we behave, what we like and dislike, goals and aspirations all become interchangeable programs downloaded through various influential sources: media, religion, culture, political and socio-economic.
Our identity no longer carries within itself the power and strength of individualism, thereby falling victim to an epidemic of codependency and the need to “fit in." The "pursuit of happiness" transforms into the pursuit of things; somehow our entire existence is defined by materialistic ideals that don’t flourish beyond the surface.
Now, imagine one day waking up to the realization that everything you thought you knew about life no longer felt right. You begin to contemplate the sheer authenticity of your choices and belief systems. Imagine discovering that your place in the world holds more significance than the mundane cookie-cutter existence you’ve allowed the world to create for you. You’ve done what society asked of you and paid homage to obscured promises of dreams deferred. You kicked and screamed your way through puberty. You survived high school…or maybe not. Perhaps you even made it through college and obtained that piece of paper meant to "guarantee" you a place among the elite. You’ve worked hard in your field, managed the perpetual balancing act of career and family and even score the occasional night out with friends…
And yet, insatiable emptiness clings to you like a shadow.
Suddenly, all of the things that once made you feel happy and accomplished are about as exciting and satisfying as day-old pizza. Fulfillment by way of old methods begins to elude you and you find yourself in a starving rut wanting more. The world starts to look and feel different. Everything around you begins to shift and change; you can’t help but wonder if you’re on the verge of losing your mind. Quite the opposite; the world isn’t changing per se, but your perception of it is.
Throughout our lifetime, we encounter many experiences that, at the core and in spite of more frivolous influences, shape our awareness of reality. This awareness is our consciousness; our capacity to perceive and process the world, and our experiences not only individually but collectively. It’s the difference between a puzzle piece being solely aware of itself and realizing it's only a very small part of a much larger, more complex collage. Although it is merely a tiny component, its absence would alter the greater image. The more we experience, the more we are able to understand and learn from the truth behind our experiences. The more our consciousness expands, the more we grow as human beings.
This growth is called Ascension and just like physical growth, there is an element of discomfort that accompanies it. If you trust the fact this pain means you no harm and is merely the means to an even greater life filled with endless possibility, you will discover that within all pain resides a power and resilience that can endure all things. What I have learned throughout my own journey, being connected to Spirit enables you to tap into a reservoir of wisdom and knowledge; wisdom and knowledge that can’t be found in any textbook or search engine. It’s a watering-well of answers eagerly awaiting your sips.
The keys to happiness cannot be found under the welcome mat of a great mansion nor within the ignition of an expensive luxury car. They reside within the most sacred parts of us; cherished and protected like hidden diary confessions. And yet, always readily accessible if we just take the time to reacquaint ourselves with the people we were before society told us who to be. Remembering who you were before the world gave you a name...is, I believe, the true meaning of spiritual awakening.
The beginning stages of a spiritual awakening
Feeling like something has changed inside of you. You become conscious of negative habits and thought patterns. You suddenly begin disconnecting from "old self" (and old habits) finding it difficult to identify with the characteristics that once defined you. You may feel the urge to reinvent yourself, start fresh; perhaps you even decide to go by a new name. You begin to realize you’ve been wearing a mask this entire time. The desire to remove it and embody a more authentic version of yourself becomes very strong.
You stop feeding yourself negativity and engage less and less in it. Suddenly, day-to-day habits like gossiping or making jokes at other people’s expense feel wrong and extremely uncomfortable. You begin to distance yourself from peers who engage in this type of behavior or even make attempts to redirect them into more positive exchanges. You’ll even find that being alone is more appealing than surrounding yourself with negative influences. You even begin correcting negative self-talk like, “I look so fat today,” or “I’ll never get that job.”
You develop a severe allergy to superficial and inauthentic
The fashionistas and superstar celebs keeping you glued to TMZ and Media Take-Out start to induce bouts of eye rolling and exasperated sighs as your capacity to entertain anything or anyone superficial dwindles. Your soul yearns to experience the true beauty within all humanity rather than the watered down version we’ve all been indoctrinated to celebrate and glorify. People who constantly talk about themselves and what they have start to bore or irritate you and you can only deal with them in small doses. Curling up with a good book, taking long walks in nature, expanding your knowledge, spending time with loved ones or doing something artistic takes precedence over club life and shopping.
Bouts of unexplained sadness or despair
The more conscious we become of the world and our place in it, the more connected we become to the experiences of others. The more connected we are increases our sensitivity to others. The “That’s not my problem” and “Sucks to be you” mentality completely evaporates as you realize how truly connected we all are as a people. One person’s struggle becomes your own as you empathize and cultivate deep compassion for the plights of your loved ones and complete strangers. You realize everyone deserves love and happiness. Knowing you could be in that person’s shoes keeps you humble and inspires you to want to help heal the situation. The feeling of helplessness while perceiving world suffering often creates a catalyst for depression. Although this part isn’t easy, understand that it is normal as you learn to deal with your new capacity to truly feel for others.
You can't help everyone but there are things you can do to make the world around you a better place. This is the stage where doing selfless acts of kindness, volunteering or expressing yourself through art can aid in your own healing by providing an outlet that impacts others in a positive way.
An intense feeling you have a BIGGER purpose
Institutionalized anything repels you.
Your 9 to 5 becomes an anchor around the neck as you start connecting with "higher self." You want more; more personal freedom, more control over your life. Punching a clock starts to feel like a form of imprisonment as you connect with its "limitations." Biweekly paychecks personify what someone else believes your efforts are worth, your increasing sense of value simply won’t accept outside definitions of worth so you contemplate ways to break free from the constraints of the corporate world. You begin to shift your focus to your natural gifts and talents. Perhaps to create sustenance for yourself, you start a business. Maybe you decide to remain in the corporate arena but change jobs to find something more aligned with who you are becoming.
The goal is to recreate a life that allows you to embrace and live as your most authentic self.
Everything you do comes from the heart
You relish in the feeling that follows when you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. The intent is purely for the benefit of the other person and your expectation of reciprocity diminishes as you realize the infinite abundance of the universe will provide everything you need. We live in a world where giving is done on the unspoken premise that the person “giving” will in some way be compensated for their generosity. This diminishes the act of giving and receiving to a mere transaction, and not a demonstration of faith and divine love.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced a situation where someone may have done us a favor and later used that favor as a crutch to bolster their entitlement. The shift that occurs during a spiritual awakening silences the ego and allows Spirit to prevail. Things are done exclusively from the heart and with no expectation of a return on investment. This is such a freeing experience, allowing us to live lives of love and generosity without the constraints ego tends to place on our awareness.
While spiritual awakening is an experience shared collectively throughout humanity, it is a very personal journey that manifests differently for everyone. Not everyone’s experience will be the same but one thing’s for certain, we all arrive at the same destination…Enlightenment.