After clearing past the accumulation of false identities and stories, one’s true nature unfolds like a flower coming into full bloom. There is no longer a questioner questioning reality. Reality, or suchness, has become the very essence of who one is.
When awakening reaches completeness, the individual’s personality becomes infused with presence, compassion, wisdom, creativity, and service. They emanate their realization in whatever way most sincerely aligns with their authentic purpose.
This flowering of one’s true nature is the pinnacle of human actualization. It is the realization of one’s eternal divine Self, right here, right now.
While the destination is unchanging, the journey of awakening follows no pre-charted path. By listening within and allowing life to guide you according to its wisdom, you can relax into the uncertainty. Spiritual progress unfolds in its own way and time.
This was the soul of the following article that we are going to discuss today. Let’s start from the basics.
What is Spiritual Awakening?
Spiritual awakening generally refers to a shift in consciousness when one becomes more aware of the deeper self and metaphysical aspects of the surrounding. It is this realisation there is more to life than the perceivable world that we experience everyday and we know that our material reality is part of a larger spiritual reality.
Some common characteristics of a spiritual awakening include:
- Questioning one’s purpose and the meaning in life.
- Heightened intuition and synchronicities.
- A feeling of being connected to something beyond logic.
- Increased empathy, compassion, and desire to serve others.
- Developing new interests with deeper values.
- Ego transcendence and less identification with the self.
- A sense of bliss, inner peace, and unconditional love for everyone.
But don’t get overwhelmed, the spiritual awakening is only the beginning phase of one’s spiritual journey. It can be triggered by traumatic events, near-death experiences, meditation, joining a monastery, or simply a profound realisation. It can be gradual or spontaneous. Once begun, it guides the individual to explore life’s deeper questions and discover their true purpose.
Stages of Spiritual Awakening
The spiritual awakening process unfolds in stages as consciousness expands. Here are 5 of the most common stages:
Stage-1: The Seeker Phase
In this initial phase, one starts to sense that there is more to existence. Curiosity about metaphysics, mysticism, and spirituality takes hold. The individual may develop an interest in religion, yoga, or meditation. They seek out those on a similar path and dabble in various practices. However, the spiritual seeker still holds many conventional views of the world.
Stage-2: The Questioning Phase
At this stage, the individual begins to seriously question their prior beliefs and the nature of reality. Cynicism towards institutions like religion sets in as one sees the contradictions and limitations of organized belief systems. Existential questioning around topics like God, consciousness, and the afterlife occurs. This phase catalyzes deep introspection into one’s inner experience.
Stage-3: The Insight Phase
With consistent spiritual practice and introspection, moments of insight start to emerge. Glimpses into the true nature of self and reality come forth. Topics once merely concept become realPossibilities like self-realization, enlightenment, and metaphysical powers seem plausible. However, insights come and go.
Stage-4: The Dark Night of the Soul
As old paradigms of thought collapse, the individual plunges into an existential crisis known as the dark night of the soul. Although distressing, this mental breakdown allows deeper spiritual wisdom to take root. Without being shattered at some point, the ego-self will not fully relinquish its grip. During the dark night, one releasing attachments and aversions.
Stage-5: The Unity Phase
Finally, after progressing through the previous stages, the individual merges back with the eternal source. There is direct realisation of spiritual truths that before were merely concepts. Wisdom, compassion, peace, and purpose flower. One perceives the cosmic unity behind multiplicity. The individual becomes a guiding light for others on the path.
Causes of Spiritual Awakening
Spiritual awakenings arise when certain triggers destabilize a person’s entrenched worldview. Commonly reported catalysts include:
- Profound grief or loss – Death of a loved one, divorce, serious illness.
- Psychedelic experiences – Ayahuasca, LSD, magic mushrooms.
- Near death experiences – Accidents, heart attacks.
- Intense spiritual practice – Meditation, yoga, qigong.
- Contact with a guru or spiritual teacher.
- Mystical experiences – Spontaneous visions, psychic phenomena.
- Soulmate connection – Meeting one’s twin flame.
- Disillusionment – Career burnout, mental breakdown.
While the path can be confusing and emotionally intense, embracing the spiritual awakening process is necessary for growth. Without first cracking open, the human psyche remains trapped in illusion.
Signs of Spiritual Awakening
There are clues indicating that one is on the verge of this realisation. A seeker may undergo a marked change in their worldview as conventional truths no longer satisfy. Old conditioning loosens its grip as one questions the nature of existence.
“As a caterpillar reaches the end of a blade of grass and draws itself together in order to climb onto the next, so the Self draws his body together and throws it off as he reaches the end of life and begins to ascend to the next.” – Chandogya Upanishad
The mystic teachings reveal that the Self is beyond all limitations of body, mind and intellect.
“Like two golden birds perched on the selfsame tree, intimate friends, the ego and the Self dwell in the same body. The former eats the sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life while the latter looks on in detachment.” Mundaka Upanishad (3.1.1)
This points to the Self as the silent witness, distinct from the ego which claims doership and enjoys the fruits of actions.
Spiritual awakening is thus a journey from identification with the ego to abiding as the Self. How does this happen? The texts suggest that an attitude of sincerity, humility and inner drive helps the seeker.
Here are 12 common signs indicating the onset of a spiritual awakening:
- An urge to know oneself and find meaning. Intense questioning about identity, purpose, and reality.
- Changing worldviews and perspectives. Old beliefs no longer ring true. Alternative spirituality seems more aligned.
- Heightened self-awareness and introspection. One listens closer to inner guidance from the soul.
- Increased intuition and psychic sensitivity. A new sense of knowing without logic kicks in. Synchronicities rise.
- Greater connection with nature. The natural world suddenly feels sacred and alive.
- Desire to help humanity. A passion to be of service and make a difference emerges.
- More presence and peace. Being in the here and now gets easier. Everyday moments feel richer.
- Appreciation for solitude. Too much external stimulus starts draining energy. There is a pull toward silence.
- Change in interests and activities. Old hobbies lose appeal. Spiritual practices like meditation or yoga become attractive.
- Letting go of non-serving habits. Addictions, toxic behaviors, and superficial interests slowly drop away.
- Hunger for truth and authenticity. Fake people and conversations feel aggravating. There is less tolerance for drama.
- Creative self-expression. There may be urges to write, make art, or find new outlets for self-expression.
Remember, a spiritual awakening is not all bliss and joy. It can be emotionally and psychologically turbulent. Expect highs and lows, clarity and confusion. Stay centered, be patient, keep surrendering egoic conditioning and trust the process. As egoic conditioning loses grip, one perceives all with equanimity. Not bounded by prejudice, the awakened adept acts for the welfare of all beings.
“When your mind has overcome the confusion of duality, you will attain the state of holy indifference to things you hear and things you have heard.” The Bhagavad Gita (2.52)
Editor's caution: This goes even darker as you progress. You must be conscious of your ability to endure the experiences you are having at any stage and be prepared to stop and take guidance from someone experienced. Here's why... At times, the spiritual path passes through darkness. With no familiar signposts, one feels lost and confused. The mind longs to grasp onto something secure but finds nothing. The Isa Upanishad instructs: "Into blinding darkness enter those who practice ignorance; into still greater darkness, as it were, enter those who delight in knowledge." This tumult, as painful as a death, is precisely what propels one beyond dependence on the limited mind and ego. We surrender in humility to forces vaster than our intellect. The Light of Awareness comes though eventually... After the dissolving of false refuge comes enlightenment. The Bhagavad Gita describes thus: "When you rest in consciousness, completely relaxed, composed, desiring nothing, undisturbed by any thought, that is the state of highest spiritual awakening." At this stage, one perceives that the Self eternally exists, liberated from the sufferings brought on by misidentifications. Radiant, fulfilled, and established in unwavering awareness, one sees all of existence as the ONE perfect (poornam).
How to Embrace Spiritual Awakening
Navigating the path of spiritual awakening requires mindfulness, self-work, and openness. Here are 5 ways to embrace the process:
- Don’t cling to old identities
As consciousness shifts, let go of limiting labels and stories of who you once were. Your external self-concept will slip away. Allow this ego-death to occur.
- Make self-discovery a priority
Dedicate time for introspection through meditation, journaling, long walks in nature, and other contemplative practices. Learn from your soul.
- Let go of what no longer serves
Release attachments, behaviors, environments, and relationships inhibiting your growth. Make space for the new.
- Get support and guidance
Find those who understand and can help stabilize challenging awakening experiences. Teachers, communities, and fellow seekers are valuable allies.
- Integrate spiritual insights
Put into practice the wisdom and revelations that surface. Let realisations become embodied. Live your unfolding truth.
The Dark Night of the Soul
A profoundly painful stage for many is the dark night of the soul. As old thought structures dissolve, one may feel like they are dying or going crazy. Though it can appear devastating, the dark night is a healing crisis, not a mental breakdown.
Here are 5 ways to navigate this turbulent transition:
- View it as a transformation – Trust you are journeying to wholeness. Birth is messy.
- Avoid numbing the pain – Feel fully. Avoid escapism through addictions.
- Reduce outside stimulus – Too much external input can be jarring. Spend time in silence.
- Express creatively – Writing, art, music help the psyche digest this breakdown.
- Get support – Find those experienced with the process for reassurance. You aren’t going insane.
With perseverance, the darkness will pass, bringing new depths of inner freedom. But first, expect the death of your current self. The phoenix rises only after burning.
The Goal: Enlightenment
While the spiritual path contains many temporary peaks, enlightenment is the ultimate goal. Even thought it may not be intelligible in the beginning but as you advance in the process, your goal becomes more visible and appealing. Various mystical traditions describe this state differently.
The Mundaka Upanishad from the Vedic tradition for example says:
“To the earnest student seeking to understand the nature of the Absolute, the wise teacher gives the following advice: ‘The Absolute is beyond rational thought, beyond identity with any physical form. It cannot be seen, touched or smelled. The only approach is through a pure heart, with the help of the scriptures and the guidance of a realised teacher.'” (3.2.3-4)
While each person’s awakening unfolds uniquely, guides and practices which reveal the limitations of the ego-mind quicken the process. Meditation is foremost, as it turns attention inward, beyond thought.
Essentially it is:
- Direct realisation of absolute truth unfiltered by the mind.
- Permanently residing in your true nature beyond ego.
- Absolute acceptance of what is.
- Seeing through the illusion of separation.
- Unconditional compassion and wisdom.
Enlightenment cannot be taught, only pointed towards. It is not a belief system to adopt but a direct revelation to be had when conditions are ripe. Spiritual practices help set the stage. But in the end, enlightenment occurs by grace. The sun rises when the night recedes.
The path requires determination, sincerity, and patience with oneself. At times it will seem impossible. But persist. The seed of enlightenment already exists within you. Your destiny is to realize who you truly are. And when that happens — all seeking ends.
The highest spiritual truths, though simple, can be perplexing. View this process as an adventure into the mystery of existence. Stay open and committed to truth above all else. Align with your authentic inner voice. The journey of awakening awaits…
Practices to Support Spiritual Awakening
Certain practices help stabilize and deepen one’s spiritual awakening. Here are 5 of the most effective:
Daily meditation trains the mind to be present, calms inner chatter, and reveals your true nature as consciousness itself. Start with just 5-10 minutes per day. Over time, sessions can be lengthened as desired.
The postures and breathing techniques of yoga ready the body and nervous system for spiritual revelation. Yoga helps discharge stuck mental and emotional energy.
Bringing full awareness to daily tasks cultivates insight into the present moment – the doorway to enlightenment. Washing dishes mindfully becomes meditation.
Writing out thoughts, emotions, dreams, and insights helps process experiences that arise on the path. Journaling also aids self-inquiry.
Spending time with others far along on the spiritual path uplifts and inspires. Their wisdom rubbed off through osmosis. Seek satsang regularly.
Important to remember: The goal is integration, not escape. Avoid using spirituality to bypass life. Instead, engage each moment fully with deep presence. Fulfilment is discovered here and now, not in some altered state of consciousness or imaginary future.
At the end of the day, spiritual awakening is about unwaveringly-embodying your ‘core’ nature in the midst of whatever is happening. It means being at peace within, no matter what storms rage outside. With sincerity and patience, awakening unfolds naturally according to its own timeline. Relax into the process and know that all is well.
The highest truths cannot be grasped by the conceptual mind. Direct experience is the only way. Keep inquiring and investigating your actual present experience. Don’t accept hand-me-down beliefs. Question everything. Truth reveals itself in the silent spaces between thoughts.
Spirituality is the eternal dance between stillness and motion, emptiness and form. The goal is not to deny life’s changing forms but to realize the unchanging essence that animates all form. Stop seeking truth; simply cease clinging to falsehood.
What matters most is waking up from the dream of separation and realizing the living truth that we are all one consciousness appearing as multiplicity. Suffering derives from the illusion of being an independent self when in reality we are unified beyond creed, gender, species!
Spirituality is the remembering of this unity. All paths ultimately lead to the dissolution of self into Source. But this realization cannot be forced. Spiritual awakening happens in its own way and time. Relax into the not knowing. Your inner wisdom is guiding you home.
The only preparation required is letting go of accumulated beliefs and meeting each moment afresh. We must put aside both hope and fear if we wish to see things as they actually are. Stay vigilant against the ego’s tendency to cling or reject experience. Hold paradox lightly. Return attention to stillness repeatedly.
As your sense of being a separate self lessens, you’ll embody higher states spontaneously. Motivation becomes service, creativity, and celebration rather than bolstering the false ego-self. Dive heart first into living, loving fully. The mind will only grasp at concepts of awakening. But you are what is being sought!