How do you have a spiritual awakening? Many people think it takes years of meditation or a ‘dark night of the soul’. Actually, it can be a lot simpler than you think.
It can be frustrating listening to other people talk about their spiritual awakening. In the past, I have often felt left out of these conversations. I wasn’t sure what a spiritual awakening was and I was pretty sure I had never had one. I wondered if I would ever be a part of this group. It seems so mysterious and select. There were mysteries I was sure I would never understand. And no one seemed to want to tell me how I too could have a spiritual awakening.
Luckily, with a bit of research and some help from my spiritual friends I learned that there is nothing particularly mysterious about a spiritual awakening. Neither is it a once in a lifetime experience. Spiritual growth happens throughout our lives if we take the time to focus on it. However, many people do have sudden breakthroughs where a new truth or realisation hits them and they see everything differently from before.
How spiritual awakenings occur
Many people have a spiritual awakening after some trauma, loss, illness or even a near death experience. This type of experience is often called a ‘dark night of the soul’. In these cases, the severity of the trauma can trigger a change in perception that is so drastic it causes an instant awakening. For anyone who has not experienced such a profound crisis the alternative seems to be many years of spiritual practice such as meditation, yoga or following a religious path. These practices can teach us a lot and are often well worth doing. However, if you would like to have a transformation more immediately, you might like to consider some practices that can increase your spiritual growth.
Of course, there are not really any quick fixes to spiritual transformation. In fact, even wanting spiritual enlightenment is often an ego need rather than a spiritual one. However, I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving your spiritual life a boost by trying some deep experiences.
If you would like to have more of these transformative experiences you might like to try the following techniques and practices.
1. Use the lessons that life presents you
I believe that many of the situations we experience in life occur to teach us lessons. For example, I have two dogs and I enjoy walking with them in my local woods and fields. However, my walks do not always go smoothly. My eldest dog, Tilly gets overexcited at the prospect of a walk; whining, barking and jumping around the minute I get my walking jacket out of the cupboard. My second dog behaves well at this point and when on the lead, but once I’m out he will disappear at breakneck speed whenever he smells a squirrel or pheasant and no amount of shouting will bring him back.
Now you may think I have two badly behaved dogs. But is it the dogs that have the problem or is it me? In fact I think my dogs pick up on my excited energy before a walk. Because things have gone wrong before I tend to get anxious and fearful. The dogs are not at fault, my energy is. Understanding this has made me much more conscious of my own internal energies. I have been able to use this problem in my life to learn something about myself and improve my wellbeing. I haven’t totally solved the problem yet, however I am working on it by practicing breathing techniques before I even think about going for a walk. This mindful approach to walking my dogs has influenced other areas of my life that I find stressful.
This is a very simple, and perhaps not very profound example. But I have also learned many lessons from more serious problems in my life such as the illness of family members, financial problems and dealing with people I find difficult.
You can use anything that happens in your life as an opportunity to develop spiritual maturity if you are prepared to learn the lessons it offers.
2. Look closely at your fears
Our fears can be the biggest signposts to where we need to go in order to grow spiritually. Our soul or spirit is not scared. It knows that we are always safe because it does not rely on what happens to this body we temporarily occupy for security. However, the ego has a lot of fears. Whenever you fear something you can be sure it is the ego that is the part of you that is scared and uncomfortable.
Uncovering your fears can be a lengthy process, however taking some action about what you fear can drive some wonderful spiritual transformations. Many people have fears and blocks around money, relationships and safety. Looking at what has happened in the past can help you discover why you have these fears. You can then reprogram your mind to think more positively about the situation.
For example, as a child you may have been taught that taking too much makes you greedy or selfish. These messages may have affected how you manage everything in life from food, to money, to love. Messages like this can teach us that we don’t deserve to live in abundance and plenty. This can cause us to subconsciously block the very things that we desire. If you have problems with money, food or relationships, its an odds on bet that you have some harmful beliefs floating around in your subconscious mind.
Thinking about these messages and journaling about how you came to have them and what form they take can give you a clearer idea about what is blocking you on both the physical and spiritual plane. You can transform your beliefs by analysing them, meditating on them and replacing them with ones that serve you better. This technique can often lead to huge spiritual leaps. Affirmations can be a powerful way to create new beliefs that support you in reaching your potential and feeling loved, happy and more connected to spirit.
3. Read and practice
Many of my biggest insights have come from reading books by people who are farther along the path than me. The great works of spiritual belief systems such as the Bible, the Torah, The Quran the Vedas, the Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita and many more can help us to become more spiritually enlightened. Some of these can be quite hard going at first, though. I have found that many of my biggest spiritual transformations have come after reading more accessible works like those of Michael Singer and Eckhart Tolle, both of whom I would highly recommend.
But at some point it is important to stop reading and start living by the lessons you have learned. Developing a daily spiritual practice is a great way to start bringing these lessons into your life. Set aside part of each day to think about the lessons you have learned and integrate them into your thinking and behaviour. Know one knows you like you know yourself and only you understand the path you are on. This means that you are your best spiritual teacher.
4. Go on a spiritual retreat
Jesus went into the desert for forty days and forty nights while Buddha sat alone under the Bodhi Tree. Many initiation ceremonies require being alone, perhaps spending a night alone in the wilderness.
You may not have forty days and forty nights to spare However, the principle of spending some time alone, without distractions, is valid.
Jesus was tempted by the devil; you will undoubtedly be taunted by your ego. It will tell you that your quest is pointless. Maybe it will tell you that the spirit world is all woo-woo nonsense. It might urge you to get back to your everyday life and get on with making dinner, making money or spending what you have earned. But if you spend enough time alone, you might find yourself getting in touch with some deeper part of you. Whether you call it your spirit, your higher self, or your inner consciousness, most of us are aware of a part of ourselves that is connected to something greater than we are.
Spending time alone to investigate your inner world, can help you to notice that thoughts are just things that pass through your head, and if you can learn to let them pass, you might find a deeper spiritual awareness and perhaps have an awakening.
You might like to go on a meditation retreat or take a trip alone. Adherents of many religions have taken spiritual pilgrimages as part of their religious lives. You could, perhaps just take a walk to your nearest holy site, whether that is a sacred well, ancient church or simply a place in nature that fills you with awe.
5. Explore non-ordinary reality
Many people have tried to find a quick route to enlightenment through drugs, fasting or other extreme measure. These are rarely good for the body and can have catastrophic effects on the mind. However, the principle of stepping outside of everyday reality is a good one. Luckily, there are safer ways to experience this.
Many cultures and spiritual practices include an exploration of non-ordinary reality. Everything from Buddhist meditation to shamanic journeys, to astral travelling is a way to perceiving the world differently. You can choose an experience that relates to your own spiritual heritage or use whatever methods appeal to you.
Shamanic journeying is probably one of the best know ways to travel in non-ordinary reality. Native Americans have used this practice for aeons, but similar methods are also undertaken as part of other mythologies and practices from Norse to Pagan. You might try a shamanic journey accompanied by drums or a creative visualisation accompanied by the smell of incense. You can find shamanic and visualisation resources on the internet or you can just shake a bottle filled with rice and use your imagination.
Trust your higher self and take things one step at a time. These practices are powerful so don’t push too hard. You only want to receive the information you are ready for. Going too fast, too soon can be damaging.
These practices could help you to have a Spiritual Awakening. At the every least they will transform your spiritual life and help you move forward in wonderful ways. I’d love to hear what practice you find transformative. Please share your practices with us in the comments below.