You’re not going crazy, you’re just waking up! That’s been my favorite quote around the overwhelming feeling of a Spiritual Awakening. And as I work with more and more people, trying to bring them comfort and awareness towards the journey, I’m noticing a pattern. There are actual stages to all of this. Stages of a spiritual awakening!
There seems to be a sophisticated spiritual awakening process that the universe follows, to navigate us from the state of autopilot living to conscious living. But wait, let’s take a step back.
What even is a spiritual awakening? And is it the same as being ‘enlightened’?
A spiritual awakening is like an AHA moment, where you finally begin to see the limiting ways of the human mind and human life. All the while realizing how much more expansive and powerful we are. And that there’s much more happening behind the scenes, in the ‘spiritual realms’ than you had realized! You literally “wake up” to seeing and experiencing life through a much bigger and wider lens.
Enlightenment? Well not there yet so can’t really talk about the experience of it from a personal reference. But what I understand it to be, is finally realizing that not only are we really more powerful and more expansive, we are infinite. Now that would be something!
While our journeys to this sense of infinitude are unique, and the catalysts for our growth differ per our soul contracts, here are my observations of what the various stages of spiritual growth encompass.
I hope that this resource will help you understand how to start, or even how to continue your spiritual journey. I get how confusing it can be when you’re first having spiritual experiences and through this guide, it’s my intention to give you some grounded examples of what to expect.
Stage 1 – The Dark Night of the Soul
This is the precursor. Every single person I’ve spoken to so far, has told me similar stories :
- “I felt like going to a psychologist”,
- “People asked me if I’m in depression”,
- “I was having an existential crisis”,
- “Life feels shallow or meaningless now”,
- And so on…
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period when your vision of how life should be begins to shatter. It might occur after the death of a loved one, a huge tragedy or trauma that hits you at a deeper, subconscious level.
I also love what one of my beautiful subscribers, Chelsey recently shared with me, about how her dark night felt different from depression, because unlike depression, this time, she was able to still get things done. And yet, she felt dark clouds and lots of heaviness leading up to the awakening.
Or in some cases, it could arise for no specific reason at all. As was my case. For me, everything felt perfect. Until it was not. Here’s my story, written from back in the day.
The dark night of the soul can last for months, or for some people, spread across years. There’s good news of course, and all this perseverance adds up to something, which you discover eventually! Which brings us to the next stage.
Stage 2 – A Ray Of Hope
Somehow, you keep going. You don’t want to give up, maybe just not yet. And finally, one day, there’s a breakthrough.
This marks the before and after of your life. The movement from autopilot to conscious living.
For me, it started with a deep sense of fulfillment that came from chanting OM during my meditation practice. And then finally, when I looked into the meaning of seeing 11:11 on the clock, it all added up!
You might search “am I going crazy?” one day and find spiritual awakening as your search result. Or you could stumble upon a book like A New Earth that sets things into motion for you.
Whatever is your soul’s choice of weapon, as soon as it happens, it is certain to instantly relieve you of that initial heaviness and discomfort. And even though you don’t have all the questions answered yet, you’re beginning to believe in the possibility of finding the answers.
Stage 3 – Inquisitiveness
This is where you start binging on information about anything and everything that has to do with spirituality.
Suddenly, you’re eager to know more about what a soul is, the purpose of life is, reincarnation, soul contracts and then some. You may notice yourself reading beyond your own inherited religious texts, diving deeper into the other eastern, western or ancient scriptures.
Personally, despite being from the country of all things spiritual (India), I was gravitating more towards western tools and practical spirituality.
I was more interested in reading books by skeptical psychologists instead of the mystical gurus. It wasn’t until much later that I enjoyed the works of enlightened masters like Osho and Paramhans Yogananda.
There’s nothing wrong with that of course, that was just the path I wanted to take. In contrast, I’ve had many clients talk to me in Vedantic terminology, and that’s just as beautiful.
At this stage of your spiritual awakening, it’s important to just find what works for you to really help build your spiritual muscles. And until you don’t find it, keep looking!
In ancient Hindu scriptures, the path to enlightenment through knowledge, is called jnana yog, and is one of the four paths explained Patanjali.
When my journey began and I reached this stage, I was feverishly reading book after book. After book. This is exactly why I have dozens of recommendations. Because I became OBSESSED!
How did the obsession with reading taper down? By balancing the Root and Crown Chakras. That’s a topic for another time of course, but if you’re interested to learn how that works, you read this resource.
Stage 4 – Denial & Inner Conflict
I believe that you swing between Stage 3 and Stage 4 for a while. You want to believe in the existence of something beyond this reality. But the ego mind isn’t able to put 2+2 together yet.
Things that aren’t logical can’t be trusted, right?
And what if it’s all just a bunch of confirmation bias?
Also, am I really spiritual? I mean, I’m always so angry and irritable. I’m losing control of myself. Isn’t that the opposite of being spiritual?
And on go your questions. Don’t let these strange experiences disappoint you or prevent you from progressing on the spiritual awakening journey headfirst! It’s absolutely okay to challenge your faith and this new-found wisdom.
Sometimes you let it in and guide you, sometimes you don’t. In this phase of your spiritual awakening, it can feel like you’re walking through a maze, always being met by surprises and never really sure where you’re going.
It’s mostly the logical aspects, like metaphysics that begin helping you move past the conflict and denial. Here are some solid books that scientifically-back spirituality, if you are seeking more proof to strengthen your faith.
This is also one of the stages of a spiritual awakening where you feel the most overloaded and overwhelmed. The ego-mind fights against all the unfamiliarity as your charter unseen territory with your spiritual knowledge, and you can feel extremely tired. It’s not pleasant, but it is a part of the package.
Related : 5 Tips to Work With the Ego-Mind
Stage 5 – Spiritual Makeover
At some point, you will receive enough signs and divine guidance to know that this isn’t a coincidence anymore. And then, your Spiritual Journey will really kick in.
It’ll be like experiencing a crash course on evolution. Everything happening all at once, being rapidly pushed through a tight tunnel towards a bigger Light.
- You’ll experience a deep sense of self-awareness arising,
- The guilt or shock will make you rapidly start re-evaluating and changing behaviors to be in alignment with who you really are,
- A lot of old preferences and hobbies will shed off, and you’ll gain new interests,
- You’ll also grow conscious of those around you that are still living on autopilot, and consequently, repel them sometimes,
- You’ll feel angry and/or sad to see the world as it is,
- Also, you’ll want to help everyone jump on the spiritual boat but quickly realize that you can’t make other people heal, thus feeling periods of sadness and dejection,
- You may experience a deeper sense of emotional sensitivity, and find yourself avoiding crowded places to protect your energy.
So on, and so forth. This is perhaps the most visibly revolutionizing stages of a spiritual awakening.
The spiritual community is commonly heard terming the process as a metamorphosis.
The journey can truly be seen as though one transforms into a beautiful butterfly, breaking free from the stigmas and old patterns that were holding us back in our cocoon.
Of course, at this point, you’re probably feeling lonelier and distant from people around you, than ever. I know this feeling through-and-through. And so do the dozens of people that help me write this guide.
Trust me, your loved ones might not “get it”, but they do NOT want you to suffer. It took me years to figure that out, and I hope you realize that sooner.
Stage 6 – Spiritual Ego
Well, now that you’ve established you’re spiritual, there’s a subtle sense of pride rising within.
- You’re rare because you woke up, but not everyone does,
- You’re better than those that don’t live life consciously,
- People don’t deserve your attention, ugh!
- Some people are just so toxic for your divinity,
- You don’t belong here, you’re actually an old soul that’s just here to help other people,
- And so on….
You may also experience spiritual bypassing, believing that fear is an illusion and that love and light is all that is, therefore escaping negative emotions or being unwilling to deal with your shadow self.
It happens to all of us. And several times. This isn’t a one-time thing, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Like one of my friends in the spiritual writing community says, “it’s difficult not to get cocky sometimes when you’re doing so well”. 🙂
I also remember an incident when a guy on LinkedIn that had the title of a Spiritual Coach was belittling me for not being enlightened. It was amusing to see how neither one of us were, but only one of us could see that!
At such a stage, it helps to practice egoless thinking, and ground yourself with lots of intense shadow work.
Stage 7 – Grounding & Getting Serious
Sooner or later, your first reality check hits you. At that point, you understand that you’ve been goofing around and getting this spiritual stuff all wrong.
So far, the journey was on and off, you weren’t committed. But in this and the upcoming stages of a spiritual awakening, you experience yourself getting into a serious relationship with the Universe and its magic. Some people consider this the mysticism phase.
Here are things that you begin to realize:
- You are fully accountable for clearing out your karmic debts and taking the plunge towards an enlightened existence;
- The universe is always helping you attain enlightenment, but it is your choice how fast you want to learn the lessons being taught;
- No one’s journey is better or worse than the other’s;
- We are all one, merely here to experience our duality and expand the consciousness of existence;
- Our key objectives are to heal ourselves and help others heal in their journeys;
- And so on….
As an attempt to ascend faster, you will thus notice a growing inclination towards certain spiritual healing techniques. In all the stages of a spiritual awakening, this one is perhaps the most exciting!
These could include:
- Energy work such as reiki or pranic healing,
- Subconscious healing (hypnotherapy, CBT etc),
- Body healing (yoga, breathe work, ayurveda, etc)
- Energy body healing by working on your prana or chi,
- Healing crystals, stones, sage & essential oils,
- Past of future based work using tarot cards, astrology, etc.
I want to add a caveat here that the stage requires special attention and balancing oneself. Initially, when you get serious, you may notice yourself getting obsessed with spirituality. If left unchecked though, you may develop spiritual vices.
Stage 8 – Coming out of the spiritual closet
It surprisingly takes quite long for most of us to begin openly talking about what’s going on internally, with our loved ones. For most people on the spiritual journey, they feel isolated and build their ‘tribe’ outside their original circle. It becomes easier to share the journey with strangers across the world than the person sitting next door.
I’ve met countless friends through Instagram myself! It is reassuring to know that you’re not alone and that there are many others going through the same wave of change.
But eventually, as you experience deeper healing and undergo the transformative phases, you learn how to balance your physical and spiritual realities.
You will find yourself more and more comfortable talking about your interests, whether it is meditation or burning sage. This is also the stage where many spiritual aspirants start stepping away from their daily jobs and having serious thoughts about starting their own holistic health professions.
Understanding this need for a community, I’ve been putting together Our Spiritual Shenanigans for all my clients. I want to make sure genuine seekers around the world have access to powerful tools, consistent support, and friendship. That none of us have to do this thing called spirituality, alone anymore!
Stage 9 – Walking your purpose
When the spiritual journey begins, the initial turmoil and helplessness goes away. But for most people, there’s still a feeling like something is missing. I’ve noticed that as soon as you begin realizing how you will be giving back to the world with your own unique skills, the remainder of the missing dots connect for you.
Like Joseph Campbell shares through the Hero’s Journey, you finally come home to your true purpose to protect, heal and help those that are counting on you. I love this video, and find it fitting for our discussion on the different stages of a spiritual awakening. What do you think?
For me, despite the fact that I’ve been passionate about writing all my life, it took me really long to realize that being a spiritual writer is my purpose.
I used to do this more casually, first writing in school magazines and as a ghostwriter. But once my corporate life really began to feel unfulfilling and like I was wasting my time, it forced me to reevaluate the direction I wanted to take my career.
There was a time when I got electrocuted, and had a reality check. The universe really wanted me to write my own book, and fast!
It took a long time to finally make it happen, but when it did, it was the most natural thing to do. That’s when I finally overcame perfectionism, and published my first work about the power of our Spirit Animals here. You can also download a PDF version below.
From being an anonymous writer on Instagram, to starting this blog, and then to publishing a book, I worked through a lot of self-limiting beliefs.
I worked through a series of self-reflecting questions to arrive at the conclusion, over and over again. I’ve now converted that into a step-by-step guide on how you can gain more clarity about your life purpose too.
Amongst the many stages of a spiritual awakening, this one can bring a momentous shift in your reality. It can also bring a lot of confusion.
Some people might find themselves conflicted and uncertain of what to do in order to step away from the cliche 9 to 5 job, and into their purpose. In contrast, some people find it hard to quit their job despite wanting to.
Again, all this confusion is a part of the process. The only thing that can help you out of this confusion is allowing yourself to be the Universe’s conduit, and show up every day to be of service to the community.
Stage 10 – Mastering Spiritual Lessons
This is where old patterns begin to resurface. It can almost feel like once again, you’re becoming “un-spiritual”, and you might feel like you’ve disconnected from the Universe.
And it’s an unpleasant feeling to have at this stage because as you walk into your purpose, you almost want to feel like a Buddha. Serene, calm, with everything effortlessly under control. But if you look deeper, something magical is happening.
I loved this beautiful post on Instagram by Joy, which perfectly explains this situation. Quoting her, she says, “if you’re revisiting a challenge [Spiritual lesson] at this time, step back and notice if it feels different. Is the lesson more isolated, focused on a single aspect?”.
Life brings forth the lessons we seemingly overcame a long time ago, but it isn’t to remind us of our failure. It’s to help us clean our act in a deeper, more refined way.
Currently, anger and compassion are two lessons I’m struggling to work on this year. But I’ve got this! And so do you. So just keep going! 🙂
Wait…what about enlightenment?
Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I believe that enlightenment isn’t a destination, nor the ‘end goal’ of these stages. It’s a way of being, a state of existence and it comes and goes in between these stages. How?
This journey isn’t about being perfectly happy around the clock of course. But it’s about being able to rise above the nuances and stay in the flow of life. To surrender and have lesser and lesser personal preferences. And as a consequence, you become naturally more joyous.
If you’ve been on the journey for at least a few stages of spiritual awakening, you’ll agree with me on this. Sometimes you experience bliss, feelings of ego-death, and absolute calm. And most of the other times, you’re fighting between the two – ego versus soul.
But the journey is about taking one conscious decision at a time to pick the soul’s subtleness over the ego’s drama.
The initial stages of a spiritual awakening are somewhat in-order but the latter come and go several times. Especially the spiritual ego, always followed by a reality check, which spiral around each other like yin and yang.
The journey is exciting, strange and mystical. But more importantly, it is unique to your soul’s evolution. So make the most of it. Let yourself shine through and through. And let me know if you need my help, I’m just an email away. 🙂
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