There was a time in my life when everything bothered me. The lights were too much, sounds were intense, being around other people was so draining. I felt irritated and “itchy” emotionally, as if everything about life was so overwhelming and chaotic. I thought I was going crazy. Turns out, I was experiencing my spiritual awakening.
Ever wonder what people mean when they talk about the awakening process? A spiritual awakening usually gets set in motion after your Saturn return (between the ages of 27-30 and then after). Saturn is the planet of commitments and disciplines and your lessons of this lifetime. Fun fact about your brain - the executive function, and the highest functioning part of your brain, is not formed until after you are 25 years old. Saturn returns to the place it was at the time of your birth between 27-30 years, when you are just finally, fully formed. It’s around your early thirties you might begin having thoughts about your purpose in life. Depending on the outside circumstances, you might also ignore this as you strive to establish a career, financial independence, a family or any number of other things.
But that doesn’t mean the soul is going to leave you alone. It’s got its own reasons for being on this planet, after all.
Without delay, here is my take on the stages of a spiritual awakening.
First Stage: What the Actual F%$# is Happening with my Life?
Your soul is always calling to you. It has been since you were born and when you were a kid you were connected to it, tight. But somewhere along the way, someone shut you down one too many times, told you “no” once too often, bills piled up, relationships got sloppy and before you knew it, you were more focused on trying to navigate this 3D set up we call “life.”
This is the land of the ego. And the rules here are mostly about fear and shame under the guise of your protection and survival. Did you ever see the Walking Dead? It’s like that – only not all. Lol Of course there are no zombies, but the imminent threat-feeling lurking around every corner is the genius zone of the ego.
Most of us, when hooked up to the Matrix, feel like this ego-based existence is “normal”. It looks a lot like everyone else is doing the same thing, so…better to go along and get along.
Only, after a certain period in your life, (often 30s and 40s) you start getting peppered with these nagging questions – what’s my purpose? What am I here for? Depending on what kind of hold your ego has on you, you might push these thoughts down and ignore them for months, years, and possibly - maybe even your whole life.
This is your soul. The part of you attempting to remind you there is more to life than fear, status, and success, whatever that means.
So, you might discover that you're starting to get agitated with your current ‘reality’. It might be small things like feeling dizzy more often. Or it might be more intense like lights might start to bother you. Every day sounds might suddenly feel too loud, too intense, too much. Hanging around in certain places or with certain people that didn’t bother you before, or you could tolerate, not annoy the crap out of you. Same with certain patterns of behaviour – no matter how hard you try, you suddenly cannot stop seeing how bad something or someone is for you. It might become so intense you begin to think - I can’t take living like this anymore; something has to change.
Instead of worrying about others and pleasing others, you might start wondering, what about me? When is it my turn? It’s not that you don’t want to help others or serve others any longer, You just also can’t help wonder - can’t it be more balanced, more enriching to your life, as well?
This happens because the realm of the soul is a much a higher frequency than that of the ego. Like a snake, you are growing tight in your skin, ready to shed it and expand. And basically, you can’t be in two places at once – in lower frequencies and in higher frequencies.
"If your mind isn't cluttered by unnecessary things, this could be the best day of your life." Ethan Hughes
This sudden agitation in your life is because your soul doesn’t align with the ego state and it’s getting impatient to break free from the “safety” of playing small. Your soul wants you to see your life from the bigger picture, to see what more there is for you to create.
Should you ignore this calling you might actually, unconsciously, create an illness, a job loss, a break-up, or something dramatic enough that you are forced to start over, because the old way, or old life has fallen apart.
Second Stage: The Choice – “Do I stay, or do I go now?”
The agitation mounts until you are forced to choose. Either you are ready to answer the soul calling and lean into expansion and experience what that's like, or you don’t.
Perhaps you suddenly feel drawn to Reiki, your birth chart, meditation, crystals, essential oils or the moon cycles. These are all some of the ways the soul likes to play. It can be anything really, but you will be seeking, seeking more, seeking to know yourself deeper, to see what else you have within you to express.
And/or, the fear will be too much and you’ll retract, get defensive and attempt to run away. You might bounce between these two states like the ping-pong ball in table tennis.
Either way, you might be feeling as if you are experiencing an identity crisis. Mostly, because you are. The soul asks you to step up, to take more responsibility for yourself and your life, and the ego asks you to stay small. And when I say 'responsibility' I mean of your inner world, of your ability to co-create your reality, of your feelings and thoughts. This is more than just showing up to work on time and making dinners for yourself and the fam.
Fears are super powerful, and their grip can be debilitating. Usually, they are the result of limiting beliefs or trauma from the past that was avoided and/or never fully processed. It could be a series of smaller, seemingly uneventful memories that add up to a rigid mindset of resistance to change. Or feeling like a “perfectionist” feeling you need to get it “right” to be loved. Imposter syndrome is another common identity issue and leads you to feel you have no right to want more, be more, have more. Then of course, there is the “what if I change and everyone hates the new me,” argument of rejection which seems perfectly logical at the time, and certainly a solid argument for dismissing and discrediting anything the “Soul” might have to say.
The discomfort of even the thought of facing all those ignored, rejected, hidden parts of yourself is enough for many to circle this drain and live in a kind of limbo of the comfort zone of their pain for years. We’ve all experienced it about something, where it sucks and you wish you could change – is what you say with your mouth – but you never actually get around to doing anything about it. If a solution is offered it is usually, not the right time, too expensive, not where you’re at right now, or any other excuse that seems reasonable in the moment.
You might even dig in and decide, ‘you know what? There is nothing wrong with me or the way I do things. So everyone else should just get off my back already,’ This is full ego nonsense which keeps you in the victim state and comes with an attitude that it is the world that should change, not you.
If you are nodding your head, please remember - there is no judgment in any of this, just awareness. What you choose is good either way. You are where you are on your journey, and wherever that is, is perfect for you.
I’m simply stating that when the irritation comes, and it will, an invitation is being presented. At some point though, there has to be radical acceptance and no more playing ignorant. This is part of growing up, really growing up, not just growing older. By this I mean, if the invitation to go to the next level comes and you choose not to accept, to stay in your comfort zone - then be good with that. The most unnecessary suffering results from feeling trapped - when you don't like where you are, but you don't want to make any changes either.
This fear can keep people circling in a pattern of uncomfortable, yet livable suffering for years, even their whole life. Often people caught in this will adopt a mindset that this is how the world is, and will associate with others who have the same frequency and the same mindset which serves to validate and reinforce the cycle of struggle they are each participating in. In this pattern, many people will continue to experience conflict, possibly even to the point of having their lives “blow up” many times over, but continue to feel that changing things, rocking the boat, creating a change that might put others out in some way, even for a small time is not worth the risk.
They call it a comfort zone for a reason, after all. It's 'comfortable' because it's familiar, not because it's good for you.
Again, this stage is about making a choice. Step up or continue as you were.
Many people decide that, after all, they can live in the comfort zone and “live with it” or “deal with it” for an indefinite amount of time. Honestly, it is rare for someone to consciously choose to grow and experience what comes next voluntarily. You have to be really into personal development and be self-motivated which most people, frankly, are not. And, again, there is nothing wrong with this. This is the beauty of being on the journey toward more consciousness - recognizing where you are at, and being okay with who you are.
Often, for someone to choose the soul the external pressures have to be so severe and disastrous that the person feels they have “no choice” but to surrender to the change. It usually takes something super drastic like
- losing a job
- potential divorce
- the death of a loved one
- the loss of a house, or
- feeling like they truly can no longer continue with such low self-confidence and must at least try “something, anything”
for someone to be ready to answer the call of the soul. This state of desperation and “no other option” feeling of being backed into a corner is often the catalyst for the plunge into:
Third Stage: The Dark Night of the Soul
If it sounds bad, that’s because it is. Kidding, not kidding. We are emotional beings and we are not very educated or practised on how to process our emotions in a healthy way. As a culture and a society we very much the push through and move on approach to mental health, which is not great, let's call it what it is. So, the first time someone sets about to actually do the work - there is a lot of work to do. It gets better and easier with practise, even fun because you know how great you will feel afterwards, but that first time...it's doozy.
This is, after all, a death process. Yet another aspect of life we are not well practised in and attempt to avoid dealing with at all costs. Yet, death and rebirth is a natural part of life and happens all the time - marriages, going off to university, breakups, changing jobs - these are all every day instances of death and rebirth that are not marked and consciously approached and therefore, when it comes to the bigger stuff, the dark night of the soul and actual death stuff, we are not good at it, and mostly don't do it consciously, with choice and intention.
The dark night of the soul plunges you into your shadow realm where you are introduced to and have the pleasure of finally dealing with all the stuff you pushed away before. In this stage, your old identity “dies” as you face and heal what parts of you are ready to go. We are talking limiting programming, thoughts, behaviours, beliefs, unconscious stuff that is currently operating in your life but you previously had no awareness of.
The first time someone experiences this can be shocking. If you are already in the habit of treating yourself badly, this is gonna scare the crap out of you. It is usually best to have a guide, a friend – some type of support. There will be pain and grief, especially if the stuff is deeply repressed and you still have resistance to it. If you ever watched Divergent there is a part in the movie where they go to the head of Candor and Tris take a truth serum. The head guy warns her saying, 'the harder you resist, the more pain you will have' – or something like that. This is like that. If you make it all the way to this place, it’s best to go all in and prepare to dive deep, cry a lot, be exhausted, and get really emotionally sloppy. It is what it is, and radical acceptance is your best friend here. Remember - the goal is your soul, your wholeness, truly loving yourself. So keep your eye on the prize, bite the bullet, and pay your dues to the healing gods. lol You won’t necessarily heal everything all at once, but the first chunk is usually a big one.
Having said all that - this (healing) is an ongoing lifestyle, so it does get easier. Think of it like this - let's say your Aunt Jane passes and you need to go clean up her house. You get there and are blasted in the face with old, funky smells, boxes piled high and barely any place to move. You realize Aunt Jane is a hoarder! This is your subconscious, the space you have never purposefully gone into and cleaned out before. Ever. And you have to clear some of that crap out so you can move, and you know, breathe – fresh air. And all the boxes, to continue the metaphor, were given to you by parents, friends and the community. This is your programming. Then there’s how you feel feels about it (stuck emotions) and all the hang ups caused by all that (your timeline of memories) which lead to the behaviours and choices you make. Aunt Jane, and probably you, didn't know any better and if you did, you probably didn’t want to offend anyone, so you kept everything and never threw it out even when it started to infringe on your ability to walk easily from one room to another (move from one experience to another with choice and not reaction)! So, yes, it can be emotional and dramatic because of all the stuff being released that you've worked really hard to hide away and hold on to for years.
On the bonus side though, once all that crap is removed you also get to realize and experience yourself as a being of divine creation with the power of unlimited possibility and potential available to you. You are energy, and energy is meant to flow – it is unlimited, it transforms and changes and when it ceases to exist in one form, you will find it in another. All the energy you are able to release comes back to you and can now be used in a way that is much more efficient and beneficial to you. So, Yay! That’s amazing and totally worth it.
"Once we let go of our massively false beliefs about perception (that we're seeing something real), we open up to a lot of new possibilities. Reality, it turns out, is a lot more fascinating and unexpected than we ever imagined." Pam Grout
Although the first half of this stage can seem daunting and expose many vulnerable parts which feel separate and disjointed, the second half of this phase reveals the true nature and wholeness of who you truly are – an energetic being having a physical experience, existing in a living field of energy of unconditional love designed to help you manifest anything you desire. How sweet is that?!
And once you realize this, you are likely to say two things.
First - "This is amazing and why did I wait so long to feel this good?"
Second, "Now what? How do I keep this going?"
Fourth Stage: Taking personal responsibility
After your old self “dies” and the new you, the true you is “reborn” or remembered, and you see how glorious and divine you are, you see your life from a new perspective
No longer encumbered by the fears and worries of the ego and in touch with your authentic values, you are able to create and set healthy boundaries that suit this new you. There is a lot play int his phase, trial and error but in a fun and adventurous way.
You will notice that things, people, habits and interests will shift – some might drift away, but it’s okay because now you are making better choices as you settle into the higher alignment you have achieved.
You learn tactics, tools and techniques to take care of yourself energetically as you re-define your 'reality', and take the time to build the structure in a way that supports your expansion and growth. Perhaps you are even discovering new purposes or passions. You are doing the work that it takes to design and set things up that suit the real you.
As I said, you get to play. What once caused stress and anxiety, now is about figuring out what works and doesn’t work for all involved, and feels more like a game than a need to get it “right” or be “perfect.” All that matters is being able to express the love and gratitude you naturally feel as a being of light and learning to grow into your real YOU.
Often, things that attracted you before like pop or processed foods don't hold the same appeal because your frequency has come to such a level that you're not in alignment with the habits of a lower frequency. You might notice you complain less, are more in tune with how you feel, are able to say “no” to others with love and have no guilt afterwards, and are able to take more time for yourself to recharge and connect to your Source energy, because you now understand what a priority this actually is.
Of course, this is life. You still continue to have good days, and bad ones. It’s just that the bad days aren’t so bad, and you feel lighter, more heart-centered in your decisions and feelings. You choose more than you react and, in general, you feel better. You feel like it’s easier to be generous with other people.