7 ‘Ah Ha’ Moments From My Spiritual Awakening Journey
About a decade ago, spirituality wasn’t even on my radar. I was too busy searching for the cold hard cash I thought I needed to be ‘somebody’. Now, since I didn’t really have the chops to do anything actually entrepreneurial back then, I started to read about those who had already ‘made it’ instead. Luckily this was how I ended up on the spiritual detour I’m still on today.
It started by discovering that the last gift of Steve Jobs to his nearest and dearest wasn’t an iPad. Instead it was a book: “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. Being a wannabe tech entrepreneur, this piqued my interest so I ordered it immediately.
It wasn’t the easiest read, especially for someone who hadn’t read much more than the backside of a cereal box since being force fed “Of mice and men” many years previously. But it was profound. So profound, that any entrepreneurial aspirations I had largely fizzled out and were replaced by a burning desire to experience what I had read about in this book.
So that is where the journey began. From trying to escape one reality by becoming a ‘somebody’ to trying to escape myself by trying to become a ‘no body’. It certainly took long enough to see that neither route would bear any real fruit. Still, there were some valuable lessons to be learned from this game of spiritual awakening along the way. Here I will share the ones that stand out as ‘Ah ha’ moments for me. Hopefully at least one of them might do the same for you.
Let’s dive in at the deep end and address the elephant in the room or should I say the elephant in our heads – the automatic voice or thought process generally referred to as the ‘monkey mind‘.
1. The voice in our heads is not the one waking up.
We all have a voice in our heads. A constant stream of thought on autopilot. Usually it repeats the same old shit, day in, day out. Almost everyone interprets this voice as the gospel of ‘me’. As in we believe it to be who we are; even when it’s berating us.
Waking up means realising that we are not the voice. We may be schizophrenic, but we’re not the voice. Yes we’re on the receiving end of it, but we are not it. It’s a subtle realisation that might cause some inner conflict or confusion and that’s ok. The key here is that we need to create a space between us and the voice in our heads.
Why? because when there’s a space we have a choice in how we react. We can see that it’s not actually the outside situation that determines if we feel good or bad but instead it’s our interpretation of it.
So we have a choice. Listen to the monkey and react or take a step back to consider alternatives. This is obviously easier said than done, but it can make all the difference between a good day and a shit day.
The bottom line is, when it comes to spiritual awakening, the voice in our heads is not the one waking up. Even the one desperately seeking enlightenment is not the one waking up. The voice in our heads is the one that needs to quieten down and relax so a real awakening can occur.
Even after years of meditation this was a bombshell for me to realise. It’s not something we can just see and forget, it’s something that must be kept alive in each moment by remembering.
2. The voice in our heads is neither good or bad. Identifying with it is.
There is a voice in our heads. This much we know.
At an existential level (the level we’re concerned about from a spiritual perspective) what the voice says is neither good or bad. When we’re attempting to consciously evolve, the weight or field of influence the voice carries becomes less and less. This is because when we create a space between ourselves and the thought process we naturally create a capacity to consciously act from awareness instead of reacting automatically to whatever is triggered within us.
The process of spiritual awakening as well as our whole life experience hinges on our sense of identity. What we identify with we become in a sense. When we drop what we identify with, one by one, we are left with what we are at the subtlest level.
The two beasts we are striving to disidentify with in the spiritual game are the body and the mind. Refusing to be carried away with what the monkey mind is droning on about is the practice of dis-identification. You can do this all day long as you go about your day and you can also do it more formally with a meditation practice.
3. Your Higher Self can communicate in the same way as the monkey mind.
The monkey mind is just a puppet who thinks it’s real and we have allowed that puppet to steal the show. Intuition is the force that sticks its hand up the monkeys butt every now and again in attempt to guide us back to our highest good. The problem is we may not always realise we’re being guided and therefore revert to ‘puppet mode’.
The problem here is that the delivery method is the same. Metaphorically, it’s the same driver bringing you parcels except one of them keeps bringing you a bunch of crap you never (consciously) ordered and the other is bringing you little nuggets of wisdom every now and again. The trick here is that we need to be able to tell the difference.
So how do we do that?
All I can say from experience is, that the two have a distinct difference. The voice of intuition sparks a curiosity in you. It almost feels surprising, as if it came from somewhere unexpected or different to your default mode of thinking. As we begin to cultivate a discernment between the two we become more capable of telling the difference. Therefore we become more likely to follow our true path instead of getting caught in a loop of hesitation and fear.
As an example, one of the most potent and impactful ‘parcels’ I’ve been delivered from this ‘still small voice’ was around the topic of identity. It went like this:
“The more you identify with me, the more my light shines through”.The Voice of Intuition or Consciousness itself
This was accompanied by waves of energy and it really felt like a light bulb went off in my head. It might sound strange but it really felt like it was delivered by something our of the ordinary. Something I interpreted as consciousness itself.
This message underscored the existence of such a voice and the importance of our perspective when it comes to identity. Identifying with this voice instead of the monkey is the catalyst for receiving more guidance from it.
Of course we don’t always need a voice in our heads to know what to do next. Life itself can be an even better guide, we just need to learn how to listen to it. Sometimes we just have to look a little closer at what it is pointing out and the ‘we just know’. It’s like turning off the GPS to pay more attention to our surroundings. There’s a certain vulnerability to this that requires a sense of surrender and in my experience, this takes practice.
4. On some level, we are consciousness itself. The feeling “I AM” is the doorway to experiencing this directly.
Traditionally, science has hypothesised that consciousness resides in the brain of the human being alone, but this new scientific paradigm from Dr. Rupert Sheldrake where consciousness is all pervading and the whole universe is conscious. This is no different to what has been said by spiritual traditions for millennia.
Being on the spiritual path, means we don’t believe or disbelieve any of this. Scientific or not. We want to know directly. A simple means of doing so is to rest in the moderately tangible feeling of “I AM”. Staying with this feeling, undistracted, is like knocking on a door. If we stay at any door long enough it’s bound to open right? We might not be delivered a thesis stating this truth when the door opens, but maybe will get something infinitely more valuable – a direct perception of it.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of such a teaching, It can become complex if our minds want it to; whole books have been written about it as proof of this. Anyway simplicity is what makes this meditation a seemingly impossible mission for a monkey mind that doesn’t want to power off for even a moment.
5. Sincerity is a prerequisite for spiritual growth.
Relatively recently I started to encounter the term ‘spiritual bypassing’ quite a bit. I didn’t know what it meant exactly but I was pretty sure I’d done it. It took a while to realise that a lot of what my mind had been framing as spiritual growth was in actual fact ‘spiritual bypassing’.
Spiritual bypassing is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks”source: Wikipedia
In everyday terminology, spiritual bypassing is also known as bullshitting yourself. And bullshitting yourself can only get you so far, ask this poor pheasant. By being sincerely willing to face the dark sides of our selves we increase our chances of real growth exponentially.
It might not be easy or the road most people take, but at some point, progress on the spiritual path means no stone can be left unturned. This is why sincerity is key. When we’re not sincere, we’ll leave out all the crap we’d rather not face and bury our heads in the sand or cover it in a facade of being ‘holier than thou’ or ‘ultra spiritual’.
Everyone is wounded to some degree, not everyone chooses to heal. There comes a time in life where that is a choice we all have to make.
6. Denying OR being defined by our humanness are both not the answer.
Using spirituality to deny our humanity is not a rabbit hole you want to go down. True spirituality encompasses all and denies nothing. Like all of these points, this is another one I’ve experienced first hand. The pain of existing in the belief that ‘this is who I am’ with all its imperfections was so great in me that it became the driving force in my search for some deeper meaning. Life experience had led me to falsely believe that I wasn’t enough the way I was. Experiencing first hand that there was more to me than what I had originally thought was a saving grace in many ways. Even if I didn’t know what that was.
While there are plenty of spiritual traditions encouraging the denial of certain aspects of ourselves, namely our physicality (e.g asceticism), I believe they are fundamentally concerned with dialling down identification with certain aspects in order to get a glimpse of something much more subtle.
On the other hand, “I’m only human” has become a worldwide maxim. It’s as if it’s a curse to be the most evolved creature on the planet.
But we are not only human. We are human beings and ‘being human‘ is much more than we really know what to do with. It’s like having the latest iPhone and only using it to send text messages to ourselves saying how crap we are.
Only when we are aware of the totality of what it means to be a human and a being simultaneously, do we see that our flaws are not there to define who we are or what we can become. They might be the reason we refer to ourselves as ‘only human’, but contained in our flaws are the lessons we came to learn so therefore they are really our gifts.
Accepting and embracing who we are at a very grounded and human level is as important as realising and experiencing our more divine nature. So make loving yourself a priority, especially the parts you don’t like.
7. We fear our own power the most.
Powerlessness is a choice. It’s easier to give our power away than it is to take responsibility for everything we are. Being powerful creators means we take full responsibility for where we end up and that can be a bitter pill to swallow when we end up somewhere undesirable. (And yes I am aware there are people in all sorts of horrible life situations through no apparent fault of their own. All I know is that taking responsibility empowers while blaming or resenting takes power away).
Embracing our power is embracing who we are and that can be scary because it opens the doors to judgement and criticism. But what alternative do we have if we are to be sincere? To deny who we are would be to deny life and life and spirituality are one and the same.
Everyone is on the spiritual path, some people are doing it on purpose and others are not, that’s all. This quote sums it up better than I ever could:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Marianne Williamson
So that’s my lot folks, there’s been so many lessons so far on this journey and I’m sure there’ll be many more. These are the pivotal ones from my journey. Please share any of yours in the comments below.