Tarot Cards from The Light Seers Tarot by Chris-Anne
What many people don’t realize about spiritual awakening is that it’s not necessarily full of dramatic signs from the heavens or dazzling visions. That’s not to say that strange things don’t happen. They do.
Many people think spiritual development has something to do with magical and psychic powers or “siddis” - but these gifts actually have very little to do with actual spiritual development.
A quick note about awakening. It can be sudden or it can be gradual over many decades. It can even be a combination of sudden awakenings with gradual unfoldment over a few years before another sudden awakening.
Here's my list (it's by no means the definitive list!) that to me, definitely signify real spiritual growth.
1. Certain things that you used to always get upset over no longer seem to have as much power.
Maybe it’s the proverbial toothpaste cap being left off. Maybe it’s the car that cuts you off in traffic. Maybe it’s the craziness in the news media.
Whatever it is, it just doesn’t seem to have the same power over you. It no longer triggers your frustration or irritation. This doesn’t have to be limited to feelings like frustration or anger, either. It could be a pattern with sadness or giving up hope too easily.
Again, these same situations now occur and they no longer phase you to the same degree. You may not like the situations themselves, but you’re more at peace with it.
This has nothing to do with having a “stiff upper lip” about it. The lack of reaction is actually effortless. It’s not about suppression. On some level, when you see those feelings arising, you see how dangerous they are to your inner peace. You simply don’t want to give up your inner peace anymore.
2. There are stretches of “time” where you notice your thinking is quiet but you are still very aware.
Actually, you are aware of being aware.
One of the major signs of spiritually awakening is a quieting of thoughts. More stillness. There is a timeless sense (which is why I put quotes on the word time above).
Practices such as formal meditation can help facilitate this, but there are many examples of people awakening without having engaged in any formal meditation.
In my experience, doing some form of meditation or practice of being present in the Now moment is probably a much better approach than simply waiting and hoping to grow spiritually. Although Life events can often orchestrate awakening opportunities, it's still up to you to choose when opportunities arise. Also, stillness doesn’t necessarily require you to be physically still. You can be "aware of being aware" while being actively engaged in something. Many for whom formal meditation doesn't appeal find gardening or walking in nature helpful.
There's also an element of Grace involved. In other words, spiritual awakening is not just some technical procedure. You cannot make it happen. Doing the work is definitely helpful but without Grace, nothing would happen.
Formal meditation or quiet walks can make it easier to notice stillness in the beginning. But eventually you begin to notice stillness even in the midst of an intense confrontation.
Many people have written about the flow state from a psychological perspective. This idea was first expressed by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is a state where a person engages in an activity such as sports or art or something else that absorbes their attention completely. They are ultra aware and seem to know what’s going to happen next.
I personally have experienced this many times while performing music. This is what musicians are truly aiming for. To forget their “little self” and to soar.
What we are discussing here however, is being "aware of being aware" in all areas of your life. No matter what you are engaged in, there is an awareness of being aware while you do the action. Some call this the witnessing state.
In flow states, it’s my understanding that people tend to require a certain activity to fall into it.
With spiritual awakening, you could have gaps in thought while waiting in line at the bank or doing mundane chores around the house. You could be silent within while listening to someone speak to you - instead of thinking of something else or how you might respond. The particular activity doesn't matter. The sense of being separate is softened (or even completely transcended) regardless.
3. You have a deeper appreciation of nature.
Perhaps you’ve always appreciated nature. But now you see a deeper dimension that shines through it.
It’s especially easy to see with flowers and trees.
The colours seem to be deeper and more vibrant and you can sense the life vibrating and humming in all that you see.
This is also connected with having a quieter mind, of course. Having a quieter mind allows you to observe nature without the usual sense of separation and being in nature also makes it easier to quiet your mind.
4. You notice more synchronistic events.
You’re not consciously looking for synchronicity, but it suddenly jumps out at you in very obvious ways.
In the past, perhaps you deliberately looked for signs and symbols. And even if you saw them, your busy thinking mind would create doubts about what you’d seen.
There's a phenomenon called the "frequency illusion." Say you're thinking of buying a red car. Suddenly, you begin to notice red cars everywhere when you hadn't noticed them much previously.
However when you are spiritually awakening, these events show up when they’re meant to without any effort on your part to make them happen.
These synchronicities help support your connection with all of Life as you can sense it on a level that is beyond the thinking mind. You no longer feel like a passive bystander. You feel more like a co-creator with all of Life.
5. You enjoy your solitude when you are by yourself.
In the past, whenever you were alone, you would text a friend or mindlessly scroll on the internet. Or find some other way to distract yourself from the discomfort of being alone.
And if you did actually spend time with yourself, you very quickly hit a wall of boredom.
Now you actually look forward to those windows of opportunity to be alone. You realize that you enjoy your own company. You’re more at ease with yourself.
Boredom is mostly a thing of the past. You might just sit and enjoy your own company or you might engage yourself in something creative. You might do both.
Either way, you no longer mind those times when you are alone. In fact, you savour them.
6. Even when facing challenges, you feel a sense of peace in the background.
Prior to your awakening experience(s), challenges seemed more like problems that had to be fixed. If you couldn’t fix them, you couldn’t allow yourself to feel much happiness or joy in life. Sometimes they would stress you out to the point that you would even lose sleep overnight.
I realize there are certain stressors in life that even when we have awakened, will still influence us and possibly even affect our health. But after spiritual awakening, even those kinds of stress have less power than they might. Once awakening has begun, we will still feel the effects but will bounce back more quickly than we otherwise would have.
Now you face challenges with a deep sense of peace always there. It may not be front and centre all the time! But it’s there nonetheless giving you a sense of courage and strength to do what you can and to let go of the rest.
Sometimes it seems as if you are making a conscious choice to remember to choose peace in the middle of some chaotic situation and other times it will be effortless.
Those times that you do feel as if you are choosing peace is actually because you are connected to higher states of consciousness. The separate sense of self never willingly chooses peace.
7. You no longer buy into as many of your negative feelings and thoughts.
Ok, this one dovetails with number 1. But I felt that it deserved it’s own little spotlight. We are all prone to negative feelings and thoughts.
These thoughts occur on the unconscious or subconscious level. Both these words mean the same thing here.
Subconscious thoughts are simply those thoughts which you are not aware of.
When things happen in your life that trigger a strong reaction in you, this is an opportunity to become aware of your subconscious thoughts.
When you are feeling fine and are not triggered, your subconscious thoughts are lying dormant in your subconscious.
In some models of the subconscious, the lower chakras are used. If you aren’t familiar with the chakra system from yoga, don’t worry. It’s just a different conceptual model to describe the same thing.
Painting by Mary Ely
Painting by Mary Ely
The main thing to realize is that when your negative subconscious thoughts and feelings are triggered, it’s an opportunity to be conscious of them.
Being conscious of them means that you have a bit of distance from them. They aren’t completely taking over your body and mind.
You see through them to a greater degree because there's a bit of distance. You have the experience that you are not them - you are the spacious awareness upon which they are projected.
They may still have a very strong energetic pull, but you refuse to be pulled in by them.
And this is a beautiful snowball effect. The more you can let go of wanting to believe negative thoughts and feelings, the more you want to let go of wanting to believe them!
This is because you begin to feel better and better. Your low points begin to be even higher than your previous high points.
8. Your relationships generally improve although some outdated ones will fall away.
This one almost goes without saying. Do you enjoy being around people who complain or express negative feelings a lot? Or the type of person who always needs to be right in any discussion?
When you’ve begun to spiritually awaken, you’re a much easier person to be around. You create and get involved in less drama.
People who are meant to stay on your path with whom you are in a relationship of some kind will probably want to be around you. They’ll stay and your connection will be even easier. The ones who want to feed on pain or drama will either upgrade and stay - or leave your life.
It’s actually pretty cool to see someone raise their consciousness when you’ve raised yours. You don’t have to try to change them or fix them. If you do, you know that you’ve fallen back into ego.
You’re willing to allow people to be the way that they are. It doesn’t mean you never try to sell them on your ideas. And if you do, you’re ok if they don’t want to listen. You don’t force it.
But you will be amazed at how often people will come around! Not always, of course. But it’s definitely been a form of miracle that I’ve witnessed many times in my own experience.
And, don't worry. If they don't upgrade their consciousness, they probably won't stick around. If they do, you will find a way to keep them at a distance. At the very least, if it seems you have no choice but to have them in your life to some degree, they will no longer be able to trigger you as easily.
9. You no longer expect the world to make you happy.
There’s a classic song from country music by Johnny Lee called “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places.”
Regardless if you’re familiar with the song or not, it sums up beautifully the fundamental mistake people are making prior to spiritually awakening.
Before spiritual awareness, we’re thinking that something in the world will make us happy. A new car. A new job. A certain goal. A certain relationship. More money. More fame. A promotion. A new house. We run around endlessly trying to make these things happen believing that they are the source of our happiness.
But what we find is that even when we get the things we wanted, once we’ve had them for a while, the shine starts to wear off. That’s because nothing in the world has the power to make you happy. Any happiness you ever feel comes from within.
Sure, it’s seems easier to be happy when things are going our way. But is that really true?
Think of those times in your life when just seeing your child laugh or a pet stretch and yawn or a beautiful sunset allowed happiness to spontaneously burst through!
And look at so many who are rich and famous and seem to have everything that’s supposed to make you happy who are not truly happy at all.
I’ll admit that it’s definitely easier to enjoy life when things are running smoothly. But the fact that things are running smoothly is not the source of any happiness or inner peace. The fact that things are running smoothly sometimes allows our egos to relax a bit so that the happiness and joy that are at our core can shine through.
I want to make it clear. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having or being or doing what you want! By all means, enjoy it! Go for it!
Just don’t lose yourself in it and forget that the source of happiness is from within. It has no form. You cannot see it or touch it. You can only feel it from within.
Next time you notice that you feel happy, check to find out where it’s actually coming from. Is it coming from that person, place or thing? Or is it originating with you?
10. You have an inner sense that death is not the end.
In some way that cannot be put into words, you feel the sense of transcendence within you and all around you. You see the cycles and recognize they are merely changing forms.
The forms change but you recognize there is something that is changeless. You have a sense that this changeless awareness is what gives life to material form.
Of course you still grieve when you experience the loss of a loved one - whether human or furry friend!
But this grieving is softened by your intuitive understanding that they haven’t actually gone anywhere - where else could they go that is separate from you…Beingness Itself.
One final thought...stay alert for any pride or feelings of superiority creeping in from any apparent spiritual awakening experiences!