There are many paths to a spiritual awakening. Near Death Experiences are in the news and on many book shelves. People are finding other realms with spiritual teachers, drugs, in nature, with music, drumming, dance, or chanting. Others find an experience of their own divinity in extreme sports, life crises, or in the course of losing a loved one. People can find awakening while gardening, parenting, and caring for the less fortunate. People report experiences of spiritual awakening in dreams, meditation, heart full prayer, or simply just being very present in the moment. There seem to be many avenues to a spiritual awakening but they all have one thing in common.
What is common to all spiritual awakening is when we get out of our normal mental world, our awareness finds something greater. At the time we think it is the near death experience, drug, extreme sport, music, nature, or sudden life crises that is the cause of our awakening. But with further exploration we begin to understand it is when our awareness is set free of the routine busy-ness, when we drop the mental baggage we are carrying, we discover another part of ourselves. All the different paths towards a spiritual awakening seem to suggest it is not the activity itself, it is not what we do that counts. It is what is happening within us that is important. The particular path towards spiritual awakening is an impulse to something very deep and integral to our essential self, our higher self, to God inside of us.
Indeed each spiritual awakening has many common details no matter what stimulated the experience. We find a very present love or light which is more real then real. Beyond words, this love or light is not observed, thought about, or imagined but is literal, directly present. In these moments our awareness is the light. We are the love. It is who we really are. There is an ever growing vastness, a border-less experience beyond our mind, beyond our body, seemingly spreading forever. In this expansive realm there is only heart that is mysteriously deep inside our heart. And this heart lives forever. Eternity is very real . The spiritual awakening is an experience of our infinite being. There is literally a home for each of us that we recognize and return to.
Many who have these experiences don't really want to talk about it. We hide the experience from ourselves and others. Not wanting to receive what is really happening, not wanting to sound different in our judgmental world, many experiences of spiritual awakening sit within people for years yet never go away. A spiritual awakening is too real to put aside, forget, and move on from. It is always a part of us.
No matter how we arrive at the spiritual awakening we feel changed. Our personality, likes and dislikes, our personal story, our material needs, everything is seen differently. There is something more. Our spiritual awakening has given us a glimpse into another realm into another world. Who am I?
This glimpse into something so freeing from life's challenges, we naturally want to experience more. We want to live in the awakening. We want to be this love, light. We want to return to this incredible peace. But despite our experience being so significant, our old personality, habits, daily story stands between us and being fully awakened. Our personality and all its wishes to be comfortable and in control resumes. We yearn for being home again in the vastness while finding ourselves living with the same old home, with the same old furniture, with the same old dishes and floor needing a good cleaning.
What all the different paths toward an awakening experience have in common is that when our normal mental life is turned off or down, the awareness of the heart of life is dramatically much higher. People who have a Near Death Experience literally have their mental life turned off. Maybe this is why their awakening experience is often so totally vivid, other worldly, and life changing. In all experiences of awakening another part of us comes forward. In the awakening experience life itself is brilliantly present. In this moment we know that life continues beyond the body. There is no thought or feeling to the contrary. In fact when we are in the awakening experience there are no thoughts, no feelings, the experience itself fills our awareness, totally. There is nothing else.
Many people who have experiences of spiritual awakening after coming back into their life story feel as if they are two people. There is the everyday life and there is the spiritual awakening. The two realities feel so far apart, separate. We don't realize the key to being one person is becoming free of our overly mental world which has resulted in us sacrificing our hearts. Our constant thoughts are a heavy filter standing between us and the light. Our mental life filters the pure love in our heart to little or no love.
We are not two people. There is only one awareness. As we embrace our spiritual awakening, as we absorb life's beauty, we are the love. We lessen our mental baggage as we practice letting go of what is not important and absorbing our pure heart in meditation and the heart of others in daily life. We do not wait for the greater realms, give up, or just struggle. We can practice drinking the heart of life in all that we do, in all we meet, and most important from within ourselves. Our spiritual awakening continues. The rocks, boulders, obstacles of all kinds move aside as the awakening grows. We are called to absorb our awakening by receiving the pure presence in our heart. We are letting go, enjoying the divinity in our human journey.
Bruce Davis is retreat leader at Silent Stay Retreat Home & Hermitage near Napa, California where people who have had experiences of spiritual awakening come to explore the silence of their heart, beautiful nature, and grow further in their awakening.