Spiritual awakening is a tricky process to navigate. If you don’t know where you are on your journey, it’s easy to get lost, get stuck and give up. But if you identify where you are in the process, you can swiftly move on to the next phase. So, here are the 12 stages of spiritual awakening everybody has to go through.
Life is just, because everybody starts equally. Not from a financial point of view, not regarding the life circumstances, but spiritually. We all start from the stage of unconsciousness, it’s just that some of us move past that. The rest, which is perhaps 90% of the people, die in blissful – or more probably stressful – ignorance, without ever touching the spiritual dimension of life.
In the unconscious stage, you’re living life like a sleepwalker, programmed by society and conditioned by the past. Your goal in life are survival and emotional well-being, and you’re not yet able to see past the material veil. Spiritually you are asleep, living in ignorance and illusion, led by the unconscious impulses of your ego.
The second stage of spiritual awakening is the questioning phase. A small spark of consciousness ignites your soul, and your old life suddenly doesn’t make sense any more. The strong grip of your beliefs start to loosen up, they become more malleable, and your identity, goals and ambitions begin to loose ground.
Is there all there is to life? This question doesn’t let you sleep, it’s like a worm in the brain that’s slowly eating you up from the inside. You feel that something isn’t right, that something is missing, that something has to change, but you don’t quite know what. Soon, something really bad is about to happen indeed.
In the second stage, your life was just starting to fall apart internally, but in the next one, it becomes totally shattered by an external trauma. Maybe you lose your job, you go bankrupt, you move to a new city, you break up with your partner, you lose a loved one or you simply encounter some new information that radically transforms your worldview. Either way, your old ways are not sustainable any more, and the shock of the event makes you realize this without a shadow of a doubt.
Although you already know it, you’re not quite ready to accept it. That’s where denial, the fourth stage of awakening comes in. You try to reverse the process, you try to go back to your old ways, you try to undo what’s been done. But you can’t unsee what you’ve already seen once. You can’t go back to your spiritual sleep, because you’re simply too awake for that. When you stop resisting the inevitable, you accept that there’s no turning back from this point.
The next stage is the true start of your spiritual awakening journey. You break with your old life, and plunge into the new with all your heart. Either literally or symbolically, you say goodbye to the things that defined you in the past in the favor of something new. Although your old life is gone, the new hasn’t really arrived yet, so you are in a spiritual no man’s land, filled with questions and confusion, but also with curiosity and adventure.
The sixth stage of spiritual awakening can be called the hermit stage. You’re either abandoned by your family and friends, or you decide to distance yourself from them, at least for a while. You know you need to figure this out for yourself, and nobody can really help. They wouldn’t understand you anyway.
When I was in this hermit stage of my own spiritual journey, I literally became a wandering mystic, hiking in the mountains and sometimes even sleeping in caves. Although you don’t necessarily have to be that hardcore, but you’ll want to have space for yourself, and it’s recommended that you be mostly alone during this phase, to be able to look deeper within.
The next stage is usually the longest but often the most exciting. It can be labeled as the road of trials, in which you’re learning and practicing, trying and failing, winning and struggling. This is a phase of discovery, the discovery of spiritual truths and self-knowledge. The spiritual search has now kicked into full pace.
You are obsessed with knowing the truth of who you are, you are devouring books like a starving animal, hungry for answers. It is often in this phase that you find a mentor, a master or a spiritual teacher, who helps guide you into the right direction. In the thick spiritual fog, moments of clarity start to spontenously arise, and you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After you’ve struggled enough on your own, the universe arrives to your rescue in the form of helpful signs that function as guiding stars in the dark night. When synchronicity appears on your spiritual journey, it’s a sign that you’ve arrived to the eighth stage. The signs may come in the form of dreams, visions, sounds or lucky coincidences. You’ll feel as if your life has become a mystical adventure.
Inch-by-inch you are getting closer to yourself, slowly becoming who you truly are. You become fully aware in what specific ways your parents misguided you, and how society is conditioning and limiting you. You rebel against your personality and step into your true power with authenticity: you become a true individual.
Your repressed potentials find expression on the surface, you re-engage your childhood dreams, you claim your spiritual gifts. Your personality changes for the better, and people around you start to notice it. You feel like a completely different person, full of courage, purpose and passion. This is a psychological rebirth in itself, but not the ultimate one yet.
This stage is guided by your intuition, instead of the old social norms or spiritual dogma. With each passing day, you trust yourself more and more, and you also love yourself increasingly. You spontaneously know what to do in every situation, and you do what’s necessary without hesitation. You may even leave your spiritual teacher, because now you feel capable of guiding yourself towards enlightenment.
But you may be in for a great surprise. When everything seemed to be going so well, you may experience a seemingly huge setback. This challenging phase is referred to as the dark night of the soul, and it’s the tenth stage of the spiritual awakening process. But if you’re going through this, don’t be discouraged: it’s a sign that you’re close to enlightenment.
The duration of this phase varies greatly: it can be days but even years. One thing is for sure: the more you resist it, the longer it lasts. When it’s finally over, and the dark clouds give way to the eternal sunshine, you arrive to the 11th stage of awakening: spiritual enlightenment.
I’ve spoken about this topic abundantly elsewhere, so here I won’t go into details. But what most people don’t know is that it’s not enough to be enlightened once, you have to embody it until the rest of your life. Embodiment is the last stage of awakening, because you actually have to be vigilant not to fall into a spiritual sleep once again. Once you fully open your eyes, you realize that the truth is so beautiful that you don’t want to lose sight of it ever again.
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