Being awakened to who we really are, and then when we aren’t

We might have awakened to who we really are, but life has somehow got in the way. It can get hard to stay on track, spiritually-speaking, when in the so-called real world there’s so much going on.

It’s important to be clear what lit us up, what our vision was and still is, and to address what’s getting in the way and find ways to stay on track. I’ll share a bit about myself.

An awakening experience

For me, my awakening followed a series of major events that caused me to question where I was going. This included a bitter separation and then the death of my beloved mother. I realised I felt dead inside and decided to make some big changes, one of which was to start meditating, which I have now, with one interruption, continued for over 35 years. Another was to do my first personal development programme, where I faced my demons.

The climax was when, in a group meditation, I experienced a huge golden ring of light in front of me, vibrating with a powerful, warm, loving energy, and saw streams of rays coming towards me on all sides of the ring. I just said, inside, “I love you. You love me. And it’s OK”. Everything felt completely right, calm, peaceful and utterly simple.

That experience has stayed with me ever since, but there have also been challenges.

I came away from the programme determined to do more, and eventually it led me into turning my teaching experience into facilitating the personal development of others. Spiritually though, it also helped give me a bedrock that has sustained me ever since. Among many other things, I learned that, in ultimate reality, all there is is love.

The experience contains some of the classic elements that people report in awakening experiences. The trigger was all around loss and bereavement which impelled me into far deeper understandings. For example, before the experience described above, I had cried buckets over the loss of my mother but also learned masses about relationship, love and loving, stuff I had from infancy closed off from. The flood-gates had opened.

How the impetus can fade

Do experiences like this last? They do for some, but less so for others. It’s well-known that after such awakenings people can, gradually over time, lose the impetus and can even find themselves doubting the validity of what had happened and sliding back into their former selves, perhaps with an added dose of cynicism. Sometimes we call it the “hope-disillusionment cycle”. We hope it’s going to be great, but it doesn’t turn out like that and we revert back to the same old rut. We also call it “comfortable discomfort” since we can make it OK, but we still know it isn’t and we’re still feeling unfulfilled.

Then there’s the social pressures, like the impact our personal development has on the family and our loved ones. Others aren’t into it and can find ways to pull us back. We might lose friends in the process, but the new ones gradually drop off. We might compare ourselves with others who, in the so-called real world are doing OK, and all we’ve got is a lot of debt. Money pressures might multiply. The spiritual world can seem to compete with the material one, like they’re separate. We might be very busy with our lives and haven’t the time for spiritual things, and the latter gets put on the back burner. The distractions are many. I could go on!

The power of the ego

A short and simple way of putting it is that the ego has got its hold back and it isn’t letting go without a fight.

The opposite polarity to Oneness is separation and duality, and its many guises and companions, like aloneness, isolation, abandonment, not feeling loved, alienated, not part of the group, excluded, not good enough, a failure. When we feel separate from the Whole, fear arises. It’s existential. When we die, that might be it. Nothing. A very scary space.

So we resist it like mad. A vision of Oneness can be followed by a hasty retreat.

Bottom-line pressures can cut across our growth needs. Our challenge, for most of us, is to retain our connectedness to spirituality and also live in this so-called real world.

The ego is the illusory, false or limited self. The ego, as I’ve written here many times, is about survival. It served a useful purpose, many suggest, in helping us grow up and cope in the world, but it’s also limiting, in that this self, this identity, who we think we are, limits our growth potential. Hence part of one’s growth work can be in resolving which parts of us are those that really serve us, and which hold us back.

Thus we can be disconnected from that which we really seek.

Unless we work on it and hold to our vision.

Spiritual practice is important

For me, the course I did was followed by another where I met Akasha, the love of my life. It was also then followed by a number of trainings, particularly in Gestalt Therapy, and that included an obligatory and very useful period of therapy for myself.

However, what I want to stress is that I sustained my meditation throughout. Having at least one spiritual practice was essential, a daily meeting place with my Self.

People have different ways of doing this and it’s worth exploring a few but then settling on one or two that really work for you. It ideally can include not just one you do on your own but also some contact with others who can constructively support you in what you’re doing.

Further trainings are also useful, especially to build self-awareness, as is stressed a lot in these posts. Personal study can be a great help, for example to learn more about the path you are engaged upon, and how to realise your vision.

If you hold to the vision and commit to work on it, and commitment is also important, then you tend to need at least one practice that supports your chosen path. Such practice can become a treasure.