5 stages of spiritual awakening are five symptoms I’ve personally experienced on my own path of spiritual awakening.
I’m still on the spiritual path (– and likely always will be).
Honestly, over the last few years I’ve gone through so many personal + professional changes.
It has felt lonely at times.
– It has felt like I’ve been heading into the unknown, every day!
So, I found it really cathartic to write about these 5 stages of spiritual awakening.
It would be an extra blessing if these reflections helped other highly sensitive empaths and introverts to go through spiritual change.
First, I should start by clarifying the term: spiritual awakening.
What does spiritual awakening actually mean?
For me, a spiritual awakening indicates a powerful change in conscious awareness, that can be sudden or gradual.
It can be a shift of perspective that changes how you see yourself, your life + your function in the world.
For many people, a spiritual awakening is simply a realisation that:
- you are more than your body;
- you are a ‘spiritual being having a human experience’ and;
- you are connected to everything within the universe, part of an interdependent whole.
You know, that ‘oneness’ thing, that spiritual types bang on about?
Rather than being religious and following a set of rules, spirituality is about developing a personal and direct relationship with the divine.
A spiritual awakening exists outside of religious dogma.
Partly because the word ‘God’ has negative associations.
These three letters have been synonymous with organised religion for centuries. (That idea of an authoritarian ‘man in a cloud’ looking down on us all, in judgement!)
When talking about ‘God’ in relation to spirituality and spiritual awakening, I prefer to use the words ‘creator’, ‘universal energy’, ‘source’, ‘spirit’ or ‘the divine’ instead.
This intimate relationship includes recognising the divine in yourself, your surroundings, your life experiences and other people.
Here are 5 stages of spiritual awakening that I’ve noticed over the years.
Can you add any stages or signs to the list?
5 stages of spiritual awakening: #1 – Self-care
There’s been a self-care explosion in recent years.
Against the tide of popularity, the word ‘self-care’ is occasionally dismissed as “the snowflake generation’s excuse for self-centred behaviour.“
As a highly sensitive empath + introvert, I see self-care very differently.
When you tap into a deeper part of yourself – via self-care – you start to experience yourself from a higher, soul perspective.
Your mind and body interlink with ‘the higher self’.
When this happens, it’s a natural response to want to nurture your connection to source. When connected to this ‘higher power’ good feelings flow.
Enthusiasm, lightness, play, living in the moment, creativity, a sense of wonder, laughter and fun. These states are all natural aspects of childhood, that often get crushed under the daily grind of being an adult.
The subsequent disconnect, coupled with an absorption of unhealthy messages from society (via advertising, governments, media, peer groups, fashion and education). All these can lead to coping mechanisms and crutches to fill the void inside.
During my spiritual awakening, I started to feel differently. This change automatically birthed a desire to treat my ‘true self’ better.
I started to examine my destructive behaviours; negative relationships; addictions (- to drama, food or alcohol, worry, etc); patterns of self-sabotage and blind-spots in self-awareness.
My YouTube video ‘5 stages of spiritual awakening: #1 – Self-care’ briefly explains:
During the first stage of spiritual awaking, a door opens, our perspective changes, a light goes on and our next steps become clearer. We get a glimpse of our soul’s potential in this lifetime.
It’s instinctive to want to take action in alignment with that insight.
You may be guided to start new habits, as well as drop the old ones no longer serving your spiritual growth.
New pastimes and interests develop…
,… yoga, meditation or exercise; time in nature;
… changes in your environment, diet and/or other forms of consumption;
… solitude; stronger boundaries; more self-respect;
… a desire to get our financial affairs in order;
… an unwillingness to stay silent or take responsibility for other people’s problems; changing what and who you give your precious time to;
… journalling; therapy or healing;
… resuscitating hobbies that we enjoyed when you were younger;
… facing the past; travel and a hunger for spiritual knowledge…
All these acts of self-care support your ability to get more clear on what our heart calls us to do with our life.
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5 stages of spiritual awakening: #2 – Relationships
Your outer world reflects your inner one. Therefore, as your relationship with your true self changes you will notice a ripple effect in your social network.
Perhaps you yearn for a deeper connection with others, crave more meaning in your personal / professional life, or find the strength to refuse to put up with other people’s s**t.
Relationships you felt were long-standing and permanent may feel less reliable or sustainable.
You may be presented with a choice point about whether or not to continue investing your time and energy in certain affiliations.
Loss and change are an inevitable part of life. Philosopher André Gide put it well when he said:
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
A spiritual bond with the divine strengthens your inner scaffolding and brings a sense of comfort, peace and safety as you venture into the unknown.
Though gaping holes may appear in the fabric of your life, these are not a symptom of poverty and lack. These are the spaces needed for new ideas, experiences and people to enter. They should be welcomed.
You may feel orphaned and crave to belong to a group, family or community. Yet, you can choose to create your own family of like-minded souls in time. Be you and your tribe will find you.
You are never alone – and you never feel lonely when you are your own best friend.
5 stages of spiritual awakening: #3 – Empathy
Whatever has triggered a shift inside you – a trauma, a soul mate connection, an existential crisis or simply a desire to move on – a spiritual awakening opens the heart chakra.
This chakra is associated with compassion, self-acceptance, good relationships, balance (-it’s the middle chakra) and capacity for intimacy.
As your heart chakra opens you may be challenged to address any issues of:
sacrifice, in exchange for self-esteem or acceptance.
When these shadow aspects of the heart chakra come into view, you may also experience pain as stored memories of past hurts are released so that the heart chakra can function more effectively.
You are particularly sensitive to your own suffering at this stage. Consequently, you are more attuned to the suffering of others.
This sensation extends to an awareness of the planet’s suffering, including animals and the environment.
It is important for us to be kind to yourself move through this healing process, and not to push away or repress difficult emotions as they arise.
Blocks are being removed therefore it’s vital you adopt the attitude of ‘my feelings are my friends’.
Because you are becoming more whole and part of that means accepting your shadow (– the parts of our character that we prefer to deny).
You will also be healing old wounds and releasing emotions that are stuck in your energy body due to being suppressed in the past – usually because it did not feel safe to fully experience them at the time.
Try to view any discomfort with detachment. Know that ‘this too shall pass‘. It is only a temporary symptom on the road to more joy and connectedness.
Journalling, healing and other forms of self-expression can be helpful at this stage of spiritual awakening.
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5 stages of spiritual awakening: #4 – Intuition
As you start to attune with and accept the full spectrum of your human emotions you realise that your feelings are your spiritual SatNav, a device that keeps you on track and out of ‘danger’.
You start to be able to differentiate between your own feelings (and baggage) and what belongs to other people.
If you are a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) this stage can bring increased confidence as you begin to trust your emotions and cease being disoriented by other people’s ‘stuff’.
Incidentally, it is very difficult to develop intuition when you are out of touch with your own emotions, which is why people whose modus operandi is explicitly cerebral can find it difficult to access their intuition to its fullest capacity.
As you start to understand the subtleties of your unique GPS, it’s as though you begin to have X-ray vision into people, situations and group dynamics.
This can be disorientating if you are around people whose intuition is very closed down because you will ‘see’ and ‘feel’ a deeper truth yet not have that validated by others. Your sense of ‘reality’ is shifting. Ultimately this will serve you but it can feel inconvenient in the short term.
People can say they feel one thing when their inner attitude is completely different. As a highly sensitive person and empath, you can feel that their words do not match their feelings or intentions.
Such people are not necessarily being dishonest when they are incongruent in this way. What you sense – or ‘pick up’ – intuitively can actually be out of someone’s conscious awareness.
However, when you go through a spiritual awakening, your ability to tolerate:
– fake people
– phoney situations +
– anyone unwilling to take responsibility for their own behaviour
…is greatly reduced!
5 stages of spiritual awakening: #5 – Hero’s journey
This stage is really about the quest for deeper meaning in life.
The concept of the Hero’s Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton University Press, 1949).
He described the basic narrative pattern as follows:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from a this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.“
You have already heard the call, but how will you respond? Courage is needed to leave behind the familiar and create a life that is aligned with your higher self. Many people will turn away from the adventure because it seems too risky. Yet, they may approach the end of their life with regret.
“I wish I’d had the courage to live the life that was true to myself and not the life others expected of me.”
Author of Top 5 Regrets of the Dying Bronnie Ware said this statement was the most common regret of all. She explains:
“When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made…”
Now that you have ‘woken up’ you will be no longer content to exist on auto-pilot, going through the motions of a superficial existence dictated by the needs and expectations of others.
Though the process of spiritual awakening presents more questions than answers, you already embody an amplified consciousness, and this energy is impossible to compress.
I liken this fifth stage to The Tower in the Rider Waite tarot deck. This dramatic card illustrates how confines that used to provide security and safety are falling away.
Though this stage may feel disorienting and destructive, you have already outgrown these old structures. There is no need to fear.
After the storm, you’ll see yourself more clearly.
You will be ready to live in accordance with your inner truth + be compelled to live in service to a greater good.
This is where you will find true satisfaction – and the meaning of your life.
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