Today I want to talk about an important phase of spiritual awakening that you might be familiar with or are going through right now, that is the hermit phase.
At the time of writing we are going through a global lockdown, so I thought this would be the perfect time to go into further detail about this topic.
Spiritual awakening is often seen as a light and pleasant experience, but that is not always the case. There are phases of the awakening process that will feel like you are losing your mind, losing your friends and family, losing your sense of stability in the world or all three at once!
The hermit phase could be seen as an in-between state after the dark night of the soul and before opening back up to the world. It’s a phase of deep solitude, introspection, and redirection.
What is the hermit phase of awakening?
The hermit phase of spiritual awakening is almost inevitable, especially if we live in an environment that isn’t well suited for our spiritual development.
Without the right community and structure in place to navigate a spiritual awakening comfortably (or somewhat comfortably), having to go it alone. We have no choice but to turn inward and focus our attention there without distractions.
As I mentioned this usually comes after or alongside a dark night of the soul. We experience a catalyst of some sort that awakens our consciousness in an visceral and undeniable way. Our mind and nervous system goes into overdrive (if we aren’t prepared) and it’s as if our body fights against this new level of awareness.
We feel lost, depressed, constantly tired – it’s a lot to deal with. So we might go within, not on a whim or because that’s what we prefer, but because we have no other choice – we don’t want to impact others negatively.
There are different types of hermit phase too. When it comes after a major catalyst or shift in our life it tends to be more lengthy, but we can also experience several smaller hermit phases which we go in and out of quickly.
Why the hermit phase happens
When I went through my longest phase (over a year) at the start of my spiritual awakening I had to come to grips with how my old life was in contradiction with my new awareness.
I had to learn how to let go and surrender, rather than trying to micromanage outcomes. We are in control of a lot of aspects of our life, but there is also so much that is out of our hands. To cultivate faith, accepting what I was experiencing rather than downplaying or avoiding it.
I had to come up against my expectations of the spiritual path and the reality. I had opened up my energy in a major way, activated my third eye, learned how to astral project etc. However what I actually needed was physical and emotional stability. I had to let go of the metaphysical chase and be with myself (and all the emotions that arose) in the moment.
The hermit phase can be extremely isolating and disorienting, however it can also be a beautiful period of self-discovery and a deepening of the trust we have in the Universe.
“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being more or less happy. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true—from ourselves to the world.”Adyashant – The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment
5 signs you are in ‘hermit mode’
Hermit mode can be a phase we enter into willingly but usually there is an intuitive pull to be in our own space, spend time alone and delve deep into study.
You lose passion & motivation
Losing enthusiasm for the things that we once took great joy in, is one of the biggest signs we are about to enter the hermit phase.
We withdraw from many physical aspects of daily life like going out to restaurants or parties. We might lose focus in work. Our relationships tend to suffer greatly (as would be expected).
Our social battery will run low more quickly, and old relationships that are holding us back don’t feel as comfortable or homey as they once did.
We will move away from our regular routines and habits, opting for less noise and activity. Often this isn’t easy, we might not want to be alone and face all of the suppressed emotions that come with that and yet solitude just makes sense.
You feel extra sensitive
The hermit phase is usually prompted by a heightening of sensitivity. As we develop a spiritual practice and open up our non-physical senses, we start taking in an overwhelming volume of information.
We might experience random bursts of energy through the body, wake up at random hours in the morning, experience mood swings or brain fog and feel other people’s emotions more intensely. It makes sense that you’d decide to turn inward for a while.
It’s seeing through the illusion and re-evaluating everything you took to be true. It’s common to feel disillusioned with your line of work or daily routine, your friendship circle and how you view life.
This can also mean that you feel out of place, as if you have one foot in the physical world and one in the spiritual world. When I went through this phase it felt as if I was living in a completely different dimension all together.
You crave solitude
When you think of ‘the hermit’ you might go to the archetypal representation we see in tarot cards or old fairytales – there are a lot of similarities here. In tarot the hermit is about going inward to source knowledge and withdrawing from the wider world in search of truth. This is an accurate representation of the hermit phase in spirituality.
With the extra sensitivity we feel we navigate move away from socializing with a large groups of people, and might find it difficult to explain our spiritual experiences and so feel isolated in this way, knowing that many people will doubt or simply not understand them.
You’re looking for answers
I like to describe the hermit phase as feeling as if you are looking for an answer to a question you can’t quite grasp. There’s a pull to look for information without a specific end-goal in mind.
You spend more time:
- Watching spiritual videos
- Reading esoteric books
- Researching self-improvement
You read, listen to and watch every nugget of spiritual information you can get your hands on, waiting for something to click. It’s only by going within and listening to our intuition that things can begin to come together.
In the hermit phase you come to realize that you’re not looking for the next mystical experience or to find some obscure piece of knowledge that will clear everything up, but instead to focus on what’s right in front of you.
It’s through spending time in solitude that we come to realize that the knowledge we were looking for to complete the ‘puzzle’ was already within, and that our soul knows the way.
You feel intuitively guided
The hermit phase can be extremely positive in that we are opened up to our intuition, and feel the guidance of a higher intelligence. We become reconnected with our higher self and so feel the guidance that comes with being a conscious co-creator with the wider universe.
It’s common for our psychic abilities to begin opening up during this phase too. You may experience a third eye opening, tuning into your clairvoyant abilities and seeing energy in a more noticeable way.
You are likely to get clearer intuitive hunches or gut feelings about people or different topics. It can feel like you are being led down a path where specific information comes to you at the right time or insights come out of nowhere.
I like to think of this opening of our intuitive senses as the universe dropping breadcrumbs for us to follow. This leads us to our wider purpose here, gives us guidance on how to connect with like-minded people and do fulfilling work. Synchronicities become a daily occurrence.
All of this might have you feeling like you’re living in a bubble, experiencing things other people cannot perceive and you cannot share. So it’s super important to stay grounded, get out into nature or create a sacred space in your home for a sense of stability and physical comfort.
How long does the hermit phase last?
For me the hermit phase lasted over a year, but everyone has a different experience. Hermit phases can last for weeks or months if we can sit with and accept all of the emotions and mental blockages that come up. If we understand that this is just a phase and that it will pass, solitude becomes less of a crutch.
However this phase can last for many months or years if we get too comfortable in it. If stepping outside of our bubble or comfort zone becomes too overwhelming. Solitude becomes a crutch and can eventually develop into long-term loneliness, because this becomes our regular state of being.
What comes after the hermit phase?
The most important thing to remember when you are going through this phase is that you are not alone. We might be alone physically, but in spirit there are thousands if not millions of people who are experiencing the same thing.
Building community after this phase is so important because as I mentioned we are often awakening in the context of a society that isn’t suited for spiritual awakening. We’re going to have to go it alone, or at least feel we have to because people usually aren’t on the same wavelength.
However just because a spiritual awakening is often characterized by a period of loneliness and isolation, doesn’t mean it has to be this way forever.
There comes a point where you have to move out of the hermit phase and back into the world to share all that you’ve learned. No doubt you’ll still be a hermit at heart, but ultimately you’ll learn how to lean back into regular life, albeit with a new frame of mind.
Further reading: 7 Stages of Spiritual Awakening
Acceptance of self
This phase allows us to deeply accept ourselves and all of our intricacies. Not everyone is going to or want to understand us and that is ok. What matters is that we understand ourselves and surround ourselves with people who reflect our energy back truthfully.
As an extension of coming to know ourselves and our awareness better, we are able to develop deeper relationships with others. We get to know our shadow and all of the things that make us who we are. As a result we are less likely to project this outwards.
When we exit the hermit phase we are going to want to be around people, even if these aren’t the same people we were close to before. We can meet romantic partners who are more aligned with us, and might be on a similar path.
This is where we integrate all that we have learned while being a hermit. It’s no use going deep into study if we don’t bring this information forward in an embodied way. It’s no use knowing all of these spiritual concepts if they remain surface-level or are full of pretense.
It will be important to create daily rituals that ground you and bring your spirituality into day to day life.
Moving beyond the hermit phase will be different for everyone. It can look like going out into the world and becoming a teacher, going back to your regular job but with a renewed approach, or building an entirely new life for yourself.
The hermit phase is extremely common when we are in a transitional phase of our lives, when we are moving homes or on a break from work. It’s during these times that we have the space to really examine who and what we are, and where we want to go.
Currently as we experience a global lockdown many have already experienced this hermit phase. With no choice but to stay inside, go within and focus on things that bring us a sense of purpose outside of work, many are uncovering their true passions.
Similar to lockdown there will be a time where you will have to come back into the world, and apply everything you’ve learned. This is a time where you make the decision to approach life differently or revert back to old habits.