Spiritual awakening and spirituality in general are often seen as something that is always easy, uplifting and overwhelming pleasant – but that isn’t always the case.
Much of our spiritual growth comes in the times where we are most uncomfortable.
Spiritual awakening is an uprooting of everything we take to be true.
It’s a purification of our perceptional lens and a raw confrontation with reality. It can also be the most wonderful journey we take, but as always with light comes dark.
In this post I want to go over seven uncomfortable signs that you are going through a spiritual awakening, and advice on how to manage them.
This isn’t to cause fear but to give you the full picture so you know what you’re getting into, and give some context to what you might be experiencing.
What happens during a spiritual awakening?
There are distinct stages of a spiritual awakening each with its own purpose, but a spiritual awakening begins with a spark of awareness. This is where we suddenly take a step back from our day to day routines and question what is all this?
This could be prompted by a major life event such as the loss of a job, heartbreak, a relocation, grief, or it can come as a quiet knowing that crops up seemingly out of nowhere. Either way, when we experience an awakening the foundation that we’ve created for ourselves becomes shaky.
Especially when a spiritual awakening is accompanied by a major life event things can be thrown into chaos.
We come to the realization we we are more than just flesh and bones, and we have to make sense of that in the context of everyday life. Where we might have to go into work the next morning, continue our chores, interact with people as if nothing has changed – of course it’s unsettling!
Once we have experienced this spark of awareness it’s as if a trip wire has been activated, a specific energetic sequence that takes places to initiate us into higher consciousness.
Once we are aware we cannot reverse that, we can only go through it with acceptance or try to avoid it (which only causes more pain). The only way is through.
Uncomfortable symptoms of an awakening
1. Questioning reality
The beginning of a spiritual awakening is the simple act of questioning reality; questioning everything you’ve taken to be true. In doing so the very foundation you stand on begins to crumble.
When we look at the world around us with new eyes, and see our very existence in a new way, it can be difficult to come to peace with it all. It’s common to become depressed, confused, or lonely.
You may even feel that it would be better to go back to sleep and live in ignorance, after all who wants to be unsure of what or who they are? After a period of confusion, you’ll find that this knowledge only serves to enrich what you do here, instead of making it more difficult.
2. Loss of ego & identity
When we start asking what am I, the next question is who am I. You might be wondering why ego loss would be an uncomfortable thing…after all, isn’t losing ego a good thing?
Our ego is the idea of ourselves that we carry around day to day, it’s what we place after an I am statement. It’s what keeps us grounded in physical reality. To operate in society and fulfill our daily obligations we need an ego – ego isn’t a bad thing, it can just get in the way sometimes.
When going through a spiritual awakening it’s inevitable to begin questioning who you are, and consequently drop a lot of the false masks you wear. While this can be incredibly freeing, it can also make navigating ‘normality’ difficult.
As you go along your path you will find more balance in how you interact with and view the ego. There will be aspects of your personality or beliefs systems that completely dissolve, while others will bloom and grow.
3. Distancing from friends/family
It only makes sense that once you asked those big questions about reality, some of the people you associate with will begin to drift away or no longer resonate with you. This can be a hard thing to come to terms with, especially when it concerns close family and friends.
As you embody more awareness you may find that the friendship circle you keep isn’t helping your growth or healing, you may find that family members become judgmental or dismissive. At the end of the day, how you choose to respond to this is where your power lies.
This isn’t to say that spiritual awakening means cutting off all of your family and friends, in fact I would advise against that sort of thinking. Instead it will test some relationships, while strengthening others. You may even find a whole new group of friends and soul family who you connect with on a deeper level.
This is similar to the last point but different in an important way. When you go through a spiritual awakening you may experience a metaphysical/spiritual type of loneliness, beyond physical distance – the sense that no one else can relate to you.
This is the type of loneliness where you may be surrounded by supportive friends or family but feel out of place nonetheless. You may feel alienated from society, or the expected way of doing things.
This is one of the key signs of a dark night of the soul, which is a deep period of disconnection. Over time you will find that this deep loneliness makes way for even deeper connection, where you bring more appreciation to each relationship you have.
5. Heightened Sensitivity
Another common sign of spiritual awakening is an increase in sensitivity – to the energies in your environment/home, body, and your connection to every living being as a whole. This is especially pertinent if you are an empath or highly sensitive person already.
Usually the first signs of heightened sensitivity come in the body. You may feel unfamiliar sensations, vibrations, heightened emotional responses and energy movements. It can feel as if your body is malfunctioning or operating at an uncomfortably high level.
The next thing that happens is feeling overwhelming energy from your environment, particularly in the home. You will feel other people’s energy with deeper intensity, and it can be difficult to know what is yours and what isn’t.
As you experience more of these sensations and learn to work with them, the energy you perceive with come with increased clarity. As you work on yourself and clear your own energy field, the energy you receive will provide wider perspective and insight.
6. Energetic Changes
Similar to the last point, you may start to perceive and feel energetic changes. These are generally more subtle than the heightened emotions because you’ll have to learn a whole new inner language to interface with them.
You may find you’re more tuned in to the energy of the collective, moon cycles and planetary movements. It can feel like you are being hit by waves of energy that are disorienting, confusing, tiring and heavy.
Just as with the heightened sensitivity to emotions, once you learn how to embrace and work with these energies you will feel more grounded. You will learn how different collective shifts affect you, and how to use them for deeper growth.
7. Intense dreams
Another uncomfortable sign that you are going through a spiritual awakening is that your dreams become increasingly vivid, while waking life takes on a dream-like quality. You may experience more lucid dreams, out of body experiences and see waking life become more vivid too.
This can be difficult to manage at first especially if you haven’t had experiences with these phenomenon before. Lucid dreaming was the catalyst for my awakening, so I’ve been in the trenches with this for a long time, but when waking life started to shift that is when it became confusing.
You’ll see that waking life can flow like a river, dissolving the rigid boundaries you held onto before. When you start to become aware of your thoughts, emotions and patterns, you’ll how these shift reality accordingly, and life becomes a waking dream.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most common shifts you should expect. Many are uncomfortable, disorienting and confusing – but that is what allows us to move into a deeper state of flow, trust and balance in our lives.
Why is spiritual awakening so painful?
Spiritual awakening often isn’t the walk in the park that we envision it to be.
There are many quotes by prominent spiritual teachers & gurus which highlight the dark side to spiritually awakening, beyond pure love and light, positive vibes and endless bliss, there is a time where we have to face our shadow.
Some people awaken spiritually without ever coming into contact with any meditation technique or any spiritual teaching. They may awaken simply because they can’t stand the suffering anymore.Eckhart Tolle
The shadow is the aspects of our psyche that contains all of the dark, negative tendencies and habits that we’ve accrued over the course of our lives. It’s the part of ourselves that we might consider bad, wrong, shameful or taboo.
The shadow also encompasses our positive aspects which we’ve disowned due to outside opinion, shame, fear etc.
Spiritual awakening requires that we get honest with ourselves and the illusions we hold onto. To tear away from these illusions can feel confusing and painful because that is what is familiar and comfortable to us.
This isn’t to say that spiritual awakening is all pain, that’s not a narrative we want to attach ourselves to. Rather it’s an acceptance of all the different varied states we might find ourselves in as a human navigating spiritual awareness.
There is a stark contrast between this heightened blissful awareness that we might wish to achieve and the reality of being a human which is often painful, contradictory, messy! Spiritual awakening is about creating unity amongst this all.
Spiritual awakening is also uncomfortable because we have to contend with the contrast between our regular lives and spiritual awareness. We can no longer live in the same way we did before, and this brings about a lot of grief. Letting go of aspects of our ego can feel like letting go of aspects of who we are.
There is nothing easy about living our lives in accordance to our spirit or intuition. We will fight as hard as we can to remain comfortable and in patterns & environments because they are familiar.
Go deeper with my shadow work guide that comes with 30 printable journal prompts.
How to integrate the shadow after awakening
The key to integrate the shadow after an awakening is to see this part of ourselves as just as important as the higher self or spirit.
The light is just as important as the dark and we all have these polarities in us, just like masculine or feminine.
Observe the shadow when it comes up. When you feel uncertain or fearful notice how you feel and how you act. Shift from judgement to awareness.
Accept the shadow for what it is. Acknowledge that the ways you respond are familiar but not necessarily helpful anymore. Although we might be humans having a spiritual experience, sometimes the opposite feels much more apt. Embrace the human, messy side of things.
Shift your focus accordingly. Practice pausing before responding, giving yourself a moment to discern if you are acting from the past or the present. Set new boundaries and create a plan for how you would like to move forward.
It’s understandable to feel as if spiritual awakening has ruined your normal life and that is a valid assessment! However these shifts open you up to experiencing everyday life, the pain and the leisure, with an greater richness and appreciation.
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