By: Kathy Best, October 22, 2019 CNT, CRRC, ACCR, PSDC
The urban dictionary defines a spiritual awakening as “a shift in consciousness, an apperception of reality which had been previously unrealized. The culmination of such realizations is in the recognition of oneness with all of existence.” My spiritual awakening did not happen instantly, but unfolded slowly over several years. Now I understand that it needed to happen that way because I had a lot of misperceptions, false, fear-based beliefs, and anger to process and release before I could be open enough to accept a spiritual awakening. I was stuck in a story that wasn’t even sure if God existed and didn’t like the God I had learned about in the Baptist and Catholic churches I attended intermittently as a child. My journey started with injuries to both of my legs around my 30th birthday which kept me immobile for about 30 days. During that time my mother decided to give me some books to read that I will never forget. They were The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra, and Conversations with God Book 1, by Neale Donald Walsch. The first two were interesting, but 17 years later I don’t recall much about them. The third book, on the other hand, shocked me, scared me, angered me, and excited me in ways I had never felt before. Conversations with God started me on a spiritual path that would totally shatter my logical, analytical, fearful, skeptical, ‘prove it to me’ foundation which I had built my life upon.
I spent the next four years reading all of the CWG books and investigating a variety of spiritual growth theories, principles, and practices as well as esoteric studies, meditation, self-improvement, healing, and wellness. It was an emotional roller coaster that ultimately led to more anger, surprise, shock, skepticism, hope, release, personal inventory, forgiveness, and more happiness than I had ever known. I didn’t take anything I read as truth, but was open to the possibilities and willing to test the ideas presented. I struggled with mediation for a long time. It was so difficult to turn off my mind, be present and be peaceful for more than a couple of minutes, but the more I practiced the easier it became and the faster I could get to that space of openness and non-attachment.
During one of these moments I had my spiritual awakening. I was lying on my bed listening to a Monroe Institute meditation when this feeling of unconditional love, immeasurable compassion, approval, and infinite strength enveloped my consciousness. Words just cannot convey the overpoweringly intense feelings that vibrated throughout my body. It was like I was not my physical body and I was simply pure, eternal consciousness being cradled in the protective, loving arms of a consciousness that was everything and nothing all at once. It was like a warm, intelligent nothingness made out of love, joy, and protective strength had gently permeated my body and mind. In that moment I know with every fiber of my being that there was a powerful, eternal intelligent, loving Being in the universe that was a part of everything and everyone and I was supported, protected, and loved unconditionally by that force. I also knew that nothing I could say or do would ever separate me from It or Its love. I knew that I was as much a part of It as It was of me and I was just as eternal and connected to everything else as It was. I also knew that I could ask for and receive help and guidance at any and every moment without fear, guilt, or shame. There were no such things to this Force of Love. I was so overwhelmed by the depth of love and compassion that tears began to poor down my cheeks and body was wracked with sobs of disbelief. It was then that my ego brain broke the through the rapture with questions about my deservedness of such love and compassion. As quickly and quietly as it had come, it disappeared. It was the disbelief my mind had created that had broken the connection and I tried desperately to get it back, but I knew my brain could not connect to that realm or that Being. Then I cried tears of disappointment and anguish over losing such a beautiful, sacred experience.
My brain tried to brush it off as a fantasy or my imagination, but I knew something inside me had shifted. My belief was reinforced when I stepped outside to check the mail. It was like I had lived my whole life seeing in black and white and now the whole world was in Technicolor. The trees were the most vivid shades of green and brown I had ever seen. The sky was the brightest shade of blue that almost hurt my eyes to look at. I could actually feel the living energy in every tree, plant, rock, blade of grass, and speck of dirt. I felt a kinship with everyone I saw and knew in the deepest part of my heart that we were all intrinsically connected. I no longer feared insects, arachnids, wild animals, or strangers. I felt the value and importance of every living being on this planet. I became kinder, more compassionate, more grateful, and at peace with everything and everyone in my life. It was the greatest experience and the greatest gift I had ever been given and I cherished it, until I didn’t.
I spent many months in this state of blissful grace, but my mind became fearful and uncertain about my ability to maintain this transformation and what I was supposed to do with it. I also longed to recreate the miraculous experience that had provided these gifts, but hard as I tried I could never get it back. This led to frustration and disappointment which took me further away from the peace and bliss I had been living in. I understand now that was meant to show me who and what I really am and propel me on a path of service, but I resisted those lessons at the time. I was only interested in recapturing that amazing, awe-inspiring feeling.
About two years after my awakening I started dating the man that would become my husband. He had no background in spirituality, but said he was interested in whatever had made me such a wonderful person. It had been six lonely years since I had dated anyone and I had prayed, affirmed, and written down my desires for a relationship and this man seemed to fit the mold. We dated for two years and married on the anniversary of our first meeting. I threw myself into this marriage with wild abandon and let all of my years of spiritual practice and study fall to the wayside. BIG MISTAKE! (But that is a story for another time.)
I could not find a specific definition for spiritual experience, but after reading numerous explanations about spiritual experiences I found one I felt fit the best. It was written June 21, 2015, by Elric Ebson, Theist. “When someone says an experience was “a religious experience,” he or she means that the experience was uplifting, sacred, deeply-personal, intimate, life-changing, immaculate, profoundly beautiful, or, in some way divine, without the understanding that religion is an institution of man. A spiritual experience includes all of the above experiences and more, without all the trappings of dogmas and doctrines normally found in a church or a mosque. A temple filled with peace and silence is a better place to have a spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences sometimes include perceived supernatural phenomena. Whether the perceived supernatural phenomena is real or imagined is subjective.” I would also add that a spiritual experience can be as simple as a stranger greeting you warmly after a really bad day, or the sun shining through the clouds in a certain way. It could be your pet rubbing up against you when you’re anxious or afraid. It could be as unassuming as a rush-hour driver letting you merge, or a friend opening up about a problem similar to the one you’ve been too embarrassed to talk about. It could be as profound as an alcoholic not ever desiring another drink, a drug addict instantly healing from an addiction, or someone being cured of a fatal disease.
Spiritual experiences can happen repeatedly and often, or rarely, depending on the person and their acceptance of such experiences. A spiritual awakening is typically a one-time occurrence, because that is all that is needed to become aware of and deeply understand the oneness that we are all a part of. For me, I have found that the more I devote myself to building and maintaining a healthy relationship with myself and communicating with my higher power the easier it to recognize and receive the spiritual experiences. The more willing I am to open myself up to the unknown, the unexplainable, and step outside of mainstream beliefs and expectations the more often I have spiritual experiences and see miracles in my life.
Today I have spiritual experiences almost daily. The God of my understanding speaks to me and to everyone in ways we can understand if we are willing to listen and pay attention. I have received spiritual messages and responses to questions and concerns from songs on the radio, television shows, commercials, billboards, license plates, conversations of strangers, advice from friends or relatives, my intuition, thoughts that come to me out of nowhere, gut feelings, visions, words that I see or hear in my head, comforting, loving voices that whisper to me when I still my mind and my body, and so many other signs.
The takeaway is that you do not have to have a spiritual awakening to have spiritual experiences or vice versa and you do not need to be of a certain religion, race, culture, background, or sexual orientation. Anyone, anywhere can have these experiences at any time. All it takes is a willingness to be open to such experiences and acceptance of the experiences when they occur. Don’t expect a giant vision of an archangel, Mother Mary, Quan Yin, Krishna, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Muhammad, or any other religious master to appear before you to answer all of your questions unless you are completely comfortable and confident with such a display. The God of your understanding is going to talk to you and answer you in ways that you are comfortable with and that you can accept and understand. If you want to have bigger spiritual experiences, broaden your beliefs and expectations about such experiences and be ready for miracles to show up in your life.