The spiritual path is not an easy one. In fact, it can be a very lonely journey, but that’s mostly because we’ve gotten used to living life in a certain way. In this life journey, we begin as innocent children and slowly grow up into adults full of ambitions, expectations, planning for a safe and secure future.
No matter how much we desire, life does not go according to our whims and fancies. Some people experience an awakening in the midst, which completely changes their life direction and thinking. Spiritual awakening is painful.
In the beginning, it is a lonely journey full of difficulties and challenges. But once we fully awaken to the higher mind (the superconscious experience), we access an amazing dimension of spiritual awareness that is nothing apart from abiding unconditional love, happiness, and bliss.
During the first two or three decades of our life, we learn to mold ourselves to fit the socio-economic fabric created by the world. We go through the rigorous education system consisting of high school, graduation, higher education, etc.
After that, we are expected to take up a nice (air quotes) job, buy a house and a car (usually on loans that we would have to pay for the rest of our lives, including the student loan), find a beautiful partner, get married and have kids with them. And finally, in the end, when we retire, we enjoy the fruits of our labor.
We are given a dream that we need to have all in this lifetime. We are expected to be successful, earn lots of money, be nice family men or women, follow religious practices, build good relationships, and pass on the same values to future generations.
Our parents and society teach us the meaning of love as they understand it. We are expected to behave in a particular manner, dress up in a certain way, conform to religious beliefs based on the culture in which we are born, educate ourselves, find a good job, do well in work and relationships, build a family, and after years of working hard, retire and enjoy the fruits of our labor. In short, live a perfectly planned life.
We are socially conditioned to think and act in a certain way. What we are not taught is as follows:
- We are not taught how to express ourselves emotionally.
- We are not taught how to think creatively.
- We are not taught how to take good care of our physical health.
- We are not taught how to manage our mind.
- We are not taught how to show gratitude.
Well, I can go on and on, but to cut the story short, I will say that whatever we are taught today is basically to turn us into fuel for the machinery that benefits a few.
Now I know that I’m sounding like a socialist but what I’m trying to say is that, as children, we are not taught the core life skills to build the foundation of a happy and joyous future.
Children are very observant and receptive, and according to neuroscientists, whatever we learn in our adolescence, stays ingrained within us for life. The neurological patterns we form at an early age have a very significant role in shaping our future.
What Happens During Spiritual Awakening?
Spiritual awakening is the process through which we discover who we really are. Up until now, we were being driven by what was told to us by our parents, relatives, teachers, or society in general. But now we are waking up to a higher reality.
We realize that we are living a small part in the waking or the transactional reality where we manifest in the physical three-dimensional form and interact with others who are a part of the same universal consciousness as we are.
This kind of realization breaks a lot of barriers and notions given to us by others. Our whole thought process changes, and we realize that life, in general, is much more than this waking reality we live in.
We also realize that we are much more than this physical body and have a higher purpose of serving and living. Awakening shows us vividly that this life is not just about us. It shows us that we are “one undergoing the experience of many.”
However, spiritual awakening does not mean that we completely shun the materialistic life, leave our loved ones, and do meditation the whole day sitting inside a cave, far away in the mountains.
No. Spirituality should never become an excuse for escapism.
It’s okay to earn money and provide yourself and your family with the basics and comforts necessary for materialistic living. What I’m trying to say is that when you’re truly spiritual, neither do you feel guilty about driving a Ferrari, nor do you feel embarrassed driving a Fiat. Whatever you do, do it consciously.
Spiritual awakening means that we do not equate happiness with materialism. For example, you need shelter to live safely in this transactional reality. That is a basic requirement of every human being.
But what happens when you choose a house based on your idea of happiness?
Remember that if you’re not spiritually awake, your mind is operating on the information that has been fed to you over the course of many years. Your idea of happiness is based on the five of the closest people you associate with within your daily life. They can be your spouse, parents, relatives, friends, or coworkers.
So when you make decisions based on the opinion of other people, chances are that you will be miserable throughout your life. You might end up buying a house that is much beyond your current financial capacity, and you will be stuck paying the monthly mortgage for at least half of your life.
The reason you do that is that ‘you are scared’. We build a false identity based on the false notions of society. When I say the word ‘society’, what I refer to as is the collective unconscious.
So to keep up with that false identification, we make stupid decisions. I see some of the most intelligent and genius people going down this route. That’s why we must also work on our emotional intelligence in addition to general intelligence.
The decisions you take are in most cases is influenced by people around you. But after a spiritual awakening, you start questioning these ideas and beliefs. The truth starts emanating from within and you recognize it.
You are not dependent on anyone or seek anybody’s validation for the decisions you take anymore. You develop the courage to follow your own path.
When you become a slave of your identity, your ego-mind will fight to protect it. Ego is the master of deception. Spiritual awakening destroys this fake identity and dissolves the ego. The dissolution of ego after realizing that it has no control over virtually anything is enlightenment.
When awakened, you don’t lose your identity, but don’t even take it too seriously. You limit your ego to transactional functionality. You don’t accept ideas and notions given to you by others. You are no more a slave of your mind.
My Awakening Story
Since I was a child, my parents taught me that life is survival of the fittest. Therefore, to live a good life, I would have to compete with others and occupy positions of power and prestige.
The problem I find with this phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ is that it’s very animalistic in nature, and as a conscious (awakened) human being, I choose not to live life as an animal. Though I agree that we all evolved from animals but it does not justify our tendencies to behave like one.
The reason why we evolved from animals is that we could raise our level of consciousness over a period of time. It’s all a part of the grand design. This is one gift we have that animals lack. We have the discriminatory intelligence to be fully aware of the fact that we are conscious beings.
We operate with unconscious emotions such as anger, jealousy, hate, etc., when we lower our vibrations. That generally happens when the animal instinct within us wakes up and the ego completely takes over control.
I kept operating with this automated unconscious animal instinct for about 12 years in my life. I was always competing with others, and fear was the driving factor. During my childhood, I was constantly brainwashed that only by acquiring power can one truly achieve greatness.
So my parents chose a career for me in the government services, and I was made to prepare for the competitive exams. Now, competition for India’s government services is tough (considering we are over 1.2 billion people in 2019).
I spent five years of my youth (since the age of 22 after finishing college) sitting at home and preparing for this exam, but I could not get through. I used to give this exam every year and fail miserably. And every time my confidence went down because it made me think that I lack something within me to succeed in this exam. It made me anxious and depressed.
Finally, I gave up and decided to take up a career in software development. I joined a huge software development organization at my parent’s insistence. Now I was shown another dream. A dream of making it big in the corporate world.
The thing with my parents was that they never settled for mediocre things in life and that belief was thrust on me and my brother. Never were we even once asked about what we really enjoyed doing.
As time passed, I started to become extremely fearful and insecure, and so I started engaging in people-pleasing behavior. I felt scared and intimidated by people in my company. I kept switching from one job to another but nothing seemed to work. I could never say ‘No’ to people or confront them for their unacceptable behavior.
I could not sleep properly at night. I gained a lot of weight. I was overly stressed. This seemed like a nightmare that had no end.
I don’t blame my parents for any of this because at some level I knew I was operating unconsciously myself. My parents took care of all the financial aspects but the only thing I missed from them was genuine emotional support.
I was stuck in this soul-sucking for a couple of years before my father passed on and things took a turn. I could no longer work in this toxic environment, so I quit my job and started my own freelancing work.
At this point in my life, I felt relieved. Although I was struggling financially, there was a sigh of relief. I felt free for the first time. And at that point, I was hit by a subtle vibration that drifted me towards spirituality.
I had this realization that the reason I was unhappy and unsuccessful was that I was acting selfishly. When I say selfish I mean it in a way that I was not creating any value for others through my work and choices in life.
I was always looking for answers to questions like “What’s in it for me,” “Will I be happy doing this,” Will my parents and family approve of this.”
But now there was a whole paradigm shift and I just didn’t care about any of that stuff.
When you create value in the form of unconditional service to humanity, the universe takes care of your survival and emotional needs. You automatically start receiving abundance and unconditional love.
The more we act out of our animalistic nature – the more we strengthen our unproductive and negative tendencies (like anger, envy, and hatred). And the more we practice positive virtues like love, compassion, and empathy – the more conscious we become and ascend higher in spirituality.
Even animals like dogs have the capacity to raise their consciousness up to a level where they can understand love and affection.
Facing Loneliness During Spiritual Awakening
Before spiritual awakening, I had developed serious issues related to my self-esteem and self-worth. In fact, I was so depressed that at that time and life didn’t make much sense to me. I had accepted anxiousness and psychological abuse as something very normal that everybody goes through.
I used to get triggered by the slightest of provocation and would feel bad for many days – even months sometimes. I used to attend social gatherings and family functions just to please my parents and relatives. I hated drinking alcohol (bad migraine headaches), but just to please others and for not wanting to be left out, I used to take it.
My whole identity was built around the fact that I was the son of a senior government bureaucrat. My parents never showed directly, but they were not very happy with the idea of me working as a software engineer in a corporate organization (although they were the ones to suggest that I go down this route).
I was depressed and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. I used to hit myself in frustration, and at times, I even contemplated committing suicide.
All of this changed when I started my spiritual journey. After my father’s death, I started practicing mindfulness and meditation.
Meditation especially had a very profound effect on me. I started becoming more aware of my own thoughts and feelings. My ability to focus greatly improved. Experiencing the silence within, I felt peaceful.
For more information on meditation, read this guide. This is a sample chapter from my book – meditation is not about emptying your mind.
I was able to slow down my overactive monkey mind, and within a few months of practicing meditation, I started feeling calm and relaxed. My anxiety almost disappeared, and I felt much more energetic.
I continued this practice for three more years, and then something unexpected happened. Suddenly, I found myself extremely anxious. I started having anger outbursts at the most unexpected moments and for the most insignificant things.
What was happening to me was that all of my suppressed feelings and emotions had started surfacing from the depths of my subconscious mind. There were experiences and revelations that shook me to the core.
It was as if God had shown me the mirror indicating how I allowed myself to be abused by others. These experiences were so vivid as if I was reliving the whole situation once again. All the unpleasant events and traumas were reignited in my mind.
I call this phase purging.
This is one of the most uncomfortable phases in spiritual practices but it’s one of the most important phases one has to go through. If you truly want to heal the wounds of the past, you cannot escape this phase. This is where most people stop practicing meditation thinking it’s no good.
This phase is painful because this is where the ego starts melting.
This happens to our physical body as well. Whenever we fall sick, it’s the toxic bacteria that accumulate and grows within our body due to the weakened immune system. With time, our immune system gains back its strength and fights the bad bacteria. When the bacterial cells die they release lots of toxins into the body and that’s the time we feel worst.
Once this phase was over, I was extremely relaxed, and my physical health issues also started improving. I started working out every day and lost 50 pounds of weight within a year and a half. I started eating healthy and practiced yoga and pranayama.
Slowly over time, I started going into deep states of meditation. In this state, I experienced a feeling of bliss that is indescribable in words. I couldn’t make sense of time passing by, nor could I feel the sense of having my own body.
Gradually, I started losing interest in worldly things that used to be so appealing earlier. For example, I used to binge-watch television earlier, but now I could not even sit beyond five minutes, no matter how appealing the content seemed.
The whole concept of startup and entrepreneurship didn’t make much appeal to me now. In the past, I used to be obsessed with creating a startup and earning lots of money.
The whole concept of “what’s in it for me” had lost all its charm and the new idea was “what can I do for you.”
However, I found myself very lonely at this stage. I had no interest in catching up with old friends (read Why We lose Friends After Spiritual Awakening) and discussing topics like politics, business, or money with other people. I even stopped watching regular news television.
The problem was that because of my previous social conditioning, the kind of people I attracted in my life showed signs of dense vibrations. These folks could not think anything beyond themselves and were sometimes downright toxic.
I felt lonely. I could not hang out with these guys. I felt that I had nothing in common. Sometimes I forced myself only to withdraw later. I could not connect with them socially, intellectually, or spiritually.
When you “wake up” it’s hard to relate to people. You start becoming more empathetic towards them as you can feel their pain and angst, but it’s difficult to make them understand the root cause of their major problems, just because they are not in that place at that time.
As a result, you tend to avoid them and for that, you are generally perceived as heartless and arrogant.
Very soon I realized that there’s no escape from loneliness in spirituality, but I also found out that it’s one of the best things that can happen to you. Loneliness is a chance to rediscover yourself. Reflect on the inner self.
Believe me when I tell you that loneliness is not a bad thing and is the next phase in spiritual practice.
Loneliness in spiritual practice seems uncomfortable because it causes the release of toxins of false notions and self-beliefs that you have been holding in your subconscious for many many years. It lays the foundation of freedom from this world of duality.
Facing loneliness gave me the opportunity to be comfortable with “who I am.” It gave me the knowledge of why I chose to be here on this planet and what my life purpose was. That’s the reason why I created this blog and started writing.
We are all spiritual beings with divinity inside us, it’s just that some of us have forgotten about it. My whole purpose in life is to help people raise their consciousness so that they can live happily and joyfully and attain freedom from the false ‘self’ that they have superimposed on themselves.
We should not see people with lower consciousness in a bad light because every soul is pure and is undergoing a transformative journey. Our job is to be empathetic towards them and enable them to make this transformation smoother.
What to Do to When You’re Feeling Lonely?
One of the best ways to combat loneliness during spiritual awakening is to contribute (as much as possible within your means) by helping others without expecting anything in return from them.
Universe has its own way of showering love when you learn to give selflessly and help others. It might not happen immediately, but I can tell you this much that your acts of kindness and generosity will not go in vain.
I believe that we are all having a human experience in this waking physical reality, but in reality, we are all a part of the same universal consciousness. The word ‘loneliness’ holds meaning only till you believe that you are separate from others.
Loneliness and depression are becoming a sort of epidemic nowadays, with people more and more people feeling suffering every single day.
You may be having thousands of followers on social media, you may be heading hundreds of people working under you, you might be a very successful politician or business person, yet you feel more and more isolated.
And that’s because you are operating purely in a transactional manner with others. For example, “you give me a like on Instagram and I’ll do the same for you”. There is a lack of emotional connect and everything revolves around how you feel and what you want.
This is what we call the duality, where we differentiate between ourselves and others. This is where we draw comparisons and complete to outdo others. It is because of this ignorance that you feel lonely and isolated. Once this ignorance is removed, you realize the oneness behind what seems to be multiplicity.
Edit: This article was written long back, and ever since, my understanding of life processes has undergone a paradigm shift. I don’t claim anymore that any prescription, method, or teaching can relieve a person from loneliness or suffering other than accepting life for what it is. Even this acceptance cannot be forced by the individual through any method. IT HAPPENS!
Awakening To Presence
This final phase is known as the awakening. In this phase, the contracted energy dissipates (apparently) and there is a realization of wholeness. This realization does not happen to an individual, it just happens.
The ego realizing that it is NOT the doer of its actions, and everything or nothing simply happens, is the final understanding that brings about a sense of peace (for the lack of a suitable word). I cannot describe it in words because this understanding is not an experience that one can grasp intellectually.
The ego realizing the fatality of “doing” things to produce the desired outcomes, dissolves into nothingness, all that is left is happening. The mind-body complex continues to function, as before, experiencing cycles of pain and pleasure, but the involvement of the ego is gone. The sense of individual “I” or “me” is gone.
Therefore, a painful thought does not translate into suffering in linear time as obsessive thinking. It drops all our ideas of achievement and ambition to do this or that, or become this or that.
The suffering that happens to an individual that struggles throughout a lifetime to prove its “acquired” idea of self-worth drops away. It is the end of the little “me and my story.”
This awakening ended my loneliness and suffering because the individual energy called “me” had dissipated, along with my limited ideas, beliefs, and concepts, and all that remained was the “presence” that is whole. It is not a feeling, but the closest feeling or thought that can describe it in duality is unconditional love.