We all hurt. Everyone of us has had times of great pain and stress in their life. There seems to be a lot of simplifying, letting go, clearing out and paring down going on. It has many looks and many phases, all personal to our own process but there are also many similarities.
Lately everywhere I turn I find an article discussing the process of collective spiritual awakening that many believe is currently occurring in our society. So many people writing about it and so many people I know who seem to be in the process documented in these articles, there probably is something to it. I have also been listening to many accounts from others, describing people who would never be expected to be open to what was once considered “woo woo” who are suddenly open to trying alternative modalities.
So far I have read a lot of soothing words that make me feel better for a moment, but I have to say the feeling doesn’t last long. Something has been missing for me.
The story of spiritual awakening can be told in the Hero’s Journey. Everything can look and feel like it is going well in life, when somewhere deep within us, a little alarm clock goes off signalling “the call” and before we know it we have set off. The alarm clock sounds like a call to adventure, it speaks to our souls or we would never listen and never set off on the journey. The journey looks innocent enough, as innocent as spring cleaning or starting a yoga practice. What it looks like in it’s initial stages is not important, it is what lit the fuse that matters, our higher selves.
Once we have embarked on the journey, there is excitement, and we know we cannot turn back even if we want to. Usually early in the stage of spiritual awakening we don’t want to turn back, we are learning and trying new things and we are on a journey. Why would we want to turn back?
In what seems like a short time the journey is no longer excitement, it is painful. It feels as though things are being ripped from our lives. Things that matter, things we have even defined ourselves by. We feel small and alone in a harsh cold world. What had been our cozy wonderful life, is now paradise lost and the harder we try to get it back or keep what is left, the more out of control we feel. We try to force outcomes and manipulate situations, even our own thoughts, all in the name of survival. We are in the middle part of our journey to spiritual experience, the battle between fear based survival and the innate drive to return to love.
This is a dangerous point because of the instability, this is a time when people turn to addictions if they are prone, or in trying to turn back and go into denial over what has started, they draw some big consequences into their lives. The ego may have power over us, but once we have started listening to the soul, and stepped onto the hero’s journey we can’t go back without paying a big price. We can’t unknow what we know, and trying to often requires extreme effort.
If we stay with the process, aware of the fact that we called this in, we become aware of a power within us, a power with a greater push than our puny intellect can provide. Coming to our power is a process of death and rebirth. The death and rebirth is a stripping away, and letting go of our old ways in order to open to a new source of power, a power from within.
At the moment we let go, we genuinely feel as though we are going to die. In a sense we do, the person we are, or think we were up until then, needs to die, before the person we called forth can emerge and take the reins in our lives. The letting go, the surrender is essential and needs to be embraced before we can transform from lost and frightened, separate individuals into spiritually connected parts of a Universal whole.
Making contact with something much larger and more potent than ourselves is another occurrence essential to spiritual awakening, or the hero’s journey. The experience can be our limited conscious mind tapping into the vastly more powerful, parallel processing capacity of the subconscious mind as occurs in the breathwork experience. Or tapping into the collective unconscious as Carl Jung describes. Whatever the means, the fact is, the process is necessary, and it happens.
We often think of this as the Hero’s Journey, process complete. “I have let go, surrendered to the process, experienced a power greater than myself that is somehow within and informs me in ways previously unimagined. I have new energy and hope for life, all is good”. It would be nice if it were that simple. In some cases it can be. But with the big, life changing, dark night of the soul, stripping away of everything that previously mattered sort of spiritual awakenings it usually doesn’t end there.
Sometimes we think we have released and been stripped bare, we have been through the underworld and are starting to feel better, get some energy back and the sun is beginning to shine again in our lives. Just in time to go through another round of release and continued stripping. What the…? What is this? Just when I feel that I am starting to make some progress and climbing back up to some modicum of a life, it seems as though someone greased my spiral and I am sliding back down into another forced bout of letting go.
Personally, I had fought and kicked and screamed in order to avoid losing my marriage. I finally surrendered to the process and let go. In order to let go I also had to sell my business and even moved 700 miles away. Just over a year later, after months of personal work and breathwork I moved back, just in time to take back my business because the conditions of the sale had not been met and face it’s devastation. I used most of my life savings digging myself out of yet another hole. I was in another round of release and I wasn’t sure I could face any more of it.
This is the part of the Hero’s Journey that is often overlooked. The return journey. We don’t turn around and retrace our steps, as it feels, but we do have what appears to be a relapse. It is no less painful than the first round either. In reality, it is the rest of the cycle, once complete we become the master of two worlds. This is where we find the real freedom to live. We now have a spiritual foundation in place in order to go out and create in the mundane world, but now we can create with heart.
It does not mean we will never go through the painful stripping away of the Hero’s Journey again. We will outgrow this manifestation of our soul’s creation too, but we will understand what is happening and we will know how much pain trying to hang on can cause. We learn to release with grace, knowing that nature abhorring a vacuum will rush in to fill us and Spirit has better plans for us than we could ever come up with. Most of the pain of the stripping away was in the story we told ourselves about it and our ego’s attachment to the identity created by it. So it will never be as painful again, we have mastered the art of living in two worlds, functioning in the mundane, while creating from a spiritual perspective.