THE BEST TEACHERS ARE THOSE THAT SHOW YOU WHERE TO LOOK, BUT DON’T TELL YOU WHAT TO SEE”.
What does it really mean to awaken? It is fair to say that awakening is a journey from limitation to freedom – from unconscious to conscious.
Whether you intentionally choose to take this journey or an unexpected experience propels you onto the path, once you start, there is no turning back. It is true that the journey might be quite arduous at times, but no matter how long or challenging, the extraordinary destination far exceeds any bumps and bruises along the way.
The end result of Full Awakening is freedom from personal suffering, clarity of mind, boundless joy, inner peace and the ability to live an incredibly fulfilling life. The awakened state holds everything we have ever desired, and so much more.
There is no right or wrong way to wake up. Like art, it is all beautiful and perfect.
The Stage of the False-Self
Subtle awareness of “something more” begins to grow.
In the first stage of Awakening, we are most asleep, and we do not even know that we are asleep. We are entrenched in mass consciousness and going through the motions of life, generally following the rules of culture and laws of the land.
Our identities define us and we live within the construct of religion, culture and/or society.
Unconscious programming runs us, and, as a result, we see the world in black and white – good and bad.
Because there is a great desire to fit in and be accepted, in this stage, it is common to sacrifice our needs and compromise our values in order to receive approval and be included in our desired community, be that family, culture, business or religion.
In stage one, happiness is based on externals, therefore, in order to feel happy, we try to control reality; other people, places and experiences.
Although we attempt to control our lives, for both happiness and security, it is more than likely that our emotions rule, and our actions and reactions are based on our moment to moment feelings.
We make no connection between our thoughts/beliefs and our experiences in reality, and, therefore, we have no direct ability to consciously create our reality.
The Stage of Questioning
The doubts experienced in stage one begin to turn into meaningful questions. The first signs of movement from unconscious to conscious are experienced.
In the second phase of Awakening, we experience a growing discomfort in our lives. There is a feeling that something is wrong or missing. We begin to question mass consciousness and the validity of rules, beliefs and laws. Things that used to bring us comfort like customs or traditions are no longer satisfying and the places that we once found answers no longer provide relief.
We question our identity but we still hold on to it because we must continue to prove our worth, and we don’t yet know ourselves outside of our human identity. As we question the roles we play, we may feel lost, and even betrayed by others or life in general.
“Who am I? Why am I here?”
Although we are searching for answers, we still hold on to certain limiting beliefs that keep us enslaved in the reality we have known. When we attempt to challenge these beliefs, fear brings us back, keeping us asleep a little longer.
As we experience a variety of challenges designed to help us wake up, tolerable discomfort turns into pain and suffering. Although this is the beginning of our internal programs breaking down, we are still trying to prove our worth by demonstrating our importance and seeking approval for our efforts.
We begin to understand that happiness cannot be found in the outside world, but we are still playing the game – seeking happiness in other people, places and experiences.
Even though we are beginning to see the world in a whole new light, we may still possess black and white thinking – maybe more than ever. We are not ready to take responsibility for our lives and, therefore, we make little or no connection between our thoughts and our experiences in reality.
As the outside world no longer satisfies our hunger, the journey inward is about to begin.
The Stage of Introspection
In Stage 3 of Awakening, we begin a journey of introspection. In Stage 2, we rebelled against the external world with little or no success in relieving our pain, suffering or discomfort, so now we retreat as we begin to seek answers inside ourselves.
We start to disentangle from mass consciousness, releasing many limiting beliefs that were programmed into us by asleep parents, teachers, culture, society, religion and media. As we release these beliefs, we may experience both grief and relief. As we recognize how asleep we have been, we can clearly see that most people we know are still asleep.
Not surprisingly, with our eyes wide open, it is common to experience greater judgment of other people, society and the world. Others may feel our judgment and defensively respond with their own judgment of us.
We are seen as different, weird and maybe even crazy. Sooner or later, we decide to keep our growing awareness to ourselves; maybe rationalizing that it’s better to be silent than be judged.
We are still focused on everything that is wrong in our lives, and in the world, but, at the same time, we have resistance to letting go. The process of letting go is often “the work” in this stage, and, as we learn to let go, Stage 3 is where we may leave any disempowering ways of life.
The most common attribute of stage three is loneliness. In a sea of billions of people, you may feel like you are the only one awake; no one understands you, and there is no one with whom to connect. At this point, you might begin to question “the questioning” – why did you ever begin this journey?
You yearn for “normalcy” in order to fit in with others, but you also know that it is too late. You cannot forget what you have remembered, and despite your loneliness and your desire to fit in, you wouldn’t go back or undo your path even if you could.
Our desire to fit in and be accepted is slowly being drowned out by our desire to be free and awake.
In the quest for answers and relief from emotional pain, we may embark on some sort of spiritual practice such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness.
By now, we may be able to see the connection between our thoughts/beliefs and the creation of our reality, and, as a result, we try to control our thoughts, but it is a difficult process because old programs are still running.
We no longer look outside ourselves for happiness, but maybe we don’t yet know how to find it within.
This stage is marked by the swing between resistance and letting go, with moments of clarity and enlightenment, but they don’t last. It is very common to have multiple experiences of awakening in this stage and even to believe that each one is the final awakening; only to find yourself back in “reality”, hours, days or weeks later.
With each experience of awakening, the sense of your higher self grows stronger. You are unknowingly making room for this real self to emerge in your consciousness and integrate in your life.
The Stage of Resolution
Stage 4 of Awakening is the stage of resolution where your true self has finally overshadowed your false self or ego self. The struggle that you experienced in the first three stages is over and you experience a deep peace and knowing of who you really are, and you are no longer seeking answers.
You have mastered the art of letting go, and surrendering to a higher power. You also experience and have access to the inner power you possess, without ego control.
Doubt has been replaced with faith and trust. You are able to see and understand your life in such a way that your past and present all makes sense. You have forgiven everyone for everything, including yourself.
You take responsibility for your entire life, no longer blaming anyone for anything. As you have freed yourself, you have freed all the people who have ever been affected by your judgment and expectations.
You are no longer trying to prove your worth. You now know and own your intrinsic worth, and, as a result, you experience unconditional self-love.
Although you might still be alone on your journey, you experience a deep and profound connection to all of life and the sense of loneliness has likely faded into all oneness.
You allow yourself to be exactly who you are, without needing approval or acceptance from anyone. You no longer have a need to change anyone or help those you love wake up, and you are pleasantly surprised that some people you know are actually awakening.
In this stage, you integrate your insights and develop greater understanding for the journey you have been on. You may teach, mentor or share, but not because you feel you have to, or because you need to, but only because it brings you joy, and you are guided to do so.
During stage four, it is common to have some sort of spiritual practice, such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness, but not because you are trying to get somewhere or accomplish something, but rather because it feels good to you and it is a natural expression of your life.
Your love for life and all living beings overflows unconditionally with gratitude and appreciation as a common state of being.
The concepts of good and bad have dissolved, and, yet, you have the full knowing that inside everyone and everything is love.
You take stock of yourself, realizing that you are still you. You are free from ego-control, and no “authentic parts” have been lost in the journey to awakening. Your personality may be quite the same, but you are likely more easy-going and light-hearted.
There is really no thought of happiness because you no longer need anything to make you happy. You have realized that the secret to happiness is living in the moment and it is now easy to be present at all times.
You are finally conscious and awake, and grateful that your past “asleep-self” had the courage and tenacity to make this journey. It was worth it – a million times over.
The Stage of Conscious Creation
Many people arrive at stage four and mistakenly believe it is the final stage of awakening, but it is actually a bridge to an even greater experience of awakening.
You no longer do anything out of obligation or need, but, instead, you are guided through inspiration and pure desire.
You experience a direct connection to all of life, and you are inspired to create in a whole new manner. Through intuitive connection with Infinite Intelligence, you might develop new paradigms of community building, teaching or leadership.
Since you have mastered your thoughts and beliefs, you can now consciously create the life you desire; living in the moment, while also creating for the future.
Whatever stage you might now be experiencing, you cannot get it wrong and there are no tests to pass. Awakening is simply a natural process, just like the caterpillar that awakens as the butterfly.
The time we spend in each stage is not predetermined, but we can move through a stage quicker and easier when we utilize a mindfulness practice of letting go.
Letting go is truly the secret of awakening.
As more and more people awaken, a threshold of awakening will be experienced, and the masses will awaken in a much a different paradigm than those of us who have already awakened or who are awakening now. The stages of awakening will be less defined and maybe even disappear altogether.
No matter where you are on your journey to awakening, you are exactly where you need to be.
So there ya go.