In a previous blog, I wrote about what a spiritual awakening is.
I’d now like to share my first real experience of awakening, one that occurred while I was living alone in Sausalito, California in 2007.
I was living alone in Sausalito, California because I had accepted a job in another state to follow my dream/calling to be an executive coach.
My husband still lived in Michigan, and needless to say, this move had a significant impact on our relationship.
At the time, we were honestly struggling to meet each other’s needs and I was at a crossroads in my life. I felt dis-connected from my husband, and passionate about my work in California.
I have always been a spiritual person, and previous to moving to California had completed “A Course in Miracles,” which radically changed my beliefs about love and fear. It was significant work for me in understanding my own ego and one of the reasons I felt pulled to move to California for my new job.
I have also always been passionate about self-development and growth, and somewhat of a seeker – meaning I had a tendency to look for the “next” thing/book/tool/philosophy that would heal/fix/help me.
You could say I was a little addicted to self-help.
So, in the context of this awakening that occurred to me, I was already working on being more “present,” although I didn’t feel like I knew exactly what that meant.
I DO know that I lived in my head predominantly, and was dis-connected from my feelings.
You know, like normal life.
So that was where I was when a friend gave me her copy of “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle to read. I had seen it several times before, and had even skimmed through it, but had found the language too esoteric at first glance. But I saw it again in a bookstore one day and something urged me to read it, so I did.
Almost right away, my experience of reading the book felt different.
There is a part in the book where he talks about how for most people life is like living with radio static on all the time, and that we are not even aware of it. And that there is another state, without the static that is peaceful and joyful.
I immediately realized that that was true for me.
But it was such a DEEP realization (not a mental understanding, but a “click” from deep within), that things began to shift for me very quickly.
Each night after work I went home and continued to read the book, but my experience was not one of reading, but of absorbing it, of realization after realization.
It felt like I was reading it with my body rather than my mind.
And over the next few days, the shift just kept deepening and deepening, and my mental activity decreased and decreased until I WAS living with no radio static at all.
Complete peace and silence in my mind.
Everything slowed down, felt slower, more luxurious.
The tiniest things would bring tears of joy to my eyes.
I remember driving to work and crying because of the loveliness of it all – the highway, the other cars, the natural beauty.
And suddenly almost everything I believed seemed unnecessary, and all the things that had seemed SO important to me melted away. And I was left with only clarity, peace, and joy.
I saw with complete clarity that my beliefs about my husband and my marriage were only separating me from my husband. And I deeply realized that I didn't know anything and also that I didn't need to know or seek anything else. With my coaching clients, I dropped all structure and trying to help and was just present with them, with no agenda. All striving stopped, and life began to flow through me.
A New Normal
Even writing this now, I can still connect with the essence of that experience.
At first it felt completely permanent to me, but the crispness and intensity of it started to fade after about 3 weeks. I could still sense everything in the background and access it when I wanted to, but my experience returned to a more normal state. No more crying while driving to work.
On the outside, however, things started to shift for me as well.
My relationship with my husband immediately shifted and became easier and more intimate, without my thoughts and resistance there to separate us. I began to have realizations about my external life that changed the course of my life forever.
Part of my job in California was to recruit/sell our programs to new people, and I saw that I could no longer do that. I saw that I don’t know what’s best for anyone else and that I could never again believe I did or tell anyone what they should do.
I began to let go of my need to make decisions or to believe I needed to “figure things out” or “make things happen.” And, after a few more months of living in California, I knew suddenly with clarity that it was time for me to leave. I didn't know what I would do when I returned to Michigan, but for the first time in my life I decided to allow my life to unfold rather than direct every action. This just felt more respectful to my soul, and still does.
I was blessed during my entire time in California to have a coach who could help me navigate my experience and also likely in many ways prepared me for it. She introduced me to the concept of “presence,” even though I did not fully understand it at the time. I also credit my consistent practice of Nia for preparing me to experience the awakening, and for supporting me in keeping that state alive in me ever since.
Learning to inhabit my body has been the single most powerful tool I have discovered in cultivating presence and an awakened state.
I have come to believe based on my experience that we cannot force spiritual awakening to happen; but we can create the intention and space for it to happen, and we can do things that increase the likelihood that it will happen.
As I wrote in the previous blogs, most of us have had a glimpse of this experience, through witnessing something of profound beauty or meaning.
And most of us don’t realize that the state we are in in these moments is really the essence of who we are and what life is.
This presence, this awakened state IS real, and it is worth cultivating because it is the source of your truth.
Find your truth. Live your truth.