You may have heard the term “awakening” used before you found this blog, in reference to personal or spiritual transformation. But what exactly does awakening mean?
Of course, that’s really a subjective answer, but I’ll share with you my perspective on awakening and why I use that word for the name of this website and my book, Awakening from Anxiety. It’s a word that speaks deeply to me. Yes, it is a spiritual process, but also a psychological one.
Many people on the spiritual path seek the idea of “enlightenment” – myself included. Yet when I thought about the implications of the word, I began to prefer a different terminology to describe my spiritual and personal unfolding process.
Enlightenment is a noun. It implies a fixed state. There’s a belief, whether conscious or unconscious, that when we reach enlightenment, it’s an end point. We’re done. It’s a subtle (or not so subtle!) expectation of perfection. We’ve arrived at the pinnacle of personal and spiritual realization.
This just doesn’t fit with my understanding of life, the Divine, and spiritual growth. And for that understanding, I turn to nature.
Growing or Dying
All of life is constantly evolving and growing. Scientists know that millions of species have come into existence and adapted, changed, and transformed over millions of years. Everything on the planet and in the Universe is in a continual state of transformation. We also know that, in the case of plants, if they aren’t growing, they’re dying.
It’s similar for us. If our bodies aren’t growing cells, we’re not going to be around long. And if we aren’t growing as mental, emotional, and spiritual beings, we lose our vitality and aliveness. We become stuck and stale.
A Process of Unfolding
As I see it, our personal and spiritual growth is better described as awakening, because it’s a process. It’s a verb, and as such it’s understood as an action in continual unfoldment. Roses grow new leaves, branches, and buds – even after a period of rest in the winter. When a plant isn’t growing branches or leaves above ground, it is growing roots deep beneath the ground.
We are like those plants. Our aliveness is continually longing to express in the world, and expand in new ways. Awakening is that process of opening, unfolding, and growth that our soul desires. It is very much about the consistent exploration of new territory around and within us. This maintains our vitality, joy, and awareness.
Rousing from Our Sleep
I also like the word awakening because we literally do it every day. After a night’s sleep, we wake up to the new day.
There are so many ways this reflects the path of personal and spiritual growth. First, that every moment is like that new dawn. If we awaken to the truth of this moment, to the possibilities right here in front of us, and allow ourselves to see with new eyes again and again, our lives will continue to expand. Every moment, every breath, is an opportunity to awaken again.
When we awaken in the morning (or whenever you arise!), we are also emerging from an unconscious state to a conscious one. This is the most direct metaphor of the term “awakening” for the spiritual path. Spiritual evolution is one of continually expanding in our awareness, making what has previously been unconscious to us more conscious, and an ever-increasing understanding of truth and wisdom. It is also about deepening in our connection to something greater than us – and that only comes from continuing to open our hearts and awakening to the reality of the Divine (or whatever name you have for “God” or All That Is).
Beyond Our Previous Limitations
Awakening is also my favorite word to use for this process of growth because, through this journey, we become aware of how we have limited ourselves, and expand our awareness into new possibilities. The path of awakening is the continual moving beyond our previous limitations.
These may be physical limitations – exploring new ways we can engage our bodies, or undergoing a deep healing process. Most certainly, the process of awakening also nudges us past the limitations of our mind and emotions.
We all have thoughts that keep us in restricted beliefs or perceptions, and that hinders our happiness. Clinging to our old ways of being usually means we also get stuck with the unhealthy patterns or dissatisfaction that we’re trying to transcend. Awakening is the journey through those stuck places to new, more expansive, healthy, and visionary ways of seeing ourselves, our lives, and the world.
This transformation of consciousness brings us more happiness and true freedom. Awakening is the discovery of true freedom within us, beyond the limitations of thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions.
We can choose our thoughts and our focus of attention, rather than be subject to the habitual ones. We can question our beliefs and allow them to evolve with new understanding, as our perception widens and clarifies. Our freedom comes from within, from being masters of our awareness rather than slaves to old, conditioned, limiting ways of being.
Here is my invitation to you – to embrace a path of awakening in your life. That each day and moment, you can awaken to something new. You can awaken to ever greater levels of clarity, truth, peace, and happiness. It is an infinite process – there are always more possibilities for you. There is no end to what you can experience and create in your life; and who you can be.
You read this post for a reason – you’re ready to awaken to your True Self.
Now, share your thoughts and experiences on the path to awakening below – I’d love to hear from you!
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