For as long as religion and spirituality have existed, people have been experiencing spiritual awakenings. These moments begin when people step back and take a deep look into their lives, realizing that something isn’t going the way they want it to. Spiritual awakenings allow people to bring new perspectives into their lives and often cause a shift in the way people view themselves, those around them, and the world as a whole. These awakenings may even be the key to a healthy body and mind.
What causes a spiritual awakening?
The short answer: It depends on the person. The event (or events) that causes your spiritual awakening could be something completely life altering or completely mundane. Some sparks of a spiritual awakening could be:
- Experiencing trauma, like divorce or a global pandemic
- Finding your “twin flame”
- Completing a deep, introspective meditation session
- An existential crisis, like losing your job suddenly
- Achieving a goal that you set or realizing your dream
- Losing a loved one
What are the stages of a spiritual awakening?
While every spiritual awakening experience is different, they will typically follow a similar path.
Before beginning your spiritual awakening journey, you may experience something called the “dark night of the soul.” This is a period of your life where you may feel cut off from the higher power you believe in. You may find yourself lashing out at others, not enjoying the things you used to, and feeling like you’ve lost your way. The only way through the dark night is through it, so acknowledge these feelings you’re having before you begin moving forward.
These feelings can also be symptoms of depressive episodes, so if you’re uncomfortable with them, speak with a qualified mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Getting through the dark night of the soul typically involves some amount of shadow work. Shadow work is deep, emotional, inner reflection to address trauma that you have internalized, knowingly or unknowingly. During this time, you will begin to question everything you know, and you may feel disconnected from your core beliefs as you examine new worldviews and philosophies.
Keeping an open mind during this process is important. Explore all kinds of spiritual practices and religions to gain a sense of wisdom and deepen your understanding of this world. This can mean attending events at places of worship, reading sacred texts, or doing research on new religions.
Religion is where many people start on their path to spiritual awakening, since it provides something to believe in that is bigger than we are. As we get older, we start questioning what we’ve learned, and exploring other spiritual practices is a helpful step when going through this transformation.
Nearly every religion has its definition of true inner peace – why not look into all of them? You might choose to commit to one religion, adopt principles from a variety of faiths, or abandon organized faith altogether. You won’t know what you’re looking for until you seek it out.
After a lot of soul searching, reflection, meditation, and mindfulness, you may find new teachers, belief systems, practices, and routines that ease your inner turmoil. But this isn’t to say that once you reach this step, you’re done exploring; it’s not uncommon to move between these stages, even multiple times. Your spiritual awakening journey is unique to you and your circumstances, just like all aspects of your life. IIN calls this “bio-individuality,” a core concept that empowers individuals to find what works best for them!
Eleven signs you’re having a spiritual awakening
How can you tell if you’re experiencing a spiritual awakening? Some signs are physical, some are emotional, and some are psychological. And as with the rest of this process, they will differ from person to person.
1. Seeking change
You find yourself searching out new experiences, people, and places. You may suddenly feel the need to completely transform your outward appearance.
2. Heightened senses
You experience increased sensitivity to the sights, sounds, smells, and emotional auras of people and places around you. Your surroundings have a more pronounced effect on your emotions and physical well-being.
3. Living in the moment
You find yourself shifting focus to the here and now. Many of us fret about what the future holds – so if you find yourself suddenly letting go of long-term plans and worries, you may be having a spiritual awakening.
4. Developing new habits
As your spiritual self develops, your habits and routines change. Maybe that includes morning yoga or nighttime meditation sessions. Whatever change looks like for you, developing new daily habits is a sign you are going through a spiritual awakening.
Dissociating occurs when there’s a malfunction in how your brain handles information; you can feel disconnected from your surroundings, thoughts, memories, and emotions. These episodes can be signs of a spiritual awakening, and grounding exercises are a good way to address that disconnected feeling.
However, dissociation can also be a sign of a serious mental health issue, so if you’re experiencing concerning episodes, seek out a mental health professional.
6. Feeling more connected to nature
You get distracted by the beauty around you, literally stopping to smell the roses. For all the answers that humanity doesn’t have, nature seems to. Feeling a strong connection to the world around you may be a sign of a spiritual awakening.
7. Sudden interest in spirituality
You may have been ambivalent toward spirituality before, but now it fascinates you. To achieve inner peace, delve into literature by those known for their work on spiritual awakening, like Carl Jung and Eckhart Tolle.
8. Embracing isolation
If you have been an extrovert your entire life, suddenly withdrawing from friends and loved ones may be a new (and possibly unwelcome) change. If you’re constantly surrounded by others, it’s easy to notice when you begin to enjoy your solitude. For introverts, the shift can be more subtle; they may retreat even further into themselves.
9. Developing physical symptoms
Spiritual awakenings can manifest themselves physically. You may experience insomnia, brain fog, or fatigue. These can also be signs of physical illness, so be sure to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
10. Experiencing synchronicity or déjà vu
Ever felt like you’ve experienced this exact moment, scenario, or place before? This is called “déjà vu,” and it can be a sign that you’re having a spiritual awakening and on the right path. Synchronicity is when unrelated or unusual things happen in a sequence or as a group: Think reading the clock at exactly 11:11 for several days in a row or finding an unusual symbol you saw in a dream while out in the real world.
11. Increased empathy
You find yourself more attuned with others’ feelings and the intentions behind their words or actions. These feelings may manifest themselves very intensely – don't be afraid to embrace them.
The bottom line
Self-reflection and going through a spiritual awakening can also help improve your physical wellness. Being more at peace with yourself and your surroundings keeps stress levels low, and we know that stress can wreak havoc on the body. But spiritual awakening doesn’t happen overnight – you won’t just wake up one morning with all of life’s answers. This process happens slowly, over time, and only after you’ve put in the work to help yourself will you find inner peace.