Many people believe that an awakening will make us blissful, joyful, and happy all the time. As if the state of awakening gives you these feelings permanently. They believe that if they follow a teaching just because it’s ancient or revered, it will produce the desired result.
But those feelings of happiness and joy are byproducts of awakening, not the actual awakening itself. The problem is, as long as we chase the byproducts of awakening, we might miss the real thing.
We can learn pranayama (breathing) techniques, meditations, mudras, and mantras, and indeed, certain positive experiences will fall from those practices. But sometimes we end up only with the byproduct, not the awakening itself.
Many people come to spiritual practice or learn meditation in an effort to induce positive emotional states. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that to be sure. If that’s what you walk away with at the end of your practice, that’s a beautiful byproduct. But the path to awakening isn’t about positive emotions or “feeling better.” In reality, enlightenment may not be easy, and in fact, enlightenment can be quite confronting and challenging.
Awakening from the “Me”
Fundamentally, the process of awakening is about awakening from the “Me.” It’s about awakening from the mistaken belief that we are separate from everything and everyone else.
We’ve been taught we need to get on the competitive treadmill of life and somehow prove ourselves to feel ok. We work long hours, take minimal vacation time, and compete with one another. This is all in the interest of feeling like we’ve somehow “made it.” In the end, though, we find ourselves feeling at best, only a little better than before. More often than not, feelings of well-being and happiness are fleeting. We may feel great for the time-being but soon those good feelings will dissipate. We go back to searching for another boost to our mood or emotions.
The process of awakening actually begins once we realize we are not separate from one another. Once we begin to see this, and truly feel this, we are no longer striving to just feel better. We abandon the striving, clinging and grasping to feel better all together, since there is no longer the need to prove ourselves. Our striving is replaced with letting go.
When we first begin our spiritual journey, many of us don’t really know what we’re signing up for. Some of us even think that putting ourselves on a spiritual path means that we will receive something. We don’t seem to realize that the process of enlightenment or spiritual awakening involves us having to let go of something. As we begin the process of letting go of our long-held illusions, we realize that only in this letting go, do we receive anything.
If we can actually begin to create an awareness of our behaviors and automatic reactions to daily events be they great or small, we are then actually truly beginning to walk our personal spiritual journey.
It is in holding ourselves to account for these behaviors and looking deeply into the catalyst or impetus for the behaviors that we can truly “see” ourselves. In this seeing it is how we can then awaken to our true nature. And that true nature isn’t one of surviving our lives, it’s about thriving in them.
As both a meditation teacher and a spiritual life coach, I sense early on whether my students are interested in the real thing or if they are just striving to feel better.
Do you really want the truth?
For some of us on the path, our entire identity may have been wrapped up in being the seeker. Or maybe, as it was for me, I knew something needed to shift, but I wasn’t actually ready for the shift to occur. Maybe I was just scared of having to really take myself on, I don’t really know which.
Be gentle with yourself. Understand that any change is disruptive even if it’s a change for the better.
Freedom, peace, joy, liberation will all fall naturally out of your courage to dig deeply into what drives you to behave and react in certain ways. If you can create an awareness around those behaviors, you have a fighting chance of transforming them, and therefore yourself, thereby awakening.
If you approach your path as a seeker with no intention of doing the heavy lifting required for transformation, you may very well still find some moments of happiness and peace but it’s unlikely to result in a permanent shift.
So, how do we make that shift in a way that will last? How do we stop seeking and start striving for the depth and awareness needed to reach true awakening?
Join me next week as I share a bit of my journey and lead you through some practical yet powerful steps to change. The lasting fulfillment is yours for the taking. But it requires commitment to the work and a resilience to the discomfort that can come from the journey.
If you’d like to chat with me about what this can look like in your life, I would encourage you to book an INTRODUCTORY CONSULTATION. I would love to join you as you make this beautiful and lasting shift.
Also, check out our other course offerings and classes that we offer at Satsang House!