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Ask anyone what they want most and the overwhelming majority will answer, why, happiness, of course.
Obviously, what constitutes happiness varies, slightly, from person to person, but regardless, there is an underlying expectation that life should offer what it is we ultimately seek.
However, most of us forget that life is not designed to bring us any sense of lasting satisfaction or fulfillment, but instead, to challenge us enough to mobilize us to awaken spiritually.
Spiritual awakening. The words themselves conjure all kinds of images, but few of them truly capture the essence of what it is and what the process realistically entails. Furthermore, there is a common notion in many modern communities that an awakening alludes to a person who has transcended all his or her suffering and is perpetually at peace within the world.
Although this could undoubtedly be the long-awaited byproduct of such a journey, seldom does it look like that, especially in the beginning. On the contrary, a spiritual awakening process is almost always a painful one and is usually triggered by a loss of some kind.
There is a quote attributed to Sufism, which reads, “For everything you lose in the physical, you gain something in the spiritual.” I have often thought that this statement must have been uttered in the aftermath of deep loss because it so seamlessly grasps the core of what challenges have the potential to show us. Also, as someone who is still undergoing an awakening herself, I can certainly attest to the insight I’ve obtained in the branches of wisdom that have sprouted from the seeds planted in the autumn of my life.
In hindsight, I realize now that the call for me to awaken has been a part of my journey for a number of years, disguised in various experiences that have ushered in degrees of pain. One of the earliest portals into an awakening followed the loss of none other than a pet duck I so deeply treasured at the age of six or seven.
My father had found the duck abandoned by a pond after her leg had been bitten off by a snapping turtle and so he decided to place her in a small box and carry her to our home. I can still recall the dazzling mix of love and excitement that struck me when I peeked into the tiny carrier and saw her there for the first time.
That same night, I took her out of the box and laid her in bed with me. As we lay there, I felt her gently unfurl herself next to me as she snuggled against my stomach. Almost instantly, Ducky, as I so simply called her, became my best friend and I, a sort of mother. Everywhere I went, she followed. Four or five months later, however, she flew away, leaving me to wallow in sheer devastation as I begged my parents to try and find her anywhere they possibly could.
That early life event, I now know, was a portal into my first spiritual lesson in surrender and letting go. Ultimately, I had no choice but to accept that the duck had outgrown the confines of our household and was strong enough to return to the wild and make it on her own, just as she was meant to all along. I had to release control and let go of any expectation that she would ever return. Finally, I also had to garner enough faith and trust that, in the end, she would be okay. Losing that duck was my first heartbreak, and perhaps, in essence, served as a foreshadowing of events to come, preparing me for the darkest heartache that would eventually follow many years down the road.
Since that time, I have undergone several deaths of people in my family, a diagnosis of ADHD, coping and coming to terms with alcoholism in the family, a lonesome and pervasive feeling of not fitting in that seemed to follow me everywhere, coming out as a gay woman, chronic fatigue and digestive issues, a major move across the North American continent, and a divorce that eventually forced me to return home. All of these events occurred before the last and most haunting romantic encounter, which for me, has served as the ultimate catalyst so far.
Recently, I have also vicariously brushed with major illness and hospitalization. During that time, I oscillated between fear, overcompensation, and surrender. There were times I found myself feeling frantic, wondering what had gone wrong with a person I love and whether he would be able to function normally again. Then, I overscheduled myself, in an attempt to accomplish whatever I could to retain a sense of control over my own life and not squander the most precious of gifts: the present moment and sound health. Finally, when the fear became all too much, I was pushed into an unconditional state of radical acceptance for what was happening.
When events occur that are not within our sphere of control they tend to, by default, force us to die to the insistence that life should not present any challenges. After all, if we did not face any challenges, there would be no impetus for growth. With no motivation to evolve, the collective consciousness on the planet would stagnate, and all would suffer as a result of this hollow state of awareness. In this realization, I humble myself to the inescapable and revolving cycles of life and death.
In general, some events that could inspire a spiritual awakening include the following:
1. Chronic illness and injury
However debilitating it may be, chronic illness and injury have the potential to mobilize us into a state of acceptance and surrender. They teach us what is and is not ultimately important. In addition, they also provide us the opportunity to slow down, reflect, change direction—if necessary—and cherish our body. They can serve as an important wake-up call to honor the vessel we’re in, to let go of people and things that don’t bring us peace, and turn our life around so that we may begin to live in alignment with who we truly are.
2. Loss of job or finances
Perhaps you have been working a job that brings home the bacon but does not feed you on a much deeper level. Maybe you’ve been far too attached to material things in lieu of spiritual growth. Whichever the case, the loss of a job can provide the opportunity to readjust course and simultaneously refine and even redefine our values and perceived purpose. This, for so many of us, can be most humbling.
3. Loss of a loved one
The loss of a loved one, whether through death or the demise of connection, can teach us the importance of honoring the present as well as our connection to other beings. Indirectly, it could also trigger us to practice forgiveness in copious ways. Through the capacity to exert forgiveness, we learn to scratch the surface of what it means to love ourselves and others unconditionally.
4. Near-death experiences
Many people who have claimed to have been pronounced dead only to come back into their physical bodies several moments later have reportedly made drastic changes to the way that they approach events and opportunities thereafter. In addition, most of them vividly recall entering into and being lifted and embraced by an exquisite light and feeling an intense and all-encompassing love like never before. Suddenly, they report a deeper connection with a source, a relinquished fear of dying, and are confident in their awareness that love is truly the most powerful thing we can experience.
5. Meeting your “other self” (also known, in the modern age, as a “Twin Flame”)
First and foremost, let me begin with a disclaimer.
Many people dismiss “Twin Flames” as being a “New Age” concept. In some respects, I cannot blame them. Firstly, the term itself sounds rather flakey and conjures a hyper-romanticized image of an ideal or divine counterpart. In fact, if you type the word into the google search engine, that is undoubtedly the impression you’ll get. However, it is not as “New Age” as one might think.
“Twin Flames,” as I’ve recently discovered, were first written about over 1,500 years ago, in the fifth century BC, Plato may have tried to describe and explain the phenomena in his famous text, Symposium, and more than likely, Adam and Eve were one of the first documented examples of “Twin Flames” in the Christian bible. Over time, however, the definition has undergone drastic changes, and today, most people buy into the myths and confuse the term with that of “soulmates.”
In essence, a “Twin Flame” is another incarnation of your soul, which is true and timeless, existing in the same general time period. The soul incarnates at birth, de-incarnates at death, and supposedly, reincarnates throughout time, as well. As Einstein discovered, there really is no distinction between past, present, and future. So, that being said, the soul can ultimately incarnate twice in the same general time period, in two separate vessels, just as light can behave like a particle or a wave at the same time, as proven in Quantum mechanics.
It is your soul wanting to have a different experience simultaneously. Furthermore, we all have a “Twin Flame” because we live in a world of relativity. The soul, in order to exist on this planet, splits off into distinct minds and personalities who are nevertheless uniform at the deepest level of being.
Because you and your “other self” are polarized at the level of mind, and subsequently, the personality structure, one incarnation of that shared soul essence will pull as hard as the other one pushes. Eventually, the so-called “runner” will feel compelled to disconnect if the other sees the encounter through a veil of separation and codependency ensues, leaving the “chaser” incarnation feeling utterly devastated and in longing—often for several months to many years to follow. However, the darkness that is experienced has the potential to push the “chaser” into a spiritual awakening after the pain subsides.
If you’re the “chaser,” meeting your “other self” has the potential to teach you about letting go of false pretense and codependency, see beneath the surface of things, learn the difference between the mind/ego/personality structure and the soul, and align you with your true and timeless self so that you can eventually live your most authentic life while you’re here.