How many times have you heard things like “we’re all one” or “individuality is an illusion.”
I hate to burst your bubble, but in my humble opinion and experience that’s nonsense.
We’re not all one, nor should we be. Our individual lives and experiences have great value, and the pain we go through does have meaning.
When we begin to wake up, we often find we seem to be alone.
It’s scary and disorienting.
In fact, spiritual awakening can often make you feel really alienated and disconnected from those around you, even those you like and appreciate.
1) Spiritual awakening is lonely
I once met an American expatriate who was probably more mentally ill than spiritually awakened in a gym in Oaxaca, Mexico.
In between reps, he let me know his negative feelings about various non-white races as well as the World Health Organization.
After telling me about various spy agencies and how Bill Gates and Osama Bin Laden are working together and he is an eternal being imparted with resurrective powers via an ancient Hindu spiritual order, he let me know that sadly Heaven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In fact, the “last time” he was in Heaven in the 1950s this fellow found it was mostly empty.
“Seriously, man, there was almost nobody there.”
Call me crazy, too, but I believe it!
Whatever other crazy stuff he said about the hollow earth (maybe true, please enlighten me) and whatever else, this guy did have a point about spiritual redemption and growth.
There isn’t necessarily some “prize” at the top, and the idea of eternal bliss is kind of simplistic.
Most spiritual teachers have actually taught that once you rise to a certain truly transcendent level of spiritual development you have one job only:
To go to the very, very bottom and serve with all your heart and soul.
Being at the top doesn’t make you “better” and it doesn’t mean you’re going to be popular or become a movie star.
At best, it simply gives you potential tools and enlightenment to want to serve and help others.
2) Spiritual awakening is not trendy and fun
Well, the gym guy may have had some tall tales with his stories of levitating indigenous leaders that urged him to jump over cliffs after he took a bit of LSD, (“just brought reality to life, man”) but he did have a point about spiritual awakening.
Becoming spiritually aware and conscious is not a TikTok hashtag or a thing to celebrate with your buddies.
It’s not a Backstreet Boys concert, and you’re not necessarily going to be crowd-surfing through adoring fans and supportive outstretched arms.
You may find that you’re falling backwards with no seeming place to land.
You may find that very few understand at all what you’re going through or even consider you overly introspective and self-absorbed.
You may be tested to the extent of your limits and far beyond. You may undergo suffering, confusion and pain that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
True spiritual awakening isn’t trendy, nor is it obtained via some ayahuasca retreat with all your life questions answered in seven days or less (or your money back).
That isn’t how life and spirituality works, and it never will be.
Spiritual awakening is lonely. Spiritual awakening is messy. Spiritual awakening can make you feel you’re going crazy and bring you face to face with true monsters.
Oaxacan gym man told me that almost nobody else in the gym had a soul, but I did, which is why he was talking to me (here I was thinking it was because I was the only other person within several dozen there who spoke English).
As he informed me, they were non-entities almost fully inclined to inertia and organic processes with no spark of consciousness.
I’d been paying more attention to my biceps, but I took his compliment that I supposedly did have a soul pretty well.
Here’s me with a soul and all these losers just wearing their Lululemons and thinking they’re hot sh*t with their ultra-hot girlfriends. Yay, me.
Plus, I assumed with the amount of substances that bald gym dude had done and was probably currently doing, he had some kind of soul X-ray vision.
And that’s exactly the thing: if you feel like you’re spiritually awakening or going down a different track of how you look at life (whether or not it’s reality) you may start to find that you feel kind of distant from all those who are just going about their lives and clocking off at 5 or going for a drink.
So … they’ve got a job and a name and a pretty face to check out in the mirror.
So f*cking what, right?
You’ve got real sh*t you’re trying to figure out.
You’re on this intense journey to the depths of existence and reality while other people are trying to hash out the niceties of their insurance coverage on their 2018 Honda or rejig how to get more likes on Instagram.
You might feel kind of annoyed at people who just want to have fun in life because you’ve learned that there’s so much more to it than temporary enjoyment or bureaucratic housekeeping and rules-following.
3) Spiritual awakening is often non-verbal
Another of the top reasons why spiritual awakening can make you feel disconnected from everyone is that it’s often non-verbal.
Philosophical and theological debates can be engaging, but a lot of spiritual growth takes place in between conversations and interactions.
It takes place in silence, or while pondering the sound of a river in the distance, or meditating.
It may take place on a crowded subway car or while listening to music on your headphones.
The fact is, as you spiritually awake and have insights, you won’t necessarily be full of words and high vocabulary about it.
You’ll be busy feeling, experiencing and pondering, rather than having something intellectual to always talk about.
4) Spiritual awakening is not formulaic and doesn’t fit in hashtags
The truth is that spiritual awakening doesn’t fit in hashtags and isn’t always neat and tidy.
You’re not necessarily going to get “recognition,” nor will being spiritually awakened make you popular or well understood.
But here’s the thing:
If you surf around on YouTube for a while or other popular sources, you may find a lot of similar material about positivity, vibrations, “cosmic shifts,” and reality being an illusion.
These topics are often written and posted about in a highly confident way that sounds like it must be true and profound.
But when you often sign up for the courses and seminars that these kinds of beliefs lead to, you end up finding out something quite sad and scary:
Many of the leaders behind the New Age movement, “Law of Attraction” and other similar spiritual beliefs are not honest or well-intentioned.
The last thing any spiritual seeker wants is a fake guru giving off vibes of being superior while he or she empties out your wallet and says everything in the most complicated, “transcendent” possible-sounding way that’s impossible to understand but basically boils down to: be happier and your life will be better.
Instead, I urge you to check out the shaman Rudá Iandê and his free video on freeing your mind.
Rudá isn’t just another sleazy guru trying to act better than you and show off.
He’s been through many of the same struggles as the rest of us and gone down a powerful spiritual path that led to an awakening to reality and how to apply life-saving lessons to the lives of ordinary people.
Rudá focuses in this video on how you can find real spiritual answers without going down the path of buying into New Age feel-good fraud.
Check out the free video here.
5) Spiritual awakening isn’t all peace and rainbows
Spiritual awakening can put you on edge and clashing with certain views, places, people or norms that you may have previously accepted.
As you become more aware, you become more aware of parts of your life and those in it who aren’t aligned with your values and what’s meaningful to you.
It’s about more than just agreeing or disagreeing.
This is about meaning.
One of the biggest reasons why spiritual awakening can make you feel disconnected from everyone is that you find out that what other people love, care about and praise may not be what you find resonating with you!
Much as you try to force yourself to do what your friends or family do…
To stream the shows they stream…
To admire the books and thinkers they admire…
It’s just not doing it for you!
You’re bored. You’re annoyed. You’re possibly confused and scared.
Many people stay in the same track and pattern their whole life for the simple reason that they don’t know what they would do in a totally new place or situation.
As you begin to spiritually awake, even if you’re where you grew up and in the same situation, you may experience much of this same angst and confusion, running into some real disagreements with what’s around you and how untrue or immoral you feel it is.
6) Spiritual awakening leads to a lot of time spent alone
The next of the reasons why spiritual awakening can make you feel disconnected from everyone is that it takes a lot of time alone.
Any sacred text or philosophical literature speaks of a person spending time apart from the crowds in contemplation, meditation and reflection.
There’s a reason for this:
Spiritual awakening is a process of individuation.
It’s a process of finding an objective truth within your own personal, individual, subjective reality.
This is hard to do. It can involve a lot of pain, confusion and time alone.
As with anything in life, what you put in is what you get out.
And spiritual awakening requires you to put in quite a lot of energy and time.
This is generally done alone, because it is intense and energetic work that’s about thinking of your life, feeling what you feel and meditating on deeper layers of reality and existence.
7) Spiritual awakening can often be mistaken for mental illness
This point is a tricky and controversial one, but it relates to my Oaxacan gym acquaintance at the beginning, who I truly do believe suffered from some form of delusional psychosis.
I am not saying he was dangerous or “bad,” I am simply saying that in my non-clinical view he was suffering from disordered thinking and paranoid delusions with various theories that didn’t even fit together or make much sense and had no internal coherence.
Plenty of people believe in conspiracies without being mentally ill.
But if you believe in every conspiracy and say none of us are even really real and that Bill Gates is having drinks with Osama and you really mean it, then you probably need a small wellness check.
But the reason this is a sensitive point is that:
- Mental illness is not “bad,” nor is it just one blanket category and there are hundreds of shades and subcategories of being mentally unwell
- Mental illness and genius or spiritual wisdom can and have coexisted in many forms historically, including in faiths like Sufism where we see the ideal of “insane” gurus like Hafiz, or in Christianity where Orthodox saints have an entire category of Holy Fools (Fools for Christ) who appeared crazy by worldly standards but were believed to be sent from God.
- Mental illness stigma leads to many understandings of what mental illness is and how much of it is interpretation rather than a black-or-white diagnosis. Furthermore, if somebody is experiencing symptoms of paranoid psychosis for five months and then stops, are they “crazy?” anymore.
Spiritual awakening can be very difficult, especially if you feel you are going crazy or you are indeed experiencing symptoms of mental illness including deep depression, paranoia, anxiety or disordered thinking.
This can make you feel very alone. Just know that many others have gone through their own dark night of the soul as well and come out the other side alive and well.
The bottom line
When you’re going through a spiritual awakening, you’re on edge and feeling confused.
You may be in pain, subject to big mood swings or generally feeling like self-isolating and staying far from the madding crowd.
Spiritual awakening is a kind of rebirth and reconnection with the world of spirit we were in touch with when we were born.
It’s a highly personal and highly intense experience which varies for everyone.
That said, one of the common factors of spiritual awakening can be that you feel very disconnected from those around you, even close friends and family.
It’s not that you’re showing off or want to be “special,” nor are you trying to be intentionally petulant or disagreeable.
It’s simply that you genuinely feel you’re on a different track in life and going through experiences right now that can’t really be communicated or shared.
As Steppenwolf and Siddhartha writer Herman Hesse memorably put it:
“Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom.
It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.”
This can be lonely!
But don’t give up, and keep believing in the beauty and worth of the process.
Love yourself first and everything else falls into place
It may sound conceited or narcissistic to focus on loving yourself first. But it’s not.
The point isn’t to believe you’re better than others or to accept things about yourself that you really do need to change.
It’s about developing a healthy and nurturing relationship with… you!
Loving yourself is about committing to who you are, understanding the many different nuances to your identity, and showing yourself a level of care and intimacy that we usually reserve for other people.
Unfortunately, we’re not taught how to love ourselves from an early age. And we end up caring about what others think of us rather than focusing on what we need at a more fundamental level.
This is why we partnered with Rudá Iandê to produce a free masterclass on transforming our relationships through the practice of self-love.
It’s currently playing on The Vessel (one of our partners) but only for a limited time.
<< The Art of Love & Intimacy with Rudá Iandê >>
Thousands have attended and told us that the masterclass has completely transformed their relationships for the better.
It’s a must-watch and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.