Breaking Down the Hidden Dangers of the Spiritual Awakening Process

Hidden Dangers of Spiritual Awakening
Reading time: 9 Minutes

What I wish I knew about spiritual awakening, how to recognize spiritual red flags, and helpful tips for easing past them.

You’ve found your way to this article, and maybe what drew you is a part of you that knows spiritual awakening is not all rainbows and states of bliss, or maybe it’s just general curiosity. Whatever the reason, the truth of it is this: 

Spiritual awakening can be a destructive and difficult process. 

I began to catch on to this idea well before I experienced a spontaneous awakening. There was a gradual awakening process that flowed over years of painful and traumatic experiences leading up to an intense spontaneous spiritual awakening. Oh, how I wish someone had told me what happens when we speed up the process. I did this by accident. I wasn’t trying to awaken. I had done a little Kundalini yoga sporadically throughout the years, but never as an attempt to achieve an awakening. I was seeking. What? I don’t know. I just knew there was something bigger than me and the life I was perpetually creating for myself and I wanted to know what it was. I wanted to know what it was that kept my hope alive when I didn’t have enough money, or when my partner left me, or when I experienced the deaths of several of my loved ones in a short span of time. How did I keep going? How did I still have the capacity for joy; how did I still believe I had purpose, even when I had no idea what it was? 

There was something bigger, some large unanswered question, and I wanted to know The Answer. 

Hidden Dangers of Spiritual Awakening

I’m amused now that I thought I could ever find The Answer because awakening is just a slow roll to a knowingness that awakens new questions. The more we learn, the more questions there are to ask. It’s a beautiful, infinite journey of growth.  

 Imagine my shock in discovering there wasn’t an end to the process. Awakening for me, as I looked back and realized this had been an ongoing process throughout my life, had been gradual, then intense, and then gradual again. Cycles with many themes and lessons that brought clarity. There is no finality of awakening in this human life, and there is no certificate at the end of difficult events, though each cycle that is completed truly does feel like a graduation. There is a slow dawning of truth that then opens up new questions. There are intense realizations, destruction of ideations, social and spiritual constructs; the frustration of not knowing, a burning of the fields and an embrace of new growth, new ideas, new paths before us, and a deep desire to share our experiences to help others. And so it continues, the path of the seeker, the student, the teacher.

My Awakening

And what happened to me? Or Through me? Or really, for me? When I say I had an awakening experience, what did I actually experience? I’ll share a couple of the thousands of things that occurred in my own intense and spontaneous spiritual explosion that followed years of loss, trauma, and healing. Some events were lovely, some were awful, and there were things that happened through me that I would never have believed could happen, but we will stay a bit on the lighter side for now. All of this was a shock to me, completely unknown and unstudied. I had no idea what was happening. 

I would slowly wake, each morning, seeing faces float in and out of my mind’s eye, and foggy colors when I meditated as well as symbols. I communicated more clearly with my loved ones who had passed than I ever had before. I saw things in the physical world more vividly, colors were brighter and more vibrant. I thought that I looked younger, my eyes clearer, that I was shorter. I thought I was growing shorter and then taller, when in actuality I remained the same height. I went through an intense purge, became very ill for several days, during this time of purging and illness, I processed through past life situations, healing issues with past loved ones pertaining to situations that had occurred while they were still living. I experienced excruciating physical and emotional pain.

Every insecurity I had was pulled out of me and laid before me as if I needed to perfect myself. That was what the goal was, right? Perfection? No. Not at all, but clearly somewhere within, I thought so. My own ego was monstrous during this time. I was my worst self. I felt as if I were naked and all of my worst traits were displayed on my skin in bright and legible sharpie, and I was my worst and harshest critic. I frightened my family and I constantly emotionally pummeled myself exhaustively and for days. 

Thankfully, I had the support of my sister and my daughter, who brought me down to earth and reminded me who I was while also honoring the experience as something mystical and important. They were my sort of awakening doulas, helping usher me into a new phase of my life. I later sought a transpersonal therapist to unpack some of these experiences, and turned to books and guided journals. There was a lot to unpack, in just two weeks, I felt like I had undergone years of intense therapy. I hung up the meditation for some time, out of fear, and it was months before I would have the courage to step back into my daily spiritual practices. 

I’m amused now that I thought I could ever find The Answer because awakening is just a slow roll to a knowingness that awakens new questions. The more we learn, the more questions there are to ask. It’s a beautiful, infinite journey of growth.  

The following are hidden dangers to be aware of in the spiritual awakening process and some helpful tips to keep in mind or put to use. We cannot avoid the pain of growth and knowledge, but we can avoid some of the traps that lead to a longer and more painful process. This is in no way an exhaustive list. These all relate to the number one obstacle in our understanding of who we truly are, where we come from, and what our purpose is: the ego. We are the cause of our own suffering. We are the cause of our healing. And we are all, every single one of us, in this together.

Red Flags

When any of these arise you need to check yourself. Giving in to any of these will pose the danger of delaying your process and creating unnecessary pain:

  • You think you are a perfect ENLIGHTENED being. There are many enlightenment rabbit holes. I assure you, if you feel you are fully enlightened, you have fallen down and learned much about one rabbit hole of the infinite number of rabbit holes we can fall into. We do not reach a fully enlightened state within a human body. The systems we are given are specifically designed to prevent this. Our Mind and Body are the veil, they keep us from remembering All, and our purpose here is to be limited and to seek. 
  • You think you are an angel, a demon, a deity, an alien, a god, and you are here to free, save, or destroy the human race. 
  • You think you are going to be wealthy, famous, young, fit, perfect, and all overnight. Any or all of these may be in the plan for you, but they won’t come without some sort of effort. Transformation is not just handed to us; we struggle with imperfections and have desires for a reason, and that reason is growth. 
  • You think you know the right way to true enlightenment and everyone else is wrong. 
  • You think you are possessed. 
  • You think you are dying. 
  • You think you have to follow a certain path, person, or organization, to find peace. 
  • You think you have to save the world or end the world. 
  • You feel fear. Fear is a sign you aren’t connected to the clarity of the process.

Great Big List of Tips to Ease the Process

  • When any red flag comes up, ask yourself what it relates to. I processed through so much in just two week’s time. It took months afterward to untangle the experiences to determine what they were teaching me. Some of my personal boogie men were vanity, insecurity, and personal power. 
  • Be humble. No true leader leads to empower themselves, but to empower others. The most impactful leaders serve others. 
  • The truth is usually subtle and not at all grandiose, but rather a quiet knowing.
  • What is true for you may not be true for others; and what is true for others may not be true for you. This does not make anyone wrong. 
  • Nothing is urgent. Spirit does not work in urgency. If no one is bleeding, there is no need to rush. 
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Understand there will be painful growth; loss, shifting of personal lives and beliefs; deep realizations and understandings; processing of trauma from this life and maybe from past lives, breaking old habits only to find there are others that then need to be broken. Any number of painful experiences can occur. Creating a new relationship with pain can ease the process.  
  • Realize you aren’t going to figure it all out and find out how to be ok with that. 
  • Get Curious. If you haven’t read about my shift in understanding of from frustration to curiosity you can read it here: Get Curious
  • Continue your spiritual practices, and if they are too intense focus on grounding, salt baths, reading, walking, swimming, and other calm and less intense practices. 
  • Be discerning about the experts you listen to and more discerning about the experts you give your money to. Many of those who claim to be experts are grifters in disguise. I discovered this the hard way, and it cost me thousands of dollars. 
  • Trust your intuition, but first, learn to decipher what that is. See my previous post on deciphering intuition from ego here: The Secret to Unlocking Clarity
  • Have and rely on at least one person who knows and trusts you deeply and who you know and trust deeply. 
  • Seek a trusted professional. 
  • You are your own guru. I spent so many years seeking a guru, an expert, when all along I had access to infinite knowledge, I just had to understand how to access it. 
  • You do not have to travel to another country or go on a pilgrimage to experience an awakening. 
  • You are the light and you are the darkness. All that you experience is YOU.
  • If you are ever in a space where you feel you may harm yourself or someone else, reach out to emergency services immediately. 

If you have had some of these experiences or experienced something I haven’t touched on here, I would love to hear about it. Please make a comment below or send me an email. We are seekers, we are students and we are teachers. We are not enlightened beings to be placed on pedestals and worshiped, but rather beings seeking enlightenment, and sharing to help all of those on similar paths. Our purpose is to learn, and grow, and teach what we learn in whatever capacity is natural to us.

Awakening continues on and on, and though it isn’t always destructive and painful, it can be, but it balances out once we begin to flow with the process. There are patterns and cycles, and they are different for each one of us. Respecting ourselves, our own process, and the processes of others is paramount, as is not calling other people out when we think they have it all wrong. There are many levels of truth; what is true to us now is more solid and accurate than what may have been true to us in the past, and as we grow and learn what is true for us will change with new knowledge and understanding. We are all on our own path, not one more valid than another. 

Enjoy the mystery with curiosity and know you are complete. Be mindful of the potential dangers, but don’t dwell in fear on them. You are empowered. You are a sovereign being. Step into your full potential. 

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