In our most sacred moments of awakening, we feel open, expansive and connected with life in a whole new way.
In the days and weeks that follow, all of that can dramatically change. You may unexpectedly feel small and separate, alone and afraid. You suddenly see all the rough spot in yourself and your life.
After an experience of awakening, we suddenly come face to face with the differences between what we now know to be real and true, and what we actualize and experience in our day-to-day life.
We notice these kind of differences more then ever because our capacity to see clearly has so greatly expanded. This happens whether the awakening is a grand expansion that lasts for months and totally rocks your world, or a small aha moment filled with new insight.
Brings these sometimes vastly different experiences into harmony demands embracing both the expansiveness you have touched, as well as the more human and limited parts of yourself. These internal gaps dissipate as our freshly expanded awareness is integrated into new ways of living, loving, and creating. Sometimes this happens quite gracefully and you feel like you are living in the flow like never before.
And sometimes this post awakening phase can feel like being put through a meat grinder. You may feel totally raw, tender, and vulnerable as you flounder about in unknown territory, unsure of what is coming next.
Internal tension emerges when parts of your psyche resist what you now know to be real and true. If the less evolved parts within are not integrated with the expansiveness you have touched, the inner tension grows. The old and the new perspectives come head to head inside of you. This can create an internal tug of war.
This internal tension can show up in many different forms. You may feel unsettled, anxious, or irritable. There may be a deep sense of loss as the old ways of thinking and living die off.
Once your world has been popped wide open during times of awakening, old behavior patterns are seen in a whole new way.
Your usual reactions and behaviors may now seem small, ineffective, or childish at times. Your typical responses may suddenly seem selfish, manipulative, or domineering. Even if the tired old ways are seen as limited and obsolete after an awakening, they may still be hard to let go of. You have taken comfort in them for a very long time. These strategies often led to getting results you wanted. At the very least, the old ways of thinking, feeling and relating created a sense of safety within the smaller sphere you previously inhabited.
Even when these immature parts are seen through the new lens of awakening, not all parts of your psyche are immediately onboard with the new vision.
In this stage of growth, consciously releasing and tenderly sending your old modes of living on their way is an essential part of bringing about integration and internal harmony. If these losses are not acknowledged and the needed tears are not shed, the sense of loss can easily turn into depression and hopelessness. When this happens, those precious moments of awakening can seem so far out of reach that you feel like you may never be able to access them again. It can feel like the thrill of winning the lottery one month, only to feel the sting of losing it all the next.
Even with times of expansive joy and profound well-being mixed in, the months after awakening can be incredibly difficult to navigate.
The inner tension after awakening can show up as an overstimulated racing mind, filled with conflicting thoughts and ideas about yourself and the world around you. One moment your thinking may be a clear aligned reflection of the expanded awareness of awakening. In the next, your mind may be filled with all kinds of wild crazy talk that runs counter to what you now know to be true. Nothing is stable in this phase, and nothing is certain.
When you are caught in this post awakening tension, you may be full of doubt and confusion. There is often a loss of direction. Somehow you used to know what you wanted and where you were headed. Yet the old desires and motivating forces that governed much of your behavior were often created and driven by a limited sense of self. Which means they were heavily influenced by survival needs, however cleverly dressed up or disguised these needs may have been.
What used to motivate you may now feel flat and uninspiring. Even so, these survival based driving forces may still influence major parts of your life. After awakening you are well on your way to creating a soul centric life, but you are not there yet. And you know it.
Spiritual bypassing is common at this stage.
In spiritual bypassing, we take refuge in spiritual practices, perspectives, roles, and masks in order to avoid facing and dealing with the unresolved shadow aspects of our psyche and behavior. Who wants to clean house and take out the garbage when you have basked in the glorious light of spirit? After the mountain top experience, some seekers don’t ever want to come down to deal with the messiness of their lives and the shadows within their own psyche. These inner shadows are the parts of our psyche that have not yet been brought into harmony with our divine essence.
In spiritual bypassing, the fear based and snarky parts get denied and pushed aside. It is simply too much to endure the tension between the realization that you are a vast benevolent spiritual being at one with all creation, as well as the less evolved, fear infused aspects of your nature. In the post awakening phase you realize you are the vast universe and a small vulnerable child all at once. That is a lot to hold in one breath.
Your sense of identity can split as you feel a new sense of wonder and expansiveness, yet can no longer deny the many shadows within.
On the way towards awakening, we often deny or avoid the shadowy parts of our nature. Or we intentionally rise above the shadows, as we strive towards the light. While those may be effective strategies when you are striving for enlightenment, they can wreak havoc in your life on the other side of an awakening. The blazing light you have touched demands that you see the shadowy parts within so you can consciously bring them into harmony with the light of spirit. Until these inner gaps are bridged, that spiritual light can seem illusive and inaccessible at times.
Integration demands that you continually accept that you are both a saint and sinner, the form and the formless, the wise and the wretched all at once. It offers a powerful opportunity to resolve any tension between these seemingly oppositional forces within so we can find acceptance for the fullness of our human nature.
As integration progresses, we learn to bring the inner shadows into the light of love and wisdom so these parts can grow and evolve into inner strengths and trusted inner allies.
Outer life changes are also common in the post awakening phase of growth. Sometimes changes in relationships, careers, homes, and friends are liberating and productive. Letting go of these familiar life anchors can feel really good and healthy…like taking off a pair of shoes that now feels way too tight. Sometimes this kind of liberating change may be just what is needed.
Outer changes can sometimes be unconscious attempts to shake off post awakening inner tension. Sometimes this strategy is successful, and sometimes not. This approach rarely works in the long run. It can be like a bulimic purging after eating way too much. Purging doesn’t really solve the problem, but it may bring about temporary relief of inner tension. All kinds of addictive behavior can bring about short term relief from post awakening tension. This generally this doesn’t work very well because the addictive behavior doesn’t give the real comfort you are yearning for.
Living with this post awakening gap creates inner tension until the fragmented and compartmentalized parts within evolve and expand, and are more fully integrated.
This integration process can be rapid or torturously slow. Oftentimes different parts of our psyche respond to revelation at different paces. Some parts release their limited perspective easily and are happy to go with the new agenda. The parts that dig in their heels need to be patiently taught how to grow and flow with the expanded life view that awakening revealed.
For some people the needed integration and embodiment never happens. The inner tension is simply to much to navigate. They don’t have the understanding, tools, or support to resolve the internal tension that is so common after awakening.
Sadly, this tension can build into a full blown psychological and spiritual crisis.
One of the reasons for the inability to gracefully integrate after awakening is the tendency to keep going back to the practices and teachings that led to awakening in the first place. They were effective, right?
Meditation got me to that point of awakening, so I should keep meditating, right?
Going on a retreat with that teacher helped open my eyes, so I should keep going back, right?
Fasting for days led me to a clear state of being, so why not keep it up?
Yet, we never know for sure what truly catalyzed our awakenings. It is often a combination of many factors that creates the perfect storm of awakening.
Some people repeat the practices of the past, while others try to chase more moments of awakening by finding new teachers, practices, potions, or mantras. They hope fresh inspiration will take them back to those clear, high moments. Wanting to revisit the bliss and clarity of mountain top experiences is totally understandable. Who doesn’t want to live in a clear expansive state all the time?
Unfortunately, constantly looking for the “high” of awakening or grasping at a sustained experience of awakening can sometimes create even more inner tension.
Once you have reached the mountain top and have been opened by the splendor of the experience, the next step is to integrate and embody what has been revealed. On the mountain top, the mental and emotional clouds part to make way for a new perspective and vision to emerge.
Embodiment is about what we do with that new vision.
It asks that we turn our attention away from awakening towards the creation of a bold new life. This is essentially an inspired creative process. It demands that we take the inspiration of the mountaintop and bring it into vibrant new forms of expression.
The first new form of expression you get to work with is yourself.
In the initial stages of embodiment you are called to recreate a more loving, connected, creative, and radiant version of yourself. This stage is about becoming more attuned to the love, wisdom and strength of your soul, so you can more fully live and express these qualities through your whole being.
We’ve all had them.
Those precious moments when you awaken to life in a whole new way. The inner clouds part and a vibrant new world opens before you. Suddenly everything is different. And anything is possible.
It seems like someone took off the blinders you didn’t even know you were wearing. You can now see for miles, and your view is fresh and clear, lighter and brighter than ever before.
These rare and precious moments of awakening are often the culmination of a long inner quest.
The journey may start with subtle feelings of discontent, or even deep trauma and suffering. Either way, you eventually find yourself in a full blown search for an often undefinable “better” way of life.
Happiness is the way some people define what they are looking for. Others are searching for enlightenment or liberation. Some are simply trying to create a more meaningful and purposeful life.
This quest may be the most significant guiding factor of your life, or it may be a subtle persistent undercurrent in all you do and in every decision you make. Either way, you are deeply yearning for what is fresh and unknown, real and true.
Maybe your quest started with reading self help books, or starting a meditation practice. Maybe you found a guru to guide you along the way. Therapy may have catapulted you into expansive unknown territory. Questioning your thoughts and beliefs can do it as well. Yoga may call you back to the mat over and over again as you are stretched in new ways. At some point you may have tried on wholehearted devotion and mala beads to see if they fit. There might have be a 12 step program thrown in for good measure.
In the midst of it all, you will never know for sure what the final catalyst was that blasted you wide open.
Maybe it was that new meditation practice you did every single day for months. Plant medicine can do it, and so can taking a deep dive in nature. Maybe it was months of celibacy, or it could have been the deep orgasmic ecstasy of high level intimacy that opened you in profound new ways. Childbirth can do it with a rare power and intensity, and so can birthing a creative project.
Maybe it was dancing all night at a festival and then watching a glistening sunrise in the arms of people you love. Or maybe it happened in the last few miles of a marathon when you somehow found the strength to keep going despite the pain in every part of your weary body. Falling in love can open you like nothing else… and so can losing your beloved.
Whatever your unique path to awakening, those sacred moments feel really good. A deep calm settles within. Your body feels lighter, brighter, and more vibrant than ever. Vast wisdom and understanding emerge that weren’t there before.
Awakening takes you to an entirely new state of being, whether the awakening is large or small. In those rare and precious moments, we transcend the limitations that constantly condition our experience. And we are often shaken to our core as a vast new version of reality is suddenly revealed.
However you got there, one thing is sure. You will never be the same again.
Moments of awakening bring you to an entirely new place. There is something totally fresh, yet strangely familiar here too. You touch a sweet pure divine remembrance that runs deep and true. This new place feels like home. You feel like you have finally arrived where you have always longed to be.
As sweet as it is to revel in these delicious experiences of awakening, this post is not just about awakening. It is about what happens after awakening.
When we first awaken, we often naively think those precious moments will be the new normal. You feel rocked to the core. How could life ever be the same? The vast implications of the expansive awareness that suddenly flowed through you cannot be unremembered.
Once these inner doors are thrown wide open, they will never go all the way back to where they were before.
Yet all too often, those pristine moments of awakening dim as you settle into something approximating your previous state of existence. Sweet new waves of bliss and wisdom may come and go, yet in the midst of it all, there you are… very much like you have always been. And there is your life… with all the same challenges you have wrestled with for years.
Those sacred moments can never be erased or taken from you, but they can easily recede as the challenges of everyday life come back to the forefront of your attention. The precious moments of awakening can rapidly become faint memories and vague recollections. They are sweet, but also bittersweet because their fullness feels just beyond your reach.
In this phase of the journey, the days and weeks and even years after an awakening, you may sometimes feel a bit like a deflated balloon. When a balloon is first blow up, it is stretched and expanded by all the fresh warm air coming inside. After the air is released, the balloon never goes back to its original shape. It is somewhere in-between... not the virgin balloon, nor the full blown balloon. The in-between balloon is rather limp and uninspiring.
There is often an uncomfortable in-between space after experiences of awakening. The time of expansion is over, and you have contracted again. At least to some degree. This is often a time of great frustration, because you know what it feels like to be filled with fresh warm air. You know what it feels like to be bigger and brighter than ever. Yet, some days you are living like a deflated balloon because you haven’t discovered how to sustain these expansive states; or even better yet, how to burst the limitations of the balloon all together.
In many traditions, awakening is considered to be the coveted prize. Yet awakening isn’t ever really the ultimate goal. Awakening is simply a step along the way. It is most definitely a significant step, yet one that calls us to establish an even deeper state of sustained wellbeing.
When you awaken, a vast and expansive world view opens before you. Each cell in your body is set afire. Every trapped and unresolved emotion suddenly yearns to be set free. The thoughts you once held to be true suddenly seem limited and narrow, and maybe even a bit foolish.
In the blazing light of awakening, the limitations we have lived with for so long are brilliantly exposed.
This brings about a classic good news/bad news scenario. The good new is that the world is infinitely more vast and loving than you ever imagined. The bad news is that you are still living in a cage of your own making. You are still held tight by fears, twisted memories, distorted beliefs, and false hopes.
The next step after awakening is learning how to turn these most sacred moments into a life of sustained love, connection, and creativity.
This is rarely an easy or graceful process. It is often a deeply challenging phase of growth. As difficult as this stage can be, each experience of awakening deeply and persistently calls to be integrated, embodied, more fully lived, and creatively expressed.
Moments of awakening are not meant to become moments of lost splendor, never to be touched upon again. Awakening nudges us to find new ways to express the connectedness we have experienced.
Embodiment involves closing the gap between what was revealed in your most sacred moments, and what you are currently living.
Embodiment empowers you to gracefully deepen and expand those juicy 'aha' moments so they eventually became your new normal—the ground you fearlessly and naturally stand upon. Embodiment progresses as you integrate what was revealed in those expansive states of awareness.
These two interdependent phases of the path, awakening and embodiment, are meant to work harmoniously together. They are the polarities of growth that are meant to dance and move as harmoniously and gracefully as day and night, masculine and feminine, giving and receiving.
We continually go through cycles of awakening and embodiment, creatively weaving these sometimes seemingly paradoxical yet complimentary impulses into the beautiful tapestry of our lives.
Heartbreaking loss is one of the most painful experiences of being human.
When you’re heartbroken, suddenly the world doesn't feel quite as safe anymore. Your trust in the goodness of life waivers. The connections you counted on become tattered and frayed, and sometimes completely severed.
Any of these experiences can be a catalyst for heartbreaking loss…
The death of a beloved spouse, friend, or parent.
A divorce, or an unwanted breakup (again!)
The death of a pet who has been there every single day through thick and thin.
A big empty nest.
Being abandoned or betrayed by someone you counted on and trusted.
Heartbreaking loss makes you reevaluate everything you thought you knew about life and love. It can tear you apart and brings you to your knees. Over and over again.
But only if you let it.
As hard as heartbreak can be, surviving and learning to thrive after a heartbreaking loss can be one of the most triumphant experiences of your life.
Heartbreak demands that we face the hardest parts of being human. It calls us deep into the shadows of our core wounds. It also offers a powerful opportunity to heal and become more authentically alive and engaged in life. It can be a powerful catalyst to courageously awakening our innate love, wisdom and spiritual awareness.
The essence of heartbreak is feeling the presence, love, and support of someone…. and then it is gone. The love is gone, and the support vanishes. The one you depended on, and maybe even cherished, isn’t there for you anymore.
When someone you love isn’t there for you in the ways they used to be, big empty spaces often fill the places in your heart once reserved for them. Sometimes those empty spaces are filled with a never-ending flood of tears. At other times the pain and anger feel like they have taken over every part of your life.
Our culture often denies heartbreak and the need to fully grieve and heal. In the midst of loss, we often quietly fall into the life diminishing habits of denial and repression.
We turn away from the pain. Or we fall so deeply into it we feel like we are drowning in a sea of despair.
We medicate. We binge. We sob until the tears run dry, or push the tears so far down everything grows cold and hard.
Yet, no matter how hard you try to “get over it and move on”, unless the wound is tended to, heartbreak lingers and it keeps right on hurting. In times of emotional heartbreak, the parts of the brain that registers physical pain are also activated.
Heartbreak hurts, deep down and all around. I know. I’ve been there. More than once.
I’ve gone to the depths of heartbreak, and eventually found my way back into the light. Stronger, wiser and happier than before.
The unexpected passing of my beloved five years ago was a catalyst for healing not only the grief about his death, but for also facing a lifetime of unresolved heartbreak and disappointment. My healing demanded that I come to terms with all the times people I loved and counted on weren’t there for me in ways large and small.
Each time I allowed myself to grieve, something seemingly miraculous, yet quite natural happened. Love and more love emerged within and all around me. As I embraced my grief, my heart continued to open and expand.
Most significant of all, instead of feeling like a victim of my beloved's death, I knew that healing this heartbreak was one of the greatest gift I have ever been given.
As I healed my own heartbreaking losses, I became acutely aware of the great cloud of collective loss that dampens many people's ability to fully and freely live and love.
Most people have multiple significant unresolved heartbreaks in their lives.
Maybe it was the breakup or divorce you never really got over. Or the death of someone significant and trusted. Or even a major life transition that felt like a loss.
Whatever the unresolved losses, we pay a great price for not embracing and healing them. Depression, addiction, and the inability to create supportive relationships are but a few of the common results of unresolved loss.
From my own experience of grieving my beloved’s death, as well as grieving a divorce that occurred many years earlier, and other lesser losses, this is what I have come to know…
The deep pool of unresolved grief that so many people carry within every single day can be transformed into an infinite source of love.
Since my time of deep grieving, I have supported many others in navigating the sacred journey of grief so they can thrive again after loss.
Through a series of energy psychology and relationship coaching sessions focussed on healing their losses, clients find acceptance, peace, and more love than ever before.
This is the kind of support and guidance I needed when I was deep in the shadows of grief and heartache, which I now give to others.
If you are interested in finding out more about how you can heal unresolved loss and heartbreak, click here to schedule a free introductory consultation.
P.S. Please feel free to pass this message along to a friend who is suffering from a heartbreaking loss.
An energy therapist, relationship and spiritual life coach, Ariana is a lover of love in all of its many delicious forms; self love, couples love, family love, community love and ultimately, the universal love that pervades all.