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.
This week I’m honoring the bountiful life of my beloved, Douglas, who passed away suddenly five years ago.
We had a deep soul connection that is rare and precious. On his birthday I scrolled through photos of our rich time together. I smiled all the way down to my toes as I remembered the nourishing and crazy beautiful times we shared. And then the waves of tears came. They were tears of remembrance for all that was, and tears of deep longing for all that might have been. They flowed even move intensely when I thought of all the life experiences he is now missing.
As I was remembering and loving him, I suddenly felt his strong presence all around me. An intense quickening moved through my whole being that brought goose bumps and overwhelming gratitude.
I felt his presence, his love and support, and his deep acceptance of the turn his life had taken.
It felt like his strong hand was on my back, holding me and reassuring me of the power of the connection we share, then and now. In that moment I was humbled by the strength of his soul and his ever-present commitment to loving. It was a moment to cherish forever.
Feeling his presence since he passed out of his body is very different from being hugged by Douglas while he was alive in his tall strong body. Yet, the essence of the connection is clearly the same.
The outer connections from body to body may be severed, yet the true connection, soul to soul, never dies.
This is true whether someone has crossed over or not. So why not take a moment right now, and send a wave of love to someone you are connected with, soul to soul. You might just make their day.
In loving connection,
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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.