Spiritual awakening is hard because it involves letting go of our old self, habits, and views. To experience spiritual awakening you first have to embrace the unknown and end the cycle of identification.
The spiritual person shifts from a limited point of view to a higher, more unitive, non-dual perspective, which can initially be perceived as the “death” of your sense of self.
In the East a common religious icon is Buddha sitting in the lotus position; very peaceful, very calm, very relaxed — well, that’s after Buddhist enlightenment. But in order to become enlightened, then you have the icon that’s much more common in the West, and that’s someone being crucified.Ken Wilber
Definition of spiritual awakening
Though spiritual awakening can, eventually, lead to life-changing shifts in consciousness and awareness such as enlightenment, it doesn’t have to be that profound.
“Awakening” itself can be as simple as getting in touch with your spiritual side, or even the realization that there is a spiritual side in the first place.
Such understanding is usually an experience (that is “felt”) as well as a mental discovery (that is “thought”).
For example, during a spiritual awakening you may realize that the material, tangible world isn’t all there is, and feel a new sense of harmony, connection, or purpose.
What causes spiritual awakening?
Just like you don’t need to identify with any religion to cultivate your spirituality, spiritual awakening is not necessarily the result of any religious path.
Something as profound as spiritual awakening is totally subjective; it can happen after years of meditative or contemplative practices just like it could happen during a life-changing event.
Because awakening requires you to detach from the limited self (this happens literally in mystical states such as enlightenment), many experience it after some type of sudden loss or crisis.
This could be as simple as the loss of a job, or as serious as a near-death experience in which the individual realizes consciousness exists beyond body/mind.
Why spiritual awakening is hard
Though spiritual or mystical experiences are actually more common than you may think, it seems that the majority of people do not experience any real, lasting awakening in their life.
And of course, more radical transformations of the self/identity such as enlightenment are quite rare, and the path toward them is a lot longer and harder than a single meditation session.
Why, though? Here are ten reasons…
Not only is spiritual awakening something you experience on your own — you may also find that what you feel cannot be communicated or expressed to those around you.
The spiritual person may develop habits and ways of thinking that don’t necessarily appeal to the average person and/or old friends, which is why some lose friends after their awakening.
We may identify with our career, possessions, circle of friends, etc. It’s relatively easy to realize we are not these things, but it’s a lot trickier when it comes to our own body and mind.
Take our thoughts, for instance. When we have a thought, especially if there are feelings associated with it, we feel that the thought is part of us, that it defines us. And to be able to let go of that turns out to be really hard.
There is a skeptic in all of us, and we should be thankful for that — we continuously filter and distinguish between true and false, and this is a vital skill. It’s not just being cynical.
Now, spirituality and everything that relates to it happens to be hard to understand, perhaps even harder to experience, through a purely logical/rational approach, and this is the third reason why awakening can be so hard.
We’ve already seen how life-changing events can trigger some sort of spiritual transformation, and besides non-identification, the reason for that is that such events force us to pause and reflect.
It’s hard to do that in the chaotic modern world where we barely have time to do anything. In fact, whenever we pause and don’t do anything in particular we almost feel guilty; we fill our time with work, and when we’re done, we fill it with distractions.
5. Unhealthy habits
To truly get in touch with your spiritual side, you’re going to have to say goodbye to a lot of common habits that turn out to be toxic to both your body and mind.
The wrong type of nourishment (both in a literal sense e.g. food and as a metaphor e.g. anger) blocks energy and limits your intuition and connection to the higher self. This is why fasting has been a spiritual practice for thousands of years.
6. Fear of judgment
Would you be comfortable sharing your own spiritual awakening with everyone, in general? Probably not — I certainly wouldn’t be. Some will understand, or even relate; some won’t, and will judge instead.
I feel there are still a lot of misconceptions about spiritual growth, including the one that if you are into spirituality you must be either naive or a “fool”. Naturally, this makes spiritual awakening even harder.
7. Fear of the unknown
It’s not just fear of what others may think of us, though — there is an even bigger fear, and that is the unknown. Who knows what’s going to happen once you decide to explore something that’s hard to even define?
When you go beyond everything that you have identified with, so far, be it the ego, or your old sense of who you really are, things can actually get scary, and there can be a voice inside that begs you to go back.
8. Fear of change
Change is uncomfortable. Change requires effort. We have evolved, but after thousands of years, our brain is still programmed to avoid new things unless they clearly benefit us.
The problem is, it’s hard to know the benefits of something unless you first experience it. Spiritual awakening requires (and causes) changes in how you see the world as well as yourself rather than the path of least resistance.
9. The shadow
This is a concept that was first introduced by Freud, and then Jung, which refers to a negative aspect or trait of our personality that is repressed and remains unconscious/hidden.
To overcome the shadow, you first have to bring it to the conscious level and that’s something most of us are just not willing to do. Real spiritual growth cannot occur unless we first take care of our own darker side, and that in itself is hard.
The last reason spiritual awakening is hard is that it’s not as simple as a single shift, realization, or breakthrough. Even if you experience enlightenment, you could then go back to your old self unless you keep working on your spirituality.
Much like physical health, spirituality is a journey rather than a single meditation session. Rather than a “goal”, spirituality should be seen as a way of life/state of being.
Was spiritual awakening hard for you?
Each of us experiences spiritual transformation differently. For me personally it came after the pain of a sudden loss, and it was anything but easy.
Has it been difficult for you? And if so, what has been the hardest part? If you are comfortable sharing, feel free to leave a comment below. Have an amazing day! 😉