A spiritual awakening is best described as a moment in your life when you stop operating on autopilot and realise the point of life isn’t just to ‘get yours’ and achieve material success. Instead, something wakes up within you and you start to feel like you have a purpose much bigger than you previously realised.
But while we openly talk about physical life stages, like puberty, the menopause and even mid-life crises, we, as a society, aren’t quite there with spiritual awakenings. And this means that if you’re experiencing spiritual growth or a big shift, it can be a pretty lonely and confusing time.
The truth is that if you think you may be having a spiritual awakening, you probably are (it wouldn’t cross your mind otherwise). But if you want to make sure, here are nine spiritual awakening signs and symptoms to look out for.
Spiritual awakening signs
Before we delve into the common signs of a spiritual awakening, it’s worth pointing out that a spiritual awakening usually isn’t a short process. It’s one that can take years (or even a lifetime). It tends to play out over different stages, and it’s possible to move backward and forward between these stages. The official number of spiritual awakening stages varies depending on who you ask. Some people, including the author and spiritual figure Deepak Chopra, say there are five main stages, while others believe there are up to 12. But regardless of the actual number, the stages can be grouped into three broad phases.
- The awakening – you realise there’s more to life and you want to find it.
- The struggle – you’re looking for answers, but you can’t find them as quickly as you’d like. You’re also losing your old identity, but a new one hasn’t formed yet, so you feel lost and stuck in limbo. This stage can come with a deep sense of depression and despair.
- The realisation – you finally understand the point of it all and your true nature. You surrender to how life is and stop struggling against it.
Of course, this is just a very rough synopsis of a pretty meaty topic. So, if you want to know more, stay tuned. We’ll be exploring the different stages of a spiritual awakening in more depth in a future article.
Now, back to those nine spiritual awakening signs and symptoms
You feel like you’re stuck in the Matrix
One of the most universal signs of a spiritual awakening is a realisation that the facade (known as life) you previously bought into is just that, a facade. Like Neo in the film, The Matrix, you realise that we’re all operating at a superficial level, but there’s really something much deeper going on. (Read our theory on the real meaning of life for a full explainer). You may not feel ready to find out what that ‘something deeper’ is just yet, but regardless of if you take action or not, you can’t escape the feeling that deep down there’s something else going on.
You’ve started to question things you used to believe
Once you start to realise the life you were sold isn’t quite the full story, cracks start to show up in many different areas of your life. You may have been brought up believing (or not believing) in an all-seeing being who lives in the heavens, and suddenly you find yourself questioning everything about the idea of God. Or you may have dedicated years to furiously climbing the career ladder because you believed your worth was linked to having the right job title, bank balance and moving in the ‘right’ circles, but suddenly these things feel completely pointless.
Your life feels empty
Another way a shift in your beliefs can make its presence felt is a feeling of emptiness in life. This emptiness comes from a space created by the loss of your attachment to the things you used to believe in. Once they feel pointless or like a lie, the enjoyment you used to get from them disappears. This means you may find that getting a big promotion or pay rise at work, taking a trip to paradise or meeting your perfect partner feels great at first, but the rush soon wears off and you return to a place of emptiness and unfulfillment, no matter what happens in your external life. You may find yourself chasing one high after another to escape the emptiness, but the high always ends, and the hole within you returns.
You feel lost
Before your awakening, you were on a well-planned journey and thought you knew the goal (the goal being the usual societal cliche: work hard, make money, find a life partner, retire). But now your awakening has got you questioning the point of life and your true purpose, it’s like you’ve been thrown out of a chauffeured car and you’ve now got to find your way to an unknown destination with no one to guide you.
This is one of the hardest aspects of spiritual awakening and the main reason why so many people look to a spiritual teacher or guide when they reach this stage of the process.
You’ve got a new appreciation of spirituality
Following on from the last point, when you’re feeling lost, it’s common to look to spirituality for guidance. This may be in the form of a teacher, ancient wisdom or scriptures, modern books on the topic, religious groups or something else. You may find that ideas you used to dismiss as ‘hippy crap’ or ‘woo woo rubbish’ suddenly start to make sense and you become more open to metaphysical ideas (those suggesting that there’s a reality outside human perception).
You’re noticing signs, clues and synchronicities more
And as you become more open to spirituality, you’re likely to notice spiritual teachings showing up in your everyday life. Coincidences and synchronicities may seem to happen more frequently or things you would previously have dismissed as a coincidence hold more meaning to you and feel like signs (or cheeky winks) from the universe that all is well.
You’re giving others a break more
It’s also common to notice a shift in the way you view and relate to others when you’re going through spiritual growth. You may find that you feel more compassionate toward people and you’re willing to see things from a different point of view. Whether it’s the homeless person you used to walk past every day without really noticing or those adverts of starving children in war-torn countries, they pull at your heartstrings more and you feel compelled to help.
You want to be in nature more
As you continue on your spiritual awakening journey, watch out for a growing desire to be in the great outdoors or in the presence of nature. You may feel more connected with the wider world and find peace, grounding and clarity when you’re surrounded by nature.
From small things like needing to feel the earth under your bare feet and eating more natural foods, to feeling called to travel to the other side of the world to experience new sights, sounds and ways of living, it’s all likely to happen during your spiritual awakening.
You can’t relate to some friends and family members like you used to
Finally, you may find that the dynamics of old friendships and relationships change. Whether you recognise the shift has come from you or it feels like the friend, lover or family member has changed, it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that the desire you used to have to spend time with certain people (and the comfort you got from them) will most likely disappear when you’re undergoing great spiritual growth. At the same time, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward new people you may previously have found dull, weird or simply not your cup of tea.
Don’t fight it – it’s all part of the process.
So, having read these nine signs of spiritual awakening, what do you think? Could you be going through a spiritual awakening of your own? Tell us how it started for you in the comments below.