Spiritual awakening is not a state, experience or goal to reach in the future. As the Buddha taught, it is not a superhuman achievement or attainment. You don’t have to travel to India to find it. It is not a special state of perfection reserved for enlightened beings, the lucky or the privileged few.
Spiritual awakening is not an out-of-body experience, and it does not involve living in a cave, detaching yourself from the realities of this world. It cannot be transmitted to you by a fancy guru, nor can it be taken away or lost. You do not have to become anyone’s disciple or follower.
It is a constant and ancient invitation – throughout every moment of your life – to embrace yourself exactly as you are, in all your glorious imperfections.
Spiritual awakening is about being present, coming out of the epic story of past and future (“the story of my life”) and showing up for this precious moment, knowing that even your feelings of non-acceptance are accepted here. It is about radically opening up to this extraordinary gift of a life, embracing both the pain and the joy of it, the bliss and the sorrow, the ecstasy and the overwhelm. Knowing that you are life itself – vast, awake, alive, free – never separate from the Whole.
Fill the uncomfortable area in your body with oxygen, warmth, and dignity. Don’t try to ‘heal’ the sensations, or even ‘let go’ of them. They want to be met, honored, included in the present scene.
Assume that even discomfort holds intelligence; that it’s not ‘against’ you. Know that true joy is not the absence or opposite of sadness or pain, but the willingness to embrace it all.
6. Acceptance Is Not Something You ‘Do’, It Is What You Are
Acceptance doesn’t mean that an unpleasant thought or feeling will go away; it may stay awhile. Don’t try to accept it (as this is often resistance in disguise) but acknowledge that it is ALREADY accepted, already here, already part of the scene.
Treat it as if it perhaps will always be here! This removes the pressure of time (trying to make it go away, wondering why it’s “still here”). It IS here, now. Bow before THIS reality. Be curious.
And allow any urges, any feelings of frustration, boredom, disappointment or even despair, to come up too and be included. They are all part of the present scene, not blocks. Even a feeling of blockage is part of the scene!
7. There Is No ‘Always’ And No ‘Never’
In reality, there is no ‘always’ and no ‘never’. Be mindful of these words; they are lies, and can create a sense of urgency and powerlessness; they feed the story of seeking and lack.
There is no ‘rest of my life’, no ‘for years’, no ‘all day long’. There is only Now, your only place of power. Sometimes even thinking about tomorrow is just too much work. Be here.
8. You Can Only Get ‘There’ By Being ‘Here’
Often we focus so much on the goal or destination that we forget the journey, disconnect from each precious step, and stress is created, the sense that we are ‘Not There Yet’. Yet joy can only be found in the here and now and has nothing to do with goals, destinations, or getting what you want.
Take the focus off the 10,000 steps to come, the 10,000 steps you have not yet trodden, the 10,000 things that are missing right now, and remember the present step, this ancient living ground, your own intimate presence. Breathe. Feel the life in your body.
Often we don’t know where we are headed, and that’s perfectly okay. Befriend any uncertainty, doubt, trepidation that you feel; learn to love this sacred place of no answers. It is alive and creative and full of potential.
9. Embrace Your Stumbling; It Is Perfect Too
If you realize that you’re lost in a story, that you’re disconnected, that you’ve forgotten the moment, celebrate. You have just woken up from a dream. A great intelligence is alive in you, a power to realize and connect.
You have stepped out of millions of years of conditioning. Don’t punish yourself for forgetting, but celebrate your ability to remember! The moment doesn’t mind that you forgot it! Forgetting is a perfect scene in the movie. Allow yourself to forget, sometimes!
Be humbled by the journey rather than trying to be ‘perfect’. Doubt, disappointment, and disillusionment will be constant friends along this pathless path. There is no destination in presence, no image of ‘success’ to live up to. You cannot go wrong when there is no image of ‘right.’
10. Stop Comparing; You Are Life Itself!
You are unique; your journey is wholly original. We may all be expressions of the very same ocean of consciousness, but at the same time, we are all unique expressions of that very ocean, totally unique in our wave-ness!
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! When you start comparing, you devalue your own unique, irreplaceable gifts, talents and truths and disconnect from your unique present experience. Don’t compare this moment with an image of how it could, should, or might have been.
Healing is possible when you say YES to where you are now, even if it’s not where you dreamed you would be ‘by now’. Trust, and trust sometimes that you cannot trust.
Perhaps even your inability to trust can be trusted here, and even the feeling that you cannot hold the moment is itself already being held.
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By Jeff Foster
This article (10 of the Most Life-Changing Principles in a Spiritual Awakening) has been originally published on Humans Are Free and is reposted here with permission.