The 5 Stages of Awakening on The Path of Consciousness
What does it really mean to awaken? It is fair to say that awakening is a journey from limitation to freedom — from unconscious to conscious. Whether you intentionally choose to take this journey or an unexpected experience propels you onto the path, once you start, there is no turning back.
It is true that the journey might be quite arduous at times, but no matter how long or challenging, the extraordinary destination far exceeds any bumps and bruises along the way. The end result of full awakening is freedom from personal suffering, clarity of mind, boundless joy, inner peace and the ability to live an incredibly fulfilling life. The awakened state holds everything we have ever desired, and so much more.
Where Are You and What Comes Next?
There are Five Stages of Awakening, and when you understand each stage, and where you are on the journey, you can recognize the sign posts along the way, and the possible pitfalls to avoid.
Please use the following guide as a way to navigate the stages of awakening, but keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different. There is no right or wrong way to wake up. Like art, it is all beautiful and perfect.
Stage 3 of Awakening – The Stage of Introspection
Immense personal/spiritual growth and the start of conscious evolution through self-discovery.
In Stage 3 of Awakening, we begin a journey of introspection. In Stage 2, we rebelled against the external world with little or no success in relieving our pain, suffering or discomfort, so now we retreat as we begin to seek answers inside ourselves.
We start to disentangle from mass consciousness, releasing many limiting beliefs that were programmed into us by asleep parents, teachers, culture, society, religion and media. As we release these beliefs, we may experience both grief and relief. If we spent a life time imprisoned in beliefs that caused emotional suffering, physical hardship and lost happiness, we may grieve for the life we never had, and at the same time, we may feel great relief as we break free from limitation.
As we recognize how asleep we have been, we can clearly see that most people we know are still asleep. We try to wake them up, but our attempts are seen as judgmental and, therefore, met with deaf ears.
Not surprisingly, with our eyes wide open, it is common to experience greater judgment of other people (friends and strangers alike), society and the world. Others may feel our judgment and defensively respond with their own judgment of us. We are seen as different, weird and maybe even crazy. Sooner or later, we decide to keep our growing awareness to ourselves; maybe rationalizing that it’s better to be silent than be judged. At this point, we don’t have a lot of hope that others will wake up.
We are still focused on everything that is wrong in our lives, and in the world, but, at the same time, we have resistance to letting go. The process of letting go is often “the work” in this stage, and, as we learn to let go, Stage 3 is where we may leave unsatisfying jobs, intimate relationships, families, friendships, religions, organizations and any disempowering ways of life. We may disentangle from roles we played, reject our past identity, and there may even be a total withdrawal from society.
Our former model of the world is failing and we no longer see the world in black and white or good and bad. There may be a growing sense that we are all connected, but at the same time we may feel completely disconnected from every other human being. In many ways, we are faced with the dichotomy of life and existence.
The most common attribute of stage three is loneliness. In a sea of billions of people, you may feel like you are the only one awake; no one understands you, and there is no one with whom to connect. At this point, you might begin to question “the questioning” – why did you ever begin this journey? What’s the point of waking up, if you must be alone and lonely? After all, you might have been unhappy when you were asleep but at least you had friends, family and people who cared about you. Now, there is no one. You consider “going back.” You wish you could forget about everything you now know just so you can be part of a family or community. You yearn for “normalcy” in order to fit in with others, but you also know that it is too late. You cannot forget what you have remembered, and despite your loneliness and your desire to fit in, you wouldn’t go back or undo your path even if you could.
Issues of worthiness often surface in this stage, because the ways, in which, we once proved worth no longer work or are no longer available because we left the job or situation that once made us feel worthy. We may still try to seek approval, acceptance or appreciation or get other emotional needs met by those still in our lives, but it doesn’t fulfill us, as it once did, and we are left feeling empty – forced to deal with feelings of unworthiness on our own.
Our desire to fit in and be accepted is slowly being drowned out by our desire to be free and awake.
In the quest for answers and relief from emotional pain, we may embark on some sort of spiritual practice such as meditation, yoga or mindfulness. If we are not using the practice to avoid something, its purpose is likely to get us somewhere, accomplish something or wake up.
In stage three, we may experience the first real sense of power, but, if the ego claims this power, we may have challenging and humbling experiences.
By now, we may be able to see the connection between our thoughts/beliefs and the creation of our reality, and, as a result, we try to control our thoughts, but it is a difficult process because old programs are still running.
We no longer look outside ourselves for happiness, but maybe we don’t yet know how to find it within. Peace and freedom may also take precedence over happiness.
Stage three is often the longest stage and almost always the most challenging, but it is also the most important in terms of awakening.
This stage is marked by the swing between resistance and letting go, with moments of clarity and enlightenment, but they don’t last. It is very common to have multiple experiences of awakening in this stage and even to believe that each one is the final awakening; only to find yourself back in “reality”, hours, days or weeks later. With each experience of awakening, the sense of your higher self grows stronger. You are unknowingly making room for this real self to emerge in your consciousness and integrate in your life.
In stage three, it is common to experience a fear of losing oneself, and you may struggle to maintain a sense of self, but ultimately, toward the end of this stage, an ego-death is inevitable. When the ego loses hold, there is often a realization that there is no point or purpose to life. This can be liberating, like a breath of fresh air, or it can be devastating, resulting in hopelessness and despair. Without point or purpose, we no longer know how to live our lives, and nothing is ever the same.
There is a foreboding sense that awakening will cost you everything, yet, at the same time, there is a greater sense that something inside you is waking up.