What Does a Spiritual Awakening Look Like?

[UPDATE 24/08/19: I now have a provisional mental health diagnosis of drug-induced psychosis, which started 11 days ago. Make of that what you will.]

Last Tuesday, my life changed in a sudden and dramatic way. The old me was cast off, like a snake shedding its skin. A new me emerged, blinking into the sunlight, wondering what the fuckety fuck had just happened.

I was severely depressed for about 24-48 hours afterwards. I cried more than I’d cried in a long time. Maybe (partly) I was mourning for old me? After all, this was really starting to feel like a death and rebirth. But then, over hours and days, the fear and pain just melted away, layer by layer.

A week later, there is no doubt in my mind. This is a spiritual awakening. What’s changed? Everything!

Or rather, my perspective on a lot of things has changed… for the better.

Some context: I am NOT the kind of guy who, before last week, would have self-identified as spiritual. Sure, when I was a teenager I flirted with Evangelical Christianity for a bit (not always pretty). But for almost all of my adult life, I’ve identified as an atheist… and then a bit later I felt more like a humanist.

I come from a very scientific background. I believe in the power of the scientific method. I even subscribe to New Scientist magazine! I thought most (if not all) spirituality was utter bollocks, believed in only by deluded and desperate fools.

My favourite ever TED Talk is by the shame researcher, Dr Brené Brown. In it, she describes herself (formerly) as a consummate scientist, not too dissimilar from how I viewed myself.

One of the things which makes that particular TED Talk so powerful for me is that Brené describes how she had a mental breakdown, an event which she later referred to as “a spiritual awakening”.

So, if a hardcore scientist like Dr Brown can have a spiritual awakening, why can’t I? 🙂

I feel so alive, so engaged, so switched on. It’s like my mind, body, soul and higher self have all come into alignment… almost every waking moment.

I wonder if this is what the Buddhists refer to when they talk about nirvana.

My attention is 99% rock solid much more solid and constant than before. Wherever I place my attention, that’s where I am, with the full totality of my being.

This means I’m suddenly a better listener than I used to be. I can listen closely to entire 5 minute monologues and barely drop my attention for a single word.

I don’t feel any fear. Or at least, I’ve not felt the existential terror which dogged my spirit constantly before.

I am completely aligned with the Truth. Like a heat-seeking missile, I might deviate from my ideal trajectory by small amounts, but I’m correcting myself very quickly.

I now believe that animals have souls. Humans do too. And when we die, it’s not the end. Sometimes we hang around for a while as spirits, but eventually (I’m not sure after how long) we get reincarnated, sometimes as a different animal.

I cannot scientifically prove the existence of the soul or conduct an experiment that demonstrates the process of death & rebirth. But I just know that they are true and real. Or at the very least, they feel real for me.

I’ve had hypotheses about the exact nature of black holes and what happens when you pass through them to the other side. I’ve come to have a deeper understanding of music and its tightly woven relationship with the fabric of reality.

I’m getting intuitions about things which you wouldn’t believe.

I am so tuned in to other people when I’m listening to them, that I feel deeply what they are feeling. It’s like the strongest, truest form of empathy you can imagine.

I now believe that science can tell us a hell of a lot, but it’s by no means the whole picture. There are some aspects of the nature of our reality which I believe science will never be able to describe… but I still know strongly believe them to be true.

When I’ve been at my most depressed, I felt my life was pointless and I just wanted to die.

However, a while ago I promised myself I wouldn’t kill myself (too much pain to inflict on my wonderful wife)… but my depression still made me wish for a terminal disease (and I feel so ashamed to admit that).

Today, I feel like my life has only just begun. There is so much to live for. In fact, I’m a little anxious that I now won’t have time to accomplish everything on my spiritual To Do list during my time left on Earth. Now that’s a really nice problem to have!

I have had deep and profound visions involving numerology. Before last week, I thought such subjects were the domain of the ignorant, gullible and the charlatan… or the insane.

I’m pretty sure I’m not insane. It’s just that a spirtitual awakening happens to share some characteristics with pathological mental health, such as the manic episodes from bipolar disorder.

Maybe I am having an extended, week-long manic episode… albeit one in which it feels almost universally positive and I’ve noticed almost zero behaviour or thoughts in myself which I’d definitely classify as part of an illness. (For a short time, I thought I might be experiencing some disturbing psychosis, but a good friend of mine helped me reframe those experiences into something I now see as wholly positive).

If I’m having a manic episode, then it’s likely that in time these feelings will fade. Colours will be less bright and things will return to “normal”. I kinda hope that doesn’t happen, especially if this experience of “mania” remains so universally positive.

I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts. And I’m harnessing as much of my creative potential as I can, while I can… hence the torrent of high quality blog posts I’ve been producing this week. And I’ve come up with a deeply exciting concept for a videogame I want to make. I have no idea where to start, but I’ll just take it one step at a time.

The near total removal of fear from my conscious experience has opened up room for a blissful kind of love. I have a serene, calm kind of love… for being in the moment, for other people, and for myself.

My hope is that maybe one day, you too might have a glimpse of this “nirvana” I’m experiencing.


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