My life’s personal and professional focus is spiritual emergence, and the process of assisting individuals through the integration of their own evolutionary process no matter what their life looks like.
This evolution of spiritual emergence (when it happens “too fast” it can be known as a spiritual emergency, the subject of my upcoming book Stark Raving Zen) has been defined as: The movement of an individual to a more expanded way of being that involves enhanced emotional and psychosomatic health, greater freedom of personal choices, and a sense of deeper connection with other people, nature, and the cosmos.
I’m constantly in awe of this process, no matter who undergoes it– Wall Street banker, Buddhist monk, Poet, Artist, Philosopher, Psychologist, Teacher, Professional Athlete, or Fortune Fifty Corporate Lawyer– it’s the human turned shooting star. And though no two people’s processes are alike, spiritual emergence has a common energetic signature.
I call this emergence growing our wings, and here are sixteen indications that you’re in the middle of it.
1.) It hurts. You hurt. Your mind, body, and soul ache. Like frozen fingers coming back to life, the pain can be excruciating. Things that you used to effortlessly brush off suddenly cut you to the core, as you come alive and reintegrate into this world as a whole human being, no longer numbing or dissociating. Re-entry can be scary. (This will eventually feel better, even euphoric and ecstatic, I promise you.)
2.) Your intuition becomes sharper. Suddenly you’re opening to an unseen universe of information you’ve never (thought you) had access to before. Precognitive dreams, telepathy, astral-traveling… All of these are gifts which can be strengthened and developed, a whole new set of tools by which to navigate.
3.) You start to question consensus reality. Some of the societal rules you never previously considered now appear ludicrous and even destructive. You’re seeing versions of cultural insanity you don’t resonate with any longer, and see very clearly how, in the past, you played along, to the possible detriment of yourself or others.
4.) Your empathy expands. You start to see all life as a beautiful cosmic spider web, each thread having an effect on the collective. Everything you do starts to feel shared, and you understand the concept of Oneness and the collective consciousness. This can also be a source of angst and pain, if we don’t yet know how to protect our boundaries.
5.) Material things no longer primarily drive you. Intrinsic motivation (what drives us internally, not externally– like a reward or a paycheck) becomes the primary factor worth striving and growing for. You have to do what makes you feel legitimately more purposeful, not wound up in simply buying a temporary fix to have that sensation wear off, only to buy another temporary fix. Experiences, not things, are what bring you joy.
6.) You seek to find purpose in your work. Right livelihood begins to drive you. You have to feel you’re making a positive difference, even if it’s as simple as transforming a person’s day with your smile.
7.) You feel like something is stalking you– something like Meaning– and you’re not exactly sure how to connect with it. This might come with a sense of pure excitement. You know you have a purpose, you know you’re here for a karmic reason, and you begin the process of searching for that Meaning in earnest. You’re ready to connect with your soul contract, to find fulfillment, even if it takes changing your entire life to do it.
8.) You can’t be around negativity. It literally makes you feel like you’re going to be sick. Drama, privileged whining, back-stabbing, petty battles…you just can’t engage.
9.) Truth becomes the ultimate priority. Maybe you’re drawn to Eastern philosophies and indigenous wisdom, mysticism, and obscure ancient texts. Every book that interests you is a breadcrumb, a clue, leading you to your own karmic contract. You start to see very clearly that, despite what you may have been taught, no single religion owns the copyright to Universal Truth.
10.) Suppression becomes intolerable. You can’t pretend to be something you’re not. You can’t act the part any longer. You can’t engage in the family drama (if there is any) like you used to. You can’t do anything that is expected of you if it no longer resonates with your own well being. Your internal compass is strongly leading you, and anything that feels like it’s pulling you off course cannot continue.
11.) You no longer have any interest in going along with the crowd. You become a spiritual individual, and are no longer willing to live your life striving for conformity or what’s normal. You start to see everyone for how wonderfully unique and beautiful they are, not despite their differences but because of their differences.
12.) Your bullshit meter suddenly becomes acutely sensitive, and more than anything you begin to see where you’re guilty of it. A person truly embarking on their own spirit flight seeks to clean up their own destructive patterns before they focus on anyone else’s.
13.) You start to experience synchronicities, and signs. When you see something at the exact moment you were thinking it, or hear from someone at the very moment you were dialing their number. When you experience a magical coincidence so stunning it takes your breath away. You understand there are myriad ways the universe communicates with you, to tell you you’re on the right track, following your divine truth.
14.) You feel your higher purpose, and your highest consciousness emerging. There is a wise being inside of you, an inner guide who never falters. Your highest consciousness is your own version of divinity, it is your true self. It’s that lifeline spark, your direct connection to God, the Universe, and Everything Else (to quote Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan). You know that when your wings unfold, you learn how to allow this voice to lead you, no matter how loud your inner critic can be. (And you vow to heal that inner critic.)
15.) You need to be relatively solitary. Hibernation. Isolation. Introversion. Whatever you call it, a person undergoing a spiritual emergence tends to undergo a journey of quiet solitude, even if it’s cyclical or relatively temporary (although it can be permanent). You tend to get more and more selective about who you can be around, only because emergence can create a highly sensitive state of being that feels acutely painful by the slightest stimulus. It’s normal to step back from life for awhile, to undergo the transformation. Certain people, who intuitively understand your process, will understand this. Others won’t. That’s okay, dear one. Don’t be afraid to release, with love, what or whom no longer supports you.
16.) You start to see where your past injuries have actually made you more resourceful. You recognize the difference between two archetypes: the “sacred victim” and the “toxic victim”. The sacred victim means we feel loving compassion for the trials we’ve endured and the injuries we’ve sustained. We are kind to ourselves, and honor our sacred journey. We do not avoid, deny, repress, suppress, or light wash our pain. We face the truth, we allow ourselves to heal and grow. The toxic victim means we manipulate others, we take advantage of others, we worship our injuries, and we demand special treatment because we’ve come to chronically identify with our wounds. We make excuses for how we hurt others–because we’ve been hurt ourselves–and we refuse to see how we’ve negatively affected our lives and the lives of others.
Spiritual emergence, more than anything else, is the expansion of intrinsic truth and self empowerment.
It is the ultimate healing journey. Spirit is free energy. It’s a never-ending, never waning source of inner Light. All we need to do is get out of our own way, and experience our natural state.
Spread those wings, butterflies.
And please know that you’re never alone.