7 Signs You Are Awakening Spiritually
When these happen, you are opening to a deeper undercurrent to life.
You’ve heard the word “awakening” many times, and you may be wondering, Am I experiencing one? Is this a spiritual awakening?
Spiritual awakenings come in many forms. Some are subtle, like the gentle rising as the light grows in intensity outside, chasing away the darkness. Others are dramatic, like a thunderclap, jolting you out of a deep slumber. (I’ve experienced both.)
These are the ways that your soul is trying to pry open your mind so that you can shed certain ways of seeing the world and expand your consciousness. The universe conspires to bring you experiences so that you start to see reality differently. It’s also important to remember that awakenings are not singular events; they can unfold over time, and new ones can emerge even after you already believe you are “awake.”
Here are 7 key signs of a spiritual awakening, many of which often overlap or happen at the same time.
1. Dark Night of the Soul
You’re going through a dark night of the soul. Life is crumbling around you.
Aspects of your life that seemed stable, like a solid foundation, turn to quicksand. A long-term relationship ends, you get fired, you get sick, or some combination of these kinds of existential crises takes place, sometimes one after another.
You feel like the world isn’t a safe place anymore.
These moments force you to look within and ask yourself why you’re here and what you’re doing with your life.
Life is asking you to look clearly at how you’ve been living yours, with the possibility of opening up to a different way of being and a deeper connection with the world. The dark night of the soul can be a profound, if painful, portal to a spiritual awakening.
Mine led to a complete breakdown — my entire sense of where I was headed in life was shattered. But it took being cracked by life for the light to pour in and make me see that I was pursuing dreams and behaving in ways that were not in alignment with my truth.
In this form of awakening, you are forced, sometimes painfully and dramatically, to look at your life choices and ask questions about what life means to you. Don’t miss out on the opportunity here, or you might just think life is being cruel to you.
2. Disidentification with Your Thoughts
One way that spirituality can enter your life when you’re a deeply rational person is that it shifts your attention to your mind.
You might begin to see that you have a lot of negative self-talk or profoundly diminishing beliefs about yourself and others. You may begin to question these thoughts, even going so far as to take a step back from them, wondering whether they are true or where particular ones come from.
When a spiritual awakening happens this way, you may start to realize how much your thoughts — specifically, the language you use and the emotional energy it carries — shapes your perception of the world.
Indeed, you realize your perception is tantamount to creation. The world you perceive is the world you — or more accurately, your mind — has created for you.
Many people discover this when they start to meditate. I know I did. I began to see how certain persistent thoughts would plague me. I even went so far as to start naming them, like Steve, the voice that told me that my body was ugly. I began to see how many of the thoughts in my head emanated from other people in my life. Some of my most negative thoughts weren’t really mine at all.
Here you begin the spiritual task of detaching from identification with your thoughts as real. Now you can undertake the heavy and heady work of unwinding that mind’s attachment to certain ways of thinking.
3. Deeper Awareness of Your Purpose and Values
Sometimes a spiritual awakening happens when certain values start to become more urgent. You may have impulses, feel drawn to something else, something that feels more fulfilling than what you’ve typically done. A sense of urgency emerges.
You’re hearing the call of the soul, the tug of something that wants expression.
You’ve made choices that seemed rational and grounded but perhaps did not align with who you truly are. You may have wanted to be an artist, a dancer, or a writer, but chose a more “practical” job instead.
It has taken me a while to understand all that I value, but my values actually started to lead me in ways I could not understand at the time. Understanding your values is critical to your purpose. You will feel aligned when your values are being fulfilled, and out of alignment when they are being challenged or unmet.
For me, out of nowhere, I suddenly became interested in food and environmental issues, driven by compassion for the wellbeing of others. Another time, I awoke to the fact that my best writing was deeply rooted in two other values —originality and freedom. I write to inspire others to feel a sense of freedom in being who they are and letting go of the past.
You find that the creative impulses you felt when you were younger are no longer satisfied by the sparse outlets you give them or your economic justifications. Instead, those values may begin to assert themselves through sudden desires to take up new activities or a deep longing, in your gut, for something more meaningful. Older activities or your profession might start to feel constraining or uninspiring, as new impulses emerge.
Follow them as best as you can without overturning the boat.
Here you are undertaking the work of listening to your spirit, which asks you for a means of greater expression in the world.
4. Signs, Messages, and Synchronicity
Did you suddenly become aware of certain numerical sequences that seem to appear regularly in your life? Are you coming across images or words that feel like they’re speaking to you with a message?
You’re beginning to see synchronicity — a connection with a deeper undercurrent of wisdom in which the Divine is communicating with you in ways you had previously ignored. When synchronicity starts, spiritual information, wisdom, people, experiences start to show up in your life when you least expect it.
When this happens, go with the flow. These experiences or messages feel like they are guidance from a higher power. Trust them — they are. I remember when I first started seeing certain number sequences over and over, in the most random of locations. 11:11 was very common, as were combinations with 7s. I hadn’t ever heard of 11:11 or any kind of spiritual significance to numbers, much less been aware that many people feel this is the way our spirit guides and guardian angels communicate with us.
Revel in this connection with a higher power, and deepen it by listening for the signs and messages. But don’t try too hard to find them, or get discouraged if it seems like they’ve stopped. It just means you’re looking when you need to relax and wait for the messages to show up in divine time. Your ego might be straining a bit to force a conversation. Sometimes we try too hard to get divine guidance when it should come naturally.
Here you are tuning into the ways that the universe is in conversation with you, seeing the world differently through signs and messages that you had previously not heeded, so you can realize that you have an inherent connection to the Divine.
5. Increased Emotions and Empathy
Raise your hand if you’re beginning to feel your emotions, and others’ emotions, more intensely. Like the dark night of the soul, this one can feel intense, like you’re in distress, losing a sense of equilibrium, or just off in some way.
More likely you’re opening to parts of you that have been ignored for some time. You may have always been deeply sensitive but learned to close yourself off to survive. Or you may have been taught, like so many men are, to shut down your emotions as signs of weakness.
Now your emotions are coming to the surface, and the floodgates are buckling. Unresolved pain is coming up to be healed, and it can feel like you’re falling apart.
It’s not quite a dark night of the soul, as external circumstances can seem fine, but internally, there’s a lot of combustion. In my own experience, this kind of awakening can happen time and again, no matter where you are in your spiritual path.
I’ve had countless moments of finding new layers of unresolved emotional energy — deep feelings of being unworthy, unloved, fighting against the world — that come up to be healed when you are ready to face them wholeheartedly. During a 9-day silent meditation retreat, after many years of intense spiritual healing and growth, I suddenly came to face deep-seated fears of the supernatural and corruption that I had learned as a kid watching movies.
You may also find yourself feeling other peoples’ emotions more keenly. I remembered starting to feel emotions that weren’t mine — they were my mother’s or my husband’s or strangers I was passing in the street. You can start to tell empathically — not by their body language or facial expressions, sometimes because you’re not even physically present with them — that something is going on with someone. It’s a sign that your innate intuitive faculties are expanding.
It can feel overwhelming at first when your emotions surface and you start to become aware of how much everyone feels. You might even struggle with distinguishing what’s your feeling and what belongs to someone else. Your powers of sensitivity seem to be emerging without a lot of control.
Here you are learning that parts of you that don’t seem logical or rational, and which have been suppressed, are clamoring for attention. You are becoming aware of emotional energy and how it can be communicated and perceived beyond words or physical expression.
6. Increased Compassion
Related to the values and to empathy, sometimes a spiritual awakening happens when the heart suddenly grows in capacity.
You may suddenly find yourself caring more about others, or desiring to reconnect with people who had fallen by the wayside.
Values you might have cherished, like material success or prestige, lose their patina, and instead, you find yourself valuing relationships, connection, and a deeper reverence for life.
This can take a social or interpersonal direction. You may begin to care about broader issues that affect large groups of people; social change and the environment may start to speak to you in newfound ways.
Or you may even feel a deeper urge to bury hatchets and reconcile with those whom you’ve cut off and out of your life. You start to appreciate the practice of forgiveness, realizing that your life might be measured not in dollar signs or awards, but in the connections you’ve forged along the way.
For me, this aspect of awakening was a subtle recognition of how much I revere the natural world, and how I have a deep faith and reverence for life’s mystery. I felt a strong call to connect with others on a similar path. That impulse also came with a desire to limit my harm to the environment by decreasing my carbon footprint and to make my writing a conduit for healing and relieving the suffering of others.
Here you are awakening to your interconnectedness with others, as your perspective shifts away from a wholly individualistic focus, and you may start to want to connect with others on a spiritual path or see what kind of impact your actions have on the world.
7. New Energetic Experiences
Related to empathy, you may start to have energetic experiences or experiences in consciousness that you previously did not have and may not even have a perspective on.
You may have an increased awareness of how situations and places feel to you.
Or you may start having energetic experiences in the body, such as feeling energy in your third eye, running up and down the spine, through those vortices known as chakras.
These experiences can be both exhilarating and disconcerting, since you may not know what they mean or how to work with them, but they help you realize that you are more than a physical body. You are an energetic being, and that energy can be moved, manipulated, and released, if that’s what’s needed.
My major awakening occurred first with a powerful healer whose energy work filled me with light, leaving me in an incredible state of bliss. Much later, after working with her for many years, I experienced an awakening of the kundalini and began to channel works of spiritual wisdom — as a lawyer, steeped in reason, these experiences were entirely beyond my normal realm of experience, but they opened me up to realms of possibility that I never even imagined, showing me that life’s possibilities were far greater than I had known.
Here you are starting to learn the truth that what we think of as a physical body is more than matter, it is also energy.
What all these forms of awakening share is that they are a way of getting you to see beyond the normal, conventional concepts of what it means to be human — your emotions, your thoughts, your body, your beliefs about life, and the nature of reality all begin to shift, sometimes requiring dismantling, so that your mind can expand.
The spiritual path means recognizing that you are spirit — the energy of life that moves through you is much more powerful than you realize.
Once you embrace that truth, and allow your soul to guide you, a whole new world, beyond the limited version that your mind has perceived, becomes available to you.