As a species, our beautifully complex, evolving minds that were once used to create, invent, and solve have since turned on us. Incessant, negative thinking plagues our beings, hiding the essential “on” and “off” button to our minds.
In western civilization, we label it anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, etc. In a much simpler realm, it is the misfiring of a powerful tool that has gone haywire. But what if we could free ourselves from this torment? What if we could find peace, fulfillment, love, and space?
A shift in consciousness
What exactly is a spiritual awakening? It’s certainly hard to define, as it is something so vast and so unique to each individual. From what I’ve learned, a spiritual awakening can happen at any time and can be caused by something as significant as a near death experience or by nothing at all. It is simply and extraordinarily a shift in your consciousness, in your mind, in your soul.
My path to awakening started with Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. It’s hard to pinpoint what the catalyst for your awakening will be, but like I said, it could be something as profound as death or as simple and surprising as a book.
The Bombing—April 15, 2013
With Marathon Monday having just come and go, I revisited the day when I found myself at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. I was with my husband, my mother and father-in-law, my aunt, uncle, and cousin. When the first bomb exploded, we were on the opposite side of the street. I thought to myself, “wow that was a really loud celebratory canon.” A few moments later, the second bomb went off across the street from where we stood, frozen. I was thrust into a state of presence I have never experienced before and may never experience again. My ears were ringing, just like in the war movies, and a cloud of smoke made it impossible to see. When the cloud started to clear, and I realized that the dense crowd adjacent to me had vanished before my eyes, my brain desperately tried to process it all. But, it couldn’t process it, and for a brief moment everything inside of me was still and at peace. Then, the scene erupted. It was the kind of desperate chaos you only witness when people are reacting in a truly visceral way. People were running over one another in fear of another blast. I felt myself bracing physically and mentally for it. An image of my own body being thrown into the street from the next blast flashed through my mind. I guess I thought that if I could in some way prepare for what may come, maybe I would be better equipped to survive.
The interesting part of what I just said above is the dialogue with “one’s self” as if it were a separate being. When I had the vision of “myself” laying in the street, “I” was the watcher, an outside of my physical body. This experience has only come to hold meaning for me recently.
My sister-in-law and other cousin were running their first marathon that day. They never reached the finish line. They did, however, run Boston the following year and they both finished.
Having been separated from our family in the chaos and later reunited as we walked on foot out of the city for miles and miles, we all felt numb. Numb from what we felt, what we saw, what we did and didn’t do. There was a shift in my body, mind, and spirit. But even after that kind of an event, I wasn’t ready to journey inwards. The anxiety was too strong, the worry was too suffocating. In the months and years to follow, I was simply trying to get by and cope with the new world I felt I had emerged into. Four years later, a book is what started my spiritual awakening. How interesting…
I feel that I have only just begun my journey inwards. Thinking less and feeling more, judging less and listening more is a wonderful practice I try to put to work every day. When I find myself drifting, judging, labeling, or spiraling into a frenzy of negative self talk and unproductive thinking, I find my way back to my breath. It’s truly impossible to snowball into obsessive anxiety when you assign your monkey mind the task of observing your breath. After a few breaths, I can feel the space fill in again. I am at the tip of an iceberg, and am hopeful for what lies beneath the surface. Instead of beating myself up for not meditating in the way my mind thinks I should (legs crossed, eye closed, incense burning), I give thanks to the 5 mins or the drive to work where I am able to center myself and enjoy inner stillness and peace. Every second that offers space and peace in my life is profound.