Signs of Spiritual Awakening


It’s a sign of the times that the word “awakened” has made it into the urban dictionary, where it is defined as “spiritually aware of the universe and [its] direct metaphysical connection to one’s own being and the connection it has to all life forces.” It is so mainstream, in fact, that political candidate Marianne Williamson has made part of her platform a call for “moral and spiritual awakening.”

One of the problems with the idea of a spiritual awakening, however, is the lack of a clear definition. What exactly is a spiritual awakening, and is there a way you can tell if you are having one?

According to Deepak Chopra, awakening happens when you are no longer living in a dream world where you filter everything through your ego and focusing on the future and the past. Instead, you have an almost simultaneous awareness of your individual self and the connection between that and everything else.

Take, for example, the metaphor of a wave in the ocean. You are the wave, and you are the ocean. The ability to maintain both separation and connection seems to indicate a different level of spiritual evolution.

When you look across faith traditions, there is a common thread that describes this state as nirvanaenlightenment, or awakening. This consciousness happens when you stop being the observer, and instead you ask yourself, who is observing?

For example, think about being engrossed in a movie—your emotions and physiology behave as though you are in deep space with Luke Skywalker or with Dorothy when she stands up to the Wicked Witch. In that moment, the experience of the movie feels real—your heart races, you feel excited, scared, or hopeful. Then your phone rings or the person behind you coughs loudly, and you are brought back to a different reality: you are sitting in a movie theatre sharing the experience of space travel or yellow brick roads with others.

Examples of Awakened People

When asked to think of awakened people, names like Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha, and Jesus come to mind. Or perhaps Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela. These inspiring figures might lead you to believe that being awakened is akin to being perfect. If so, try to think of more relatable examples of individuals who are awake. It helps to see examples of people who are simultaneously flawed but striving to live a good life with a focus on the greater good.

A few that come to mind are:

  • Russell Brand, who seems to model a strange contradiction of constantly questioning and striving for more knowledge with bathroom humor.
  • Jim Carrey, whose comedic genius helped him to see through the illusion of celebrity and detach from any need for fame.
  • Oprah Winfrey, who brought Eckhart Tolle to the masses and who uses her SuperSoul Sunday as a way to spread enlightenment to her millions of viewers, but also has a less enlightened fixation on her weight.

People who model being spiritually awake but not perfect are what is needed to make being awakened feel possible.

So now that you have a few examples of awakened people, let’s focus on how you can tell whether or not you are having an awakening. The following are 10 signs of spiritual awakening.


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