There is something inside us that longs to live a life that feels aligned, meaningful and deeply connected.
It’s an evolutionary impulse that propels us towards growth and becoming more fully our true selves and who we were born to become.
Where does this life force energy inside each of us arise from that enables us to live fully and love deeply?
Ancient wisdom points to the idea that we all have within us a divine spark that is connected with and animated by something bigger. A divine spark that I have come to believe is the Soul that waits patiently until we have reached a time that it makes its presence known in our lives and comes into our conscious awareness.
Our Soul is the spiritual blueprint for who we’re meant to become. Much like an acorn is meant to become an oak tree. We are meant to become our own unique expression of that something bigger that some call God and I call the Universe. No one else in the world has our exact biological or spiritual DNA. We are truly one of a kind and the purpose of our life is to uncover our true selves and live in alignment with what we uncover.
Uncovering our deeper true selves is a journey of self-exploration, discovery and discernment as we seek to illuminate the difference between our small self and our higher or true Self.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”Socrates
Wisdom is like fuel for the Soul and it takes us one step closer to uncovering our true selves.
It’s a curious truth about nature that we spend the first years of our young lives being sponges and absorbing all sorts of ideas and beliefs about ourselves, society and how things in this world work. Up until a certain age children don’t have the ability to filter all this information and therefore come to believe all these messages are the truth about who they are.
Because we’re hardwired for survival, we learn to adapt to the outer world and determine who we’re supposed to be from outside of ourselves, rather than who we’re meant to be and become as determined by the deeper truths of our own Souls.
When our Soul has been saturated with the material aspects of life and the gap between our true Self and our conditioned or small self becomes too wide our Soul begins to make its presence known.
Much like a seed that waits for the right time and conditions to bust open it’s shell and begin to sprout a tiny plant.
In humans, what’s often required to make the presence of the Soul known is a shock of some sort that wakes us up out of our habitual, conditioned way of sleepwalking through life. Another condition that often precedes awakening is a knowing sense that something profound is missing and a feeling of what I call “Soul hunger.”
Symptoms of misalignment with our Soul commonly manifest as physical or emotional health issues. In my life it was my stress hormone, cortisol that began impacting my health. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the physiological manifestation of stress was the result of a misalignment with my Soul. I was stressed and while the manifestation was physical, the underlying cause was a disconnect from my Soul and my own north star.
It was a powerful lesson about the vital role that our Soul plays in healing and health. The ancient Greeks knew this truth and Plato put it this way, “Before all it’s necessary to look after the Soul, if you want the head and the rest of the body to function correctly.”
Looking deeper to uncover the root of my suffering was the beginning of a spiritual awakening that was very much happening in the midst of my ordinary life that by most people’s standards was the perfect life. It was a very confusing time as it is for many folks who are left wondering “what’s happening to me?”
My journey through the dark night of the soul as the mystics called it, or the burning ground as the wisdom teachings referred to it as, is the spiritual process of awakening to the deeper truths of our Souls and shedding the conditioned beliefs and ways our ego structure or personality keep us safe which ultimately begins to suffocate our Souls.
This journey for me began at 50, while I was both physically and metaphorically standing on top of one of the highest mountains in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro.
I’m hearing from young adults around the world, however, who are feeling the inner stirrings of their Souls at much younger ages. Their Souls that are saying that there’s more to life than making money, accumulating things, achieving, status, perfectionism, unhealthy self-sacrifice, being special on social media, an overactive left brain, being constantly fearful, addicted to more, and disconnected from their deeper selves.
All of this is pointing to the awakening of humanity and it’s happening one Soul at a time. An awakening that is happening in the day to day lives of ordinary folks that aren’t monks or mystics spending their days removed from society and meditating in caves.
What are we awakening to?
We’re awakening to a new worldview about spirituality that’s less based on the formal traditional structures of religion and religious dogma and more about learning how to connect with the light and Soul within as the north star for our lives.
The emergence of a universal spiritual understanding that recognizes the common threads of all traditions while realizing that each tradition will express their uniqueness in their own way.
We’re awakening to the embodied realization that we’re all connected to one overarching consciousness and at the same time we’re a unique expression of something bigger. We’re becoming increasingly aware that we don’t just live on this earth, but that we’re part of it.
We’re realizing that our emotional and physical health is not separate from our essence and that spirituality is really the foundation for our lives that impacts our biology rather than an add on.
We’re waking up to the realization that we actually have a dual nature that is forever creating a push and pull within us. The push towards growth that arises from the Soul, urging us to become who we are destined to become while simultaneously the pull of our conditioning and small self to keep us safe.
The Jungian analyst James Hollis, PhD put it this way, “Thus we are forced into a difficult choice: anxiety or depression. If we move forward, as our soul insists, we may be flooded with anxiety. If we do not move forward, we will suffer the depression, the pressing down of the soul’s purpose. In such a difficult choice one must choose anxiety, for anxiety is at least the path of personal growth; depression is a stagnation and defeat of life.”
“Spiritual awakening is ultimately about waking up, developing the capacity to witness and discern the difference between our conditioned small self or personality and our true Self or our Soul. It’s about shifting who’s in the driver’s seat in our lives, from the small self to the Soul.
Making this shift isn’t easy and it requires that we develop new capacities and ways of navigating in our lives. That’s where the courage comes in. It takes courage because although we get in the flow with our Soul and that something bigger, we are going against the grain and flow of society that aligns more deeply with mechanistic, material views about the world.
What is helpful for the awakening Soul?
There are 3 ingredients that support our awakening to our spiritual essence while ensuring we don’t fall into the spiritual bypassing trap – meditation, the Enneagram personality map, and prayer.
Meditation with its multitude of options is one practice that enables us to come into right relationship with ourselves, others and that something bigger. It includes practices that help us become more present for our lives and cultivate a healthy body, mind and soul.
Meditation is both preventative and restorative and when we use it as an intentional practice for awakening it serves to help us with discernment and growing into the best version of ourselves.
Meditation is also invaluable for the awakening journey because it helps us develop resilience and courage. The spiritual journey is often challenging as we’re shining a light on areas that may have been hidden from our awareness. It also requires that we grow and growth is often uncomfortable. Meditation helps us deal with stress and what the Buddha identified as the inevitable suffering that arises in life.
Meditation also helps us learn how to be present and walk slowly as we are in the process of becoming. In this way, we don’t rush through life and miss all the moments in an effort to get somewhere else.
The Enneagram psycho-spiritual Soul map
The Enneagram is a Soul map of 9 different personality types that provides a bridge between modern psychology and spirituality. The Enneagram symbol has its roots in ancient wisdom and has become more widely used in the past several years.
It’s supports the awakening journey because it provides a level of self-understanding that meditation alone can’t provide. Observing our patterns through meditation is powerful, but when you add the lens of the Enneagram personality type it enables a person to develop deeper insights into their conditioned habits of thinking, feeling and behaving. The Enneagram enables people to use your meditation practices in a more intentional way.
In addition to self-awareness, the Enneagram is also a process map that provides a clear path for both integrating the parts of ourselves that got buried in childhood and a vision for our future best Self. It enables us to realize both our gifts while at the same time gaining clarity about ways we’ve been disconnected from our true selves. With the wisdom of the Enneagram we can find our way back home to ourselves.
Prayer from a spiritual perspective is about tapping into the energy of something bigger. Meditation enables us to create the conditions that cultivate a healthy body, mind and soul while prayer is about planting seeds in a creative Universe. Meditation and prayer together feed each other and becomes a rhythmical dance with the Universe.
Prayer doesn’t need to be complicated. As Meister Eckhart reminds us, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
When we learn how to tap into the power of these practices we naturally begin to evolve and grow into our best selves. We begin to attune to arising synchronicities, are connected with our
instincts and intuitive knowing, have a balance of our masculine and feminine energy, know how to use both our left and right brains and gradually evolve into who are Soul intended for us to become.
We evolve into a whole human being who uses our personality and gifts to be of service to our Soul and the awakening of humanity to abiding compassion and wisdom.