Photo credit: Ben White,

There I was, curled up in a chair in my family room, spending yet another day in my pajamas — cloaked in self-pity, doubt, and despair thinking about my life.

The foundation of my world was collapsing all around me. Life felt overwhelming, chaotic, and outside of my control. I was unhappy, discontented, and joyless. When it was necessary to be functional, I would be, but I was sleepwalking through the days, the tasks, and my existence.

Another day of hurting, another day of self-doubt, another day of fear and uncertainty to the point of it being unbearable. I could accept my lot, wallow in pain and live there, or I could move.

I chose to move — even without having a known destination. I’d had enough. It wasn’t a triggering event or sudden jolt that motivated me to wake. It was the prolonged existence in the painful place that I found myself. Yearning to retake my life, I wanted to be moved from sleepwalking through it to living it consciously, purposefully, and most important, joyfully.

I liken my spiritual awakening to that of a traveler who’s starting out on foot — like the character Forrest Gump, I got up out of the chair and took off. Instead of running, I moved slowly forward by first journeying inward.

Looking inward,  at my innermost self, wasn’t fun at first.

In fact, it was painful.

Taking a personal inventory, however, helped me figure out what negative habits and thoughts I needed to discard. I became aware of the people and circumstances that were sucking the life out me. Moving through and peeling back the layers gave me a clear view of what things I could definitely live without, and what things I could keep and take along on the journey because they were serving me.

Settling into this awareness served as an upgrade in my mode of travel through my life — sort of like trading in my walking shoes for a reliable second-hand car, one that would get me from point A to point B successfully (only breaking down or stalling occasionally).

Recognizing and celebrating small successes every day provided another upgrade on how I was moving through and experiencing life. The more I was open to growth, the more learning and awareness was taking place. Throughout my spiritual awakening, I’ve been able to keep trading up to a better mode of transportation; a better way to intentionally and tenaciously live the life that’s intended for me.

So, what the heck’s spiritual awakening?

If you do an internet search for the term “spiritual awakening,” you’ll find all sorts of articles that’ll tell you about the “21 symptoms of spiritual awakening”, “the spiritual awakening checklist,” “the stages of spiritual awakening,” or something similar. If you ask someone, you’re likely to hear things like “moving toward cosmic consciousness,” “awakening to enlightenment,” or “experiencing life as a tridimensional journey.”

Hmmm, okay, what the heck does that mean?

It’s great that these definitions are out there, but the truth of the matter is everyone’s experience will be unique.

For me, spiritual awakening is a journey to a destination that I’ll never reach. However, I’ll be traveling in a vehicle that allows me to find joy every day in life’s chaos.

You’ll need to define spiritual awakening on your own terms. Achieve it by your own rules. And create a life that fills you up in a way that’s meaningful to you.

You’re the expert on your life and your journey. When you’re ready to move, you will — in the vehicle that suits you best.