My unexpected awakening

I recently had a very unexpected spiritual awakening. Just writing those words makes me squirm a little, as I question the validity of that statement, but since I have always so openly shared my struggles, failings, confusion and fear here in what has become a very sacred space for me, I would be remiss to not share about this experience which has been so earth-shatteringly positive.

But first, let’s go back to a few weeks ago.

What it was like:

I felt as though nothing was how I wanted it to be and I might be staring down the barrel of a life with sobriety but not happiness. My thoughts raced, my emotions swirled and a heavy cloud of depression began to hover at the corners of my psyche. It was Tyrhone’s fault, Guatemala’s fault and my fault.

I felt extremely fearful, constantly looking over my shoulder as I walked into town on my own, haunted by the stories of muggings and violent crime which I’d heard about during our stay. Oh, and I was also angry about that. Angry at the corrupt government who oppressed the people into resorting to violence in the first place, and angry that it was now impinging on my freedoms as a visitor.

My overriding emotions were fear, anger and a deep seeded loneliness that I’d always known in one form or another.

I couldn’t concentrate, had no energy, wasn’t productive, was feeling jealous of others’ successes and was quite confused and afraid about all those things.

I know. But it’s the truth.

What happened: 

I turned to where I knew to turn: my recovery program which has meetings all over the world including here in Antigua, where we have been ‘stuck’ awaiting repairs on Tyrhone’s paramotor.

I showed up and was honest. I cried. I asked for help. I received it in the form of a person who had walked the path before me.

We got to work. I had been through a similar process when I first got sober, but somehow I had wandered of the path and got lost. It was difficult finding my way back. It didn’t give me immediate relief, but with the experiences I already had in recovery, I knew the work would do me no harm and only good.

‘The work’ involved painting a picture of my emotional life, starting with my angers and fears. It’s like drawing a ‘road map’ to track where I was at with a spiritual GPS. It wasn’t pretty. I fought the self-loathing which came with the truth of my self-centered fear, and it was quickly replaced with relief that I could finally see it.

Central to the work was starting my day with intentional ‘quiet time’; a few minutes spent connecting with the deepest, truest part of me. This is actually nothing particularly new to me, and is a practice I have done off and on throughout my recovery, but never in a disciplined, committed way before.

Discipline and I have never had much of a relationship, truth be told, and the idea of committing to this time of stillness and connection every single morning for 30 days was extremely daunting. Thankfully I was given a suggestion to attempt to connect with the ‘Divinity’ or ‘God’ within me, ask it for guidance and write down the thoughts that came to me.

I didn’t really think it would work for me. I do attempt to have faith and have definitely experienced a power greater than myself at work in my life, but my faith has waxed and waned like the cycles of the moon.

I thought it was something you had or you didn’t, and I didn’t (even though I wanted it).

But, in my desperate state, I tried it anyway.

To help me along the process, I wrote down what ‘God’ or the ‘Divine’ meant to me. It helped me mine through the ideas and ideologies of other people and get in touch with a loving, wise and forgiving presence which felt true to me.

I began my morning ‘conversations,’ either on a cushion in the bedroom or downstairs on the sofa before Tyrhone got up. If he was up before me, I’d take time on my own before going downstairs.

At first it felt really weird. A bit embarrassing, like I was faking it or something. In some ways I was, but the action itself was what I had committed to, nothing else. I began to ask for guidance for each day, and then ‘listen’ to what the most loving, wise, force in the universe and inside myself had to say.

It was profound in the most unassuming way!

Most of the time, my inner voice of the Divine would say things like, “Take it easy. Be loving toward Tyrhone. Make a nice lunch. Don’t worry about a thing.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaat???!!!

I thought my divine spirit would tell me to go volunteer with orphans or join a holistic yoga community, or…

Make a nice lunch?!

That is my divine purpose????!!!

But deep inside, the reality of those words soothed and comforted me in a way I had never before experienced. You see, I was no longer running the show with my ideas, desires or plans which had been running me into the ground.

I did the things. I made the lunch. And I found that I was actually present for it! A complete revelation was occurring for me while I stirred pumpkin soup.

I have continued this practice for twenty-five days so far, sharing my findings with the person who led me to it. She also suggested I create a vision of the person I believe the divine spirit has in mind for me. This involved taking all of my negative character traits and reversing them.

Since control, fear and selfishness are my flaws which had been causing me trouble, I created a vision of a peace-bringing person who allows my life and everyone else’s to unfold in divine time (i.e not mine), and is giving and loving to all.

This is an ideal to walk toward, not an expectation to inevitably fail at. Perfection plays no part in this practice, but accepting my humanness does. When I walk away from the path (and I do because I’m human), I just ask to be brought back.

What it is like now:

Whilst the above is a slightly abridged version, since this is still quite challenging for me to put into words, I can only say that my inner life, (my thoughts and feelings) is utterly unrecognizable.

As a result, my life has been completely transformed.

The other day, watching TV, I was suddenly filled with the knowledge that We Are One and that the same divine presence in me exists within every living being on the planet. I have heard this and agreed with this for so long, and yet, I never felt it. 

Then I did. Another massive revelation, while watching CNN in my PJs on the sofa. I can barely express the profundity of that to me. It came to me that since connecting with the Pure Love of the universe, it is no longer a case of simply trying to tolerate everyone, but it is MY JOB to love and learn from everybody, especially those with different opinions, ideas and attitudes than me.

Even terrorists. Watching a story about the abduction of the Nigerian school girls, I knew I needed to have compassion not only for the victims, but also the scared, hurt and lost men (and boys) who have become their captors.

Love is flowing through me like a river and the concept of ‘Namaste’ (the God within me sees the God within you) has come alive for me in a whole new way.

I have felt more at peace and present in the moment than I ever thought possible, because I realised that the loving, guiding Presence is here, now, not in tomorrow or last year or five minutes from now. Now.

Reading all the Ekhart Tolle books in the world hasn’t gotten me to experience that for myself (but now they make more sense)!

I have been living in the flow of life with no demands on it, and if you knew me you’d know THAT is a miracle.

Since surrendering control of my life and everyone else’s, I have felt more productive than ever. I used to feel that there were never enough hours in the day; I was constantly overwhelmed full of anxiety that I couldn’t achieve what I wanted, switching from task to task and never being fully present for any of them due to thinking about what I should be doing instead.

All of that has been taken away from me and replaced with acceptance, focus and joy for whatever task I happen to be doing, whether it’s watching Tyrhone practice his kiting at a nearby farm, doing the laundry or writing a post. Again, nothing short of a miracle to me.

My whole life I have been looking, here, there and everywhere for the answers, like a small child watching the world through a window hoping to catch clues about how to live.

I’ve sought solutions in other people, work, money, booze, drugs, shopping and real estate; even blogging, traveling, yoga and meditation.

None of those things are bad by any stretch, but I hoped they were the answer to the riddle of being human, when all along, the answers have been inside of me.

I’m not suggesting that ‘my way is the way’ or any such balderdash (don’t you love that word?), because this has simply been my path, and every single stage of the journey – all the looking outside of myself, all the searching and hurting and wanting and striving – has led me right here.

There is no exact recipe for that.

Your path will be different, of that much I am sure, because if there is one thing I have learned through this journey it’s the divinity of life is not something to be convinced of but experienced, and I truly believe we are all having that experience, wherever we are, in whatever we’re doing, right now.

Namaste xxx

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Comments

My unexpected awakening — 25 Comments

  1. Sarah, bless you for sharing this. I’ve struggled hard with depression lately and the same feelings you are describing. I love what was suggested to you, and think maybe I need to do the same thing myself. It can’t hurt to try, anyway.
    I am so happy for you, as well, that you unearthed a spiritual experience! Thank you for sharing that with us, it is so beautiful to hear how you have experienced the divine!
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience strength and hope, I am really grateful for you.
    Laurie recently posted..Stay Here With MeMy Profile

    • And I am grateful to you for connecting, Laurie! They say you gotta ‘give it away to keep it,’ right? Sending you so much love, it is within you, I know it xoxo

  2. Sarah! I can relate a lot to what you write. So glad you find a way to connect with you inner divine. I found my way through yoga … I agree that surrendering and acceptance are key to happiness and bliss. I’ve been battling with repetitive strain injuries for years without completely healing. With ayurveda, I learn that to be healthy, you need to have a healthy body, mind, and spirit! so facing my spiritual crisis put me in the path of healing.

    Stay in health and bliss!!!
    Amyris recently posted..Live long and proper!My Profile

    • Hello Amyris! Well I guess this is a yoga of sorts, in the true sense of creating ‘union,’ and I have a feeling my physical yoga practice will take on a whole new meaning from now on! Much love to you my friend xoxo

  3. So beautiful Sarah…thanks for sharing. I am in awe of your ability to be so open and honest not only with yourself but with all of us who follow you on your journey.

    I started blogging as a way to share my travel stories and eventually find a way to create an online business so that I can continue living this nomadic life that means so much to me. But I never realized how much more I would gain through this experience. ‘Meeting’ people like you is an unexpected super bonus which feeds my soul and inspires me to continue down my own path which has taken me so long to step onto.

    Thanks again for opening your heart and reminding us how beautifully imperfect we all are and how indeed ‘We Are One’
    Namaste
    sarah recently posted..Today’s InspirationMy Profile

    • Yes, me too Sarah! My ‘dream job’ used to be to work for Conde Nast! I never would have guessed my journey would have led me where it has. I often wonder what the hell I am doing sharing the deepest parts of me here, but something draws me onwards, and I think it may be the connection and healing of the truth, whatever that happens to mean for me at the time.
      I like to say that the truth is contagious and so is pretending but we have enough of the latter in the world already :-)
      It’s lovely to know you too and I wish you so much love on your journey, wherever it may lead you xoxo

  4. I can totally relate to your feelings of anxiety and frustration with oneself. For me it is more restlessness, and, like you, being overwhelmed with all the things I think I need to do to be successful. I have been caught in an unproductive vortex lately myself.

    My focus had shifted and I didn’t even realize until I read your post! Thank you so much for sharing your story Sarah.

    This thought causes me to pause and be in awe of the human spirit, we are such complex beings and so many things influence our thoughts and feelings. But the amazing thing is it is usually something so pure and simple that can right us if we’ve lost our way.

    I am glad you found your way out to peace and thank you for helping me find a little to.

    • Thank you Tracey! Just spent some time reading through your lovely blog the other day and find your journey with your family extremely inspiring too!
      I think it is pretty normal to feel that tension and stress in the early stages of a journey you have planned and hoped for for so long. So many emotions, experiences and expectations, not to mention decompressing from the stress of all the planning!
      It (obviously) still rears its head for me in challenging times, but I always seem to come through it a little more aware of myself and grateful for the person I am becoming. I know you will too. Trust the process, it is taking you where you need to go xoxo

  5. Another very honest post. I have had similar moments of realisation at different stages of my life, and it’s a bit scary at first but afterwards I always end up feeling like I’ve heard a secret that no-one else knows, or that I’ve found some sort of secret treasure. It’s a bit like stumbling across an island that is just for you and only you.
    Tim | UrbanDuniya recently posted..Experiments with Gelato at The Lab in MelbourneMy Profile

    • Yes that is exactly what it is like Tim!! Thank you for sharing that. It has since faded a little and I have had a bit of a struggle reconciling the experience with how I feel now. But this gives me hope it was a moment of truth and I can carry on with ‘normal life’ with this gift in my pocket. Thank you!

  6. This touched me so deeply, especially right now, because I feel like I’ve been on a similar path to discovery. It’s been overwhelming at times, but in an exciting way. I feel like I stirred something up inside of me and instead of just settling back down, it’s been awakening parts of my being that have been lying dormant, waiting for me to figure shit out! I still get overwhelmed and have all those emotions that can weigh me down, but there seems to be a more peaceful knowing within now that says, “shh…don’t worry so much, you’ll get what you need done and the rest? Leave it be.”

    He he…balderdash. Love that word. That and shenanigans.
    Carmel recently posted..THE YUMMY FILES: VIETNAMMy Profile

    • Love shenanigans! Thank you, Carmel, things have shifted for me yet again, as they do, and whilst at first I grieved the loss of the insight I was lent briefly, I am very grateful for it and have been left with a greater sense of self-acceptance, even when I get worried or stressed about something. It’s like that saying, “live in the world but not of it,” and as long as we have that awareness of ourselves, we are less likely to be consumed by the ego (negative thoughts/feelings). Much love to you fellow traveller! Xxx

  7. Wow Sarah, it’s stories like these that bring me the most happiness. So many times I have felt the same way, both in feeling that I am actually accepting the entire world as it is and feeling the peace and bliss of the moment to knowing what to do and how to be but just not living it and feeling lost and alone. Your words have brought me right back to that beautiful place and for that I thank you.

    Matt

    • Hi Matt! So lovely to hear from you, thank you so much for connecting and sharing your experiences!! I appreciate it so much, and will refer back here when I feel unsure again. Much love to you and Jill on your amazing journey!

  8. I don’t know what to say except that I get this and I am so happy that you have found this. Hold on to it! Sometimes I find this knowledge feels very far away from me and I have to work to get it back… to know it in my heart like i know it in my head. This was beautiful, Sarah, and you put it all into words so well.
    Kim recently posted..Reflections on two years of travelMy Profile

    • Hey Kim, thank you, yes, it comes and goes, as does our human, ego-self which we have spent more time growing and conditioning than our true self. It’s a process, which starts with awareness, then intention, then action, openness and acceptance; a continual journey toward our Real Selves. What a ride!!! xxx

  9. What a beautiful post, Sarah! Thanks for being so open and sharing something so intimately personal with us.

    I find I go through waves, where I have this awakening and accept everything and just love everyone and everything…and then I forget it and go back to my old ways. I strongly suspect the daily practice of connecting with the divine makes a big difference. I struggle with self-discipline too, so I find it hard to continue a morning meditation every single day, and so after time goes by I lose my peace. But like with everything, I think you’ve gotta take it one day at a time and just keep trying.

    It’s also nice to hear about your compassion for the terrorists who kidnapped those girls…we’re all so angry at them but you’re right, they are scared, lost boys.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..Chickening Out At Ta KeoMy Profile

    • Hi Karyn, I appreciate your comments so much. Starting with 5 minutes in the morning, every morning for 30 days, will set you up for the discipline you desire. You don’t have to empty your mind. You can imagine, talk, pray, explore, ask questions and most importantly, listen. I like to write it all out, too, especially the guidance I receive for the day. I have had so many miracles happen by following simple guidance such as sending someone an email or letting Tyrhone decide what we do for the day. It’s been a simple yet profound practice for me and I cannot help but want to continue it now that I have experiential faith that it works.

  10. A few weeks ago, I joined my former colleagues (from my office job) at happy hour. We were of course reminiscing about old times an they were filling me in on all the latest gossip. We started discussing our old CEO who had done some pretty egregious things during his tenure. When I shared that I felt bad for the guy (who had been rightly fired) I was met with incredulity, anger and so much hostility that I immediately began back-peddling. Four years later, my colleagues still blame him for everything that was wrong at the company. But what I’ve come to realize is that a) he’s only human and b) he has to live with his mistakes just like the rest of us. I don’t feel like I’ve had a divine awakening, but travel has taught me empathy. That was a long way of saying that I can relate to your feelings on the terrorists and admire your bravery for admitting it in such a public way. Namaste!
    Heather recently posted..Longwood Gardens: A Botanical Wonderland in PennsylvaniaMy Profile

    • Namaste Heather! Compassion is seeing people as they truly are, even if they themselves do not recognise it. It’s realising that we all make mistakes out of fear or from being hurt in some way. It’s not saying “this behaviour is okay,” it is saying, “there is a reason for it, and I understand it.” At least that is my take! Whenever people are met with the truth they inevitably revolt from it. We are conditioned to believe certain things, to judge others in an attempt to elevate ourselves, but it simply doesn’t work. I take my hat off to you for seeing the truth, we’re all damaged human beings living out of our experiences, and we can’t judge either ourselves or anyone else for that, merely seek to understand. Thank you so much for your comment!
      Sarahsomewhere recently posted..This Sacred SpaceMy Profile

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