Spiritual awakening: 23 major signs and symptoms
Going through a spiritual awakening is one of the most confusing, lonely, alienating, but also supremely beautiful experiences in life.
Put simply, spiritual awakenings mark the beginning of your initiation on the spiritual path. Without experiencing a spiritual awakening, we go throughout life pursuing the emptiness of money, fame, power, and respect in an attempt to find “happiness.”
The unsettling and equally beautiful thing about spiritual awakenings is that they occur at the least expected times. There is no way you can plan for them. They lurch into your life and shake everything up like tornadoes. But the hidden gift buried deep within them is that they occur at the precise time that you need them the most.
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Spiritual awakenings are the soul’s cry for freedom.
Listen to its call and your life will be transformed into something meaningful and significant.
Refuse its call and your life will be like a graveyard.
If you have experienced a spiritual awakening, you have come to see through the lies and illusions of this world. Deep in your soul, you realize that nothing external has ever, and can ever, bring you true happiness or fulfillment. This profound realization leaves you craving for something richer, more fulfilling, and something that will make you feel whole once again.
If you’re looking for answers, if you’re thirsting for a direction in life, this page will share with you everything you need to know. On this page, you will find all the possible resources you need for the beginning of your journey including what spiritual awakening is, common spiritual awakening symptoms, and much more.
If you feel this page may help a friend or family member close to you, please share it and pass along this vital information.
What is a Spiritual Awakening?
When we undergo a spiritual awakening, we literally “wake up” to life. We begin to question our old beliefs, habits, and social conditioning, and see that there is much more to life than what we have been taught.
It is common to ask questions such as, “Why am I here?” “What is the purpose of my life?” “What happens after death?” “Why do good people suffer?” and other questions that examine the fundamental nature of life during your awakening. Spiritual awakenings stir the deepest and most significant questions within us that we have been putting off asking or have been too scared to touch.
If you’ve experienced a spiritual awakening, you might crave to find the meaning of your life and whether there is a “higher state” of being. Searching for God, or for the Divine, is a common desire during this experience.
My Experience With the Spiritual Awakening Process
I experienced the beginnings of my spiritual awakening about 6 months before I met my partner (Mateo). At that time, I was deeply entrenched in the dogmas and cultish teachings of the fundamentalist Christian church I was born into.
Beginning to doubt, question, and sense that there was more to life than what my indoctrination declared, I felt lost and deeply alone. I had no one outside of the church that I felt comfortable talking to about my feelings. I had no true friends to confide in – and my family didn’t understand – or rather, didn’t want to. As a result, I felt so alienated and suffocated with loneliness that I developed depression, health issues, and chronic anxiety, the latter lasting for many years.
During this harrowing awakening process, I carried within me the unshakable sensation that I was falling endlessly through a void of darkness. This Dark Night of the Soul taught me so much about my life purpose, even though it made me experience unimaginable pain.
Ultimately, I had no fucking idea what was happening to me while I was going through my spiritual awakening and Dark night. I thought that I was going crazy or was going to burn in hell forever for questioning everything I’d been taught. I would have loved to read an article like this describing all the spiritual awakening symptoms and their significance. So I’m honored to be able to present them to you now. I hope, if anything, that they can validate what you’re going through.
Why Do Spiritual Awakenings Happen?
So, why do spiritual awakenings happen in the first place?
Spiritual awakenings happen as a natural product of your Soul evolving, expanding, and maturing. Just as everything in life grows, so too does our connection with our Souls.
The more you connect to your Soul (whether accidentally or intentionally), the more you experience transformation. The more you come to embody your Soul, the more you taste true and lasting joy, peace, fulfillment, freedom, and love.
While the spiritual awakening process can feel painful and disturbing at first, it ultimately helps you to live a more meaningful life. The sensation that your life doesn’t make sense anymore is the product of having all of your former beliefs, desires, and paradigms challenged and often disproven. This is traumatic, but a necessary part of your expansion.
What Triggers the Spiritual Awakening Process?
You might be curious to know what activates spiritual awakenings.
The answer is that innumerable circumstances can trigger this process! There really is no one answer.
Spiritual awakenings can happen at any moment or period in your life. They can be spontaneous, but they can also be triggered by major life changes, illnesses, tragedies, and traumas such as life-threatening illnesses, car accidents, divorces, war, midlife crises, and much more.
Generally speaking, the spiritual awakening process happens in conjunction with an experience known as The Dark Night of the Soul.
The Dark Night of the Soul
If you’re highly sensitive to the suffering of others and are a deep thinker by nature, it is possible that you have gone through, or are currently going through, a Dark Night of the Soul.
The Dark Night of the Soul is a period in life when we feel completely cut off from God or the Divine. The more aware you become of your disconnection from the Divine, the more chances you have of experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul.
Going through a Dark Night of the Soul is profoundly entwined with the process of spiritual awakening. Before seeing the light (i.e. spiritually awakening) we must “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” in order to prepare our minds and hearts for the conscious upgrade.
Just think about the analogy of getting dressed. In order to put on new clothes, you must take off the old ones. That, in a nutshell, is essentially what the Dark Night of the Soul is about. The old must be stripped away in order to make way for the new. This means that the suffering you experience during the Dark Night of the Soul is for a purpose – and that is the destruction of the old (outdated beliefs, identities, habits) to pave way for fresh ways of being.
This life is a cycle of birth and death. As such, going through the Dark Night is not a pretty or manicured experience – at its core, it’s raw, primal, and the most difficult experience known to humanity. Everything is stripped away from you. There is no light, no clarity, and no peace. But please know that it is a stage, and like everything in life, it will naturally fade.
There are ways of speeding up the Dark Night (like doing inner work) which we have explored on this website extensively. So pop over here and get started if you need help. I have gone through a bleak and chaotic Dark Night of the Soul, and let me tell you, inner work is vital. It’s kind of like the difference between letting your old clothes just fall off you (which is a long, unhygienic, and tiresome process) or actively pulling them off and throwing them to the wind yourself.
Signs you might be experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul (along with a spiritual awakening) include the following:
- You feel isolated from everything (others, yourself, life in general)
- You feel abandoned by god/the divine
- Your mood is almost always low and melancholic
- You’re lost and don’t know which direction is right
- You feel despair and horror when observing the world
- You feel a sense of existential dread
- You feel deep tiredness in your bones
- You lack the motivation to keep doing what you used to
- You’ve lost interested in most things
- You keep pondering the deep questions of life (e.g. “what is the purpose?”)
- You feel like you don’t belong on this planet
This list is not exhaustive, so keep in mind you might be experiencing signs that aren’t included here. You can take our free Dark Night of the Soul test if you need more clarification.
7 Spiritual Awakening Stages
The spiritual awakening process is complex, multi-layered, and different for everyone. In reality, it cannot be fit into neat categories.
However, with that being said it is helpful to have a kind of “map” to locate where you’re at right now. The following stages are general. They define the overall flow of the spiritual awakening process:
Stage 1 – Unhappiness, despondency, and feeling lost
In this stage, you experience the aforementioned Dark Night of the Soul. This is a time of confusion, disconnection, alienation, depression, and great unhappiness with life. You are searching for something, but you don’t quite know what. There is a great looming emptiness inside of you. This stage either emerges spontaneously or due to a life crisis (e.g. breakup, divorce, death, trauma, illness, major life change).
Stage 2 – Shifting perspectives
You start to perceive reality in a totally different way. In this stage, you start seeing through the lies and delusions propagated by society. You feel unhappy with life, disturbed by the suffering you see and hopeless to the ills of the world. You no longer see life as you once did in your previous state of complacent unawareness.
Stage 3 – Seeking answers and meaning
There must be a point to all this, right? In this stage, you’re asking all the deep questions. You are in search of your life purpose, spiritual destiny, and the meaning of life itself. You will start dabbling in different metaphysical, self-help, and esoteric fields in search for answers and truth.
Stage 4 – Finding answers and experiencing breakthroughs
After a lot of soul searching, you’ll find a few teachers, practices, or belief systems that ease your existential suffering.(Beware: a lot of spiritual bypassing can occur in this stage.) You will feel a sense of expansion as old patterns dissolve and your true self (soul) begins to emerge. You may have a number of mystical experiences or brief moments of satori (enlightenment) that give you a glimpse into the ultimate nature of reality. This is a time of joy, hope, connection, and awe.
Stage 5 – Disillusionment and feeling lost again
Life is about movement. With the spiritual awakening process, there is always an ebb and a flow. In this stage, you become bored and tired of your spiritual teachers or practices. You may become disillusioned by the faux spiritual BS out there and crave for something deeper. You may have even experienced long periods of connection with the Divine, only to become separated again (this is normal). Understandably, you’ll feel disturbed and deeply upset by this experience. Additionally, while you may have experienced many mental/emotional/spiritual breakthroughs, they might feel superficial. You crave for authenticity and for deep spirituality that permeates your life and transforms every part of you. The unhappiness and stagnation you feel will motivate you to go in search for more.
Stage 6 – Deeper inner work
In this stage, you’re not interested in dabbling in feel-good spiritual philosophies or surface practices anymore. The abiding pain you feel inside motivates you to do deep inner work. You may become a serious student of meditation, mindfulness, ritual, inner child work, shadow work, body work or various other transpersonal philosophies.
Stage 7 – Integration, expansion, joy
Integration means taking the spiritual lessons you’ve learned from your inner work and applying them to your daily life. Integration happens both naturally and consciously as a habit in deep spiritual practice. In this stage, you’ll experience the most profound and long-lasting changes deep within. Many people experience prolonged mystical experiences and periods of unity with the Divine in the integration phase. Remember that enlightenment is never guaranteed: we can strive for it, but it is ultimately a gift from Life. Nevertheless, profound peace, love, and joy emerge and are felt in this stage. You may feel ready to be a spiritual mentor or role model in your community and pass on your insight to others. Life will become less about you and more about We. Your perspective will expand and you will start seeing things from the big picture. Above all else, you will feel connected, at peace with yourself, and deeply aligned with life.
Note: it is common to move back and forth between these spiritual awakening stages. Remember that this is not a linear process – you cannot just move from A to B to C. This is a complex and messy path, so it’s perfectly fine if it doesn’t look like what I’ve described. Your spiritual awakening process is unique to you. But I do hope this analysis has helped (in some way) you to ‘gain your bearings.’
23 Spiritual Awakening Signs and Symptoms
There are many spiritual awakening symptoms. In fact, spiritual awakening symptoms are not only emotional but also psychological and even physical. Here are twenty-three of the most common symptoms out there. See how many you can identify with:
- You feel as though your life is false
- You craving for meaning and purpose
- You begin asking deep questions
- You realize that a lot of what you’ve been taught is a lie
- You feel completely lost and alone
- You see through the illusions of society
- You see how unhappy most people are
- You want to ‘purge’ your life
- You begin experiencing deep empathy and compassion
- You desire to be alone
- Conversations seem shallow
- You want to quit your job
- You thirst for authenticity and truth
- You become aware of your old negative habits
- You experience anxiety and/or depression
- You become more sensitive
- You want to make the world a better place
- You deeply want to understand who you are
- Your intuition is heightened
- More synchronicity
- You feel more wonder and curiosity
- You start to love unconditionally
- You see that we are all One
I’ll expand on these signs below:
1. You feel as though your life is false
Everything that you have believed, built, and worked towards seems to be false. Your life doesn’t feel as though it’s your own. You no longer feel like yourself – nearly everything you once enjoyed no longer brings you meaning or satisfaction.
2. You craving for meaning and purpose
You deeply desire to find the meaning of your life. You have no idea what your purpose is, but you want to find it desperately. There’s a sense that something is “missing” inside of you (like a part of your soul).
3. You begin asking deep questions
Questions such as “Why am I here?” “What’s the purpose of life?” “What happens after we die?” “Why do people suffer?” arise. You begin thinking more philosophically. Such profound thoughts may greatly disturb you as you don’t know the answers.
4. You realize that a lot of what you’ve been taught is a lie
You start to see how many beliefs, feelings, and values are not actually your own, but other people’s or inherited from your culture.
5. You feel completely lost and alone
Nothing in your life seems to make sense anymore. You feel as though you’re wandering through an endless wilderness. As a vagabond, you feel completely alone and cut off from people. You struggle to relate to those you once felt close to (i.e. your friends, work colleagues, and family members).
6. You see through the illusions of society
Materialism, success, and profit no longer mean anything to you. You start feeling as though you’re a cog in the machine of society.
7. You see how unhappy most people are
You awaken to the unhappiness and suffering of others. You may start to explore activism or read more about the human condition. It is tormenting for you to realize how much pain there is in the world.
8. You want to ‘purge’ your life
You’re sick and tired of feeling stranded, depressed, and hopeless. Suddenly, you feel the need to simplify and declutter your life. This could mean cutting ties with toxic people, reassessing your habits, throwing out old things, relocating to a new job or place to live, or even giving away most of what you own.
9. You begin experiencing deep empathy and compassion
As you start paying more attention to the many hardships faced by humanity and nature alike, you develop more compassion. Your inherent empathy is awakened and you may find it hard to cope with the intensity of your feelings. This is a pivotal point in your inner transformation: you either numb the pain you feel with addictions, or you find healthy ways to accept and express your emotions.
10. You desire to be alone
You crave solitude. Whereas once you may have been extroverted, now you experience the introverted side of your nature. You spend a lot of time introspecting and enjoying the silence. At every cost, you try to reduce social contact. At this point, you may lose touch with many old friends.
11. Conversations seem shallow
When you do talk to people you feel an acute sense of separation. You realize that very few people are comfortable with talking about passion, emotions, meaning and the soul. In conversations, you feel restless and irritated by the small talk. You silently scream, “Can’t anyone wake up and realize what is happening?” Your distaste for frivolous chit-chat draws you more into solitude. You may become a lone wolf or rebellious free spirit.
12. You want to quit your job
Even though you worked for years getting your degree, establishing your career, and climbing the ranks, you feel nothing but emptiness. Your job no longer provides you the sense of fulfillment that you need. You desperately crave for more.
13. You thirst for authenticity and truth
14. You become aware of your old negative habits
You are painfully aware of your flaws and destructive habits. Within you arises a strong urge to wipe the slate clean and start over.
15. You experience anxiety and/or depression
You may go through deep bouts of existential depression or persistent anxiety. The shock of plunging into your awakening leaves you feeling unstable. You may be misdiagnosed with a mental illness. Uncertainty and fear follow you around everywhere.
16. You become more sensitive
Everything impacts you more. You feel the energy of others more strongly, the pain of your loved ones more intensely, and the difficulties in life deeper than ever before. At the same time, you feel a gloriously enhanced connection with animals and nature. You start feeling more at home within the natural world (rather than the manmade world).
17. You want to make the world a better place
When all is said and done, you want to leave the world a better place. You start thinking ‘big picture.’ This longing to make a real impact translates to actively helping others or finding a life purpose that aligns with this desire.
18. You deeply want to understand who you are
Endless questions arise about your identity and your life, for example, “Who am I?” “Why was I born?” “What am I here to do?” “What is the purpose of my existence?” As a result, you begin reading many self-help books and spiritual texts. No wonder you ended up here. :-)
19. Your intuition is heightened
Gradually you begin to listen to the still, small voice within. You allow it to guide your decisions. Eventually, you start to uncover your hidden spiritual gifts and talents.
20. More synchronicity
You start becoming conscious of the many signs and omens that life brings to you. Life becomes much more receptive and interactive with you. Serendipity and déjà vu increase. You may even undergo numerous mystical experiences.
21. You feel more wonder and curiosity
The smallest things start to bring you joy and bliss: a falling leaf, a spider’s web, a child’s laughter, a puddle. Life is no longer ignored – it is seen as magical, amazing and beautiful.
22. You start to love unconditionally
As the barriers of the ego breakdown, you begin to love other people without expectations or conditions. You lose interest in drama, conflict, and anything that perpetuates hatred.
23. You see that we are all One
Not only do you intellectually understand that we are all interconnected, but you feel it deeply within your bones. You realize that our thoughts and beliefs influence reality, and that we are all fragments of one great Whole – that is, Spirit. Having fully experienced that we are this Oneness, you find peace at last. Sometimes this stage can take years or even an entire lifetime.
Physical Spiritual Awakening Symptoms
Physical signs obviously differ for everyone. Here are a few symptoms that I have observed within myself and many others who have begun the spiritual awakening process:
- Amplification of sense. For example, your sight, hearing, taste, touch and/or smell becomes intensified. You may even discover that you’re an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person).
- You discover food intolerance’s that you never seemed to have before (or perhaps weren’t paying attention to). E.g. Allergies to wheat, nuts, legumes, soy, spices
- Changed sleeping patterns, i.e. you sleep more or experience more disrupted sleep, often causing insomnia
- Vivid dreams – your dreams become scary, bizarre or intense
- Dizziness – feeling lightheaded as a result of being ungrounded during the day
- Weight change – either gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Changed eating habits – what you once liked eating no longer appeals to you. Also, you may crave to experiment with other foods that you’ve never tried/liked
- Fluctuations in energy – feeling less energized than you used to
- Decreased or increased sex drive
- Decreased immune function (more illness) and eventually increased immune functioning
It is uncommon to experience all of these physical spiritual awakening symptoms at once (one or two is more likely). If you have noticed a rapid change in your health during this period, it might be due to the drastic change in your mind-body-soul connection. If no logical everyday reason can be found (such as prior illness, family stress, injury, relationship meltdown etc.) don’t rule out a more metaphysical explanation.
Spiritual Awakening and Inner Work
Spiritual awakenings mark the beginning of our spiritual paths.
But unlike the popular new age depiction, the spiritual awakening process isn’t all love, light, and roses. This is a shocking, painful, and extremely unsettling period of life.
Often, those who experience spiritual awakenings feel as though their entire lives have been turned upside down and inside out. This experience can lead to self-isolation and problems such as depression and chronic anxiety.
But there is hope.
This whole website is dedicated to helping you navigate through this difficult but intensely meaningful part of your life. Both of us know how harrowing this experience can be as we have gone through this harrowing process ourselves. We want you to know that you are most definitely not alone.
The main way we can help you through this experience is through a path we call inner work. Inner work is the psychological and spiritual practice of diving deep into your inner self for the purposes of self-exploration, self-understanding, healing, and transformation.
We write a lot about how to do inner work on this website and have many resources that can help you through this period of your life. You can find them all below including a book we have written on the topic called The Spiritual Awakening Process.
Both of us have experienced the Dark Night and spiritual awakening journey, and the best advice we can give you in this very moment is to learn to treat yourself with love and compassion. You deserve your own kindness and compassion more than anyone else at this point in your life. And by learning to take care of yourself, you’ll be able to genuinely care for others.
We hope with all our heart that this page helps open a new sacred door in your life and provide some much-needed answers.