We live in a time of awakenings—people coming to a greater sense of who they are at the soul level, beyond the ego or personality self. Many spiritual masters throughout history (and, increasingly today, ordinary people) have experienced pivotal moments when they in essence “died” to themselves and awakened to a connection to something greater—God, the Divine, Source. The separate personality-self falls away, and an experience of oneness with All That Is moves to the fore. Sometimes these events involve an actual near-death experience, or individuals can feel like they are physically dying when they are not. Actually, it is the individualized self that is dying, allowing for the dissolution of all separation and the unimpeded flow of pure divine energy and unconditional love.
In these life-changing moments, people begin to live as their soul more than as their ego—a kind of death and rebirth in life. Radical awakenings do not have to be dramatic one-time events, however. Many individuals have a series of awakenings over many years, and this latter process is becoming more widespread now as our individual experiences spark other people’s, and the collective consciousness awakens itself through us. What has been called enlightenment can be instantaneous, gradual, or a combination of both, and we need to acknowledge the unique truths of our own evolving lives—and be open to awakenings that are ongoing, leading further and deeper into divine connection.
Looking back, I see a combination of experiences within my own life—in actuality, multiple phases of awakening, which continue to this day. At 18, I had a near-death experience (burst appendix) in a hospital in Italy on my first trip away from home alone. When I returned to the United States and began my freshman year of college, I felt as if my small-town-girl persona had died in Venice, and I had emerged newly born, trying to figure out who “I” was. From this identity crisis came an individual awakening within the larger generational awakening of the radical 1960s and 1970s. It was an extraordinary time that shaped so many of our lives and planted seeds of fledgling awareness. A sense of global transformation and magical possibility carried us forward into our lives.
Later in my life, I began to consciously explore spirituality as a way to understand life and death and address my own fear of eternity. When my parents grew older and eventually passed away, this search became even more compelling. Sitting beside each of them as they transitioned, I experienced another level of awakening: to an all-encompassing loving Spirit that softly enveloped my parents and me and connected our hearts. Several years after their deaths, when I first met spiritual teacher Panache Desai, I encountered this same divine presence in an even more intense way. It came directly through him and vibrationally shifted everything within me. At one of his gatherings, in deep meditation, I experienced myself as pure, intense inner vibration, my soul’s essence within the physical body—cells pulsating with an almost electric charge. It was an extraordinarily powerful opening to spiritual awareness. Frequently thereafter, I would feel the loving presence of the Divine, and it always brought tears to my eyes and shivers to my physical body.
Over the next few years, I kept moving forward, sensing there was more awakening to come but having no idea what that would mean. Eventually, I stood in a raw place of “not knowing,” letting go of mental questioning and attempts to figure everything out. Essentially, I embraced the “Great Mystery.” If Oprah had asked me, “What do you know for sure?” I would have had to answer, “Nothing.” Only mystery. Yet that mystery is everything—God her/himself, the Divine in infinite beingness. Indefinable. Our minds can’t know Spirit, but our hearts can experience it through our souls. This is the global awakening we are in the midst of, each of us affecting all those around us. In this amazing time of profound planetary metamorphosis, we are individually and collectively awakening to the sweet mystery of our own inner spirit. Together, we breathe soulful conscious presence into the world.