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What is a Spiritual Awakening? A Definitive Guide (+Resources)

What is a spiritual awakening?

What does a spiritual awakening feel like?

Why does it happen? And how will it change my life?

If questions like these have crossed your mind, you’re not alone.

The good news? You’ve found the place for answers. In this definitive guide, we’ll—

  • Explain what a spiritual awakening is and why it happens.

  • Discuss the life events that can trigger them.

  • Talk about the changes that’ll occur in your life, why things change, and why it’s okay.

  • Share stories of three amazing women who experienced uniquely different spiritual awakenings.

  • Leave you with a road-map to navigate this exciting new chapter in your life.

Life-expanding, challenging and wondrous--a spiritual awakening is all of these. And we’re here to help you better understand it.

Your journey has begun.

Ready to continue?

Follow me.

What is a Spiritual Awakening?

An Experience as Unique as You

What does spiritual awakening mean? It’s YOU, following a spiritual path that’s uniquely your own.

Your Soul has decided that it’s time for you to become the person you were called to be. Your life is about to change, in wonderful and unexpected ways.

As Aletheia Luna puts it, “spiritual awakening can be one of the most confusing, lonely, alienating, but beautiful experiences in life”. And it’s so very different for each person.

It can come suddenly and unexpectedly, arriving full-blown to someone who’d never given spirituality a second thought.

And it may arrive gradually, a natural next step to a lifelong spiritual journey.

To some, it will bring emotional and physical tribulations–what some refer to as the Dark Night of the Soul. And still, for others, it’s relatively calm and serene.

It will come to us early in life or later, triggered perhaps by a crisis or other major life event.

Or it may not be triggered at all.

It simply arrives.

There is, however, one common element in any spiritual awakening…

It changes us profoundly, and it changes us forever.

A Shift in Perspective

People often talk about spiritual awakening symptoms, and though there are many signs that one is happening, there really is no “spiritual awakening test”.

The best way of knowing that it’s happening in your life?

It’s a change in your perspective. The world, your life, just looks differently to you now.

You see, a spiritual awakening is, in many ways, a dissolving of illusions. So don’t be surprised if you suddenly sense that something’s missing, and the things that once gave your life meaning have lost their lustre.

All of this is okay.

It means things inside you are changing. And examining your life simply means you’re becoming conscious to what matters.

And living consciously is the first step to you becoming aligned with your true self.

The Ego, Higher Self and Spiritual Awakening

Spiritual awakening expands our reality beyond the limitations of how we’ve lived our life. As we do our spiritual work, the Ego and the Ego-driven life will yield to our Higher Self. When this happens, our Soul can realize its purpose for being here.

--Christine Ryan

Allow me to explain.

To understand spiritual awakening, you need to know there is an Ego and a Soul, or Higher Spirit, residing within you. Up until now, the Ego’s been running the show.

Frankly, it’s done its job splendidly.

But, your spiritual awakening is the Soul’s way of saying changes are coming, and the Ego and Soul, two very powerful forces within you, will be contending with one another until the Soul arises, or ascends, and makes you the self-actualised person you’re meant to be.

So, what’s an Ego? And what’s the Self?

The Ego

The Ego is our exclusive sense of self. And prior to spiritual awakening, it’s how we define ourselves and find meaning in life.

Think of the Ego as a human Operating System programmed into our subconscious by nature, society, religion, and civil code. Its primary job is to help you survive and coexist within your tribe.

But it’s more than that. The repressing of emotional pain and trauma, that’s our Ego at work. It’s also our inclination to set goals and achieve, and to enjoy material comforts and hedonistic pleasures.

In the Ego-driven life, we see ourselves as individuals. Ironically, what helps us survive, separates us from others, and thus, as important as the Ego is, it’s not who we really are.

The Higher Self

“We are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience”

--Pierre Telhard de Chardin.

Our Higher Self, our Soul, that’s who we really are. And spiritual awakening is you becoming free of the limitations of the Ego.

It’s all about ascension, really. Your Soul wants to ascend, to transform your consciousness from that of the world, to that of Spirit (or God, the Universe, Source).

Spiritual ascension is the purpose of the Soul. And oneness with Spirit is the goal.

Make no mistake, spiritual awakening is a major tectonic shift—and it doesn’t begin and end with the Soul tapping the Ego on the shoulder and saying—

“I’ll take it from here.”

Remember, you were born with survival instincts, rules and religious edicts, all of which helped the Ego do its job.

So, don’t think for a minute it’ll go without a fight.

But with courage, hard work and self-compassion, with the help of spiritual guides who’ll make uncanny appearances in your life, the Ego will in time let go.

And the Higher Self will arise.

Why Did I Have a Spiritual Awakening?

The question of why a spiritual awakening happens has a simple answer—your soul is ready to ascend and transform your consciousness.

But what causes it to happen is unique for each person.

For many people, a significant life event may “trigger” a spiritual awakening--

  • The death of a loved one.

  • A divorce.

  • An accident, or health scare.

  • A near-death experience.

  • A midlife crisis.

  • A religious conversion experience.

Personal setbacks that lead to disillusionment--a career crisis, a partner’s infidelity, or even a crisis of religious conviction--these can also trigger a spiritual awakening.

And yet, for others, spiritual awakening arrives as a “next phase” of a person’s spiritual evolving, often coinciding with voluntary life decisions like—

  • Meditative experiences and practices.

  • A change in spiritual affiliation.

  • A change in lifestyle (simplification and minimalist living), living location or health and wellness habits.

  • An experience at a sacred site.

  • A new relationship with someone who “guides” another through new spiritual doors (twin flame or soul mate).

Regardless of what does (or doesn’t) trigger a spiritual awakening in your life, a mysterious energy is moving you forward.

Where it’s taking you?

Well, that destination depends entirely on you, and your Soul.

How Will My Life Change?

Spiritual awakening will touch every aspect of your life--your heart, your soul, your mind, and yes, there’s even physical symptoms of spiritual awakening.

But it might be easier to view this path, these changes, through a few spiritual awakening stages–which we’ll call the Beginning, the Path, and Ascension.

The Beginning

The onset of a spiritual awakening will often bring significant changes to our life. These include—

How we value things—

  • Our goals and achievements.

  • Our Lifestyle.

  • Our relationships with others.

Our worldview—

  • People, the media, societal trends, our political leadership, may suddenly appear strikingly inauthentic and manipulative, and you may feel a strong desire to withdraw from that part of your life.

How we feel internally about ourselves—

  • You may find yourself struggling with unworthiness, anxiety and depression may surface, eating and sleep patterns may be disrupted.

And to the meaning of our life—

  • You’ll be burdened with questions like “Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?”, often journaling in frustration as you try to figure it out.

Why is It So Hard Sometimes?

So, why the changes? Why are they harder for some, than for others?

Well, all of us have shadows, unresolved traumas, and childhood wounding residing deep within our subconscious. And up until now, the Ego has done a wonderful job of keeping them safely hidden.

But spiritual awakening is your Soul re-calibrating, responding to your inner desire for alignment. To do this, it needs to break down the defensive armour of the Ego. As this happens, it lays these issues bare.

And, to grow the actualised, conscious version of you (your Higher Self), these shadows, and the wounds received early in life must be seen, accepted--

And healed.

When you hear the terms “Inner Work”, “Shadow Work”, “Inner Child Work” (sidebar), this kind of healing is exactly what’s happening.

You’re becoming integrated with your true Self, and the Ego’s power over your life must go.

The good news is that this leg of your journey is merely a transition. We do the inner work so we can move on to the more gratifying stages of our spiritual growth.

The Path

As you progress through your Inner Work, you will emerge from the woods and find the path to restoration and growth. These are some signs you’ll see on the way--

  • Compulsive, addictive habits lose their grip on you.

  • Spirituality takes on greater meaning—a source of wonder to grasp and hold on to.

  • The questions that once frustrated you--"Why am I here?” and “What is my purpose?”--might still be a mystery, but you’re pursuing them now with joy and bliss.

  • Without prompting, spiritual guides are beginning to appear.

  • You’re no longer fearful of doing your inner work. It’s always a challenge, but it’s more about self-discovery now. What you learn of yourself makes you stronger.

  • You’re slowing down, getting in touch with your feelings. You can now accept your past without judgement, and you’re excited with where you’re headed.

It’s a pivotal point in your transformation--the Ego’s strength is fading as your Higher Self becomes stronger. Your Soul is beginning to ascend, and you’re experiencing a newfound connection with life, and a growing ability to love yourself


At this stage of spiritual awakening, momentous changes have given way to a steadier evolving of both person and spirit.

You'll see this in how you relate to yourself and others. Your growth is something you feel grateful for, and yet, it is nothing you take as a matter of pride (or judgement of others). Rather, your spiritual maturity makes you only more humble.

Gone are the material attachments you once defined yourself by. The habits that once brought contentment have been let go, replaced with joy of living in the moment.

You sense intuitively what values are right for you. You’re beyond living by the codes of others, and you trust your inner truth to guide you toward wholeness.

You understand that Ego is to Separation (from others) as Spirit is to Oneness. As Spirit simply “Is”, you simply “Are”.

You know what living an authentic life looks and feels like. And though it’s never completely easy, you can feel a sense of flourishing. There’s a peace within yourself and with the world outside you, and that gives you freedom.

You’re okay, life is okay, you’re experiencing unconditional love.

How to Thrive in Your Spiritual Awakening

If you (or someone you know) are having a spiritual awakening, here are a few helpful and important things to keep in mind--

Look for the Special Small Things in Your Everyday

Your being alive is for reasons far greater than just living out an existence. It’s about you and your Soul, ascending.

So, live each day with purpose. And be alert to what comes your way.

People will cross your path, the right movie will show up in your Netflix que, you’ll stumble upon books, blog posts and magazine articles when you least expect to find them. Stop, and ask yourself why it’s there, what it’s trying to tell you or teach you.

Spirit has you on their radar, and it’s sending you help. It’s up to you to see the signs.

There are so many wondrous days ahead of you, and each sunrise marks another step in your journey. Trust the path you’re on but don’t be surprised (or discouraged) if the direction it takes you isn’t what you expected.

It’s okay.

You’re learning, and self-compassion will get you farther along your path than most anything else.

Jump Fearlessly into Your Healing Work

Reading books, watching YouTube videos, and even going to workshops—that’s not hard.

Doing the actual work, on the other hand, is.

So, jump fearlessly into your inner work. It’ll move you on your path more quickly than

possibly anything else.

You will find, to your amazement, lots of loving and compassionate teachers, guides

and friends out there, ready to hold your space and help.

Make yourself vulnerable to begin your healing. And stay with it. Your Soul’s ascending

depends on it.

Be Willing to Re-Organize Your Life

You’re going through some changes. And that’s okay. But be open to the changes you feel called upon. Even the ones that take you by surprise.

It's all part of the realigning of body, mind and soul– with your purpose. And letting go of things is a big part of that.

Once-cherished possessions. Egoic identities like your career and success. Relationships you may have outgrown.

Let them go.

And let it be.

Ground To the Earth for Stability

Don’t be surprised if, as you begin your journey, you feel more at home in nature than with other people.

There’s a reason for that.

You need space and time, alone with yourself. And nature is as close to Spirit as things come.

Be sure you get there. It’ll make a big difference.

Read About Spiritual Things

Go as deep as you’re called to in your new journey. The best way to do this is reading. Here’s a great list to get you started:

  • Jill Bolte Taylor: “My Stroke of Insight”. (The author writes about her spiritual awakening after a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain).

  • Rosemary Altea: “The Eagle and the Rose” (The author’s bestselling account of her true experiences as an internationally renowned medium and healer).

  • Michael Newton: “Journey of Souls” (Using clinical hypnosis, Newton discovered insights into what happens to us between lives, including how it feels to die, what you see and feel right after death, the truth about "spiritual guides" and more).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Exactly Is Spiritual Awakening?

Spiritual awakening is a call to a higher level of consciousness. It’s the beginning of your path to self-actualisation, for the Soul to ascend to its higher purpose.

How Long Does Spiritual Awakening Last?

Spiritual awakening is a journey with no fixed destination. It’s a lifelong process of self-discovery as the Soul ascends to its purpose. So, there is no endpoint.

What Do You Do in a Spiritual Awakening?

What happens after spiritual awakening is mainly up to you. If you believe you’re having a spiritual awakening—the best advice is for you to open yourself up to the changes that are happening and explore!! Learn more about spiritual awakening, trust your intuition, seek out guides and teachers, be compassionate towards yourself, and fearlessly do your inner work.

What Causes a Spiritual Awakening ?

There are many causes of spiritual awakening, but the simplest way of understanding it is this–your Soul arrives to this earth with a purpose-- to ascend to its highest form. When the soul is ready for this, a spiritual awakening will happen.

Can I Start a Spiritual Awakening on my own?

You may pursue the many styles of spirituality that you’re comfortable, with, and this may take you towards a spiritual awakening. That said, a spiritual awakening begins when and as the Soul is prepared to do it.

You’re Becoming What You Came Here to Be

What is spiritual awakening? Well, as you may have gathered, it's any combination of exciting, mysterious, life-changing, and for some, even a bit scary.

So, embrace it as fearlessly as you possibly can, with a sense of allowing and curiosity, in pursuit of all your Soul is moving you to do.

You may find yourself feeling lost after spiritual awakening, so slow things down, get quiet, and get into nature. Be patient, be kind to yourself, knowing all things will happen in their time.

When it’s time to do your healing work, go ahead and lean into it. Spirit will give you strength, and send you teachers, healers, and guides.

Your Soul knows why it came to earth, and it chose you. Together, you’ll become who you were meant to be.

Your journey has begun.

Blessings to you as you begin your Ascension.


If you or someone you know needs or wants support with a Spiritual Awakening or Transformation in your life, Christine can help. Click the button to ask a question or schedule an appointment.

If you found this article helpful, please share with others.

Christine Ryan, Sedona, AZ

ICP Certified Life Coach.

Certified Spiritual Response Therapy Practitioner

Conscious Connective Breathwork Practitioner

Exploring Your Passions and Soul Purpose

We are all on a unique path. I've spent over forty years of my life helping others find their way. My Life Coaching is custom tailored and based on the fundamental truth and my years of life experiences. We will work together, as a team, to create the life you want and deserve. Join me on this magical journey of development and transformation.

In my practice, ​I use emotional clearing and healing practices, counseling, action plans and tools to help you transformation from pain and lack to the life joy, harmony and the fulfillment you are seeking.

Blessings on your journey.

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