Spiritual Awakening: An Interview with Jim Tolles

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Today, we have the honor of speaking with author and spiritual teacher Jim Tolles, who helps people grow, heal, and embrace their spiritual paths and spiritual awakening.

Jim teaches that we all have our truth and love within us, and offers tools that help people cut away the lies and misconceptions so that they can be more firmly rooted in truth and love.

Everyday Spirituality

Jim Tolles is the author of Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening, an eBook that helps people bring spirituality more fully into their daily lives.

He's also a spiritual teacher, helping people to grow, heal, and embrace their spiritual paths. More can be found at SpiritualAwakeningProcess.com.

In this interview, we’re going to be talking with Jim about spiritual awakening and his work. Our focus will be on healing core issues and trauma recovery.

The following is a transcript of our interview.

Welcome, Jim.

Thank you for having me.

Just to get started, let’s help people get to know you a little bit better. Could you share the story of spiritual awakening in your own life? How did you really get started on this path?

Sure, I’d be happy to. I was definitely one of those people that always had a draw towards spirituality. There’s always this underlying current that was sitting around and didn’t know what to do with itself. You look at the different major religions and spiritual paths, and they’re very important. They serve important social roles and things like that, but nothing ever really sparked anything for me.

A lot of that really just gets going because I’m following my heart. It’s this interesting story where I start out trying to get into a Master’s program in creative writing, and that to me is really actually following my heart when I’m 26 years old.

Then that starts things moving in interesting ways, and I just played the process. I started to follow these different things that were opening. I’m starting to listen to Eckhart Tolle’s CDs around The Power of Now and stuff like that, and other things just start to percolate a little bit, and I start to naturally do some inner work that I didn’t realize I was doing at the time.

It was just a realization I was making myself miserable, so I was like, “Well, I don’t like that,” so I started doing some things. It’s just like these little baby steps, and they all build up to August of 2007 when I have a spiritual awakening.

Ironically enough, I don’t get into any of the creative writing programs that I want to get into, but I can see how it was important for that part of the process.

I think that’s an aspect that we may want to talk about today … how we can appreciate the process, because we can be such an end-goal society. It’s like, “Am I at the end goal? Have I yet arrived or achieved it?”

No, I didn’t achieve what I thought was the end goal, getting into a creative writing Master’s program, but what it does is that it helps me start to flow and to grow into the spaces and places that I need to go.

So I have an awakening in August of 2007. A spiritual awakening … what I’m really saying here is like something turns itself on.

For me personally, it wasn’t like profoundly blissful or anything like that. It was just a loss of desire and the noise in my head went away. It’s very, very understated, but something starts to move, and this is one of the big distinctions I make between other experiences, and then begin to expand.

Our spiritual vocabulary I think is very small in English right now, and so spiritual awakening for people is being used for a lot of different experiences.

One of my key defining distinctions is that awakening continues. It has this intelligence within. It moves you towards things. It moves you towards issues. If there’s no resistance, people tend to feel very loving, very at peace .… They’re clear about what’s real, what’s the truth, so that’s when we’re not resisting.

Then, on the other side, if we are resisting, we can collapse into a lot of pain, and things are falling apart. It’s usually a combination of the two, but depending on the person, they can be very different, and it really has to do with their inner process and how much resistance they have to what’s arising.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what the spiritual awakening process looks like.

One of your most popular blog posts discusses the 5 Signs of a Spiritual Awakening. Can you talk us through a few more of those, that loss of desire perhaps and also just that sense of peace and connectedness?

Yeah. Desire is just what arises out of wholeness because most of what our desire is is an attempt to get something that we feel we lack, right, so these different drivers, and so they just push us towards things.

They go away when we feel whole and we’re at peace in ourselves. Lately, I’ve really just been emphasizing the lesson that it sticks around because there are a lot of what I call “spiritual openings.”

A spiritual opening is like the blinds open and the room light comes in, but eventually, the blinds close because there’s an external source …

The external source triggers the internal experience, sort of a thing versus an internal experience arising on its own, so I often describe this like the light is coming on in your house. You can go hide under the bed and people do this, right?

That’s a form of resistance, so you can pull the covers over your head.

You can pretend to not see what has risen inside you, but ... it sticks around.

You can certainly resist. Nothing is impossible, but that’s another way to look at the metaphor. It’s a mashed up metaphor of like a river being released and like the light on, so this combination of movement and clarity.

I think that’s another way that we can look at it, but I really want to emphasize that some people don’t have that.

I can think of at least three cases off the top of my head where they don’t have that to like signify that this is what this movement means. It’s just the movement starts, and they’re not feeling clear, or loving, or peaceful, or whole. They’re just crash-landing.

Sometimes, it simply has to do with … hidden trauma as the first thing that burst out of them, as they drop into themselves, or they’ve just really not been living the life that’s true to them and through no fault to their own, right?

We just grow up, we learn what we learn, and we start acting it out. We don’t know otherwise.

The five [signs] are usually:

  1. Love
  2. Feeling the truth
  3. Seeing the truth
  4. Being at peace, and
  5. Sense of inner harmony.

It can be sort of a silence as well in the mind at times, but not always.

Really, the last one, this thing that abides, it moves and draws you towards really greater health, but at the time, it often doesn’t seem like that.

You also mentioned secondary signs of spiritual awakening. Can you share a couple of those too?

The common ones that people have are usually around chronic fatigue and sleep disruption …

It just probably depends on how people want to describe their sensations, how much they think it’s physical versus energy.

I often describe energy as the sense of buzzing, or pulsing, or tingling, or these types of things. Once again, I always return to like this kind of primary signs is important to understand because otherwise, we’re on a time of self-diagnosing.

I’m very concerned about people self-diagnosing something that’s being spiritual when maybe this is a Western medicine thing, and I always emphasize that everything is divine, so it’s not like God decided that energy healing was the only way to go or faith healing and that we couldn’t use antibiotics.

You know what I mean?

It’s important to appreciate that whatever is going on with us, we want to use all tools available, and so it isn’t a bad thing to go to a Western MD and say, “Hey, I’m having all this tingling, buzzing,” and then they come back and say, “Oh, you’re fine.”

If you’re having lots of experience of love and clarity, then we say like, “This is sounding more like a spiritual awakening, that there’s energy moving,” but with that energy moving, it can keep you wired up at night that can make it difficult to get to sleep.

It can start to process things through dreams.

A lot of people start there. If they have a lot of resistance, it’s like the subconscious is the part that’s willing to be conscious about the issues and search the process up there, and so for those people that have it moving that way, their dreams tend to be very meaningful, and I often encourage them, “Get out your dream journal to start working it through you in your conscious mind, so maybe you’ll be able to sleep at night.”

That’s one of the way we start interact once we’ve evaluated the rest of things. There’s a lot of other physiological reasons that people don’t sleep well, right?

They’re drinking too much caffeine. They’re drinking alcohol.

All these different substances that I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about as we talk around addiction. They get in the way of the body appropriately functioning.

In some regards, I think that’s the point because when the body is trying to bring up trauma or trying to bring up an issue to us, it doesn’t feel good, and so we don’t want to deal with that actually appropriate function.

As I often emphasize in my blog, in our society, we’re not taught how to appropriately deal with these things that come up, so one of the ways that people address is to try and suppress it.

They address it by trying to suppress it. That’s also a really good segue into focusing on helping people heal core issues, and a lot of times, those are the things that are trying to come up, but we resist it because we don’t want to deal with them.

What are the most common core issues that you encounter working with students?

Sure. I think I’m still developing my language on this, so I invite everybody into this journey with me, but we want to start at like what are the root issues?

The root human issues to me go back to the animal body, the instinctual body, and that’s the drive to survive, right?

Fear of death.

If we’re not afraid of dying, that changes our outlook about ourselves and about all of life instantaneously, but that’s one of the big roots that grows up all these other things, and so think of core issues more like in the stem, right, the trunk of a thing?

These things down here … The other one I would say is a fear of pain because sometimes, people are more afraid of pain, physical or emotional, than they are of dying, right? 

This is why there are issues of suicide because suddenly, death isn’t as scary as living.

There’s definitely an argument to be made to say that the two are intertwined. They are.

It’s like because of fear of pain and pain itself is one of the triggers that says, “I might be dying,” and so those two are big ones, and the last one being that drive to procreate. That’s one of the ones that often underpins a lot of relationship drives for people to be in these romantic relationships.

When we start to look at the big things that people talk about, it’s like jobs and relationships, right?

To me, job is this survival side and relationship is that drive to procreate whether or not you want to have kids or not.

But that’s not how the instinctual body operates.

It just operates automatically because when we’re all turtles in our evolutionary thing or whatever we were before, right, there’s no way to consciously think through like what we do now.

I think there’s also a side comment here that any level of healing and spiritual growth is a kind of evolutionary retraining for ourselves. It’s necessary. We’re all operating on old outdated programs that grew up when we needed them, but we don’t need them as human beings.

We can consciously think through a lot of things, and so we don’t need to be scared of death and pain, and we don’t need to be told by our bodies to go have children.

trauma-and-spiritual-awakeningI just wanted to set the foundation first.

Then, we come up there, and any time we believe any of those three are under threat, it tends to create some sort of core issue. The very center “knot” …

You’re going to like this pun. The "not” of a core issue is, “I am not okay.”

Right?

When we have that stuck in us, and this shows up in a million ways like people who don’t think they’re attractive enough, which is usually leading down towards the drive to procreate.

Once again, it doesn’t matter if you want kids or not. This is not how that part of us thinks. It’s just how our ego is built and how society is built to reflect those values of that survival and continue to live and survive.

That “not” can be in a lot of different things like, “I am not good enough. I am not worthy enough,” and then it starts to play out.

“It’s because you’re not attractive. It’s because you’re not successful. You’re not making enough money. You’re not athletic enough. You’re not whatever.” Right?

There’s this constant “not” in there, and this is the “not” we’re trying to spiritually and intellectually massage out of us, and it’s a tough “not.”

The massage is a great metaphor too because if anybody who’s had a massage before, sometimes you’ve got some massage therapist’s elbow crammed down at your back, and that “knot” still doesn’t want to go. It just can take a long time because we’re so used to believing it, energizing it, holding it inappropriately again and again. That’s going to be at the center of lack of self-worth.

Fear of the unknown is another one of those things that’s running around in there because that assumes that something painful ... so these are some of the things that we look at.

Then, the specific name of that “not” for everyone is going to be different, and it grows up different levels. An example for like the beauty thing because we have a huge problem with that. In my opinion, in both men and women now.

I think men have gotten progressively more superficial. You can look at movies as a way to benchmark that, right, because you look at like Sean Connery from like the 007 years like way back when, and he has a pretty average body. Now, you’re looking at like Captain America in the latest Civil War movie and this guy has a crazy body.

That’s a ton of energy, but it’s creating this male ideal around the bodybuilder type, right, and that’s a very superficial idea, right?

None of us need to be that strong and lift cars off our chest, but this becomes another way that the “not” grows up and expresses itself. “Well, now, I have to have 6-pack abs.” All that sort of stuff.

Of course, women have had the superficial thing much longer as far as physical assets, and so that all just is growing up in different ways. For women, you’ve got to have makeup, and you’ve got to have clothing, and you have to have the right haircut, right?

Those are what I call the “nasty flowers” growing out of the plant.

You wrote, “If your whole sense of self is built on a lie, then you’ve probably created a whole life full of falsities to reinforce this original lie. Then, when you do get working on core issues, you expect a lot of changes in the external world.”

Can you maybe share a couple more of those changes that you might see if people start to work on their core issues?

Yeah. Part of it is we seek familiarity. One of our big problems that we get stuck at is we associate familiarity with safety, and so when you have those two …

This goes back to the fundamental issue of wanting to not feel pain and not die, right?

When we’ve got those two intertwined, and we often realize it, and people coming from very traumatic backgrounds start to have to realize this that what’s familiar is not actually safe, and so this is where like people’s wires can be really cross-wired and confused, and so they contend towards unsafe relationships because they grew up in unsafe relationships and what … because that’s familiar.

Then, you can bring somebody who’s very loving and very kind to someone who is and has been very badly wounded by their upbringing in one way or the other, and they see it as a threat. It’s unfamiliar …

Love will drive up those uncomfortable issues because the person starts to open up in a certain way, and that forces them to deal with something, and that’s not necessarily what they’re expecting, and so the tendency is we blame the external world and to push away.

This happens all the time in my work. It’s not anything personal towards me. it’s just the nature of sitting with somebody in a space of love, and love ultimately is pure acceptance that you just sit and allow somebody to fully be as they are.

And that’s a rare thing, so these things start to turn up and start to move things inside of us in those types of ways, and that’s surprising. There’s a tendency that we’re going to want to go back towards all the old reinforcing situations that are in that familiar category.

If that’s anybody’s situation listening to this, it’s just so critical that you have to get out of your comfort zone because your comfort zone is messed up.

You’re not going to learn a different comfort zone until you get out of the original one … I mean, I can’t express how much courage is needed and how much support is needed to start to make those transitions because it’s always hardest when you first do it, and you don’t know if something is going to work.

In this more extreme example … It’s not always this extreme, but in a more extreme example where you’re just constantly around like other people who are drug addicts, right?

They can’t keep a job. You can’t keep a job. You’re really addicted on something. You’ve come out of a really addicted and messed up childhood. You need a lot of support, and you’re going to need a lot of courage.

I think that’s part of where spirituality comes in is that that faith and divine, that there is this deeper well that we can draw on to nourish us and support us when we just don’t know what’s going on.

We weren’t raised that way, we weren’t given the right support, and we just got to come to that well and just trust and do the best we can to find these supports.

Obviously, one of the most troubling and prevalent forms of trauma that we see in our society is sexual abuse, and you’ve written about healing from sexual abuse trauma, so can you talk us through that process a little bit on multiple levels?

How do you begin working with someone who’s been through that kind of trauma?

Personally, I like to work with somebody who’s already worked on other things with practitioners, and psychologists, and psychiatrists, or whoever they’re called to because where I go is really deep.

I go towards the muscle and the energy because to me, I think trauma in any upsetting situation is like a clenched fist that when something feels upsetting, we go from being open to a situation to clenching to self-protect, right?

I’m sure there’s all sorts of physiological explanations that other people know that stuff better than I could explain on how we’re preparing our muscles to run or to fight, right?

Very primal sort of response, but the tendency is with something like traumas, we tend to stay in the clenched fist which actually takes a lot of energy and actually feels horrible to us, but if you open, you have to start to re-experience the energy of that experience and what happen in the muscles, and emotionally, and all that sort of stuff which also feels horrible.

As I’ve mentioned before, our society doesn’t really teach us how to open mindfully and to allow things to erupt. It doesn’t really allow us to get messy, and that’s a really important aspect of the healing side of our work is allowing ourselves to fall apart.

Once again, this is why we want to find those supporting situations in our life so that we can fall apart in a certain level of safety with a certain level of understanding because normally, when we fall apart, we don’t fall apart mindfully. We just break down.

We’re out of control now in that scenario. We’re not expecting it. We don’t have any support in place forth, and so the harder somebody breaks down, the harder the tendency we clamp back up again.

A lot of people get stuck at that point especially with trauma where they started to break down a little bit, the energy starts to move out of the system … Our systems starts to do what it’s supposed to which is to let it release, but it feels bad. We’re not prepared. We clamp back down, and so we can go like this.

A lot of people have that issue where they feel like, “I’ve been dealing with the same issue my whole life,” because most likely, the tendency is this is what happens. They open up a little, and they clamp it back down again, and so the core of the trauma stays within.

meditation-and-spiritual-awakeningThe deep part of all this is actually very simple.

It’s a lot of relaxation … Somebody sits, and they breathe, and they relax. They start to naturally open up, right?

The fist starts to unclench, and when that starts to happen, the body starts to talk, and the body is very literal.

Anything that’s happened physically to the body, it remembers, and if it’s a traumatic thing, it needs to remember it and release the energy, release the emotions.

Those sessions can be pretty intense when I’m sitting with somebody who has a lot of sadness. It could be anger, and range, and all those things.

As a spiritual teacher, I point people back towards that space as a witness, and that’s really important to witness because witnessing allows us to experience. It’s not a detaching in the sense of not feeling. It’s a detaching in the sense that we’re not going to fuel it with any more story.

We’re not going to stay feeling … sorry for ourselves. We’re not going to get lost in blaming the people who have hurt us. We’re just simply going to say, “No, I’m angry about it.” That’s fine. “I’m really upset and sad about it.” That’s fine. We’re just going to let that wash out of us.

Part of that is also breathing and relaxing. Breathing and relaxing again and again because we’re also re-teaching the body to not do this [tension] because it’s going to want to.

Because we’re taught that this is how we protect ourselves even though it’s absolutely wrong.

Speaking about mind-body connection, you also talk about the process of recovering repressed memory and memory around trauma. 

Can you share about how that happens and how to deal with it when it does happen?

Yeah. You just go right back to the clenched fist metaphor because it’s like everything gets held onto when we clamp down, so we’re clamping down our heart, body, spirit.

We’re just holding on to anything. The worse the trauma, the more likely we’re going to hold on to everything, and that for whatever reason seems to block out parts of the brain where we just won’t even allow ourselves to think.

Interestingly enough, not all the memories that come up when repressed memories are being recovered are going to be traumatic.

It just seems like a whole file cabinet of memories get shoved away, and so sometimes … and I’m very cautious with this because it’s such a suggestible space and you don’t want to input anything to it, but I really just encourage people, “Just write down whatever comes up.”

If there’s something you’re remembering, the smell of blueberry pie on a sunny day, right? That just may have end up in the file cabinet illustrated with the trauma of being raped in the woods or something awful like that, right?

Starting to allow some of these other benign months to come up to me is part of the process of recovering aspects of memory. Really, with anything repressed, it tends to be extremely inconvenient. Doubt is a huge issue.

Recently, I was watching a video. I can’t remember his name off the top of my head, but he was talking about the neurobiology of trauma ... . Please don’t quote me on this. Anybody listening to this, I really encourage you to go search on it on YouTube because there are some really cool stuff that will help you explain why we remember differently.

[Editor’s note: To learn more, Jim Tolles recommends Saj Razvi’s Stress, Trauma, and the Body Youtube video.]

This is not an aspect with repressed memories that I’ve recently learned, but it also reinforces why we go towards the body because the body … that part of the brain that’s remembering things doesn’t get shut down. The frontal lobes and stuff going on with the amygdala change how we can remember ... you lose the ability to seek once and create context with the memories because those parts of the brain are being shut down by the release of like norepinephrine and whatever. Other neurotransmitters are just going crazy during that moment.

…. I guess the best way I would describe it ... is this surreal sort of memory, right, so it doesn’t match up to like your other memories.

It’s like if you are remembering our conversation today like this certain quality sequence which you’re going to be able to remember, but if there was a trauma, it wouldn’t feel the same, so this often, in my opinion, fuels doubt.

Doubt is that big thing, right, because doubt now starts to look at this thing as like, “But it doesn’t feel like this memory over here, right? I’m used to memory being like this, not like this.”

Additionally, doubt is terrible if it’s like incest because family teaches us that family is always in our best interest. Really.

That’s a huge problem with incest because then there’s this other story that’s competing that says, “No, dad or mom didn’t do this to me,” and so that fuels more doubt.

Really, the biggest thing I think with repressed memories is they’re inconvenient because if somebody is really relaxed and open, that’s really not an active imagining thing. I’m sure somebody with a different mindset could, but my experience is … That’s just not convenient. It’s not what’s going on in the moment.

I wouldn’t say never, but very rarely may ever asking anything remotely to do with sexuality on something like that or another traumas coming up.

The body just starts to open, it starts to speak, and I focus people on focusing on where the body is speaking because as I say, the body is very literal and very honest. If something is going on in your genitalia, something happened there because I’m sitting with a student, and we’re just breathing and relaxing, and that’s it.

Like you said, the way that your brain is working, you’re not sequencing events in the same way that you normally do, but I never made that connection to like a memory that you might have repressed, and that’s why you doubt it because you’re like, “This doesn’t have the same weight as my other memories, so maybe it’s not real.” That’s fascinating to me. 

Yeah, yeah. I recommend anybody who’s listening to go search on neurobiology and trauma on YouTube because that’s where I was hearing it from.

I’m not an expert on that. I just want to be clear about that, but in my experience, everything that I’ve listened to about that is actually reinforced because I don’t try and get people to think about the trauma if it’s repressed.

There are certain signs that I start to notice in people around trauma certain ways where like if they start to relax, they start to get really upset very quickly.

If something is too deeply … they’re deeply traumatized, they may just simply be too shut down though, so there’s a lot of levels of working with trauma depending on where you are on that spectrum.

If somebody is extremely shut down, step 1 is really just try to figure out what situations can I really just be safe and just starting to get a sense of what safety is. That’s the first step, and that’s a big deal because a lot of people don’t feel safe in their own skin.

spirituality-in-recoveryThat’s the horrible thing about different traumas, and we can expand this past sexual or physical abuses and traumas to emotional traumas because some people grow up in situations where they’re just emotionally beaten down every day, and that one is more difficult in a different way …

I shouldn’t say more difficult, but it’s difficult in a different way because we don’t weigh in our society emotional abuse on the same level as physical abuse, but we certainly can act out and be in just as much pain from emotional abuse in my opinion.

I don’t know if that’s fair or not, but I see that as different … It’s more difficult in the sense you can’t point to a fingerprint or you can’t point to necessarily like one instance where like something happened where your dad beat you with a baseball bat. It’s horrible to say things like this.

I’m not being glib by any means, but these things happen.

There’s so much violence for men and women. I like to emphasize that as well. I’m glad there’s a lot of impetus out there to help women and to stop violence against women, but I feel like there’s a culture of greater acceptance to be violent towards men, so like some of the stories I’ll get is like … It could be a sister who’s trying to process the emotional trauma of seeing her brother beaten, right?

It didn’t happen to her, but there’s still that energetic fingerprint, and so find those bits where we can relax and we can open up.

We could be honest with our feelings, and as I say, we can have space to break down. It’s how we can rebuild ourselves again.

That’s so powerful, and I know you’ve also written about the idea of silent wounds of neglect, of witnessing trauma. With physical abuse as terrible as it is, that’s an interaction that you can point to. As opposed to neglect and abandonment, that’s a lack of interaction, and so sometimes, it’s harder to work with that because you’re working with nothing almost.

Does that make sense?

Yeah, absolutely.

Can you talk a bit more about how to stay in your center … especially when you’re interacting with family, or friends, or folks who are still in these old patterns, and you really want to break free of those patterns?

Yes. Anything in the level of abuse, you need to get out because you need to start to, first of all, heal.

You need to understand what it’s like to even feel safe in your own skin, and so you just … You have to leave. 

You can be surrounded by all the supports in the world. You can have the whole buffet of spiritual tools in front of you, but you’re the one who has to go pick up the knife and the plate, and start to put stuff on, and to start to engage with it.

On the more benign side of things, it really is just starting off noticing your triggers. When somebody is singing or doing something, you’re getting upset because as long as there’s no physical interaction, emotions are choices.

This is a big thing for people to understand because we have a lot in these conceptions, and we say things like, “This person made me feel this way.” Now, we want to make a big exception for childhood because when we’re children, we’re extremely open, and we don’t have the ability to think in the way that we do as adults.

We’re just absorbing everything straight in, and this is why you hear teachers like Jesus who warned against hurting children because when you hurt a child, there’s repercussions for the whole society, not just the person’s entire life which is bad enough, but the whole of society because of how they’re going to interact.

As we grow up, and we mature, and we are on our own, we realize that we’re making choices with our emotions that if somebody smiles at us and we feel happy, we’ve made the choice. It had nothing to do with the smile.

The person just showed us their teeth, you know?

Right. We interpreted it.

We interpreted it, but if somebody frowns at us, then we feel sad, right?

Nothing happened except the muscles in their face went upside-down, so this is an important thing to really understand because the tendency is we’re still trying to control, especially early on in the spiritual path.

We’re trying to control other people to make ourselves feel a certain way, and that’s the issue of addiction is that … we’re trying to find an external thing to make ourselves feel differently than we do whether it’s to cover up, or to numb, or to overstimulate if we’re numb because feeling numb actually feels terrible, and we want to have some sort of good feeling, right?

This leads people towards drugs, towards alcohol, towards sex, towards working too much, towards working out too much. We are so addicted to so many things.

It’s just crazy. I get compliments for not being on any prescription drugs. It doesn’t mean I’m better than anybody.

There are studies now coming out about prescription drugs. Another avenue for self-numbing and avoiding the issues that are trying to come out of us that we need to address.

Being spiritually conscious with other people, we’re practicing compassion and kindness. We’re noticing our own triggers to allow ourselves to start to understand what are the deeper issues being reflected in this trigger rather than saying, “Well, this person is just being mean because they don’t like my shirt.”

It can sound very simplistic, but the more wounded we are, the more quickly somebody is going to be upset.

If somebody doesn’t give them positive feedback, at least whatever they consider to be positive feedback, that’s a problem too because a lot of times, what is useful feedback is not going to be considered to be positive, right?

If I say to somebody, “You have a drinking problem,” right? That doesn’t necessarily translate to that person as a positive feedback, right, but it’s very important one and actually, ultimately, is a positive feedback to help them get help.

That’s another aspect that if you find it difficult being with people that you don’t feel are particularly conscious or doing their work, it’s just encouragement. Keep going inside. Keep going inside to deal with all of your triggers and all your issues because ultimately, that’s going to show people the way out, and a lot of people aren’t going to follow you, but some will.

Some will notice that you figured a way out of addiction or out of certain self-worth, self-hate issues that they may not have been, so that starts inspire others to kindly come along.

What’s something that you wish more people knew about spirituality and the spiritual awakening path?

It’s all within.

The spiritual awakening path is not an experience. I know what we’re talking about right now is … healing, and so it’s like if you have a broken leg.

Now, the divine embraces any way that we are, and that includes the broken leg, but most of us want to heal that leg.

We want to get healthy again, and there’s a rehab period for that, right, in whatever the way that we feel broken, and that changes how we experience life. If we had a broken leg, we’ve been living in a proverbial wheelchair, and so all the other people around us are probably in proverbial wheelchair so they interact with us in certain ways.

Once you can walk though, you’re not going to necessarily want to be around the same people in that way, or if you do, you come back as somebody who may want to help others to say, “No, you don’t have to be in a wheelchair.

You don’t have to hate yourself. You don’t have to worry about your eyeliner every day. You don’t have to make a hundred thousand dollars a year.” Right?

Those to me are all signs with the fears that people have that you’re in a wheelchair. You are inhibiting how you see life and how you’re willing to interact with life based off of those core issues, and so once you can start walking, it really changes.

God still loves us exactly as we are. The truth is still always within us.

When you get healthier, the whole world opens up to you. It’s such a beautiful place to be, but still, all the truth is within you, and so that can be an interesting time for a lot of people to realize how much freedom they actually have that they can go and do whatever that they really want.

When I say that, it’s not in an ego sense. It really comes from a place of love. If we’ve gone through this much healing, we really don’t want to inflict pain or suffering on anyone else.

It’s just not how you think about it because we know what sort of hell we’ve just walked through to be standing again on our own two feet.

inner-peace-and-spiritual-awakeningThroughout that, the truth is always within.

Your healing is always within. Your spiritual awakening and growth are always within.

You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to have a specific experience.

The more you come within it, it actually makes it easier to know what supports from the external world you do need.

This is what I call “going inside out,” and so you go inside. You start to really be honest with yourself because it’s an honest place, and then you can come back out again and pursue goals that really matter to your heart, to heal in ways that you need to heal, and to just flow in whatever way is most truthful, most kind, and most loving.

Any final words of encouragement or anything else you wanted to talk about that we didn’t get to cover?

Just tenacity, I think. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Have the tenacity and resilience to go through dark places inside you.

You can do it. It’s not beyond any of us.

It’s always sucky. It’s not a fun thing to do. Once again, if we go back to the broken leg metaphor, how awesome is it to be able to run in, to jump, to cartwheel, to breakdance, to do whatever you want? You can’t do those things when you’re still addicted and you’re still lost in core issues. They’re just not accessible to you.

In fact, some of what I talk about on my blog sometimes seems magical simply because we’re so used to being stuck and handicapped by our pain.

The resilience and the tenacity are going to help you to learn how to fix these things, to heal yourself, and to find the supports to help you heal so that you can go, and live, and enjoy life.

Thank you so much for discussing spiritual awakening and the spiritual path today.

You’re very welcome. I appreciate the work that you and your team are doing.  everyday-spirituality-jim-tolles-ebook

If you like this, please check out We Are Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience.

Caroline McGraw

This post was written by Caroline McGraw

Caroline Garnet McGraw is a writer and speaker who, like her literary BFF Jane Eyre, would always rather be happy than dignified. She's the creator of A Wish Come Clear, a personal development blog that gives you carte blanche to change your life. Her writing has appeared on sites such as The Huffington Post, Momastery, Positively Positive, and MindBodyGreen. An honors graduate of Vassar College, Caroline lives and works in Florence, Alabama.

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