Many people have an image of the spiritual path as inherently solitary. They think that the only way to “achieve enlightenment” is to go it alone, but that is simply not the case. The spiritual path is always around us and within us. There is no where you can go where it is not. You can certainly go where life is hard and dangerous, but that is not separate from the spiritual path. Until we can see all of life as interconnected, as one, we will not heal as a people, and we’ll collectively make the same mistakes again and again. In this way, understanding that wherever you are is the perfect spiritual path for you is crucial to evolving out of the unconscious madness from which a lot of the world operates.
With that said, spiritual awakening can draw people towards solitude from time to time. This can arise for a number of reasons including but not limited to:
- The person is naturally a solitary person;
- The person needs time and space to heal;
- The person needs to face fears of being alone; and
- The person is running away from their triggers.
Obviously, the last one is not a healthy reason, but it happens a lot for those people who are highly sensitive. They come to the conclusion that nowhere but on their own is safe. Certainly, a highly sensitive person (or empath, if you prefer that term) can do some important healing on his or her own, but my point stands about being interconnected to all of life. Running away is ultimately an attempt to run away from ourselves. This leads to an important question about what it is you are running away from. As we go inwards, we realize that it is our own discomfort and our hidden issues that we are attempting to avoid. When we resolve those things, even highly sensitive people can be at peace with others in just about any situation. I do leave space for truly horrific situations in the latter statement I made, but that is typically not what is going for most people.
With all this said, let’s talk about the solitary aspect of healing and growth after a spiritual awakening, when it’s time to go it alone, and when it’s time to rejoin society.
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All By Yourself, Don’t Want to Be All By Yourself
After a spiritual awakening, the innate intelligence inside us tends to drive us straight towards any issues that we have that block us from moving from a space of love. For many people, one issue they are immediately forced to confront is the fear of being alone. Some people hide in relationships and attempt to lose themselves in the emotions of the relationship and in another. This is an attempt to mask their issues. This can lead to all kinds of relationship problems, including the need to manipulate others so that the person feels good about themselves. Manipulation of all kinds and levels can be employed to make others behavior a certain way, and of course, this is sheer madness. When a spiritual awakening arises for someone like this, they’re being forced to look at that madness, and it’ll start by having to go be by him/herself.
This issue alone will be tough for this type of individual. It is likely to be compounded by all the other issues coming up. Since a person like this probably won’t choose solitary life willingly, a lot of life situations simply fall apart after awakening. It’s one of the ways a person’s soul can get the person’s attention and get them to potentially help themselves. As such, a person like this may be fired, faced with divorce/break-up, and other things that push him/her towards the solitude she/he needs. It doesn’t have to be this way. However, it’s rare that a person has a spontaneous spiritual awakening and starts making the changes they need to do their inner work. It’s not anyone’s fault really. No one is taught about these things. And while it does happen once in awhile for someone to take the space, that’s rare. It’s far more common for a person to be holding on by their teeth and fingernails while life rips away the things they think they need before the person decides they need to learn how to heal and become whole.
Breaking Away From Society
In general, society does a lot to reinforce poor beliefs and bad behaviors. If your friends are always wanting you to be loud and drink alcohol when you hang out, that may not resonate for you, especially if you’re learning how to be in integrity with your voice and your body. If your social circles are all about fashion, you may find yourself frustrated to be around them as you realize that fashion is entirely made up. It’s also a way that people are controlled on many levels, including the physical level. (The corset may have gone out of fashion, but it’s presence is still constricting a lot of bodies and hearts.) There are too many social misunderstandings and falsehoods to outline in this spiritual blog post, but after awakening, you may feel a lot of these constricting and false beliefs. Thus breaking away from society to seclude yourself is a natural way to start to figure out what you actually feel and what is actually true for you.
Certainly, some of your social circles won’t understand, but that always lead me to ask you if someone who doesn’t approve of your choices to heal is really a friend after all? Many of you will find that friends, relatives, and family are actually not on your side at all. They are stuck in their own ego programming, and they want you to continue with that same type of program. If you have recently awakened, you may not be able to explain any of how you feel or have any idea of what walking the awakened walk looks or feels like yet. So it can be doubly overwhelming to deal with people who actively resist your attempt to know yourself and who want you to stay small and caught up in these ways of living when you can’t yet explain much of any of it.
It’s best to find space from all of this.
Secluded in the City or in Nature
It actually doesn’t matter where you seclude yourself. I wrote a whole blog post about “Finding Your Sanctuary” years ago with thoughts about where you may want to go. All that matters is that your physical needs are met (food, water, clothing, shelter, etc.), and that you feel like you can really let go where you are. As always, letting go is the key to spiritual transformation. A lot of things are going to bubble up, and you don’t need to be in a roommate situation where you have to justify why you lie on the couch all day or spontaneously cry. Certainly, there are people who may take on the role of spiritual caretaker, but a lot of times, it simply is best to have your own space in which to fall apart.
For many people, the space they feel best in is in nature. So if you’re called away from the city, town, burg, or wherever you are living into a much more rural setting, then trust that intuition. As always, your intuition is your best guide, and the more inner work you do, the easier it is to hear. It’s unfortunately a little bit of a catch 22 that when you need intuition the most is when you are the most confused and lost in ego ideas. So all I can do is encourage you to practice listening to your most consistent, quiet, and often first thought/feeling that comes when you need to make an intuitive decision. Intuition tends to be very consistent while the ego mind goes back and forth on things. So look for that consistency, but don’t look too hard. Intuition isn’t that hard to find. It’s only hard because a lot of times we don’t like the answers we find.
Dealing With Family Life
For those who are young (18 and older) and do not have much financial support and for those who are raising a family, the ability to get away can be a challenge. For those who are young and still supported by parents, it may be time to get creative. There are all kinds of interesting work-trade opportunities as well as places for silent meditation retreats that you can find online these days. Use the tools of technology to your advantage, and see if you can find a space where you can work a little, then go into your inner process. I am sure that this will challenge you to step out on your own possibly for the first time in your life, but awakening is taking you towards yourself. It’ll show you how to grow and best support yourself in the long term. Trust it.
For the parents with children, I’ve seen my students do a variety of things. The parents who have healed and grown the most have found some way to work it out with a partner/ex-partner, relatives, and friends to make space to fall apart and have their process. The ones who have struggled more in their awakening have not asked for enough help, which is often revealing a major issue someone has. Issues like this can be rooted in the belief that someone else might hurt their kids somehow or not be a good role model. And certainly, some beliefs have some truth to them, but a lot of times they don’t. These types of beliefs are often how people use half-truths to lie to themselves. As such, an awakened parent suffers more for getting trapped by these beliefs–not by their partner or their children. As a result, everyone else around them suffers too. Our suffering is never limited to ourselves. It touches everyone in our lives.
The main thing is that you HAVE to make space for yourself. This is self-care 101. Everyone has different circumstances, but if you engage with the challenges you have, you can find the right options to help ensure your children are cared for and you can move more deeply through your spiritual transformation.
Discovering the Bliss of Solitude
Especially for someone who is discovering they naturally enjoy solitude, there can be a blissful experience to being on your own. This may show up later for the people who are afraid of being alone, and it may not show up for someone who naturally thrives in community. But for many, the freedom to be with your own energy without dealing with the energies of others can feel great. You may begin to realize how much energy is coming out of everyone all the time. You may also realize how much of that energy is agitated fear energy. In this way, it’s nice to simply feel what your energy is like without anyone else to disturb it.
The flip side of this is that you have to be responsible for all the energies you feel because there is no one else but you. Strangely enough, people can find ways to distract or agitate themselves even on their own. They’ll read about a tragedy going on in Brussels or somewhere, and then they’ll feel “that sadness.” But this kind of dramatic sponging is in and of itself an issue. There is no need to feel “sad” for others. That is a kind of self-indulgence for an ego self that likes the feeling of sadness. It likes the sweetness of it, so it’ll look for any chance it can get to roll around in the cesspool of sadness that is part of human consciousness right now. If this is something you do, you have to trace back this issue to the root to see why you like to feel sad. Being sad for others’ pain does not help them. Love is what they need, and if you want to be able to love your community again, you need to learn how to fully love and let go of your own issues. And that’s a big reason to go into solitude.
Coming Back to the World, Maybe
Some people will enjoy solitary spiritual life so much that they won’t want to come back to society. That may be fine for you. Only you can know, and only you can know when you’ve really done the work inside to be clear on that point. As I said at the beginning, going into solitude isn’t a running away from the upset energies of the world. It’s a chance to face your own upset energies so that you stop contributing to the global anxiety, depression, and rage that is going on. In coming to know yourself and to heal yourself, certain doorways and opportunities are likely to open. You start to intuitively follow the path of your spirit rather than doing what others tell you to do and what you were taught to believe.
That soul path is much more dynamic than people appreciate. So some of you will return to community. Others will not. Some will not initially return to community for years after their inner work has come to a resting rhythm before coming back. Others will come back and then return to solitude.
And of course any kind of combination you can think of in terms of connecting to community and being on your own is possible because your soul is dynamic. It is alive and intelligent. It will guide you to your appropriate space in the ecosystem of the world. And wherever that may be is the place where you will naturally thrive whether it is on your own or with others.