We really begin to explore our Inner Journey.
We have discovered that distractions and entertainments do not relieve our sense of isolation or discomfort for long, so we become increasingly motivated to seek something more authentic that will give us meaningful answers.
As we disengage from mass consciousness and the conventional beliefs and ideas that we may have been holding on to, we may grieve for the life we never had. At the same time we will feel great relief as we start to break free from limitation.
We recognise how asleep we have been! We can also see that most people we know are still asleep. Not surprisingly, with our eyes more open, it is common to experience greater judgement of other people, friends, strangers, society and the world.
We are seen by those who know us as having changed from 'our usual self'. We may be viewed as different, weird maybe even crazy. We try to wake others up, but because we are not very awake ourselves yet, our attempts can be felt to be arrogant or self-serving.
Sooner or later we decide to keep our growing awareness to ourselves, maybe rationalising that it’s better to be silent than be judged.
We are still focused on what is wrong in our lives and the world, but at the same time we resist letting go. Ultimately however, we will; perhaps leaving unsatisfying jobs, relationships that have lost their common ground, friendships, religion. There may even be a total withdrawal from society.
There is a growing sense in us that all things are connected in some way, but at the same time we may feel completely disconnected.
The most common attribute of this phase is loneliness. We may feel like we are the only one awake and no one understands us. At this point we might begin to wonder why we ever began this journey. We yearn for relationship, community and being able to fit in, but despite the loneliness, we wouldn’t go back even if we could.
Our ego continues to seek approval, acceptance, appreciation and to get its emotional needs met, but we have become far more aware of how shallow this behaviour is.
We are increasingly aware of the feeling of unease when we do or say anything that could be hurtful to others.
In the search for answers and relief from emotional pain, we look more deeply at teachings and practices such as writings and videos from spiritual teachers and activities such as attending retreats, satsang, meditation, yoga and mindfulness classes.
The introspection phase of Awakening is almost always the most challenging because we are swinging between resistance and letting go, with moments of clarity and enlightenment mixed with times when we are pulled back into the asleep state.
Toward the end of this phase it is common to go through fear of losing oneself. This can make us feel that there is no point or purpose to life any more. It can be devastating, resulting in hopelessness and despair.
Without point or purpose, we no longer know how to live our lives, and nothing is ever the same. This period is often referred to as 'The Dark Night Of The Soul'.