A sudden and profound spiritual awakening can knock you clean out of the life you knew.
Many people who contact me after an abrupt spiritual awakening do so because they’ve lost their bearings, either a little or a lot. Whether you have really shifted permanently into an awakened state or you’ve had a life altering spiritual experience, you may find your life suddenly derailed from the path you were on before it happened. So, how do you deal with losing the life you knew, losing your life path, losing your trajectory?
Losing your career
There are a few ways this might happen. You might become “disabled.” If you’ve read much of this blog, you know that parts of my brain went offline for a while. Some people report becoming so sensitive to people or to the stresses of the urban environment, that they had to retreat from occupations that required this kind of contact. Some people have difficulty focusing on mental tasks. Some people experience actual physical pain, or the sudden need to sleep for long periods of time.
Another thing that can happen is that your work may become meaningless to you. The pointlessness of your job, the occupation you spend a great deal of your life engaged in, crashes down on you like a pile of bricks. Or you just realize, in your very bones, that you are supposed to be doing something different, but you have no idea what that different thing is.
Losing your relationships
You might realize that many of your current relationships are just unsupportable. It’s as if the “you” that built these relationships is gone, or never was in the first place. Or people can’t relate to you as they once did, and there is no place for this new “you,” or even more, a “you” that is in transition.
You might suddenly have to face the fact that many people are in your life and occupy your time, but they are only there based on very specific conditions. For instance, if you lose or quit your career or stop drinking or no longer like to go to sporting events, any of these seemingly superficial changes can cause them to completely lose interest in your friendship.
Losing your future
This can be quite difficult, and yet what you’ve lost you didn’t yet have in the first place. You probably had some image of the future, a trajectory, a definite feeling of going from here to there. Maybe you were engaged and that’s now called off or in doubt. Maybe you were growing a successful business, which you felt you had to let go, and now you’ve moved back in with your parents. All the things you were working toward, had or thought you would have seem to have vanished or at least are left in limbo and uncertainty.
When I awoke, I lost the trajectory that belonged to the person that I was before. I lost the beautiful home and all the friends, the wealth, the life partner, the family, the ability to work at the various careers I had prepared for and built, the awesome future of travel and adventure with my husband. Even now I can see that whole beautiful, amazing future life, which never happened. That entire trajectory collapsed. Not all of you will experience this, but some definitely do.
You’re not alone, and it can be such a challenge to have your life unraveled in this way. So what to do?
First of all, take a breath. Yes, that’s good, and just keep doing that. You are going to have to remain very pliant and flexible and open so that all of these changes can move through you without getting stuck. And yes, you’ve probably already contracted around the changes, causing more pain or confusion, but it’s not too late to ease up and start letting go.
Don’t create a trajectory from this place of loss. You’ll start spinning out negative trajectories that have no basis in reality. For instance, if you lose your career, had to give up your flat and are now living on your friend’s couch, don’t start building a trajectory based on where you are now (I’m 40, I’m too old to start over, I’ll never get married and have a family now, I’ll never be able to afford to buy my own home, etc). You have no idea what the future holds for you, which was just painfully demonstrated when you lost your trajectory in the first place.
Learn to be okay living without a trajectory. This sounds so easy, but for most people it’s not.
You may actually recover your trajectory. This might in fact be a temporary setback, or just a way to move you to the sideline so you can process some major changes in consciousness and edit parts of your life. Some people mistakenly believe that because they lost their trajectory, they are not supposed to be on that path, that it’s wrong for them and gone forever. This is an assumption. Learn to be okay with not knowing. Don’t start spinning another story that because something has shifted out of your life, you were never meant to have it. You may yet get married, start a family, open a bakery…or whatever.
Don’t remain too focused on what’s leaving your life. Put your focus on remaining open and letting it move through. Then look around you and see what is actually in front of you. Are there opportunities? They might be very modest compared with where you came from, but don’t pass them by. Is there some other direction that’s calling to you? It might take a while, but eventually you will come up for air and there will be abundant life all around you, with many openings and possibilities, which you can take on face value rather than measuring them against your past circumstances.
I wish I could create a Transition Sanctuary, perched overlooking a Swiss lake. A peaceful, beautiful place for people to recover in comfort and dignity from the various shifts and shocks of awakening. Somewhere to smooth the edges. Until then, know that you are not alone.
This is not just spiritual fallout. It’s actually part of the human experience.
Think about refugees, people who were just like you and me, going about their business, and then some lousy war takes away everything and they are starving and thirsty, and just hoping their inflatable raft doesn’t sink, wondering, “How did I ever come to this?” I know a woman who got into a car crash in her late 20s, which crushed her spine. She is 75 now and has spent most of her life in pain, with limited mobility. She never married, nor had children, nor travelled, which was all part of her life expectation. In a split second, she lost her trajectory. Trajectories are delicate and ephemeral things, castles made of finely spun sugar.