Six Symptoms of Enlightenment


The day after waking up from the dream of being a separate self, the everyday took on an enlightenment afterglow. Three months later I’m still tickled by what I call “the indescribable lightness of wow,” a kind of newborn fresheness from which life is perceived.

What is this wow? With the caveat that what arose here is not necessarily what will arise for others in the aftermath of an awakening, here’s my symptom list. These symptoms may or may not indicate self-realization, but if you haven’t indulged in an illegal substance there’s a good chance something non-ordinary is happening.

1) Visual Disturbances: Immediately after I woke up from the dream, I noticed my eyeballs seemed to be delivering a different picture than before. Now I perceived the luminosity of all things, a lit-from-within brightness and crispness to the trees, the cars, the traffic lights, even the pedestrians. It was as if someone had photo-shopped reality using the apps for color saturation, boost and sharpness. I still see the world this way, but more so when I am walking though nature than in moving through traffic or a grocery store line up. Though then too, I am sometimes dumbstruck by way sunlight shines on a wet street, or at the smile of the person behind the cash register. In these moments, the ordinary looks extraordinary.

2) Boundary Issues: Awe and delight arose at the simple seeing that I was not separate. I wandered through a forest one day saying aloud (with tears streaming), “Wow, wow, wow, this is me!”  Crow flying, trees swaying, clouds moving, dog barking—every bit of this movement seen as objects arising. “Lori Ann walking” was also an arising, from the one source, that vast empty-full teeming ground of being. Now I know why they send ‘God-drunk’ holy fools off to the ashram or sanitorium—this perception of oneness is distracting to say the least when you have to pick up the kid from soccer practice and suddenly, you are the ball. If fact I used to be sort of bored watching my daughter’s soccer games—now suddenly I can be like a dog, captivated by the ball rolling and soccer cleats kicking and coach shouting. I’m an avid spectator and participant all at once.

3) Empty-mindedness. Okay, so where did all those thoughts go? Even the thought “I am Lori Ann, a person in charge here” has evaporated. Instead, a spacious emptiness exists where before a whole mob of rowdy “thinkings” had been partying away. Now and then, a stray heavy thought will wander through the emptiness and leave pretty quickly, probably in disappointment “Like, man, where’s the party?”  Living in this thought-vacuum is pretty easy. When mental noise is minimal, reality is much more vivid and immediate. When a friend talks, I listen like never before, because competing thoughts (like I agree or disagree) are out to lunch. If ever I wanted to become a good psychotherapist, this would be the time.

4) Freakish Calmness: I don’t think valium has anything on enlightenment. Two days after I woke up, the man I lived with told me he wanted to break up with me. I sat there calmly—even serenely–and listened. Instead of over-reacting as Lori Ann would have, what arose was complete acceptance. No defense. No argument. No “how dare you” verbal attack strategy. What did arise was the clear seeing of my partner’s reactivity, and the allowance for that, yet also the compassion to say: “If you want to leave, that’s okay. But I see you are in a lot of pain right now. Perhaps give yourself three days to make a final decision.” (Yes, he stayed). Since then, there have been many occasions of experiencing a quiet inner calm while emotional storms churn around me (let me tell you, a pubescent 12- year-old daughter is a guaranteed stress test). If Big Pharma could bottle enlightenment, it would be a hotter seller than Prosac or Viagra.  Perhaps my brain chemistry is altered for this super-tranquility to be here. But hey, I’m not offering myself to science to find out.

5) Precognitive Flashes. Unlike hot flashes, which I also experience as a menopausal woman, these flashes of foresight are kind of fun. I was always pretty intuitive, but now its like ESP on steroids. What has changed however, is what I do with these glimpses of the future. There is no impetus here to change what will happen—in fact, getting these windows into the what-will-be-ness is like getting a weather forecast. I would no more endeavor to change the weather as I would to manipulate the future. A case in point: I had a vision one night of a friend snooping into my emails to check up on the veracity of something I had said. I knew I could change my password or delete any email correspondence that might fuel the fire of suspicion. Instead, I knew it was perfect for events to occur as forseen. Trust is here in a brilliant design to this play of god. Sure enough, the next day this person hacked into my emails and later confessed. And from there, a series of lessons unfolded. The thing is, Lori Ann would never have allowed this unfolding. Rather she would have tried to change outcomes to what “she thought was best.” Which brings me to the last symptom of self realization.

6) Radical Surrender: I know people think surrender is an action you take to get to enlightenment. But truthfully, it’s a state of being that results from self-realization. Surrender is simply a letting go because you have realized control was an illusion anyway. This looks in life like flow and magic, because when we are not trying to direct the river we are being carried along by it. In radical surrender, what arises are perfectly timed intersections, high serendipity and off-the-richter scale synchronicity. But don’t take my word for it. Wake up and see what life is like when the “I” dissolves and life lives itself effortlessly through the non-you. This is not to say life is always pleasant. Pain can be here. What is missing is the control knob on the video game remote. All you are left with is the game, playing itself on the screen of life.  You are a spectator, you are a game character and you are the screen.  It’s pretty darn cool to be everything and nothing, to be the water, the river, the current, the flow, the ocean and the sky.

So there you have it. Six symptoms of waking up from the dream of self. Although some of these symptoms arose in a milder form in the life of Lori Ann before the big shake down of Oct 25th, 2011 (http://theawakeneddreamer.com/2011/11/17/hello-world/), they are now every day features of this life being lived. And unlike symptoms of disease, these are symptoms of the one state we all strive for, a state of ease.

So. I invite you to live a symptom-filled life of non ordinary ease. I invite you to wake up.

Awarenesss is Here,

Lori Ann

About Lori Ann Lothian

Lori Ann Lothian is a spiritual revolutionary, divine magic maker and all-purpose scribe. She writes about love, relationships, enlightenment and even sex, at Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Yoganonymous, Origin magazine, Better After 50 and more. She is also a senior editor at the online magazine, The Good Men Project, where she founded Good for the Soul, a section dedicated to the exploration of men and spirituality. Lori Ann lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and daughter, where she has learned to transcend the rain and surrender to mega doses of vitamin D. Tweet her at Twitter or friend her on Facebook at Facebook.
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38 Responses to Six Symptoms of Enlightenment

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  5. George Ebinger says:

    My brothers spirit was taken from his physical form last week. my life did a 180. this all rings so true. I am so blessed to have this beautiful enlightenment. I wish the world could feel it

    • George: Thank you for your comment. Death of those we love is not something we live through without feeling the sadness of their leave-taking. THe beauty is that in feeling sad, we are also not attached to being sad. Sadness happens, along with the whole range of human emotion. Being “awake” –at least for me– has not been the death of feelings, but rather the death of the one who feels them as if those feelings are “mine.” Rather, feelings are features of the landscape of life, along with thought…the real me? She’s the painter of that landscape. My heart to yours in this time of loss.

  6. IronDevil from M.C., IA says:

    Good stuff, thanx

  7. Thankfulness to my father who stated to me about this blog,
    this website is actually awesome.

  8. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is also really good.

  9. your the shit. Glad there are others

  10. necker branson says:

    Dear All,
    Amazing,Lovely description :)
    This is what happens in enligtenment,we just become a witness to everything.
    However,I will still suggest that u guys undergo TOBY ALEXANDAR’S DNA ACTIVATION,WHICH HE RECEIVED FROM A 2500 year plus old SUPREME INDIAN MASTER (GURU) named Mahavatar Babaji.

    Mahavatar Babaji,is Paramhansa Yogananda’s. Super Grand Grand Master. Also,Mahavatar Babaji. Is immortal,omnipotent,omniscient,omnipresent etc etc….

    (Note:Toby has majority of free webinars that one can attend,on Occasion of this Wesak Full moon(Buddha Poornima) ,pls find the link for the free webinar:-

    http://www2.onlinemeetingnow.com/register/?id=de0596a1d7

  11. ojas says:

    Dear, the same things are happening here too for few weeks, there are lot of changes in me and my body.. Wel, i’m a yoga lover so now i understood it and now enjoying this great gift of nature.. The REAL ‘ME’ IS AWAKEN NOW!

  12. Kate Street says:

    Oh man, I was THERE! I had my awakening on 11/11 and it happened IN AN INSTANT that night. All of a sudden I was PRESENT in my body like never before ~ yes, I was FINALLY HERE!!!
    I know exactly what you speak ~ each moment was interesting and fascinating. It truly was like a whole new world superimposed over the old. The creativity, the bliss, the losing myself in other things, the calmness, the presence, the non-reactiveness, the contentment amidst the mundane. Many days I was overcome with tears and gratitude simply saying with relief, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I WAS ME…for the very first time. It lasted the whole month of November…and then as soon as December came it left in an instant.

    Since then, I just want to get back to that place and wonder why it left. I KNOW the power behind it, the absolute LOVE. I know that when everyone feels this way the world will change very rapidly.
    I’m both relieved to hear that it’s lasted for you and jealous that it’s gone from me. I know it will eventually return…and I feel sooner rather than later…but I wish I knew why it had to go in the first place. The core of myself has remained changed ~ the voice that used to tell me I wasn’t good enough (that inner critic) is absolutely gone. I’m unlearning things everyday. Many nights I have epiphanies and I’m VERY CLEARLY seeing thru the illusion. I’m learning esoteric things in my dreams (such as teleportation, levitation, sacred geometry, etc). I know I’m still in the midst of radical transformation…but I miss the bliss, the wonder, the calmness, the zen, the inner peace. Everyday I want it back…

    (I briefly share my 11/11 experience on my blog…I know you’ll recognize the vibration.)

    http://myeverydaymagic.com/2011/11/12/i-have-no-words-magic-111211/

    I hope to join you again very, very, very, very soon.
    With Love and Sparkles,
    Kate

    • Joel says:

      It left because what you experienced was a state, not that which states arise in. This term ‘awakening’ is a misnomer that seems to be used both by those who have experienced states, which come and go, and also by those who have experienced who they really are, which is changeless and doesn’t go anywhere because it never came. It’s not always possible to know whether someone who says they have awakened is referring to a state or their unborn nature, this is one reason I don’t like the term (I have written about this in a recent post). In your case it is clear, it was a state and you recognise that now. If you try to get it back it will only keep you from seeing that which never left. I spent many years doing that.

      • I just read this Joel–yes, very clear way of saying what I tried less clearly to state. And yes, trying to get back to nowhere is a rough road trip…good to hear your voice. Lori Ann

    • Hello there:

      Thank you for sharing. I am reminded of other “states” of “enlightenment” that came and went (non-abiding) in the story of Lori Ann before now. Yet in each of those, what remained was the seeker. The peace, bliss, joy arose and the seeker still sought. The difference here now, is the seeker has retired, and equanimity has remained. (with intermittent delight). And even so, I am aware that states (euphoric or less so) are passing through the emptiness that I am. Lately, minor annoyance has been passing through as the puppy keeps nipping my heels. hugs, Lori Ann

  13. Sailor says:

    Thanks for your writings.
    I always enjoy them.

  14. Melissajo says:

    ~ this is groovy, thank you ~ think I am just getting into those early stages, not quite at woke up and transparent but significant shifts into all six of these exactly, recently. it feels a bit weird, but going to the grocery store, you sense how folks are at different ‘speeds’ and you have flashes of ‘sync’ with strangers who are on similar vibrational levels. it makes me a bit nervous just because it feels sort of Odd, still, with a capital O… have you continued your previous routines of meditation, exercise, etc, or are you also feeling a ‘loosening’ of structures and more of a yen to go with flow? all comments appreciated ~ onelove!

  15. Delicious words…. Thanx for sharing. I would love to connect with you on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sri-Gawn-Tu-Fahr/108338045862788?ref=ts

  16. Eric Cole says:

    One of the things I find curious is the assumption by other people that I must be lost in thought. Or thinking all the time. Nope. Not thinking about anything. Just being. People pick up on the inner calm, too. Thirteen year old daughters are specialists in testing for authenticity of the awakened state.

  17. navras36 says:

    Very well written! I share most, if not all, of those experiences…. The vividness of the lights initially made me think I was going crazy.. For about 8 months… I changed a lot during that period :)

  18. Sagittal says:

    Hola Lori…

    From this point on is when the Bhakti will start up…. for sure..

    Fractalment your

  19. oops, I meant monolithic, as in constituting or acting as a single, often rigid, uniform whole. Yep, that’s Joel. I’d add a happy heart if I knew how. hugs my sweet thorn.

  20. Gaelle says:

    Hello non-Lori-Ann ! Thanks for your texts that are just a witness of this “after-reality”. No “lessons”, just description. This is more “reachable” for me, than “lessons-that-told-us-how-to-do”. I’m fed up with lessons…
    I’m not yet awaken. Then I would like to ask you a question : how is it when you have to deal with pain? (I mean physical pain). Is the awareness as quiet in case of pain, than when you just walk through nature? Perhaps you don’t have answer for this now (no pain !) and it’s OK. Thanks for the sharing of your new life !
    Gaelle

    • Yes, well, I’ve had a pretty darn painful left hip for two months now, made worse by dog mushing in the Yukon in December. The pain happens. What does not arise is the inner commentary: pain should not be here. I should be able to jog. Limping while walking is unsightly. Sleep would be nice if this damn hip would stop throbbing. etc. Those thoughts amp up the reality of what is –pain–and create misery/suffering. I think also, intense and severe pain (like labor, unmedicated) is a different order of pain, or pain of cancer, or pain of amputation of limb without drugs, etc. That kind of pain could perhaps blast a person through to surrender. But who knows? Thanks for you question though. Lori Ann

  21. Trip Overholt says:

    Hi Lori,
    Wow that is a full blown meltdown with all the bells and whistles! (Well, no mention of the little blue light!) You are lit up like a Christmas tree right now it would appear. That is wonderful. Enjoy! I think Stephen Bodian offers some excellent advice there. Also, your invitation to awaken is natural, I’ve been something of an awareness evangelist these past few years, but I have found that everyone ripens in their own time and way. Increasingly I spend my time sharing with the already “awakened”.

    • Meltdown….like a nuclear reactor? Well, I’d say it’a more gentle than that. I went to sleep one person, and woke up no-one. The process was not an ordeal–as I hear others say their awakenings have been. hugs. Lori Ann

  22. Aloha, Lori Ann… thanks for this! Description not prescription rules yet again! hahaha!
    Love, Lisa

  23. suki says:

    All the different changes that have come about are known by what? Something ‘prior’ and ‘post’ to awakening has known the degrees of change. Degrees is too mild a word. Radical is better, but still THAT remains unaffected, would you agree? Symptoms can vary in how they emanate but source remains the same. I’m glad you wrote this today, because I was reading the latest post on Joel Birocco’s blog and the whole subjectivity in regards to symptoms. The flowering of revelation is unique in each person, but maybe a dash more color and light in some more then others. Who cares? No problem here…
    Warmest rgds – Suki
    PS – please remove my blog link…it is permanently invisible now :)

    • Hello Suki!

      Thanks for your thoughtful commentary. Yes, the unchanging remains unchanging. And yet, here in the relative vs absolute there is perception happening–I don’t need to assign a perceiver of the before and after, to recognize that perception arises. And also what arises is the appreciation/observation of this radical departure from the former personality of Lori Ann. Funny, I don’t have to mention it for others who have known me or live with me to comment on it. I’m not sure why the reporting of what is arising here is happening, it just seems to be flowing out, as if the muses are on speed. Yet I also know that I am not attempting to “teach” or prescribe but describe and entertain, perhaps educate by displaying my unfolding as a story.

      I came across this by Stephan Bodian a few days ago, and like it. He ends with the word ease which at the end of the day, is how this experience of awakening unfolds–with ease.

      “If we attach to awakened awareness and turn it into an identity, we can get stuck in a kind of stubborn detachment that refuses to acknowledge our humanness or participate fully in the human condition. We all know people who withdraw to a lofty “spiritual” perch and look down with a certain condescension on the rest of confused and suffering humanity. On the other hand, if we attach to the body and personality, we’re caught once again in the drama of loss and gain, love and hate, what the Buddhists call samsara. Living the nondual truth of our being involves walking the razor’s edge between these two, absolute and relative, without falling over into one side or the other, being grounded as awareness while expressing ourselves fully and intimately in this human form. In reality, even the metaphor of the razor’s edge breaks down, because once we find the edge it disappears, and we slip through into a boundless dimension of freedom, equanimity, and ease. Stephan Bodian”

      • Suki says:

        Thanks for your clarifying response and for elucidating further with the quote from Stephan Bodian. I’ve heard of this author but never read any of his material. I think I’ll check out his book(kindle edition) it seems like a good read going by that quote and your endorsement.
        Just keep reporting the unfolding and let others decide for themselves if it’s a teaching/descripting or prescripting! This much I know, it’s entertaining and interesting for sure!

        Much thanks – Suki

    • Oh, and Joel Birroco. Yes! Well if I am a master of overstatement, he’s the guru of understatement. The fellow has the monochrome take on life to my technicolor vision. He’s a great thorn in my perky balloon, and I love it!

      • Suki says:

        A monochrome thorn and a technicolor balloon…no problem! Both are cut from the same cloth. :)

        Cheers – Suki

      • Joel says:

        Monochrome! Monochrome! My paintings are colourful.I was just ordering some new pigments and the entire spectrum was included, save green, that’s easy to mix. I think what you detect is not monochromatic, but monolithic.

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