How Not to Burn Up in Your Post Awakening Re-Entry


So, you’ve had an awakening. If it’s the real deal, your perception of who—or what—you are has been dramatically and irrevocably altered. You are no longer contained by the mind; you are no longer the thoughts that think; you are not even the thinker. And miraculously, the seeker self that drove your desire to awaken has left the scene entirely.

What you perceive as self is a boundless, vast, spacious peace. It’s infinitely accepting of life as it shows up, unperturbed by him, her, this or that. You can’t really muster an emotional reaction for the life of you.

As for people behaving badly? Bad suddenly seems so very inconsequential. So remote and limited. Bad is just the other side of good. And both are unreal.

What is real is this Awareness or Perceiving-ness from which everything arises. And if you are lucky, you know yourself as nothing AND everything. The paradox needs no explaining. It just is.

You might spend days, weeks or even months in this spacious and jubilant awareness (for my awakening, it was about five months). And then comes…re-entry.

—-

Re-entry is something like the rocket that left earth’s orbit, returning hopefully, to a safe landing.

Just like in a celestial vehicle encountering earth’s atmosphere, this re-entry from awakening encounters friction.

What is this friction?

It’s the resistance of your karma, ancestral patterns and undigested experiences. It’s your unresolved psychic junk.

Very few awakened beings re-enter without this friction. And it even happens to so-called enlightened spiritual teachers, especially under the pressure of being on a pedestal, and under the projection of followers.

For me, the re-entry looked a lot like these sorts of manifestations:

~ I’d be minding my own enlightenment business when suddenly something my husband or daughter would say or do could trigger an intense and out-of-proportion emotional outburst, most often anger. The storm would rarely last more than seconds. But it would leave me wondering WTF just happened.

~ I’d be mysteriously drawn to express in the world in ways that seemed old or odd. For instance, at one point two years into awakening, I was infatuated with the idea of creating a magazine called Rebelle Sex: A Bedroom Revolution. The point? “To reclaim our inherent sexual innocence.” Whose innocence? My family system, where sexual secrets, hidden homosexuality and even pedophilia ran underground like toxic spillover from a nasty radiation leak. The drive to declare innocence was not my own–I was the puppet on the strings of an ancestral wound looking for healing.

~ I’d be drawn to find a spiritual daddy figure who could tell me exactly what the awakening deal was about and in whom I could rest from my own forward momentum (oh, yes, awakening is just a threshold to a whole new journey). If only I could play follow the leader the weight of my own discovery would lift. Problem is, there is no leader who can walk you through the fire of unwinding your residual karma. That alone is your path and the best a good teacher can do, is point you in the right direction.

~ I’d intermittently be drawn to addictive behaviours. Most often this looked like making wine my best friend. These periods of wino identification would not last more than a few days, at worst weeks. And then I’d pull out of this escapist tail spin and realize that post-awakening was not a one-way ticket from anxiety-binding behaviours. (I learned later that a great many sages and mystics remained addicted to nicotine or alcohol post enlightenment). Most famous? Mystic philosopher Alan Watts.

These are just some examples of what re-entry can look like. Each re-entry will be as unique as the one spark of the totality coming back to earth from the jet-propulsion of awakening.

I called this article “How not to Burn Up” for a reason. The friction of reentry won’t burn you. What will burn you is imagining you are not supposed to have any of this happen. The idea that you are in a state of perpetual grace and immune to your own humanity is what makes a normal re-entry a potential hazard zone.(And spiritual teachers run this risk the most, since their PR machine depends on the illusion of sainthood).

But the truth is Awareness waking up to itself in form is not content to lounge in the void. The whole idea is to get “down to earth.” Like that old Zen saying. “First a bowl. Then no bowl. Then a bowl, but a different bowl.”

So, the next time your transcendent blissful awakening seems to have elements of ordinary reactive humanity don’t fret. You are just in the re-entry phase, burning up karma, hidden patterns and ancestral influences.

BONUS: An interesting short video interview with Adyashanti and Loch Kelly about post awakening. In this talk, they identify the “heart” or emotional body as the stage of awakening I am calling re-entry.

Enjoy!

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12 thoughts on “How Not to Burn Up in Your Post Awakening Re-Entry

  1. Albert Salas

    Thanks so much for this…it was amazing!! It’s great to know I’m not alone anymore…and that others have gone through a similar “re-entry”. I recently discovered Adyashanti and his teachings…so now I don’t feel like I’m going crazy anymore.

    Like

  2. ozzkar

    exactly! i wonder if it’s the reason why some teachers were/are so strict about all the “preparational” steps and procedures leading to the “final jump”. i found out the hard way that it can’t be cheated and the “clean up” has to be done 😉

    Like

  3. john samsen

    Lori, appreciate the valuable info you provide! I found your post marked “Feb.18” about “Why we are not ready for the full bodied truth…” on my android, but can’t find it on my PC. Anyway, the info in it helped me understand better what I have been experiencing.

    I went through a metanoia in 1978, a four day (and night) “dark night” ordeal, followed by ego surrender, and followed by a classic enlightenment; bliss, infinite peace, love of the world, etc. Deep inside a “knowing with certainty” that “I” am Life, and cannot die really. The “monkey mind” ended its chatter, for good. The new consciousness gradually came down from the high over a period of months, and leveled off much above the old consciousness. The ego self was now an interface with others, and egoworld. I was single at the time, and had no negative experiences after the awakening. I left my career, sold my property, and went to Florida where I bought a sailboat and cruised the coasts, being mostly alone.

    Eventually, I wanted to see if I could get more involved with people, and went on kayaking and skiing trips with clubs.
    Then I was surprised by a heart attack. It was not painful, and I soon recovered by taking long walks and meditating. I expected to have fine health as I was peaceful and “laid back”. Later, I wanted to see if I could keep my connection with spirit in the activities of marriage, and found my present partner. I had more heart trouble, and then a prostate surgery. In a few years, the cancer returned, and was eliminated by radiation. Many times during those years, I lost my “cool” and experienced stress. I could always stop thinking and be peaceful, often forgetting my little self and loving the world.

    Now I am in my upper eighties, and my life has been great for years, so I was surprised by coming down with the extremely painful and little understood neurological condition called CRPS, formerly RSD. For a year, My right foot was too painful to walk on, and recently had to be amputated. I still get the pains in the phantom foot. I have often wondered why an awakened person would have to experience physical pain, as I know it is illusory. I suppose that the consciousness I experience is integral with that of the physical body/mind, and as long as I am unconsciously connected with the body, I must experience the sensations that the brain computes. I have wondered if this latest trial is preparation for another awakening, or not. I still love the World and Life passionately, while knowing its illusionary nature, but am ready to go at any time, with no fear.

    Evidently the body/mind must be gradually prepared for the radical shift awakening brings, and even though I had
    experienced hundreds of hours in workshops with Jean Houston, and other consciousness explorers and teachers,
    my body was not adequately prepared. It helps to hear of other awakened people who had physical problems afterward. Our bodies, while illusory relative to the spirit, are amazingly constructed parts of the duality we are experiencing, and not easily altered by our personal desires.

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    1. Lori Ann Lothian

      Thank you for such a fascinating comment. I have a pet theory about the body post awakening…i will blog it rather than make a very long comment. Stay tuned. And thank you for sharing your amazing journey here.

      Like

  4. Christiane

    Thank you for this wonderful article!

    I consider myself most fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time in LU-facebook groups, where there are ample reports on this exact reentry.

    So I was informed and warned that this will happen at some point. It is still highly uncomfortable when it happens but when something has left the system, it seems to be gone for good and new spaces open up.

    And the heart opening is really the most wonderful experience.

    Lots of love,
    Christiane

    Like

  5. sifankahale

    Oh I know that Lisa Kahale had this same experience. At first it baffled her, then she looked up ‘Zen sickness’ and slowly came to understand. She had a lot of triggers and ‘automated’ responses from her youth and it took time to slowly confront and unwind each one. Sometimes it was hard watching her struggle. i know that just being present with her helped. I learned so much from Lisa … and you! Thank you for this beautiful post!!

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  6. Catherine

    Thank you for this very grounding post Lori. I haven’t had an identifiable awakening, but I can certainly relate to some of the karmic burning you refer to … patterns of reactivity change or fall away at a faster and faster rate {although like the onion, there are always more layers underneath}; the experience of inner knowing is always present … & yet identity is lodged half in the body/mind, & half in infinite space. I have not really heard anyone speak of this, maybe because one is either awakened or not? I don’t know if it’s possible to be in post-awakening process, pre-awakening? Hope this makes sense …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David

      Hi Catherine
      Yes, there can be lots of stuff arise to be seen as we make good spiritual progress. The distinction here is that post-awakening, we can feel like we’re done with that – only to have it return to be cleaned up. More of the onion.

      When awareness becomes very present but has not yet woken up to itself here/ the ego seen through, it can indeed be like being on the threshold – half in and half out. It’s a good sign of progress.

      It’s a common pre-awakening experience.

      Like

  7. jogarceau

    Hi, Lori Ann, you might enjoy knowing that Ramakrishna, a tremendous Indian saint (1836-1886) smoked tobacco and died of cancer of throat. He would say that smoking helped him stay grounded enough to be in this world.

    Thanks for the Adyashanti/Loch Kelly video. I’d seen their full length talk in the past year, and it was lovely to be reminded again, as well as feel more at home with the awakening process.

    Like

  8. Wayne Wirs

    Yeah, they don’t tell you this stuff when you’re seeking enlightenment, maybe so as not to confuse the students. But when you think about it, in order to be everything, you have to be human too.

    Great video. The heart opening (re-entry), but also the quieting and settling into the Love (that’s the best part). 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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