As a psychologist, I have been studying what I call “awakening experiences” for a decade, and have recently published (with a co-author) a new study of 90 such experiences in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
Awakening experiences are moments in which our awareness expands and intensifies. We transcend the worries that normally preoccupy us and feel a sense of elation or serenity. Our perceptions of the world around us become more vivid, and we feel a sense of connection to nature, other human beings or the whole universe in general. We feel a sense of love and compassion, and there is a strong sense that we have transcended a limited state, and that awareness has become more authentic than normal. At higher intensities of awakening experiences, we may even feel that we have lost our normal sense of identity and somehow become one with the whole world.
My research has found that there are three contexts that consistently show up as major triggers of awakening experiences. Around a third occur in situations of stress, depression and loss. For example, a woman described how she was devastated by the end of a seven-year relationship, “facing a suffering that I didn’t imagine could possibly exist.’” However, in the midst of this suffering, she “began to experience a clearness and connection with everything that existed…I was in a state of such pure happiness and acceptance, that I was no longer afraid of anything. Out of that depth arose such a compassion and connection to everything that surrounded me.”
The second major trigger of awakening experiences identified by my research is contact with nature. Around a quarter of the experiences take place in natural surroundings, apparently induced by the beauty and stillness of nature. People reported awakening experiences that occurred while they walking in the countryside, swimming in lakes, or gazing at beautiful flowers or sunsets. And the third most significant trigger of awakening experiences according to my research— with a similar frequency to contact with nature—is spiritual practice. This primarily means meditation, but also includes prayer and psycho-physical practices such as yoga or tai chi. The relaxing, mind-quietening effect of these practices seems to facilitate awakening experiences.
Read the rest here: https://wakeup-world.com/2019/03/14/the-after-effects-of-awakening/