Many people pursue spiritual practices in order to feel more peaceful, more harmonious and content with the world. The function of yoga, Qi Gong, meditation and other esoteric practices are to create a new energy pattern in the body, and to help consciousness be more in touch with the interior energy and spaces, and ultimately, peace.
Sometimes these practices break our identification with the body or the limited form of whom we are. When this happens it is said in yoga that the first knot is broken. This allows our awareness to become much more conscious of itself as an energy field. One could say that instead of knowing ourselves as the outer structure of the cells we begin to experience ourselves as the movement inside the cells, as vibration.
There are many possibilities once this happens. We may begin to use practices to gain some control over the directional flow of this interior energy (called prana or chi), such as in martial arts, healing, Reiki, yogic and Taoist breathing practices. In this way we can build strength or open chakras or various energy centers.
We may begin to experience erratic energy releases as cells begin to release old patterns and attract new ones. We may open up new pathways for energy and activate kundalini, coiled at the base of the spine. This awakening amplifies our energy and orchestrates the gradual reorganization of our energy field. We may go through periods of mental disorganization or disorientation, emotional volatility, the breaking out of latent illness or apparent physical or hormonal problems, radical shifts in our world view and interests, and changes in our eating patterns, sexuality, senses and inclinations. There may be sudden bursts of inexplicable paranormal or mystical phenomena, beyond what the personality thought was a possibility for humans to experience: e.g. visions, channeling, out of body sensations, merging with others or with space, unconditional love, and many other activities.
Although spiritual practices and sudden experiences of spiritual awakening can trigger all of these changes in energy and consciousness, in some people they happen without any warning or invitation, especially during times of great emotional intensity, or in response to a near-death experience or trauma, an intense drug or sexual experience, or for other inexplicable causes. When this is so, confusion, fear and resistance can make the deconstruction much harder to tolerate. But all that is really happening here, underneath all the drama, is an emptying of lifelong cellular holding patterns so that cells can become at peace, and allow life to flow through the body in a more spacious and natural way. Everything we are identified with is woven into the subtle field or energy body. This intense process of deconstruction is both the gift and the risk of spiritual awakening.
We have been told by scientists that 99.9% of our cells are space. Our bodies are made of the cells yet they appear to the eye through its own unique mechanism and connection with the mind to be firm objects. All our movement and activity helps to hold this identification in place. But spiritual practices are leading us into spaciousness, outside of identity. That is the point of the emphasis on stillness and silence and sitting for long periods of time without doing anything. Ever so slowly awareness begins to turn into itself and sink into the space of our cells. We may pop into something that feels like penetrating all the universe, as the emptiness in us becomes the consciousness of the cosmos. Attention caught by this emptiness may feel terrifying to the sense of “me” because it suppresses the thought of who I thought I was.
If the personal sense of “I” falls away for a moment, the opening into emptiness becomes profound awakening, which brings the peace and wisdom beyond understanding that is the mystery of which sages cannot fully speak. There is a graceful and natural falling away, which if we could study it, would likely be accompanied by complete sinking of consciousness into this 99.9% cellular space of our bodies. It is said by the sages that this is where we are when we sleep, which is why we awaken refreshed. When we learn to move into this space while awake we begin to see creation from the level of pure physics – as light and energy, and to feel consciousness through the senses and body as profound love, and to penetrate the wisdom and order of universal mind.
It is a very rare person who becomes stable in this perception and lives from the spaciousness rather than the identification with form. The sense of I is discarded for the sense of we. This experience is not something that causes an “I” to feel superior to others. The sense of being that is behind the personal “I” knows it is the same as all beings. When inflation follows awakening it is a condition that means stabilization has not yet occurred, and there is still personal attachment to the experience.
But eventually an awakened individual is pulled back into the world, often in the function of service or creative expression. To live in the emptiness and never reclaim the roles of human beingness is to be half awake and half alive. But as they move with willingness into living, an awakened person is more conscious of experience as a movement, or a dance within the emptiness, less entangled in random thoughts, and more present to respond to life as it is.