Reflection on Awakening

Jesse Russell


Throughout March I have been contemplating what awakening means to me. I can’t say that I had any radical awakening moments in which my view of the world was completely shattered. There were no miraculous glimpses into the Oneness of all existence in which my ego was eradicated by a Divine force. If awakening is meant to be an obvious occurrence, then it surely eluded me. Though I do believe that awakening can be an intense, undeniable event, it seems my experience with awakening is far more subtle and gradual.

March was a pretty tough month for me. I revisited lots of old, unwholesome thoughts and habits which I thought I had completely eradicated and outgrown. My personal practice suffered due to my inability to manage my time efficiently and prioritize my needs properly. It seems a lot of the tendencies of my shadow self came back to haunt me and tempt me to slip down from the higher grounds I’ve climbed to back to where I was years ago when I was suffering and struggling to maintain my physical, mental, and spiritual health balance. If anything, it felt like I was being lulled back to sleep (into a state of egoic self-indulgence and spiritual ignorance).

Awakening, in my experience, includes stretches of time like I’ve experienced this month. It is a process, and there’s no finish line that, once crossed, marks the end of the work. Awakening to unhealthy habits of any form is just the beginning, and working to replace old habits with healthier, wholesome ways becomes the narrow path which is often difficult to walk and easy to fall off of. Awakening to unhealthy relationships with ourselves and others doesn’t instantaneously heal those relationships without putting forth the effort to correct the errors in our ways. Awakening is a glimpse into the nature of our reality and the ways in which we’re responsible for co-creating our experience, but the real work begins once we’ve awakened to the truth. Truth, as many of us know, can be a tough pill to swallow.

This past weekend my grandmother left her body to continue her journey beyond this physical plane. Losing someone near and dear is never easy, but it’s a potent reminder of how precious and brief our lifetime truly is. Sometimes the tragedies in our lives shake us out of our ignorance and remind us to awaken to what really matters – love, family, friendship, quality time with loved ones and doing the things we love. Sometimes we need something to shake us because we get caught in our own melodrama; we forget that it’s a miracle just to be here alive on this planet. Let’s not become reliant upon tragedies to awaken to what really matters. Although at any given moment we may slip into ignorance and forget what truly matters, may we recognize that any given moment is equally equipped for our awakening.

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