Everyday Mysticism: Awaken, Sleepers


We live in a world of perceived duality. There are the Haves and the Have-Nots. There are the Sacred and the Profane. There are the Optimists and the Pessimists. I put forward today that there are really only two types of people in the world. Those who are awake, and those who are sleep-walking.

When I say awakened, I’m not talking about the popular social activism term, “woke,” which has its own amazing history and context. I’m talking about a more esoteric form of awakening wherein the human animal begins to perceive they are more than this flesh machine walking through a world of physical, intellectual, and emotional sensations.

A spiritual awakening is more than the sum of all these things. It’s a recognition that this life, this world–all of it–is just a form that our true natures wear as they play this game call mortal incarnation.

A spiritual awakening is an understanding that all of it is connected, from the greatest galaxy to the smallest subatomic particle, in one conscious, living entity.

And at its core, a spiritual awakening is an experience of life in the deepest and most present sense of the word, an observer being observed, simultaneously alone and all that is.

It’s not an easy place to get to, and it’s not easy to maintain. Which is why so many people continue to sleep.

Am I Awake?

It seems like I’m awake, right? I wake up, brush my teeth, eat my breakfast, hang with my friends and family, work my job, enjoy my hobbies, etc., etc., etc. I have a name and goals and emotional baggage.

Here are a few questions you can ask to determine whether you’re sleep-walking through life:

  • How noisy is my life? Sleepers tend to fill their lives with noise, from constant trivia and distractions to an enless internal dialogue. Many sleepers are uncomfortable with quiet, especially mental quiet.
  • How empathic am I? It’s hard for the spiritually awakened to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others–whether it’s people, animals, or the environment. Sleepers, while aware of acute suffering expienced in times of natural disaster, for instance, can be immune to less intense suffering like economic struggles, racism, misogyny, and other “social” problems.
  • How willing am I to tolerate negativity? The phrases “boys will be boys” or “you need a thicker skin” are not usually the type of things spiritually awakened people will say. The sleeper will excuse negativy, even seek it out as entertainment in some cases, while a spiritually awakened person finds these people and situations unbearable.
  • How distracted am I? In a space of spiritual awakening, time seems to lose a bit of its meaning. While the sleeper spends their life in a frenzy of plans, memories, schemes and ruminations over past deeds and issues, awakening brings the present into full focus. Mindfulness is a tool and a side affect of spiritual awakening, as well as a really great stress reliever.
  • Do I have a “work self,” a “play self,” and loads of other selves? Sleepers will often have a persona for every situation, presenting themselves to the public in a way designed to have the most adventageous social effect. This is not duplicity; most sleepers aren’t even aware they’re doing it. It reflects a lack of self-awareness, as well as a fear of authenticity. Once the spirit has been awakened, though, it’s more difficult to be anything but your true authentic self. Your work self, your play self, your spiritual self, and your romantic self all look pretty much the same–like you.

Don’t Judge the Sleepers

Once we start asking ourselves these questions, we’re bound to start assessing those around us in the same way. It’s important to remember that, awakened or asleep, we are all souls on a journey, part of a wondrous adventure of life that is encompasses everything.

It’s almost impossible to incarnate into this body and avoid spiritual amnesia, and Western Culture seems specifically designed to keep us asleep. Each of us has our own path, and we travel it at our own pace. Some awaken early, and others sleep from birth to death.

As the world gets smaller and more frightening, I admit to a bit of impatience with the sleepers in my realm. But more and more people are awakening, discovering their authentic selves, and jumping into the conversation of life every single day. That sleeper may awaken tomorrow, but you can’t force him or her into it.

So be patient, my friends. Be steadfast, and do your good work. Wherever we get, we’ll get there eventually. And it will be okay.

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Peace and Love,


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