This epic blog post explains
7 Stages of the Awakening Journey
and offers you support
in navigating them.
By Dr Shuna Marr
This blog post is epic not only because is it long but also because it's packed full of links to additional support material.
Throughout this blog you’ll see some words highlighted in blue, like this.
Clicking on the blue links will take you to blog posts, videos, workshops and courses I’ve created on that topic.
Check out the DROP DOWN MENUS under each stage too, for links to more resources.
This makes this a really useful resource for your ongoing journey because you can refer back to it again and again at each stage.
What this epic blog post means to you today is NOT what it will mean to you in a few months or years, as your understanding will grow on your journey.
So, BOOKMARK this page, so you can come back and find deeper truths.
What is an Awakening?
At its simplest, ‘awakening’ describes a raising of your conscious awareness to a higher level. You start to see the world in an entirely different way. It's often called a spiritual awakening, but it actually encompasses changes to your mind, body and emotions as well.
Awakening is not the same as 'woke'. There is an overlap, but 'woke' refers to a philosophical and political standpoint, whereas 'awakening' encompasses a whole change in being.
When you awaken you begin to question your reality.
Questions may arise around...
- Your life. Your beliefs. The system and how things are run.
- What is real? What’s going on in the world?
- Where am I on the path? Is there even a path? How do I navigate it?
- Seeing things in a way you’ve never seen them before and wondering how you’ve previously missed it?
You have a bunch of realisations:
You realise that you have been living a life where the conditioning and programming you picked up in childhood has been running the show and you suddenly see that the life you’ve been living is no longer aligning with who you are.
You realise that this physical body isn’t all there is. There’s a whole lot more to you than that.
You break through an invisible barrier that takes you into a place where you are consciously aware that (even if, like me, you weren't religious and didn't believe in any of this stuff) you are a soul or spirit having a human existence, (even if you aren't entirely sure what that means).
I've been through this!
Hi I'm Dr Shuna Marr. I know that when I began awakening in 2016, I was full of questions. I was a university lecturer at the time, and I am used to researching. I set about trying to find out more about it – but what I found was confusing, often contradictory and sometimes just plain weird!
So when my daughter and I set up Spiritual Awakening Support, I made it my mission to use my extensive teaching skills, and my ability to look at things at an overview level and present them in an easy-to-understand way, to help others make the transition through their awakening more smoothly.
What I'm going to show you below are stages you can go through during this awakening process.
7 Stages of Awakening
I'd like to begin with a brief disclaimer:
You may have noticed that I haven’t described this as a ‘Definitive guide...’ or an ‘Ultimate guide to awakening' or even stated that these are ‘THE’ 7 stages, because… honestly… THERE'S NO SUCH THING as a single path through awakening (even though others may try to tell you that only 'their' way is the 'right' way).
I also freely admit that I created the names for the 7 stages, simply to help you understand the stages better.
I’d also like to assure you that none of the stages I mention are compulsory, linear or mutually exclusive.
The awakening journey is a spiral, so you may go back around and revisit some stages again and again, and you might even be going through several stages simultaneously.
Your awakening journey will be unique to you.
Having said all that... this is the sort of guide I wish I'd had when I was first awakening, so I offer my experience and wisdom to YOU, to give you some understanding of the process.
So, let's get started...
Stage 1: The Initial Awakening
While some people are born 'switched on' and 'awake' and remain so all their lives, they seem to be in the minority and have often had a difficult time in navigating a world that was still asleep around them.
Others have often been aware of their connection in childhood but, because their circumstances made it feel unsafe to be ‘different’, they buried it deeply until it began to re-emerge in later life.
However, most of us have been asleep and living in a world of illusion for most of our lives, unaware of who and what we truly are:
– a fractal of divine consciousness inhabiting a human body.
Awakening from this ‘sleep’ is often triggered by a catalyst - something that propels us through that barrier into conscious awakening.
There tends to be three main types of catalyst:
Catalyst 1 – A Crisis
The first type of catalyst is usually something traumatic - like an accident, a breakup or losing your job - that causes upheaval in your life.
It can be through a bereavement, NDE (Near Death Experience) or other significant change in circumstances.
It can even be caused by being upset about what’s going on in the world, causing anxiety and depression.
There’s certainly been enough chaos and upheaval going on in the world over the past few years to have pushed many people through into their awakening – and indeed that has been the very purpose of why this seeming chaos has been happening.
The upheaval in the world is all part of the process of helping to push people through that barrier into awakening, to suddenly seeing that what they thought of as true is no longer true, and to see things through a different lens.
Catalyst 2 - A Revelation
The second type of catalyst is a revelation, and these can range from gentle to quite extreme.
Perhaps you were out on a walk and, seeing a beautiful sunrise, you suddenly had a profound feeling of 'oneness' with the world and realised that everything was connected, and you were part of a greater whole.
Or you connected with an animal and found you could communicate with it.
Or you woke to feel a presence beside your bed, or you had a visit from an angel or an energetic being.
Or something else happened that suddenly made you see the world completely differently.
Some people experience ‘channelling’ of beings, hearing voices in their head, or getting 'downloads' of information.
For some this can be truly frightening, and they can feel like they are going mad or having a psychotic episode.
For others it can be a deeply profound experience, but either way, it changes their entire perception of themselves and the world around them.
Catalyst 3 – Psychic Development
A third way is becoming aware of psychic or empathic abilities. You may find yourself being able to feel other people’s energies or connect with their thoughts.
In fact, you might have been aware of these abilities for years, or all your life, but kept that part of yourself hidden or separate from your everyday life. Then, one day, something switched inside you, and you started to question “how do these gifts fit into the bigger picture?”.
I know that sometimes people have been frightened by these abilities in the past and they pushed them away and buried them – but now they are re-surfacing.
Or these gifts and abilities may just suddenly appear and you don't realise that the energies and emotions you are feeling are actually someone else's and not your own.
Whichever way it happens, these kind of occurrences can push you through the invisible barrier to conscious awareness.
My own catalyst
The dramatic catalyst was undoubtedly my way into awakening. Back in 2016, I had a very traumatic year. It was a big year in UK politics, voting to leave the EU. In my work life there was big upheaval, because my university was restructuring, leaving me feeling very disoriented.
The previous stability in my world was being rocked big time and it was causing my anxiety levels to go through the roof, and I was having palpitations and anxiety attacks. It went on for months and eventually my anxiety became depression and I had to take 2 months off work to recover.
And during that time, I began seeking help and support and that was when I came across my first mentor on my awakening path, who gently guided me towards realising that I was going through my awakening.
So, for me, it was a dramatic catalyst that propelled me through the barrier and then it all started to unfold from there.
The catalyst causes changes in perception
Your experience will have been unique to you, but something will have changed that made you look at life differently and you can't 'unsee' it once you've seen it.
You might find the video I recorded on ‘Why has awakening turned my view of the world upside down' useful in helping to understand what has occurred and why your view of the world has changed.
Once the switch has been flicked, often confusion follows. The world you knew starts to dissolve around you. This might be physically, emotionally, mentally or all three.
You may start having strange thoughts. You may feel different, like you don't belong here.
Sometimes you can find that your support structure falls away and you suddenly no longer connect with people around you. My video 'Why Awakening Sometimes Causes Our Life to Fall Apart' could be of support here.
Confusion is an uncomfortable place to be, and it prompts us to start to seek out answers. But at the start of this process, we have no vocabulary to explain what it is that is happening to us. It all seems a bit overwhelming and strange. We don’t know what to believe any more.
We don't know how to operate in this new environment and so we keep looking for someone who will explain it all to us in a no-nonsense way.
That's where I can help! 👇Click the DROP DOWN MENU below to see things that can help you. 👇
Stage 2: The New Emerger
The New Emerger stage can follow hard on the heels of the initial awakening catalyst, or it can be a slow burn. As I constantly repeat throughout this post, each soul’s journey is unique.
However, what characterises this stage is the searching for meaning, plus having lots of revelations and epiphanies, one after the other. It can be quite an intense period.
Physical, emotional and situational changes
If your catalyst has been traumatic and caused a lot of upheaval, you might find that your life has started to fall apart and you may be having to cope with new relationships and/ or physical circumstances.
It is therefore not unexpected that your emotions will be turbulent at this stage. The ground beneath your feet can feel very shaky and it is very common during this time to feel doubt and overwhelm.
You can also experience some physical changes too – you might suddenly feel drawn to change your diet or start to feel energy in your body in a different way, or become aware of psychic powers, which you need to learn how to cope with.
Why Self-care is so important
The most important support you need at this stage is to understand that self-care is absolutely vital – it’s not a luxury but fundamental to your journey. Self care is so much more than just pampering yourself. This is why we have put a lot of effort into providing information and support around self-care, to help and support you and to prepare you for your awakening journey.
Unless you have solid self-care in place then you can suffer overwhelm and burnout very quickly.
Stage 3: The Stumbling Spiritual Seeker
The Stumbling Spiritual Seeker stage is the equivalent of being on a path, deep in woods, not even realising that you are in the foothills of a mountain that you are climbing.
However, you do begin to become aware that you are on a journey and this stage sees you begin to look for answers and explore what awakening means to you.
Not sure what to believe as the veils of illusion begin to fall away
When we are asleep, it's like we are under 'veils of illusion' that stop us being aware of things. As the veils of illusion begin to fall away, you begin to open up to new ways of thinking – and my goodness there is a whole smorgasbord of potential paths through this process.
The path you pick will be unique to you and it will be shaped by what attracts you and who you are.
Rarely are we completely reinvented when we awaken - we just become more the true essence of ourselves - so you'll do what feels right for you.
You might begin to do some research, read books and blogs, join groups, take courses, and explore new ways of thinking and being.
The type of thing you are attracted to will depend on what feels right for you.
Some begin by being drawn to Reiki, crystals and yoga. Others will explore shamanism, or white witchcraft.
Some will explore literature around philosophy, self-awareness books, or more esoteric fare around concepts like Starseeds or Lightworkers.
Some are drawn to angels. Some go down the dark path of conspiracy theories.
Others follow a more organised religious path or start to view their religion in a completely new way.
There is no one path, no one way. We are all heading in a similar direction, but the route we take will be our own.
Learning not to give away your power
You may find yourself following some spiritual gurus or thought leaders – there are many of them, and everyone has something to share.
However, I’d strongly advise you to be discerning in who you follow.
Avoid the ones who state that their way is the only ‘right’ way or ‘true’ way, and that they have the ‘secret’ to it all, because these people often have a ‘guru complex’ with a desire to control and exploit others.
This video interview I did with a friend of mine (Anastasia Lapik) discusses how we can often give away our power through believing others are 'better' and 'more spiritual' than we are (which is not true - we are all equal as souls).
The most important thing to know is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in terms of awakening and NO ONE (repeat NO ONE) has all the answers.
Your path will be unique to you and only YOU will know what your true path will be, because you’ll be drawn towards it internally.
Needing a framework of understanding
The most important support you need at this stage is a framework of understanding of what you are going through.
You can often be struggling to get your head round what’s happening and how to move forward,
This is why I created a number of offerings that help to give you that framework of understanding so you can navigate your way more successfully through it.
Our flagship course is Ok I'm Awakening - What Happens Now? and it gives you the most in-depth understanding of the entire process and offers ongoing support throughout your whole transition through the awakening process from the initial awakening to Ascension.
However, we also offer a smaller but still in-depth introductory course, which offers an overview perspective of the awakening journey called The Ascension Path: A personal journey up your own spiritual mountain.
We also have other free resources below. see the drop down menu 👇
Stage 4: The Healing Journey
The first 3 stages I've described above can happen concurrently, or in succession.
It can take quite a few months, or even longer, for those first stages to unfold....
or you can whizz through them at amazing speed.
Trust that your journey will happen at the pace that’s perfect for you, to prepare you for this next stage of the journey, which is where you begin to heal your past.
Starting to heal the wounds of the past
What characterises this stage is an unpicking and releasing of past traumas and outdated beliefs – and we all have them.
Our beliefs are not our own - we may think they are, but they are mainly an amalgamation of the way we have been brought up, our culture, our family systems and what we’ve absorbed and been exposed to throughout our lives.
As we’ve been growing up we’ve also
- absorbed limiting belief systems,
- incurred wounds, and
- accumulated programming and behaviour patterns
that served us at the time but which we will now find are limiting us.
Unpicking some of this can feel very difficult, because we have probably spent most of our lives trying to avoid our pain.
We will have used coping mechanisms like avoidance or even addictions (whether drugs, food, or work) or anything that deflected from having to look at our pain and trauma.
Starting to gather tools
This is the stage when we begin in earnest to gather tools to help us process and release these old hurts, patterns and wounds, as we begin the process of unpicking the accumulated layers that have been distorting who we are.
These tools can be people (like those offering coaching or energy services, such as those we offer)
Learning to trust your intuition
This stage also sees us beginning to learn to trust our intuition and connect in with our inner guidance - even though you can struggle with this at first. You might like to laugh your way through my early struggles with meditation.
We begin to move out of victimhood and take more ownership of our triggers and responsibility for ourselves and our choices.
How my own daughter's intuitive gifts unfolded in the Heart Space Room are shown here, in this 3-part blog post.
The length of this stage will depend on your age, how much trauma you’ve had in this lifetime, your willingness to undertake this healing process.
You’ll also find that the journey isn’t linear but spiral in nature.
You’ll find the same patterns coming round again and again, as you heal in layers.
I healed in spirals
There are likely to be a few key strands of learning you’ve been undertaking in this lifetime and the same lessons will show up in different ways.
At the beginning they are very obvious – for example, I had a breakdown, and it showed me that I'd been carrying a pattern of overworking and over-giving.
As I progressed on my healing journey, I found this same pattern spiral round again and again, but each time in different guises and different scenarios.
At first I thought "I've been through this before, I thought I'd healed it!" However, I realised that each time it was becoming more subtle and difficult to spot.
So, what caused a breakdown in the first spiral eventually showed up more and more subtly, to help me to heal it in layers and finally get to the very root cause and release it.
Stage 5: The Self Discovery Stage
If you reach this stage, then well done you!
It takes a lot of courage and bravery to walk this path of inner exploration and introspection.
Most people do not want to look at their shadow, their deepest hurts, their pain – and that’s understandable.
We have usually spent a lifetime avoiding it, and have used all sorts of diversionary or self-numbing tactics to prevent us from doing so.
But for me, this is the most rewarding stage of the journey because this is all about finding out how you tick.
Who is the real YOU under all those layers of patterning and conditioning and false beliefs?
Going on a deep inner journey
This deep inner journey to find your authentic self follows on from the earlier healing stage, but now sees you looking into your darkest shadows and deepest pain and uncovering all the ways in which you are submerging your true self.
This is the stage when you get to dig REALLY DEEP - peeling off those layers and layers of patterning conditioning and finding the authentic you inside.
This is where the ongoing support I offer in the course community of my flagship course Ok I'm Awakening- What Happens Now? comes into its own, because I offer continuing support for your whole journey, as part of the self-paced course.
Awakening is an ongoing journey - not a destination
I have to tell you that you’ll never come to the end of that path - awakening is an ongoing journey - not a destination.
There will always be something new about yourself to explore and expand into
– but as things become harder, they also become easier.
What I mean by that is that, as you spiral through each layer, while the challenges you face can grow harder (eg facing your deepest fears and digging into your deepest trauma), your ability to cope with it becomes much easier.
You may even become the person (like me) who says:
“Woah, I’m triggered by that. Oh good, I wonder what is coming up to be seen, released and let go?”
Finding your authentic self
Awakening is ultimately about finding your true authentic self – stripping off the layers of illusion and the stories we’ve woven around ourselves.
It’s about taking responsibility for ourselves. Learning to stand in our own power – not give away our power to others, whether that’s governments, religions or relationships.
We are not victims and there is no one who has more power than we have.
We are fractals of the Divine – and at this stage we begin to find the divine within ourselves.
We are not waiting for someone stronger or more powerful to come along and rescue us.
We ditch the co-dependent relationships and become truer to our authentic selves.
Getting caught in side-alleys (spiritual bypassing)
However, although in this stage we begin to become much more self aware, sometimes we can get stuck.
We may not be able to see some of our patterns where we try to control and manipulate or avoid doing our inner work.
Trying to avoid doing it even has a name – spiritual bypassing.
There are lots of people who will offer you ways in which you can ‘ascend’ without doing the uncomfortable inner work – like using hallucinogens or using techniques that purport to heal without looking within...
...but my experience and guidance have shown that not only is the deep inner work essential, it is ultimately the most rewarding way to grow, and to try and avoid it is to try to bypass the journey of expansion.
Getting stuck at the Guru phase
Gurus try to get you to give away your power and make you believe that they are more ‘spiritual’ than you, or better than you. This Awakening Conversation I did with Anastasia Lapik goes in deep to an experience she had with a cult guru that she gave her power to, and how she reclaimed it.
You may even spend some time setting yourself up as a guru at this stage (I know I did for a short while).
You can recognise this by catching yourself thinking you are better than others who are further down the path than you, or thinking that you know other people's paths better than they do.
Everyone's soul is equal and the only person who knows your true path is yourself.
Getting deeper connection with spirit guides
You come out of this stage so much stronger because you’ve faced your biggest fears
And you will also, by now, be making deeper connection with your internal guidance.
As the outer shells and shields you’ve built around yourself for protection unpeel, you will open yourself up further to connect with your intuition, and you will have tools to do that (whether directly speaking with your guides, or through tools like dowsing, journalling, tarot and oracle cards, meditation, or any of the other ways that works best for you).
My own story
I know that I was lucky enough to go through my awakening in tandem with my daughter, and we both were able to reassure each other that we were both sensible people and we weren’t going mad because it was happening to both of us.
But we realised that someone going through this transition without that support structure might struggle. So that was why we created Spiritual Awakening Support and made it our mission to advise, educate and support people going through their awakening, so they could transition smoothly through it avoiding the dead ends and side alleys that we got lost down.
I sometimes think we fell into every trap and pothole just so that we would be able to give others the heads up on how to avoid them. We devote a whole section to 'traps to avoid' in our 'Ok I'm Awakening' course.
Stage 6: The Objective Reviewer
By this stage you’re really coming to terms with who you are and finding your authentic self. You are finding self love and self compassion much easier.
Seeing the perfection of your journey
You’re starting to see why your life has unfolded in a certain way and you’ll begin to see how the threads of your life have been leading you to this point.
You are now able to look back at your life from a higher vantage point and see why things happened the way they did and the perfection of that journey.
Coming to balance
You’re coming to balance –the extremes of the earlier healing and self-discovery stages begin to mellow.
You will continue to face challenges, but you now see them as gifts and that they are there to give you new insights and new discoveries about yourself.
You recognise that the challenges are opening you up to new opportunities and all catalyst is always for your highest and best good.
Radical acceptance of all experience
This 'radical acceptance of all experience' is the understanding that nothing is good or bad, except through the judgment or values we impose on them. Coming to this understanding helps you to be on less of an emotional roller-coaster.
This doesn’t mean we detach from our emotions – quite the opposite - we see all our emotions as part of our internal guidance system, helping us to get back on to our highest and best path.
This stage also often sees us moving beyond just healing what’s been going on in our own life, to looking to the patterns being handed down within our families and ancestral lineage and perhaps even through past lives.
Manifesting and living in joy
By now we are moving into a state where joy is our most frequent vibration. Not always – we are human and having a human experience after all - and consequently we experience the full range of emotional expression.
We are not afraid of our anger or our sadness, but we know we don’t need to live there for a long time and can find our way back to joy quite quickly.
Slowing down and moving into flow
This stage also usually sees us slowing down and realising that we don’t have to follow the values that society has been imposing on us – we don’t have to work hard to ‘earn our worth’.
Our value does not lie in our productivity and that we can move out of the usual '9-to-5' rigidity and into something that is more in alignment with who we came to be on this planet.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we will all become crystal sellers – but we move into alignment with who and what we truly want to be and how we want to show up in the world - and how that looks will be unique to what makes our individual soul sing.
Stage 7: The Surefooted Pathfinder
The 7th stage is when you start to walk out in the world as your true and authentic self, fully integrating your soul.
Authentic – fully expressing your true self
You have done a lot of your inner work and are comfortable in your own skin and your own authenticity. You don’t need people to like you. You don’t bend yourself out of shape to be who others want you to be or to fit in with others’ expectations.
You become a sovereign being – someone who isn’t looking outside of the self for answers. You aren’t expecting someone or something to save you. You have grown up and taken full responsibility for your choices and actions.
Co creating with spirit
You know that there are no wrong choices – you have the capability to co-create with spirit (the Universe, Source, or God, however you prefer to call it).
You know that you create your own reality and you know how to change that reality. You recognise that life is both simple and also complex and paradoxical, and you’re okay with that.
Living in high vibrational frequency
You’re living in higher vibrational frequency and your light is emanating in the world in the way that is in alignment with who you are here to be.
Manifesting your best life – moving into abundance and flow
You move from seeing the world as one of lack and ‘not enoughness’ to one of abundance and plenty.
- You take aligned action – what you believe is what transpires.
- You make your choices from a position of love and abundance rather than fear and lack.
- You see life is both simple and easy and full of complexity and paradoxes.
- You come to a place of trust, acceptance and surrender of what is, while still taking responsibility for your choices.
If all this sounds like a dream come true – it is, because you know that when you change your thoughts and your perceptions, you change your reality.
You’re still human and you are fully inhabiting your humanness – not trying to get rid of your ego (which you'll never do) and you’re learning how to manifest the life that’s your best life, in abundance and flow.
Awakening is not about transcending our humanness but fully inhabiting it
You are consciousness enjoying a human experience and you are now aware of this – and you are here to have fun and play with it.
Ascension is when you can fully embody your higher self
Awakening is not a destination but a journey – so even at the Surefooted Pathfinder stage you’ll still have stuff spiralling round.
The difference is that you’ll know that everything is a mirror, reflecting something you need to see and you have all the tools you need to deal with it.
Your higher self connection becomes fully embodied as your vibration reaches a level where this becomes possible.
Awakening is ultimately a journey of self-discovery – of growing up and taking responsibility for yourself. Understanding we are all energy, and you are an integral part of the oneness.
You are a soul having a unique human experience – you are a fractal of the Divine, and you are feeding your unique experience back to the whole.
for reading my epic blog post
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