The whole cycle of awakening goes like this
Phase 1: You are unconsciously identified with the mind, lost in physicality (lost in the mind)
Phase 2: You wake up from your mind’s external conditioning and realize your true wholeness as the universal consciousness, and realize the truths about life’s movement. (This is called awakening of awareness)
Phase 3: Your awareness slowly removes its focus from the mind and rests more and more in its wholeness, in a process of “self knowing” (this is what is called the “transcendence of the mind”). In one sense, it starts detaching itself from the mind’s pull and occupies its position as passive awareness. The reason I give the pointer of “stay as relaxed awareness” is so you can allow this phase to operate in you.
Phase 4: When your awareness fully attains its independence from the mind, it returns back to the mind – returns back to the getting fully involved in physicality, only this time there is an element of “conscious wisdom” that was not present during phase 1. (This is what I would call “the return of focus”)
Anyone who awakens to their wholeness (their truth as this “aware” energy), would inevitably feel a pull to move through phase 3 to phase 4 in sequence – simply because this is the very movement of awareness after it awakens, it wants to “know” itself fully during phase 3 and after it has known itself, and rested in itself entirely, it returns fully back to the mind to engage in physicality with total focus, in phase 4.
How long does each phase last?
It’s not possible to predict how long each phase would last. A lot of people stay in phase 1 for an entire lifetime. Some people move to phase 3 after awakening, but start “holding on” to this transcendental space, and thus become a “drop out” in the realm of physicality, addicted to the transcendental realm (mostly because they resist the return to fully engage with physicality, out of fear or through some misguided ideas of spirituality).
There are also a good majority of people who have an awakening but don’t fully let go into the space of awareness and thus stay in a limbo between phase 1 and phase 2, not fully committing to transcending the “control” of the mind. This is mostly because there is tremendous fear involved in letting go of mind identification, the pull of the ego is too strong, the ego’s need for control is difficult to let go of (due to years of identification). So they mostly just compromise between “letting go” and “staying in control”, vacillating between these two conditions. But useless you are willing to totally let go of the mind, you will not allow the movement of awareness to reach its maturity.
Understanding this process can help you identify which phase you are at (or which phases you are vacillating between), and allow the release of resistance to moving into the next phase. To be stuck in between any of these phases is extremely uncomfortable because there is a constant “nagging” sense of something missing and constant sense of a “pull” within. Only when you come to a full maturity into phase 4 that this sense of “something’s missing” finally dies away.
After awakening, it can take anywhere between a few months to a few years for a person to transition to phase 4 depending on their load/momentum of negativity, accumulated over the past years. But when someone really understands this process, they don’t stand in resistance to its natural unfolding, and hence they don’t delay this process in any way. The sooner this process comes to an end the better in terms of feeling at ease and becoming fully functional in this world. To be stuck in-between, by not surrendering to the pull, feels constantly “unpleasant” in the being.
How does one know if one is awakened?
Awakening, or enlightenment, is no longer a “rare” thing as it was some decades ago. It’s quite common place now for people to get enlightened owing to the amount of information/teachings available in terms of books, online literature or online videos. One has access to teachings from enlightened people, around the world, sitting in the comfort of their homes, thanks to the internet – contrary to the olden days when one had to visit monasteries and spend years in service before he/she was given the “knowing” . Moreover, nowadays different teachers are able to enunciate this knowing in more “conversational” ways, that help people get to grips with this “knowing” more easily – compared to the metaphorical teachings of olden spiritual literature.
So “phase 2”, which was extremely rare just a few decades ago, has become quite common place now – there are many people who understand their true self, their position as this “aware” energy, their ego structure, the dysfunction of negativity, their natural vibration and the process of manifestation, and this knowing comes to them quite swiftly through easily available channels of information present now. So in simple words, “awakening” or enlightenment is no big deal anymore. What’s lacking however is the “allowing” to transition into phase 3 and finally to phase 4, because this requires a “surrender” to the movement of awareness instigated by awakening – a lot of people have very little idea of what this entails, and there is usually a lot of resistance within to the “letting go” that’s required to move into phase 3.
Awakening only brings an invitation to let go
Awakening by itself does not relieve you of the pull of the mind’s negativity – though it allows an invitation to start “letting go” of it. Enlightenment/awakening is like attaining “knowledge” but just having this knowledge does not make you feel “free” within because the momentum of negativity does not suddenly die because of the knowledge you gained. So if you’ve attained “understanding” of the truth of life (of who you are), you can consider yourself enlightened or awakened – but if you want to realize the actual freedom from the negativity of the mind, it’s important to move to phase 3 and finally to phase 4 through the simple practice of “letting go” of the mind. If you are sensitive, you can recognize in yourself that this is what life is calling forth in you – in fact, a lot of events may be taking place in your life right now that are almost forcing you to just “let go” or surrender to life.
Only in phase 4 do you truly incorporate the knowing, that you attained through awakening, in an effortless way, into the expression of your physicality. But if you try to force “practice” this knowing, using techniques or mind strategies, instead of “letting go” of trying to control (which just means you’ve still not left phase 1 fully), you will just feel confused about why you are not able to live the truth that you know. After awakening the pull is always to surrender to the space of awareness, this is a temporary phase (though the most challenging one in many cases) and you will move to the fully functional, and stable, phase 4 quite soon.