The Loneliness of Awakening


One of the most difficult challenges of becoming more spirituality awakened, in my experience, is the feeling of isolation that arises when you realise how many people in your immediate life you can no longer relate to. All human beings crave connection with others, and although you can still enjoy the company of the same friends or loved ones, something changes. You can find yourself longing to connect on a much deeper level, but feel distinctly that it’s not a feeling that is necessarily reciprocated. What remains between you then feels quite superficial and unfulfilling. Sometimes you might even question what connected you in the first place. Like after an earthquake, where you once stood on common ground, a vast chasm now appears between you. It is a totally natural process. But it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier knowing this.

Even without bringing spirituality into the conversation, friendships naturally evolve over time as we change, as do our life circumstances.  I have many friends who I have drifted apart from, simply because their paths took them down the road of motherhood while my path was that of free spirited independence. It was never a conscious decision on anyone’s part to drift apart from one another and any number of changes in life circumstances can lead to the same thing. Even with the best intentions it can be difficult to stay closely connected to friends and loved ones simply because your day to day lives vary to such an extreme in a way that wasn’t the case before.

Coming out of the spiritual closet wasn’t easy for me, I wonder if it ever is for people? I’m not entirely sure that I am even fully out because it’s not like I made an announcement on facebook. But I do tell people as much as they want or need to know if I’m asked anything deeper about my life.

I was spiritual when I was a teenager, but had to hide it from all my friends. I didn’t have many close friends, maybe just one true friend. But I never really confided about anything much to people. I don’t know if it’s because I was aware of being slightly awakened already or perhaps I was an outsider simply because of who I was in other ways.

Then I went to university and studied psychology. I decided only weak people need spirituality and, as I was clearly very strong for having survived many hardships in my life, I put it all in a box and buried it, metaphorically speaking. I embraced science and continued to maintain a belief in something like a Universal Life Force that created us all. I found room to accept a few things such as natural medicine (afterall human kind survived without pharmaceuticals for thousands of years) and life after death. But I didn’t feel that we need to do anything with it. All of that could exist but I was busy getting on with my life and finding out who I was.  I thought it was more important to live life to the fullest and not have any regrets.

My idea of living life fully was, on reflection, more about achievements (to prove myself in some way), travelling and you could also add some materialistic goals in there, though many of those didn’t work out. When questioned in pub conversations on my religion or spiritual beliefs, I would give one of those vague answers: “I’m not religious but I believe that some sort of bigger intelligence exists”. I would happily talk about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs or Carl Jung. That’s as spiritual as I got. Framing it all within psychological constructs was probably a safer way of touching it and probably made me feel like I knew what I was talking about. It was a clinical way of handling spirituality, but it wasn’t deeply personal as it is for me now.

In my 30s I discovered that I had one or two friends who I knew to be spiritual. One of them, I considered to be very woo-woo, but in a way I could tolerate. I used to think I was being virtuous for being such a great listener and accepting of her woo-woo, but I soon started to realise I was actually a terrible listener. It was my friend who was the great listener. We would have conversations that went on for hours and I began to feel more and more that we were kindred spirits in some way. Little did I know that within a couple of years, I would be totally woo-woo myself. That journey was long and gradual, but when it finally happened – when the spiritual door was finally opened, I was like a dormant volcano exploding spectacularly back into life.

I experienced some very difficult years before the spirituality came bursting forth. I didn’t see the connection then, but it was perhaps the hardships that released it all. When I finally realised that I am a deeply spiritual being and could no longer supress it – that it has to be an important part of my life – I had to confess this to my dear friend. This was partly to come clean, partly to ask for advice, because I had no idea what to do with it now. I had no idea how it all fitted in with my analytical, sceptical, scientific minded brain, my personality or my life. I was really quite baffled by the sudden change within me. I went around telling therapists how it made no sense.

As she was the only person I knew who knew about spiritual stuff and who also knew me quite well, I looked to her for guidance like I would a big sister. She wasn’t able to give me specific advice, except to say that I should allow myself to be guided by the universe to what I need to learn and then shared a story with me about “owning your woo-woo”. I loved this concept so much. In every other aspect of my life I am proud of who I am – bar the odd insecurity and occasional shadows of self-doubt. I’ve always been an outsider and have learnt to embrace it like a superpower, so it felt natural to me that I would need to apply this to my spirituality also. It took me a little while, but I finally chose to own my woo-woo.  

You’d think that when you start to awaken, and you see the world and life with much greater clarity, that suddenly you would feel less lonely. Because surely now that you feel more connected with the universe, so it should apply that it is also the case in your relationships with other human beings. But that’s not quite the case.

Perhaps more than ever you realise how so many of us live our lives in a kind of “sleepwalk” and therefore when you talk to people, you are more aware of the distance in consciousness. I haven’t attained the state of complete loving acceptance in an Eckhart Tolle kind of way, I’m still working on it. I still often reawaken from my own lapses into sleepwalking, so for now I cannot say if that awareness ever changes.

To be honest, I think all of us, no matter how awakened we are (or not) will always experience at least a low level sense of loneliness, which I think is part of why so many people get caught up in behaviours such as people pleasing, consumerism, over achieving, destructive relationships and so on. That loneliness is what drives us to seek connection, which we don’t always know how to find. In a video called “Why We’re Fated to be Lonely” the School of Life explains: “We face a choice between honesty or acceptability, and understandably, mostly choose the latter.”

For me personally, by choosing to be honest with myself and embracing my spirituality, the loneliness actually feels stronger than ever before. But I also believe it’s part of the spiritual journey and perhaps as I get to know myself better it will no longer feel quite so powerful.

I wonder if this longing and loneliness is part of what Buddha referred to when he spoke of earthly suffering? But in any case, now I’m not frightened into trying to cover this feeling up with over-eating, over-consuming in any way, turning to a glass of red wine, seeking adrenaline rushes etc. In fact, it’s like a new friend I want to get to know. It might not always be comfortable but I’m becoming friendlier with it.

It’s comforting to know there are others at the same level of awareness dotted around this planet. Sometimes those people are authors of books that have moved me deeply. And those relationships might only ever be one-sided, but it helps soothe the aching soul. Others are people I have sought help from or become friends with having met on a course or some other serendipitous way. But it’s the reason I decided to try and create a closer network of likeminded people, to give each other inspiration and support.

I’m ok with not being understood by others, because in my philosophical and psychological contemplations I have already ascertained that it’s not possible to ever be understood completely. And I’m not sure where this quote comes from but it speaks to my heart : “You are here to understand yourself, not to be understood.”



Coach & Mind-Body Educator, Creative Producer, B.A. Psychology, Certified TRE® Provider, Integrative Somatic Therapies, Dance & Movement Therapy (DTAA – Student), Zen Practitioner

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  1. Wauw, what a wunderfull story. You are a power powerwoman. I recognize your story. Especialy the part where I ignored my sensibility. I’m glad I have met you. ??

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your kind words, I’m so glad to have met you too! And I also think you’re a super woman, the tiger to my meerkat 😉 I hope your trip was everything you hoped it would be, I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet up with you but I thought about you because I know how special is was. Lots of love x

  2. Perfect. Thanks for writing this. Nice too know we are walking the same beat. I’ve dumped many friends this tread because connections have been old, engrained with bad destructive behaviour. I have waves of loneliness, but know I’ll come oout the other side.
    Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts.
    Love x

    • Hi Nicci, thank you for reading and being there for me in some really important times in my life. It’s so great to be able to connect on a much deeper level now as we have become older and “wiser” 🙂 Love xx

  3. Love this article Christine and yes very relatable……if that’s even a word!
    Like you I felt spiritual on some level from a very young age . Things happened which had little or no rational explanation. Then weirder things as life progressed down the line. The more that happened, the less the need to explain or understand.

    The biggest feeling for me was/is not so much loneliness but a sense of detachment…….even from friends and family as life has evolved. It’s a healthy feeling in some ways and yes actually a little lonely at times feeling like you’re not meant to be in this kind of world.

    I do however feel I’m.often surrounded by people who are also spiritual in their own way…… Japanese Taiko has trundled me near and around these people. Kindly, thoughtful, wise, detached yet empathic, evolved humans on a path in common to try to encourage the people in this world to make it a better place.

    So thank you for allowing me to be a part of this special group. I love your posts and articles and will be right here every time a new one pops up!!!

    With love from one of your eager fans ❤️

    • Hi Liz, thanks for your comment and your friendship! I still remember our first woo woo conversation that almost didn’t happen. It goes to show that by being vulnerable and honest (and risk sounding stupid to others) you might find that you have something common to connect with each other on a deeper level. Taiko was an important part of my journey, I’d like to share it in the group soon too. You’re right about detachment, I’m trying to be more detached as opposed to lonely (the wise teachings of Eckhart Tolle and other great teachers such as Buddha himself). Lots of love xx

    • Hi, I found this while searching spiritual awakening and loneliness on Google. It totally makes sense and I have experienced the same. My problem is that I don’t know anyone who understands me. I have friends and spouse who live their life’s in much more superficial level. I often feel alone and wonder what is the point of living with other people if no one really gets anything beyond own experience. Also I’m from Finland and this isn’t that big of a country to find kindred spirits.

      • Hi Jonna, thank you for your comment. Yes, it can often feel that way, especially in these times when we have the added complication of social distancing and other stresses to add to it. I have found that over time, I see loved ones, friends and others rise alongside me – but in their own time and way. Some friendships move on, but others emerge naturally without seeking them out. I have become to think that the loneliness is there to help us embrace our own healing and growth, which we may not even realise we need. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I just wanted to tell you I hear and that you are not alone 🙂

  4. I feel like i’m from another planet most of the time, trying to listen and converse with people i have known for many, many years… i know that if i speak from where i feel and what i think i will alienate them even more, or feel more alienated myself, and i don’t want that. Mostly i’ve learned to be silent, mostly – at least for now; i know i cannot change anyone’s mind nor is it my job to do so. The world of people around me seems unreal and not relatable.

    I could very well have written this piece it resonated so deeply. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your comment Flynn, it’s always a comfort to hear another voice like yours. I’m still on this journey and often still feel this deep loneliness, I can’t help but feel that being authentic and true to ourselves is so important, no matter what cost. In being true to ourselves, we allow others to be true to themselves too. If we are not trying to change other people’s minds or to harm anyone, then I don’t see why we should dim our lights to fit in… Easier said than done of course! Shine bright, if only to honour yourself.

  5. Hi dear Christine,
    thank you for sharing your experience, it resonates so much with mine. I just met some friends these days and I realized how superficial those connections are. Not fake, not bad, they are nice people, I just perceive kind of a glass wall between us, we seem to live different realities. Its so weird and pretty lonely. Somehow it’s a pain to go around like this (you always meet someone here), it’s more peaceful and loving to be alone. Maybe it is just me, I don’t know. Very grateful for your article. All the blessings!

    • Dear Alessandra, thank you for your blessings, it’s lovely to receive your comment. I am glad sharing my experience is helpful. Many blessings to you too!

      • Thank you for your reply❣

  6. Hello Christine, I am feeling the loneness today, and knew as always the universe would guild me someplace to ease my soul! My awakening started from pain, and I realized most of my friends and family lived unconsciously, and in their pain bodies. I was right there with them, and its taken me several years to understand my dissatisfaction and that feeling of being an outsider. I’ve taken space from all of them it was far too easy for me to get sucked back into being unconscious then feeling shame. I’ve received the most peace after reading the “Seat of the Soul” and have a new found appreciation for my awakening and my purpose and I am enjoying the journey. Its a daily practice to remain in the “Now”. My goals are so different now, from drinking, and shopping, and now I looked to be moved, and want to see our beautiful planet, and meet people who think like me. I see most of the comments are by females, myself being female, and it seems that the far majority of awakened people are female for now at least. Beautifully written article, thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    • Hi Shane, thank you for your beautiful message. I hear you, feeling like an outsider is hard! I just want to say that I do get emails from men who feel the same way, so while us females might be more open about it, there are definitely men and all genders who are feeling the same. Blessings to you!

      ps. I’ve just started a Facebook group for like-hearted people if you care to join. The link is above.

  7. Wow, I resonate with this so deeply. I couldn’t have put into better words myself so much of what I’m feeling and struggling with at the moment. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It inspires me to continue on my path and to continue sharing my story. And that’s the gift we give by being authentic! So hello from another dot around the world thanking you for your truth and sending you love and gratitude.

  8. As someone whos is several months into this mysterious process and shift, it was really helpful to read this. Thanks very much for posting 🙂

  9. Thank you for writing this. In many ways, it feels like I’ve reached the summit of enlightenment. But instead of feeling some sense of personal achievement or ah-ha, it just feels lonely. It becomes apparent that everything people stress and obsess over is trivial. Politics, religion, and materialism all become meaningless and subjective ideas people have adopted. None of it matters. I think to myself, the only way to survive this world is to work my way down from the mountain of enlightenment with an understanding that the only pure meaning is our biological nature and desires—one of which is to have a sense of purpose and connection with others. Other than that, life is meaningless. And it is up to us to give it that meaning. Spirituality is an excellent foundation to start that new journey.

  10. The suffering mentioned in Buddhist teachings is the suffering we create for ourselves by expecting the impermanent, which is everything, to be fulfilling and bring us happiness.

    As far as feeling isolated as a result of beginning to awaken, and to once again draw on Buddhist teachings, the title Buddha refers to someone who is fully awake, not hemmed in by fear, belief or longing. A Buddha is anyone who is awakened, so where is the room for feeling isolated in the awakened mind?

    I think there are levels of becoming awakened, and one of those levels includes a sense of isolation when you realize that the majority of people are so fast asleep that they don’t have the opportunity to develop curiosity about their existence or the human experience. They may not have any existential concerns at all. Their daily challenges may completely consume them, and that is absolutely fine of course. We are all on the same path but at different points.

    When I feel isolated I realize that my view is too small. The universe is a big place, and there are an infinite number of living beings to be in community with aside from human beings. There are trees, clouds, all sorts of animals, children, rivers, fallen leaves, rain, wind, and now and then, maybe, a human being.


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