How to Start Your Spiritual Journey: 7 Illuminating Steps

How to Start Your Spiritual Journey

3. Upper World

Purpose: Uniting with Spirit

The Upper World journey, or that of the ascent, is what we often refer to as Self-Realization.

There comes a moment in our journey between the middle world and the underworld in which a fine balance is formed, allowing us to move up into the Upper World.

For example, it’s much harder to “Spiritually Awaken” to the Upper World when our unconscious minds are plagued with deep childhood traumas (that stem from the underworld), trust issues (underworld problem), and poor self-esteem (middle world problem).

We enter the path of ascent up into the Upper World when we learn to surrender our ego identification (known as ego death) and Soul identification. Ultimately, we not only intellectually understand that everything is One, but we experience this truth at a core level. At this point, we are free from the illusion of having a separate self. This has also been commonly referred to as the state of complete self-realization or Enlightenment.

This permanent shift of consciousness is about merging with the Infinite, Divine, Eternal, and Absolute. Techniques used to taste this state of being are often found in the mystical schools of Zen, Kundalini, Taoism, Sufism, and disciplines such as meditation and yoga.

Note: Unfortunately many people in the spiritual community believe that spiritual ascension is all that is needed to experience peace and wholeness. As a result, the middle world and underworld paths have been cast aside as if they don’t matter.

However, only focusing on your “higher chakras,” cultivating positivity and Oneness with Spirit, creates lopsided individuals. When the darker and more down-to-earth elements of self-growth are ignored, the result is imbalanced and unhealthy individuals.

5 Phases of the Spiritual Journey

Roughly speaking, there are about five phases of the spiritual journey. I refer to these as ‘phases’ and not stages because the spiritual journey is not a linear process that has a start and end: it is cyclical. It’s like the moon. It’s a spiraling dance of energy that is ever-deepening and changing.

Here are the five phases. We’ve also linked to the various ‘parts of each phase that we’ve both uniquely discovered and defined after many years on the path:

Read: What Is Your Spiritual Gift? Find Out With This Quiz

1. Soul-searching

This phase is divided into the following two parts (which are also linked to in the menu of this website). Feel free to click on any for further guidance:

Summary: Phase one of the spiritual journey begins with a deep craving and longing for something more than mundane daily life. There may be a sense that life has become a dry, desolate, meaningless, and barren wasteland without some kind of spiritual dimension. 

This type of existential crisis can arise spontaneously, due to a traumatic situation, mental or physical health issues, or simply due to one’s sensitive temperament. The result is a search for meaning, purpose, and greater spiritual connection – or what is commonly known as soul searching.

2. Awakening & learning

This phase is divided into the following two parts (which are also linked to in the menu of this website). Feel free to click on any for further guidance:

Summary: Awakening and learning is the next phase of the spiritual journey. Once one has listened to the ‘call to adventure’ and has begun searching for answers, the sense of inner deadness and stagnation lifts. The veil is pulled from our eyes. We awaken to fresh possibilities, new horizons, and deep insights. 

There is renewed hope, ecstatic zest for life, joyful anticipation, and the passion to learn, explore, and grow. It’s as if the sun has finally emerged from its slumber and we’re bathed in the dawning light of spiritual awakening.

3. Death & demons

This phase is divided into the following two parts (which are also linked to in the menu of this website). Feel free to click on any for further guidance:

Summary: As our spiritual journey matures, we eventually face a crossroads. To continue growing, we must enter through the gates of our personal Underworld and face our demons. We learn that the spiritual journey is beautiful, yes.

But it’s also demanding. If we’re sincere about authentic spiritual growth, we need to illuminate our inner darkness, explore our shadow selves, and heal our buried traumas. 

This death of the spiritual ‘high’ of the previous phase can lead to much fear and confusion. The result is often an experience of the Dark Night of the Soul where we step out of the ‘sunshine and rainbows’ world into the moonlit world of ghosts and ghouls.

Read: Shadow Work: How to Let Your Inner Demons Guide You

4. Rebirth & reward

This phase is divided into the following two parts (which are also linked to in the menu of this website). Feel free to click on any for further guidance:

Summary: Eventually, we emerge out of the other side of the Dark Night of the Soul. We have been to hell and back – we’ve had our hearts ripped open and minds excavated. But we arise victorious with Souls blazing bright and newfound inner strength. 

This rebirth and reward often result in newfound clarity, mystical experiences, moments of Satori (Enlightened awareness), and the development or rediscovery of various spiritual gifts. We go through a new level of awakening, this time at an energetic level via an experience known as the Kundalini awakening. However, this experience is not all love and light. There are many lurking shadows and spiritual traps to be wary of.

5. Illumination & sharing

This phase is divided into the following two parts (which are also linked to in the menu of this website). Feel free to click on any for further guidance:

Summary: After the body, heart, and mind undergo this cleansing and purging journey, a deeper level of Illumination is experienced. We begin to integrate all the lessons we’ve learned and the gifts we’ve developed, bringing them into our daily lives. This is the moment where we truly start walking the talk. 

As such, there is a strong desire within us to share our personal ‘elixir’ and hard-earned wisdom with those who need support. We may adopt the role of teacher, guide, or mentor – or otherwise, embrace new ways of helping others. Perhaps the key defining quality of this phase is a strong connection to one’s True Nature.

There’s an intimate, inner knowing of the Divine as one’s true face, authentic essence, and ultimate home.

Again, the above five phases are by no means linear or static. They are cyclical and ever-deepening. This is the nature of life where we gradually discover that we are Life itself.

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Mateo Sol

Mateo Sol is a prominent psychospiritual teacher whose work has influenced the lives of thousands of people worldwide. Born into a family with a history of drug addiction, schizophrenia, and mental illness, Mateo Sol was taught about the plight of the human condition from a young age. As a spiritual guide and teacher, Sol’s mission is to help others experience freedom, wholeness, and peace in any stage of life. See more of his work at Lonerwolf.comView Author posts