For those of us who are actively engaged in spiritual work, the experience of spiritual breakthrough represents something like a holy grail, or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Many people meditate, practice yoga, read spiritual books, spend time with teachers, and go on retreat, all in pursuit of that elusive breakthrough that will change their lives. In this article I will share the essence of what I have learned about what spiritual breakthrough is and how you can increase your likelihood of having one.
I would define a breakthrough experience as a spiritual experience that awakes in us a new perception of reality. It is possible to have spiritual experiences that reinforce our deepest perception of reality, or offer some sense of mystery or comfort, but don’t fundamentally change how we see. A spiritual breakthrough changes our perception of reality and it changes us. We don’t feel like the same person after a realization like this. It is not just that we are seeing different things, we are also seeing from a different place.
A genuine spiritual breakthrough is difficult to recover from. We might be able to ignore the implications of what we have seen and go back to the life we were living before, but it is almost impossible to entirely forget the experience. Somewhere in the back of our mind we will always know that we have seen beyond our familiar experience of reality.
If you want to invite the energy of spiritual breakthrough into your life you must learn to abide in a deep and receptive state of presence and visit that depth every day. I have been blessed with many profound spiritual breakthroughs and a common characteristic of all of them is that they start as an anomalous occurrence. One very profound awakening happened because I noticed a strange tingling in my foot, another because of a voice that spoke to me, another as an inexplicable ache in my tailbone.
Many, although not all of my breakthrough experiences occurred during the practice of meditation. The reason why I find meditation to be such a valuable practice for inviting spiritual breakthrough is because the essence of the practice is to rest in a deeply relaxed and receptive state of consciousness. This relaxed receptivity is exactly the awareness that is able to notice the subtle shifts in awareness that, if followed, can open into a full-blown breakthrough.
Of course, there are always those rare occurrences when a spiritual breakthrough occurs so forcefully that we push into it, but generally a state of open awareness is a necessary foundation for profound shifts in consciousness. However, open awareness on its own is not sufficient to entice a true breakthrough. You must also be willing and ready to follow that opening and allow it to carry to whatever new perception of reality awaits you.
It is important to cultivate the detached awareness that opens the senses, but in my opinion, if we become too comfortable in that indifference, we can become lost in the witness position. We may have liberated ourselves from engagement with the world, but we have not entered what I call the path of spiritual breakthrough. Once we have learned to let go of the way things are, we need to be willing to be swept away into something new. Being ready for a spiritual breakthrough requires spiritual sensitivity and a habit of saying ‘yes’.
The first capacity that we must build in ourselves is the power to recognize the invitation to deeper awareness when they arise. Not every inner experience is an invitation to be followed, but if you develop your spiritual sensitivity, you will recognize those that are. You will be able to see that this odd tingling in my chest is not a physical symptom, it is a spiritual possibility. Spiritual openings have an energetic quality that you can become more attuned to. You recognize them faster and faster.
Being able to recognize a spiritual opening when it occurs is also not enough because often when we begin to feel ourselves being swept away, we will recoil. We see ourselves being lifted off the ground, or we feel the ground move under our feet, and we panic. In that all important instant we don’t lean forward into the change, we pull back from it, and it only takes a moment’s hesitation to miss the opportunity. It is as if a portal to a new reality opened in front of us where we could have jumped through, but we didn’t, and the portal closed.
As a meditation teacher I have heard from so many people about how they realized in retrospect that the opening they had been working for came and went in an instant and they missed it because they weren’t ready to jump when it happened. Most people think that they needed to be more mentally prepared for that moment to jump in when the mystery arose, but I have a secret to share. You cannot be ready for the unknown. No matter how much you prepare you will never be ready to jump into the always shocking experience of novelty.
Spiritual breakthrough is always a leap into the unknown and the only preparation for it that works is the cultivation of a deep habit of saying yes to everything. When that moment arises and the possibility for transformation occurs you will not say yes to it in a conscious way. Our conscious mind simply cannot respond to that revelation quickly enough.
What increases the likelihood of spiritual breakthrough is having cultivated a habit of saying yes to all your experience. As I see it, meditation is the practice of saying yes to what is. The goal is not to sit separate and detached, but to be one with – open, receptive, and mailable all at the same time.
A discerning mind and an open heart combine to create the perfect conditions for spiritual breakthrough.
In his new book The Path of Spiritual Breakthrough, meditation and awakening teacher Jeff Carreira takes you on a journey through some of the farthest reaches of mystical revelation. For many years Jeff was a devoted spiritual seeker pursuing rigorous extremes of practice. What he experienced was a succession of extraordinary events that gradually left him free of existential doubt and perpetually open to new and higher dimensions of reality. In these pages you will explore the sacred path created by your own profound breakthroughs. You will learn how to illuminate your way forward guided only by the light of your deepest inner revelation. There comes a time on the path when you can no longer follow any preconceived notions or ideas. At this point you must autonomously step out beyond any doctrine or teaching and follow the light of your own heart’s longing. In this book, you will find a source of wisdom and insight that gives you the confidence and courage to trust the truth inside yourself and uncover the path of your unique spiritual fulfillment.
Find the book here: https://emergenceeducation.com/books/the-path-of-spiritual-breakthrough/
About Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira is a meditation teacher, mystical philosopher and author who works with a growing
number of people throughout the world. As a teacher, he offers retreats and courses guiding individuals in a form of meditation he refers to as The Art of Conscious Contentment. Through this simple and effective technique, he has led thousands of people in a journey beyond the confines of fear and self-concern into the expansive liberated awareness that is our true home.
As a philosopher, Jeff is interested in defining a new way of being in the world that will move us from
our current paradigm of separation and isolation into an emerging paradigm of unity and wholeness. In his books and lectures, he explores revolutionary ideas in the domains of spirituality, consciousness, and human development. He creates courses and programs that encourage people to question their most foundational experience of reality until previously held assumptions fall away leaving space for a dramatically new understanding to emerge.
Jeff is passionate about the potential that ideas have to shape how we perceive reality and how we live together. His enthusiasm for learning is infectious, and he has taught at colleges and universities throughout the world.