We all have moments in our lives when a light bulb goes off in our heads. It is a moment of clarity and understanding we simply did not see before. We sit in silence, thinking about how this moment will change our lives. We ponder how we could not have seen this realization that was in front of our eyes the whole time.
These moments of understanding can come to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they occur to us for no reason at all. Many people have these moments of clarity after losing a loved one, after a near death experience or even following an arrest. We tend to realize after these incidents that we have not appreciated the things that matter most in our lives. We promise ourselves to spend more time with our children, be a better spouse or to make time to go fishing with our grandpa before it is too late.
It is hard for us during these times to understand how we did not recognize what we were missing before. Perhaps work had been too demanding, we spent too much time preoccupied with a relationship problem or maybe we were just lazy and wasted our days watching television. We let these things consume us and steal all the joy out of our life.
With a newfound outlook on life, we set out, determined to make a change. For the first time in a long time, we are optimistic and happy about life.
Will You Remember the Clarity?
As we set out on this new journey, it seems as if nothing can stop us. Often times we tell everyone about how we are going to change. Even when we keep it to ourselves, those around will soon take notice of our energetic shift. We are so far outside of our normal routine it does not take long for anyone to see the new and improved self we have become.
As time passes, just like New Year’s resolutions, we begin to forget. Once our eyes have been opened, we feel as though we will never forget that special feeling; however, emotions have a way of fading. Fear, sadness, anger and even love have a way of fading over time. When we are awakened, we may have felt all of these emotions. Fear of what we nearly lost. Sadness for those we may have hurt. Anger of who we were in the past. We realize how much we love those around us.
As time goes by, we slowly begin to fall back into our normal routine. We get lazy. We begin making excuses why we can’t show up and be present today. But deep down inside, we know we are lying to ourselves. In time, the guilty feeling goes away. As each day passes, it becomes easier to fall back into old patterns.
This continues until we fall back into that same familiar rut. Few people are able to continue down their path of enlightenment without interruption. Over time, we completely forget about our awakening.
Learn from Prisoners
The single largest group we can look at as an example of people who not only have promised themselves to change, but also have the greatest incentive to maintain that change, is in our prison system. After years of sitting behind bars and reflecting on their past mistakes, some inmates may resolve to change. Many find religion or spirituality. Some inmates who promise to make major life changes truly believe they are sincere in their words in that moment of judgement. For others, their only intention behind these words is to convince the parole board to release them early.
This is evident by the number of parolees who abide by the terms of their parole the first few months of release. They check in with their parole officers, pass drug tests, attend church and some even find employment. As time passes, the memories of their time incarcerated begin to fade.
According to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 29.9% of inmates in the study were re-arrested within six months of being released. The number grew to 44.1% at the one-year mark and 59.2% before the end of the second year. The study ends at 67.5% of previous prisoners being re-arrested by the end of the third year after their release from custody.
Most of these inmates forgot about their spiritual awakening behind bars within six months. For those who were able to stay on the path of change, the longer they were on it, the easier it was to maintain. Living with a positive purpose became a lifestyle change, not just something they said they were going to do. Approximately 1/3 managed to remember the promises they made during the time of their release.
Do you think that number does not apply to the rest of the population? How many people do you know who join a gym and actually stick with it? How many people stick to their New Year resolutions? I would be willing to bet it is a lot lower than 33% at the three-year mark.
Keeping Awareness Alive
In order to stay conscious of your awakening, you must live it every single day. Today, life is so busy, we never have time to just stop and think. For most of us, the only time we have the entire day that has some level of silence is in the shower. Even that can be rushed with kids banging on the door or your spouse asking where the car keys are. Most of us end up spending these few minutes in between interruptions going over our to-do lists for the day, not contemplating a spiritual awakening.
Make some time, even if it is just a few minutes, to think about life. Not during commercial breaks or when you’re frustrated from sitting in traffic. Do it in a way that is relaxing. If that means making time to go for a walk, do it. Go to a lake or sit in your favorite chair. Think consciously about the awakening you felt in the past. Try to remember how you felt in that moment of sweet clarity. Are your emotions as strong now as they were before? Have you made the changes you promised yourself you would?
Like anything, if we do not think about it, we will forget it. Fortunately, most of us will have more than one awakening during our lives. Unfortunately, most of us are so caught up in the rat race that we do not allow time for change to truly set in. The memory of our awakening is directly proportionate to our attention span. It is not until much later in life we have the awakening that truly blows our worlds wide open.
For most of us, we just have to look to our grandparents. Before they were grandparents, they had struggles as well. As they age and gain wisdom and insight, their perspective of life changes. Walks become a blissful routine, caring for the garden is no longer a burden and finding time to just talk for hours is something they cherish. Do not wait until the sunset of your life to realize the importance of being in touch with your more spiritual self. Find pleasure in the little things and count your blessings. You deserve a life of spiritual clarity, happiness, and awareness!