The Difference Between a Mystical Experience, Spiritual Experience and an Actual Spiritual Awakening

There’s a lot of spiritually awakened egos out there.

The only thing that that leads to is stagnant states of illusion.

When the ego makes you think you have had an awakening you probably believe that you have “arrived” and That’s It; that you’re officially ‘done’ and somewhat special and ‘chosen’.  Now you see yourself being among the ‘awakened ones’.

You are so far from being awakened you don’t even know.

I didn’t know about Advaita or the concept of non-duality only a couple of months ago, I mean, sure, I had heard of the different teachers and gurus, Zen and Buddhism and all that, read about it and so on, but not very deeply.

To me for example Ramana Maharishi and Papaji are new, although I may have stumbled upon their quotes in the past, but that’s all.

And I have listened to some Adyashanti and Osho and so on in the past, and I was aware of my journey being about ego death; keenly aware.

But then life started to move me away from everything I had previously known and I was drawn to Advaita and suddenly I realized what has been going on with me.

It has really helped me to connect the dots and also to understand the difference between the spiritual experiences I have had throughout the years and even from childhood.

I have always known that there has been a difference in them because of the fact that  they have all affected me in different ways, and now I could also categorize them and put them into different boxes of understanding.

The difference to where I’m now in my own understanding, is that they actually are a part of different process than I previously though, or even knew.

The most important thing I want to point out to everyone who’s reading this is:

Don’t think you’re ‘done’, or that you have somehow ‘arrived’  just because you had a mystical experience.

A LOT of people all over the world are having mystical experiences, it’s actually very common. 

Here’s my description of some of the different spiritual experiences in a nutshell when it comes to my own experiences:

Mystical Experience:

A mystical experience can for example be an out-of-body experience, which I have had numerous of throughout my whole life. They don’t initially change or transform you, but they give you a glimpse of a different reality.

Another one could be that you see an ascended master in your dreams that brings you tremendous peace and who speaks to you and guides you, and you will know it’s a very special thing because the wisdom and the peace is not of this world.

My own special meeting was with Jesus a few years ago when I went through some really difficult times in Spain.

Another mystical experience could be that you’re saved by an angel, or an angel shows itself to you, which has happened to me too when I was 15 years old.

You never forget these mystical experiences, but they don’t necessarily change who you are (they are not transformative when it comes to your own self) but they will definitely be with you for the rest of your life.

Spiritual Experience:

A spiritual experience can for example be a third eye explosion-kind-of thing where you feel for an intense (often short but very intense) period of time as ‘having come home’.

I had one of these maybe 8-10 years ago when I was on a sound healing course with Chris James.

I went in for the classes full throttle and whole heartedly and sang my heart out, and in the midst of doing that I had a profound, intense, (almost orgasmic) experience of my third eye exploding and my mind expanded in all directions, I even heard the ‘pop’ (or, “explosion” might be a better describing word) of something cracking open, and I felt that I had come home.

I even get goose bumps now that I think back on that experience. I cried and cried, feeling home for the first time in my life. It was such a wonderful experience. Absolutely wonderful.

The thing with spiritual experiences like this are that they always feel really really good.

They are like “oh, ah, how magnificant! Oh, this is what life must really be, I’m home at last!” -kind of experiences.

They feel very special (blissful) and they are opening us up, but they are not about realizing oneness and our true nature as in self-realization. A spiritual experience is a part of the awakening yes, but it’s not The Awakening.

This is where I have noticed that many get stuck (without knowing it), thinking they have had a spiritual awakening.

It’s not.

A spiritual awakening is not the same as having a spiritual experience.

A true spiritual awakening usually involves some serious Dark Nights of the Soul because it means that what you have thought you once were, you realized you’re not at all, and where to go from there is not up to you.

It’s about whole-hearted Spiritual Surrender, and that means just that; all has to be surrendered and oftentimes it’s not a voluntary thing but something that Existence itself brings upon us. 

Spiritual Awakening:

Spiritual Awakening is the REALIZATION of Oneness.

You may have known about Oneness as I did, on a conceptual level, and thought it was a nice thing to know and talk about, but you really don’t have a clue before you have experienced it for yourself; and when you do; you will never (ever!) be the same again, it will absolutely change every concept you had previously held about Oneness.

  • I have had many, many mystical experiences throughout my life, more than I can count.
  • I have had a few spiritual experiences, not as many as the mystical ones,
  • and I have had two spiritual awakenings. I might have a third one too that I have just realized lately that it might have been one, but at the time I didn’t know what to make of it. (This was about 15 years ago)

One of them happened maybe 5-8 years ago where I saw myself being one with everything, there was no end nor beginning to me and I was in awe of it. I was experiencing myself as everything; everything floated and was one with everything. I can’t describe it with anymore clarity than that. There are no words to describe the awesomeness of it.

I suddenly realized that there was no “I”, that “I” was One with the nature, flowers, the wall, door, everything.

And all colors were very clear and alive, floating and flowing, no ending, no beginning.

This lasted for maybe a few minutes. Time ceased to be, it may have been going on for half an hour for all I know; it didn’t have a meaning to itself as everything just ‘was’ in everything and time dissapeared.

This changed my whole perspective of who I thought I was, I had realized that there is no ‘me’.

The absolute biggest spiritual awakening I have had to this date was the one I had in spring 2011, that was when everything completely changed for me.

Here’s a post I wrote about that back then that describes parts of what happened; both the good and the ugly: 

What basically happens is that the seeking dissolves (the planning and plotting, wanting life to be any different or better than it is), there’s no more seeking going on anymore.

When you have realized truth, what is there left to seek or know? What is there to change or ‘create’ when we realize that we are not running the show after all and at all?

This realization came to me after a very difficult time when I was brought to my knees and declared defeat, (more about that in the post) and by “defeat” I mean Defeat with a capital D.

It’s beyond merely giving up, it’s a profound and sincere Surrendering, which I didn’t know at the time I made the choice, but afterwards when the liberation came.

It doesn’t have to happen this way, but after having read and listened to many of the non-duality teachers the last month or so, I see this as a very common thing in the process.

The most important thing to know about spiritual awakening, I think, is that it is not the arrival to Enlightenment!!!

It’s NOT the end of a process, it’s the beginning! Of Awakening that is. Enlightenment is something different again.

When you come to the realization of who you really are, all else will have to be relinguished; that means all your previously held beliefs and concepts that are not of your true nature (and I do mean ALL of them; has to go!), and all your previously held spiritual practices and interests will loose their importance and interest, you will basically dissolve into nothingness.

You will enter a spiritual desert where there is only emptiness.

And then, form that point on, the living of that truth you realized, can begin being lived.

It may take years, or not, but often times it’s not a one-time occasion at all.

After the initial awakening the rest of your ego construction will begin to crumble big time, and I didn’t know this at the time last year when I had the realization of truth, but I remember begging and pleading God to just take whatever is not of him because I couldn’t take it anymore; it was very painful. Very much so. It was pure Hell.

It’s anything but comfortable and wonderful as spiritual or mystical experiences can be. They are very different.

The rest of your opinions, concepts, beliefs and thought system’s are going through a process of dissolving and it’s not even a process of re-buidning or re-creating yourself of “manifesting a new life” or any of that.

It’s about realizing and remembering who you really are. And That Which You Are is not something that is evolving or becoming; it’s unchanged and complete in itself. Always and forever.

A true spiritual awakening is usually not permanent, but absolutely life altering.

This is when the journey really begin, and it may (or may not) take a few spiritual awakenings to truth before it becomes a permanent way of beingness in this world.

But very few come to actually LIVE the realization 24/7 the first time of realization and liberation from the illusions of Life and who we really are.

That’s what awakening is about; it’s not about the nice and blissful moments of openings to Reality that only lasts for a moment or two. 

The process of spiritual awakening includes going through Fire and Hell and not very pleasant at all at times.

I’m not awakened fully yet myself (and maybe I won’t be in this life time; it’s not up to me), and I’m so grateful to myself that I have never stopped asking or inquiring myself or God for True Wisdom, or taking on a role as anything before I can do it with a sense of integrity and being truly real.

So to get to my main point:

Please don’t think you have arrived to a permanent spiritual awakening when all you had was a spiritual experience. (Not that they are any less significant, they all have their own place on our path)

Don’t even think you have arrived because you had a Spiritual Awakening!

That awakening is probably not going to be a permanent being-ness for you the first time around, as our conditioning is still pretty heavily intact and the awakening is merely the beginning of the new you, which you have no clue of what or who it is and it’s not for you to create in any way.

The journey is about fully surrendering to the Truth you realized and let It has its way with you.

If you somehow think you’re done, or that you have arrived, I can assure you that you haven’t even began your true awakening.

Your ego has taken on the role as being awakened, and that is all.

Don’t get stuck there, be aware of any smugness or arrogant thoughts about being special in any way (which are the characteristics of the ego) and first and foremost;

Please be true and honest about your experiences with yourself.

Do not fool yourself, but take a closer look at what really happened.

It could be that the only thing that has awakened is your ego who want’s you to think you’re spiritually evolved and ‘done’.

Be aware of the fact that the ego doesn’t like growth so if you’re left in a stagnant place of ‘arrival’ of some sort; then you can be sure that that’s your egos’ handy work.

If you feel some resentment or annoyance with what you read right now; then that’s your offended ego talking.

No, I don’t know you or your story, but be Real, that’s all I’m asking. Not with me, but with yourself.

The last thing this world needs is a bunch of spiritually evolved and awakened egos running around in their specialness!

Be real with yourself; was what you experienced a mystical experience, a spiritual experience or was it indeed a true spiritual awakening?

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Thank you for all of the wonderful light, and love that you send out into the world. You are indeed an inspiration even though we are half way across the world – isn’t that wonderful! It is a privilege that is not taken lightly. Thank you Maria! 

Ruby Coleman Professional Musician and Actress, Memphis, Tennessee, USA


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  3. Brenda Bentley

    Hi Maria,

    I have found that sabotage my growth – it’s becoming a regular pattern, especially when I am feeling really good. I also find that when I am alone and there’s nothing to do, I want to fill it in with something – anything – to avoid this nothing. I meditate regularly, although I notice I feel more disconnected when I am not. Sometimes, I don’t mediate, and zombie-out staring at the TV.

    I feel quite lonely and disconnected, although I realize this is an illusion. I have had a pretty isolated experience of life – it’s something that I have struggled with – I find myself alone a lot. I live far away from family and friends in another country. I don’t really have too many friends. My son needs me less (empty nester!). My husband is away at times. I work for myself, so work from home. I realize the solution to this isn’t about meeting new people, socializing etc. It’s about being okay with the nothing.

    I have been reading up today and going to use your 8 powerful questions and self inquiry / writing… Also, I realize by trying to ‘do things’ I am again avoiding the nothing… Arrrghhh… It’s so maddening.

    I really want to be okay with nothing. So I am not dependent on ‘things’ and ‘people’ to feel okay. I get really down about it at times. I’m really hard on myself about it.

  4. Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I want to start out by sharing something from my own life with you that has been such a difficult thing to come to realize, but now that I know I can only feel deep gratitude because of it, and I even feel blessed and I can’t even find words to describe how privileged I feel.

    I too have felt isolated from the world, not that those were your words, it may not even resonate with you, but I have felt sooo pulled away from the world, I have felt imprisoned to be in a place in the middle of nowhere for years without being able to move away – back to the civilization again so to speak.

    And even though I actually like being alone, I have felt very isolated, isolated from being able to do “normal” things like going to the movies and so on, because I literally live in the middle of nowhere at the moment.

    But now I have come to realize what a blessing it has been.

    I always knew I was put here by divine appointment, we all are. There’s a reason why we are where we are, and the more conscious I got, the more awakening got embodied so to speak, the more I realized that not everybody is as blessed as I am to have been able to be totally away from any kind of distractions of life “out there” and other people etc.

    Look at Buddha for example; same story there; he left his family and life as he knew it in his search for truth, Jesus were in the desert for 40 days, Eckhart Tolle was more or less sitting on park-benches for 3 years after his awakening before he was put back in the world so to speak.

    All these experiences are very ‘normal’, and believe me; I have resented my situation in the past, I have even hated it, but those rantings were all a part of my own process, and I feel that may be the case for you as well. Only you know of course.

    You’re meant to have this process to learn how to be okay with the ‘nothing’ as you yourself put it, that is a very accurate description I think. I can definitely relate to that.

    I want to leave you with this:

    Just let yourself be with what is as it is.

    If you feel mad and angry, feel that, even exaggerate the emotions!

    There has been times in my life when I have been very angry at my situation and the moment I have allowed myself to be really pissed off about it, I have been released from the emotions, and sometimes even bursted out in laughter of the silliness of it afterwards! 🙂

    It is what is is, there’s no use whatsoever to fight against or resent anything, because it’s just not a cliche’; everything really is FOR us and not against us.

    Here’s a few posts that came to mind that you might like and/or find helpful:

    See if you can get some aha’s from this as it may give you some clarity to where you’re at in your own unfolding: (the process is very much the same regardless of what concept that brings clarity to it)

    I would love to hear from you at any time you feel like sharing again.

    All the best,

  5. Brenda Bentley

    Thank you Maria. Reading this, I’ve burst into tears.

  6. Hello again Brenda! You have come to my mind lately and so I wanted to ask you how you’re doing and if the 8 questions and inquiry you did was helpful to you?

  7. Brenda Bentley

    Hello Maria. Thank you – how wonderful to know you’ve thought of me. I have been using the inquiry – I admit, I haven’t had any answers to this. But I have let go a bit more. I think I was stuck in a dichotomy of thinking patterns. I seem to go through a deep confusion / low feeling then come out clear and calm. This has been happening A LOT over the last couple of years.

    I don’t confess to be enlightened, but I am aware. My only goal has been to shed the past and be more present, to heal from some past hurts and move forward to a happier and healthier place.

    I love to read your ideas and about your experiences. It really resonates with my own and is comforting in times of uncertainty. I am grateful for that.

    Brenda x

  8. Great to hear back from you Brenda,

    I don’t feel there’s anything to comment or say to what you just shared – I just followed my intuitive feeling that nudged me to write you a ‘hello’ 🙂

    It’s always nice to hear back and feel very free to continue sharing bits from your own process and journey. I love hearing about them 🙂

    All the best,

    PS: Glad to hear you like what I share and that it resonates with you.

  9. Brenda Bentley

    Hi Maria,

    In mediation today, I saw colour (dark pink / magenta) and was overcome with a feeling of love. Tears swelled. I was not crying, I did not provoke these tears. I thought of what you said before.

    I sat and this passed. Not sure what this means.

  10. Hi Brenda,

    Nice to hear from you again:-)

    Yes, there are many different experiences one can have.

    I can’t tell what specifically you have experienced of course, but the color-thing I recognize from past experiences with healing especially.

    I often saw colors myself, and so did my clients during sessions.

    They also had emotional outbursts, like tears of joy, overwhelming feelings of love, sadness, even anger at times.

    If I’m looking at it from this standpoint what you may have experienced is some kind of energy-release, a blockages that was released.

    If so, you may want to be extra aware now the following days ahead and if there are any mood-swings, know that they are normal and should not be avoided.

    Being in a relaxed atmosphere etc helps the energy to adjust itself and come in harmony. (And nature of course, grounding, walking barefoot etc).

    Old stuff can come up, and they come up for a reason, to be dealt with and released.

    But as I said; I cannot say that this has anything to do with your experience at all today with the meditation.

    I’m only sharing what it might be from what you told me.

    If it’s not resonating with you, then maybe it was an opening of some sort as those experiences come and go when on the spiritual path, and they are very delightful when they happen:-)

    Just be attentive the next 2-3 days and see how you’re mood is etc (if it was a healing experience).

    And do feel free to write me back and share, I would love to hear back from you 🙂

  11. I want to add that to me personally those experiences of openings (or, glimpses) are like sudden gifts from Life (God/Truth) and I feel gratitude for them, whenever they appear.

    They don’t necessarily have to mean anything specific, they are (to me) as I said, treats from God 🙂

    Glimpses of our true nature – as fast as there’s an opening, we can close again, and it oftentimes happen when and if we try to hold on to the experience.

    (Here’s a post that you might like:

    But even if it feels like we had it and then lost it, it’s not true – it’s just how the ego interpret it.

    On a deeper level something happened, and even if we may not ‘feel’ it as strongly as we did in the experience, it’s still ‘alive’ on a deeper level of being.

    I’m not implying that this has anything to with what you shared, or with how you are or anything, I just wanted to mention it 🙂

  12. Brenda Bentley

    Thanks Maria, that’s wonderful explanation. I really appreciate the response, helps me to ‘let go / let go’ and not feel like I’m going crazy!!! 😉

  13. 😀 I know the feeling! Not regarding the experiences per se but the spiritual path generally; it’s not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure:-) Let me know how everything develops? Have a great weekend Brenda!

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