The Centre for Healing Blog


From Awakening into Unity

awakening connection consciousness embodied processing embodiement identity shift spiritual spirituality unconscious unity Jul 05, 2022
Awakening into Unity

Over the last few weeks I discussed the development of having a separate identity and also in the article “What is Awakening?” I spoke about the shift of identity that can occur in an individual from experiencing themselves as a personality over to recognising themselves as a much more expansive state of presence. 

This shift of identity is experienced as one transitioning from a personal and individuated state of consciousness to a more impersonal state of empty, aware presence.

This seems to have always been quite a rare occurrence and in the past was believed to be only for a select few who lived in ashrams, caves in the Himalayas or those who lived a life of solitude where they were devoted to practice on a constant moment to moment basis, from some observation this shift is starting to be more common in everyday individuals and happening quite spontaneously without the years of practice.

Many books have been written on this very real and dramatic shift in consciousness, including quite mainstream books by Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Rupert Spira, Osho, A.H Almaas and other books have been transcribed from the words of more traditional teachers such as Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Rama Krishna, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and more. 

Though there have been many teachings, practices and pointings to help bring about this initial recognition, very little has been said about what happens afterwards, aside from a few teachers such as A.H Alamaas, Adyashanti, Maharishi, Bernadette Roberts and Sri Aurobindo, who do at times in their teaching emphasise the process that ensues realisation.

This has given the impression that when we realise our true Self our spiritual process and journey is complete.

This could not be further from the truth and if we do not continue in our inquiry and unfolding then we risk getting stuck in a space of consciousness that transcends our humanity, but has not yet included or embraced it.

The transcendent aspect of awakening has an appeal to it, as our primary motivation when entering spirituality is to end suffering. The movement of transcendence is a movement of being “free from” suffering: we realise and awaken to a dimension that is beyond the mind and body.

This gives us a sense of being liberated FROM suffering in the sense that we are no longer identified with being the sufferer.

Unfortunately, many who reach this space stay there, hanging out in a kind of void-like emptiness. If throughout our lives we have experienced trauma, abuse, disconnect and deep suffering then it is very possible we remain in this space as a kind of spiritual dissociation, where we as awareness remain separate from our experience and continue to dismiss our human development.

This can end up being in the most literal sense a spiritual bypass. If we get stuck here our realisation can essentially take us out of life and we can become uninvolved, uninterested, aloof, disconnected, disembodied, and ultimately, dissociated into a transcendent dimension. In many traditions this transcendent realisation is as far as they go and the intention is to stay there.




Though this first realisation is a very deep, profound, liberating and essential experience to have, if we are going to spiritually evolve from here we must take the next step which is a movement from transcendence into a more Unified condition.

This involves taking the transcendent dimension and bringing it back down into the physical structure of the body and into the very marrow of experience itself. We no longer remain in a space that is “free from suffering” but we return as Spirit to liberate the suffering itself.

We learn to bring awareness and experience together as One, to bring our presence down into the world and embody it, or, as they say in Zen, we learn to “close the gap." 

During this process our unconscious and body can go through a purging process as the unconscious layers of existential terror, despair, grief, childhood trauma, generational trauma, collective trauma and emotions alike can begin to surface.

The process is one of the release of contractions within the physicality of the body, where the imprints of the separate self are stored as somatic densities within the energetic centres and nervous system. Without the proper guidance or support the process can very easily overwhelm, and in extreme cases, the level of intensity can cause one's mind to tip over into psychosis.

As the saying goes, "the psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight."

If we have developed a capacity to stay present, to hold onto our identity as presence whilst at the same time fully experiencing these energies, it slowly transforms us from the inside out and, over time, (sometimes a long time!) brings about liberation and harmony within our being.

The more trauma we have experienced the more difficult this process can be, as the more dense the contracted energy within the body’s energy centres the more will be needing resolution, at this time it can be very helpful to do trauma work with an experienced teacher or somatic therapist who understands the nervous system as well as this process and has been through it themselves, though they may be hard to find they are most certainly out there. 

As we move deeper and deeper INTO experience we often face deeper and deeper levels of unconscious content.

At this point the orientation is no longer personal liberation from unconscious drivers but rather liberation of the unconscious structures themselves, so that our realisation is free to move without the compulsive reactivity of the personality sabotaging and hijacking the nervous system.

This process of embodying our realisation is one of integration of the personality into Being, of the personal and impersonal dimensions of existence unifying into One happening.

In the first movement of realisation, we wake up out of our personal self into a more impersonal realm, in the second movement of unity we begin to integrate the personal into the impersonal and the impersonal into the personal, until they are so seamless that experience is One Unified Happening, where the human and the divine are no longer separate.

This has in many ancient traditions been called Unity Consciousness, which is not one particular state but a whole process unto itself which keeps on deepening.

The experience here is seamlessness, with all of existence felt to be as much a part of ourselves as our arms and legs.

There is no longer the feeling of being localised within a body but the very essence of life itself permeates all sensations in the body as well as all objects around us. The life we initially woke up ‘from’ is now perceived to be of the same basic essence or nature as our own self.

It is as if we are a wave that has recognised its unity with the entire ocean. Even deeper than that, we have realised our unity with all things, just as the wave recognises the essence of all other waves to be nothing but water.

This is now the experience of Non Duality, Unity and Oneness. 

Even in this state of Unity the body can continue to go through very intense and painful transformations. Deeper structures and energies can continue to come up into consciousness as the body-mind becomes more and more attuned to Presence and the personality goes through ever deepening levels of integration and refinement.

One of my teachers called this part of the process “catch up” which I deeply resonated with, where all parts of us are still arising to be embraced and included which can, even in Unity, still be very difficult and painful for many people, it is essentially the reorganisation of one's whole nervous system.

This process of refinement is, as far as I can tell, infinite and ever deepening. 

This process is essentially one of embodiment, although many teachers deny the process altogether and continue to focus directly on the realisation of awareness and transcendence. This may be due to the idea that, without first having realised our essential Self as awareness, the process has not truly begun, or it may be due to their own unawareness of any further development of the initial recognition.

As the gap closes and we live AS experience rather than as a separate self IN experience, our sense of identity goes through this shift from awareness into unity. Firstly, we realise the feeling of I Am, the feeling of being “No-Thing” as the recognition that we are an empty, aware, timeless presence.


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The next shift of identity is the shift into the felt sense of “I Am Everything”. This awareness recognises itself in everything, and realises itself as everything in an energetic merging with the totality of the moment.

The personal dimension, including all of its suffering and hardships is no longer negated as not myself, but included here as the same substance and essential presence as everything else.

This development is pointed to in the quote by the great Indian sage Nisargadatta Maharaj, “Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life dances.”

This is a far more inclusive, embodied and developed realisation and even more rare than the first, though it is very real and exists as a potential within each and every one of us. 

Beyond this experience of unity there is another state, one where there is the disappearance of all sense of “I” and this is sometimes termed Absence, No Self, Brahman, or prior to consciousness where there is absolute cessation of any sense of identity, in this state the mind ceases its process of self reflection and no longer creates an inner experiencer.

Here there is no longer a sense of “I Am” and our sense of presence has dissolved. I do not feel qualified to speak on this as my experience with it has been much less extensive, though if you are interested there are a few teachers out there who do speak of this stage, a wonderful book on it is “The Experience of No Self” by Bernadette Roberts whom was of the Christian Mystic tradition.

Please note this is just a map and to be held lightly, and the actual terrain can look quite different from person to person, some of us can experience a slow and gradual melting into unity, realising and awakening our essential nature as presence along the way. Others experience a definitive shift and recognition which then triggers the process.

Whichever way it shows up or has shown up for you is perfect and divinely guided.

I am aware that these topics may not resonate or be easily understood by everyone, and I will be back to writing more exclusively about addiction, mental health, trauma etc. soon, but I did want to cover these topics as these shifts of identity have been a very essential and ever deepening part of my own process and I have written them from my own experience.

I have also been asked about this process by a few people who have been sincerely interested and/or are having these kinds of experiences and thought it may be helpful to explore them in detail here for those who are interested.

Just know if reading about this for the first time that these are very real transitions and shifts in consciousness, they are not just words on paper, they are a potential reality for each of us.

Essentially, bringing about an evolution in consciousness is the essence and underlying intention of all the work I do. 


Peace & Blessing,
Matt Kay (Co-Creator of Embodied Processing)


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