Spiritual slumber is this: ego/self-acceptance and Spirit/Self-denial. They are one and the same. You cannot practice only one without simultaneously practicing the other.
The process of awakening is simply the opposite: ego/self-denial and Spirit/Self-acceptance.
Spiritual awakening is just like waking up from a dream; you give up what you perceive as real, to accept what, at first, you perceive as illusion, but then you know to be real.
Imagine you are dreaming in your bed, you perceive yourself in your dream as yourself. But is that really you? No. The real you is sleeping in the bed. The you that you perceive in the dream is simply a shadow, a trick, an illusion of the real you.
Now it is morning and you awake and get out of bed. But this “real” you (your egoic you), is that the real you? No. It is a shadow, a trick, an illusion of the real you that is sleeping in Spirit. So when you dream at night you are actually in a dream within a dream.
Another way to think about it is to imagine a hand (Spirit), giving “life” to a puppet (ego), which in turn is giving “life” to a smaller puppet (yourself in a dream). A puppet, on a puppet, on a hand, which lends life to the other two, but only the hand is truly alive, the rest is only illusion.
Spiritually, when awakening, what you are doing is giving up the dream of ego for the reality of Spirit. The process begins with a decision, but then happens quite naturally after that, but can be quite painful if you are not in full cooperation with the process.
When waking from a dream at night it helps to bring awareness to your bodily senses, like feeling your sheets on your skin, or hearing a hum in the room, or giving attention to the light peeking through your eyelids, or realizing that you have to pee.
So when Spiritually awakening, it helps to bring awareness to your Spiritual senses. This can be done in many ways, but the three most common are meditation, entheogens, and Grace. The first two are efforts you can make, the third (the safest, easiest, and most effective) is a free gift infinitely available to anyone who asks for it. This is an important part of awakening since it teaches you what you will identify yourself to be when the illusion of ego dies. But these three things are not the awakening process.
The awakening process is, as mentioned above, ego/self-denial, and Spirit/Self-acceptance. Killing your ego hurts if you still want to be it, or you don’t fully understand how you are stuck in ego. It is important to know that you do not truly understand how deep the roots of ego have penetrated into your psyche. What you know to be real, you discover is illusion, and so letting it go become possible, and even easy. Question EVERYTHING! But isn’t it true that you will never give up something in your life that you think is basic and essential to survival? It is the holding on to these beliefs that produces the painful friction of awakening.
Just as a heroine addict in his depression screams at his father during detox, “What the hell are you doing Dad? Just give me what I need! Do you even care? How is this love? Are you even good? Can you not see my pain? Take this pain away if you truly care about me! If you don’t then I’m giving up on you!”
But this pain IS the father’s love, since on the other side of this pain lies true life! Wholeness! Health! Power! Joy!
Simply put, if awakening is hurting, that is a sign that your ego is starting to fight for its survival. For example, ego takes for granted that it should be happy. Being happy is essential to life, isn’t it? So when deep depression settles in the awakening person the ego screams at God, “What the hell are you doing? Just give me what I need! Do you even care? How is this love? Are you even good? Can you not see my pain? Take this pain away if you truly care about me! If you don’t then I’m giving up on you!”
But this pain IS God’s love, since on the other side of this pain lies true life! Wholeness! Health! Power! Joy!
The sooner you can accept and experience this pain as love, the sooner it will all be over!
The more you are aware of the pain itself, it can be used as a map to find the falsehoods to which your ego clings. Once you find it and see its untruth, it no longer has power over you. Then you are free to let it go. Do this often enough and eventually you will be completely free of ego. That is when the shift of identity goes from ego to Spirit. Some describe it as a falling. Father Richard Rohr calls it “Falling Upward”. This is the end of awakening, the goal, the summit.
In summary, regarding the awakening process, only pain is progress. Walk through the pain in faith, hope, and love for all. It will crucify your ego, and then you are finally free to resurrect into your true Self–Spirit.
This is our human destiny. It will happen to us all, but it only happens with your permission, which you will only grant when you have felt deeply how superficial, shallow, and temporary the goods of this world are. It may happen in this lifetime, and if you are reading this far my guess is that it will, or it could happen 10,000 lifetimes from now. As always, it is completely up to you.