From an early age, I had an interest in the existential.
Who am I?
Why am I who I am?
What is the purpose of life?
Even though I had a good upbringing, I tended toward anxiety, fear, and hopelessness. And this is what eventually led to seeking the end of suffering, or at least a way to reduce the anguish within.
This article is an overview of my journey through suffering into spiritual awakening. I am by no means free from suffering, but I can say that a large chunk of it is gone.
I write this in hopes that someone may benefit. My aim is to be as transparent as possible so you can decide what is relevant for you, and what is not.
Also note that while I have done my best to remember the exact dates, they may not be entirely accurate.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means I get a small share of any purchase you make with no added cost to you. Thank you in advance!
2002-2004 – The Catalyst
This journey started with an episode of the TV series Ed (2000-2004) with Tom Cavanagh. The episode was about lucid dreaming. Something in me was immediately interested.
This opened the esoteric door, so to speak. After having limited success with lucid dreaming, I stumbled onto out of body experiences, which I also never succeeded at, but it all led to meditation.
During this time I was in high school, which was stressful, and I struggled with health problems, which were eventually resolved by working with an EFT (tapping) practitioner and eating healthier.
I realized that I could discover solutions to my problems. I didn’t have to wait for someone else.
This was the beginning of starting to follow my heart.
2005-2006 – The Power of Now
During this time period I lived in Spain for a bit, and traveled to Thailand with friends. It was in Thailand that I kept seeing a blue book in bookstores.
The book was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I bought it, and while my friends were out partying, I sat in the hotel room reading. My whole body resonated with every word.
This is also the time I began using binaural beats meditation CDs. I stumbled onto something called Holosync by Centerpointe. I ended up buying their whole program and using it for around 12 years.
I have no opinion on whether or not you should use it, as I don’t know how much it affected me. What it did get me to do is meditate at least one hour per day for those 12 years.
From what I can tell, the clinical research on binaural beats is inconclusive. If I had to say something, would I recommend them? Not really, because meditation can achieve the same results.
2007-2008 – Exploration
This is where I began exploring everything from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) to basic self-help.
I bought mountains of self-help books. I tried manifestation, visualization, goal-setting, questioning beliefs, and so on.
I also traveled to South America, where I tried ayahuasca with a local shaman. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Ayahuasca is another thing I can’t conclusively say if it did anything or not.
During this time I also felt called to start sharing my journey, but I was afraid of putting myself out there.
I kept meditating daily with meditation CDs. I wasn’t strict with it. Sometimes I would do it in bed and fall asleep.
2009-2010 – Wake Up Cloud
In late 2009 I woke up from a dream. In this dream I heard a voice that said “Start now.”
For some reason, this felt significant, and it prompted me to start Wake Up Cloud, even though I was unsure, afraid, and anxious.
I still remember that dream today, so there’s something about it that was different from other dreams. What this special sauce was, I don’t know, and I don’t feel the need to know.
As I began to share what I knew via writing, I began building an audience. Sharing what I knew helped deepen my understanding of following my heart, which would prove significant down the line.
2011-2012 – Who is Thinking?
This is the first time I came across self-inquiry and non-duality. I started watching videos from teachers such as Gangaji. I didn’t understand all of what was said, but I felt something.
I remember walking outside when thoughts would pop up, and an inquiry thought would respond with “Who is this one? Who is thinking?”
This wasn’t a serious practice. I was curious though. This topic held my interest for a few months, and then I returned to my old ways. What I didn’t know was that a seed had been planted.
In late 2011 was also when our first child was born.
2013 – The Dark Night of the Soul
I published my first book, Find Your Passion.
After summer, we moved to a house. That’s when everything began breaking down.
I entered the dark night of the soul. I didn’t know what it was at the time. All I knew was that everything suddenly felt meaningless and hopeless.
Nothing made sense.
I felt like I was surrounded by death. It felt like the house could fall apart at any moment. All concepts had died. Meaning had disappeared.
During the next year or so, I wrote more books. How was this possible? I wasn’t in constant anguish. I came up for air, and felt good at times.
2014 – Challenging Beliefs
The dark night of the soul intensified.
I started questioning the purpose of life. What is life for if there is this much anguish?
Going through this pain helped me become more compassionate, because I understood why people use drugs, alcohol, sex, and food to avoid the present moment.
There was something that kept nudging me to stay with whatever was coming up. I was still distracting. I wanted it to stop, but occasionally I would feel it all. And when I did, there was peace.
I also dealt with a lot of limiting and negative beliefs. This was when I was the most depressed. I remember doing a depression test online and discovering that I was at least moderately depressed.
This is when I bought and went through two books from David D. Burns:
I got a lot out of both books. They focus on challenging beliefs and thinking patterns, which seems especially useful for anxiety and depression.
2015-2017 – Surviving and Changing
I was still struggling.
I tried to distract from the painful emotions through movies, food, exercise, reading, or anything I could find. This eventually led to exhaustion and surrender. The fear was relentless. I was afraid of:
- Being homeless
- Losing security (money)
- Losing approval and love
Eventually I had a shift that was expressed in thoughts as “If I lose everything, then I lose everything. If I end up homeless, then so be it, but I’ll face this fully.”
This was not a resignation, but a relinquishing of giving authority to thought. When fear said “Everything will collapse,” the response was “So be it.”
I also began eating better. I developed a taste for daily green smoothies. I noticed that heavier foods didn’t sit well with my body. Even with all this, I was hoping for a return to a time before the dark night of the soul.
I was still running.
(If you want to read more about this time, read this article.)
Oh, and Letting Go by Dr. David R. Hawkins was also excellent.
2018-2019 – Kundalini
I found the book Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram. It was free at the time, and I believe it still is.
MCTB, as it is called, got me interested in vipassana. I practiced it intensely for a few months, which led to an energy surge up my spine and a buzzing in my head. I didn’t know what this was at the time, but I have since learned that it’s likely kundalini.
I didn’t have any blowout kundalini experiences. Instead, it’s been a gradual grinding, which is still ongoing today. It seems to work on different parts of my body. There were times when I easily got headaches if I focused too much. My brain felt like it was overheating.
When that passed, I had aches in my back. After that, I felt a pressure behind my eyes for almost two years. As I write this, the energy is in my solar plexus and navel area, and familiar emotions from childhood are coming up, such as fear, helplessness, anxiety, shame, and worthlessness.
After MCTB, I explored The Mind Illuminated by the late Culadasa (John Yates PhD), which helped improve concentration.
If you’re reading this and wondering “Henri sure was jumping around a lot,” you would be correct.
My process has always been like this. I follow what is interesting. This may not work for everyone, because jumping around can be a way to avoid uncomfortable material.
I usually notice when something is off, so that keeps me on the right path. Although I’m not perfect. I sometimes get lost and make mistakes, but I don’t see that as a problem as long as I’m willing to be honest with myself.
2020-2022 – Silence
I spent 2020 reading the rest of David R. Hawkins’ books in his Power vs. Force book series. I enjoyed all of them.
Ever since 2016, maybe even earlier, I had lost almost all of the urge to write. I was republishing and updating articles here on Wake Up Cloud and sending those to my subscribers.
I didn’t know if my urge to write would return, which was somewhat alarming since writing is what I do, but I eventually surrendered.
I was open to whatever life would bring.
The income from my business had all but disappeared. The only income stream I had left were royalties from my books. My partner worked full-time, and I had savings, so we were doing okay. Losing most of my income helped bring up more fears on losing money and security.
Throughout the years, learning to follow my heart turned into a sense that life was living me, which began to nibble away at my sense of self, the sense that I was in control.
I went back and looked at emails from this time period and there wasn’t much going on. I was mostly reading books, spending time alone, and playing with my kids when I had the energy.
2023 – Awakening
Remnants of the dark night of the soul were still appearing. Eventually there was a relentless focus on one question.
After all these years and all the anguish, I began to wonder: “Who is suffering?”
I began to fully feel everything that came up without running away. I looked for the supposed self that was experiencing all this anguish.
I stumbled onto videos on how to separate experience into the physical senses and thought. In other words, I began clearly seeing what experience is made of, which is:
When two or more of the above components are entangled, a sense of self can arise. When questioned, nothing is found.
Yet just looking once is rarely enough. There has to be an experiential shift.
One day, I remember standing in the kitchen and looking. I could find nothing except the dance of the senses with the occasional thought. That’s when something shifted. Suddenly I realized “Oh, there’s just this.”
The world changed.
I began searching for information on what had just happened. I stumbled onto a few communities that confirmed that this was what is called awakening, or stream entry (Buddhism), or kenshō (Zen).
I mention all these terms in case you want to do your own research.
2023 and Beyond – Unraveling Contd.
After the shift, I was more able to understand writings and talks on awakening. I could see and feel what was pointed to.
Later in 2023, I began guiding others on this path, which helped me go deeper. When you read the Buddha on this topic, it is clear that stream entry, or initial awakening is just the beginning.
Shadow work usually follows awakening. The separate self seems to act as a defense mechanism. There’s is constant resistance to the present moment.
There’s a feeling that this isn’t it, there’s something better beyond the horizon.
Once there is a shift, and it is obvious that there was never a separate self, suppressed material can start coming up. This is what I’ve been working with and which has led to more peace, equanimity, and joy.
As you’ve read my story, notice your mind starting to create objects and goals to strive toward.
Or saying that you could never do this.
This is to be expected, but be aware of it. Your path will probably not look anything like mine. What is important is to follow your intuition.
All of the concepts above such as stream entry, awakening are not so important. They are helpful signposts, but ultimately what this comes down to is working with whatever is arising for you in this moment.
The mind can easily escape the present moment by striving for a goal, or by going into a story of how you are a failure.
If you made it this far, thank you.
I hope you found this useful.
I left out many details as this is meant to be an overview. If you want to stay up to date with future articles, I invite you to sign up to my newsletter below.
And if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email.
I mean it, hearing your questions and struggles will help me learn what articles to write next.
All the best,
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