Some people believe that spiritual awakening is rare and extraordinary, only accessible to monks and mystics or people who’ve spent decades following spiritual paths and practices. But in my research, I’ve found that it is more common than generally believed, and that it sometimes occurs spontaneously, outside the context of traditional spirituality.

That was certainly my experience. I started to have awakening experiences as a teenager, usually when I was walking alone in the park or on my school fields. The open space of the fields and the open space of the sky and the quietness around me filled me with a sense of calmness and wholeness. The clouds looked so real and alive that they seemed to be sentient and the black spaces between them amazed me with their deep richness. All things seem to be interconnected, as if they manifestations of a deeper energy or force.

I felt exhilarated by these states of well-being but wondered if there was something wrong me. A few years later, I discovered books on mysticism and spirituality, and found that my experiences weren’t uncommon. I realized that I wasn’t crazy after all – or at least if I was, there were lots of other crazy people around too.

In my books The Leap and Extraordinary Awakenings, I discussed case histories of dozens of people who have experienced awakening outside the context of traditions. My new book The Adventure is a follow up to those books, a practical and experiential book based on my research. It also stems from my own experience of awakening and my studies of the world’s spiritual traditions.

In my research, and in my own experiences, I’ve identified eight essential qualities of wakefulness that feature most prominently in awakened people’s experience of the world. The eight qualities are: disidentification from the ego, gratitude, presence, altruism, acceptance, detachment, integration with the body, and embracing our mortality.

The basic idea of the book is that by cultivating these qualities, we can cultivate wakefulness itself. To that end, I offer specific practices for catalyzing spiritual transformation, along with guided meditations, contemplative exercises, lyric poems, and inspirational stories. I’ve developed the meditations and exercises over many years, while leading workshops based on my earlier books, and I’ve seen a lot of evidence of their effectiveness.

So I’d like to offer The Adventure as a guidebook to spiritual awakening, which may enable you to connect to the essence of your being and uncover the innate spiritual potential within you. In doing so, you will discover that a state that you perhaps once considered extraordinary and unattainable is within reach.

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