Taking Your Soul by the Hand

The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are. Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.
~Albert Schweitzer

The human condition would not be what it is without our soul. It drives our inherent need to live and both pushes and pulls us forward even when we want to stop the fight. Throughout our lives we experience many “aha” moments, some of which are rude awakenings—times when we’d rather not have become aware of something that was right before us that we didn’t want to see. 

However, is there a difference between our soul’s awakening and a rebirth? The answer is yes, but the two are related experiences in our soul’s evolution.

An awakening is the act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something, whereas a rebirth happens rather slowly as consciousness builds. You can experience an awakening that leads to a rebirth, but you can also experience awakenings that simply provide a form of awareness that stimulates further insight.

A rebirth is an almost energetic experience in that you know something is changing deeply and profoundly within you, building intensity and anticipation but you don’t necessarily know for some time what the experience is about. Much like the birth of a child, what or who is “born” from the experience is yet to be revealed until the event finally occurs.

My first notable awakening occurred the night my father died when I was just twenty-one years old. He was taken to the hospital two days after my birthday and immediately placed on a ventilator due to low oxygen levels related to what we later found was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which formed from decades of smoking. While in the hospital, it was also determined that he was in both kidney and heart failure. We found out on Christmas day that he would not make it and once a priest did a final blessing, he quickly fell into a coma. The nurses urged us to leave later that evening to get some sleep since it could take some time for his body to fully shut down.

While none of us could really relax, we did try to get some sleep knowing it could be a long few days. After a while I did finally fall asleep and as I slept I had a dream that my father and I sat in a conference room at a long table. I was at the end of the table and he was in a chair on my right side. We casually chatted about something I don’t remember. Suddenly, all of the lights went out and I began calling out to him in complete darkness. I awoke by becoming aware that I was sitting on the edge of my bed staring into my pitch black room. The phone rang just as I realized I was awake and remembered the dream. I answered and the ICU nurse said we needed to return to the hospital because my father was letting go very quickly. We arrived around 1:00 a.m. and he died at approximately 1:15. I am convinced that he held on long enough to not die on Christmas since that was his favorite holiday.

At the time, I didn’t realize this was a spiritual awakening for me. I simply thought it was an unusual coincidence. However, I soon began experiencing many other events that led to new awareness, all of which have all added up to my understanding of the soul and its evolution today. The dream with my father awakened me to the idea that my connection with him was strong enough to know when he was letting go. My soul woke me through the dream. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was also an awakening to my future understanding of not only the voice within but also to my soul’s path of teaching others to use their inner wisdom.

My first rebirth occurred when I was in graduate school. I had undergone much stress both with the completion of the Ph.D. program but also with the decision to leave an unhealthy marriage. So much had changed in my life in a short time during my third year in the program that I wasn’t sure I would make it through. Every cell in my body hurt and my emotions were so high that I can’t believe I didn’t implode. I felt like I was being squeezed through a very small hole. 

I had already begun my spiritual evolution, having participated in a spirituality discussion/research group as well as having read much about various forms of energy work and spiritual beliefs. But I didn’t connect my human experience with what I had been learning from the soul’s perspective. I remember driving to a final meeting at the school noting how much my body, mind and inner self hurt, all the while hearing “just one more push—you can do it!” in the back of my head. I had no idea where that message came from but I laughed out loud to myself that I felt much like I was going through labor, acknowledging that it would subside sometime soon. 

Once I moved two states away to start my internship—the last step in my education—I could relax, let go and move on. It was the first time I remember re-evaluating everything in my life—the way I approached relationships with partners, friends and family, the manner in which I treated myself, how I saw the world, where I wanted to live and also how I wanted to live it. I also voraciously read book after book about spirituality, energy and the soul. I became very active in spiritual classes at a nearly progressive church and met several people with whom I experienced wonderful and nourishing discussions and friendships. I attended my first life-changing retreat and all of this set the stage for a new level of awareness and a deeper way of living. According to modern definitions, a rebirth is the process of being reincarnated or born again—or the act of beginning to flourish. Certainly, my life both greatly deepened and expanded as I grew into a new me.

Since my first awakening and rebirth, I’ve experienced many, many more including several related to past lives, discovery of soul group members and increasing awareness about my soul purpose in this lifetime. My recent trip to raft the Grand Canyon was the latest in a series of soulful experiences that have become significant junctures on my soul’s path.

Awakenings can happen in many ways and can be as simple as “chance” experiences with other souls you feel you’ve known forever even though you’ve just recently met. They can also result from huge and impactful happenings that jolt you into awareness—tragic events such as deaths, accidents, natural disasters and significant medical/health concerns. No matter the type or extent of the awakening stimuli, you always come away with a new outlook on life, often very suddenly but always profoundly noted.

Rebirth processes also lead to new awareness, but happen at a much slower pace and usually cause significant discomfort along the way. They often feel just as much physical in nature as they do emotional and there typically seems to be no end in sight. You often feel as if you are being pushed through a sieve—a smaller space than you can imagine passing through. Once on the other side, there is relief but still much to be learned from your process. Both awakenings and rebirths are divinely created as part of our soul’s evolution. 

Luckily, by the time my trip down the Colorado River arrived just six weeks ago, I had already processed much of the discomfort and fear that arose as the trip approached. Once there, I could let go—my final push was complete. I joked while on the river that I was getting christened on a daily basis as we passed through the rapids and the waters drenched me over and over again.

Like a newborn, I’m now sleeping a lot—more deeply and soundly than I have in quite some time. I also see the world with fresh eyes and anxiously await every new experience. I look with wonder and appreciation rather than discomfort and angst. Because I’m on a spiritual path, I am well aware that I will experience many more awakenings and rebirths before my time here is complete.

In retrospect, I’m certain many of you who are reading this will identify times in your life—important junctures of your own—when either awakenings or rebirths led you down your own soul’s path. Whether becoming suddenly aware of something new or pushing through a major milestone in life, each experience of the human condition seasons us and helps us become who we truly are. 

We outgrow ourselves every day. Each time, we start anew and must take our soul by the hand so it can lead us on our way. It is wise and has an amazingly good sense of direction (and humor!) once you learn to trust and allow it to guide you on your path.

Living through the soul entails allowing the awakenings to awaken us and our rebirths to renew. Without these experiences we would remain the same. And without these, our human condition would not be nearly as rewarding and enriched. If we embraced these necessary junctures in our lives we would resist far less and expand our consciousness far more.

Is it time?



Note: One of my favorite recent songs is “Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons. Although many attribute this song to giving yourself to a love interest, it is also about awakening to your own inner self and soul. Enjoy!


Want To Learn More?! Watch Dr. Katherine T. Kelly, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. On YouTube