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Self-awareness is when we become aware of ourselves (from an ego-based standpoint) and how we interact with the world.

Those who are self-aware move away from their previous psychological ignorance (also commonly referred to as “being asleep”) and into greater self-consciousness.

This gaining of sudden self-awareness can be a painful and humbling period as it tends to illuminate many of our harmful thoughts, habits, choices, and ways of relating to the world. And typically, we don’t like what we see. Thus, we either numb ourselves out of denial or enter the path of self-growth (also known as the spiritual path).


Self-exploration is fuelled by a mixture of curiosity (“Who am I really?”) and dissatisfaction (“I can’t believe I did/said/believed that!”). We want to find out more about personalities and understand our authentic place in life.

Self-exploration often occurs in the middle world (the realm of everyday life) and the purpose of it is to uncover how we think, feel, and behave. To get answers, we seek to gain knowledge and understanding of ourselves through books, workshops, films, courses, therapists, teachers, personality tests, and other psychological and spiritual practices.


Self-discovery occurs when we move from the “what? to the “WHY? While the previous stage (self-exploration) deals with what we like/feel/do/think, self-discovery deals with why we like/feel/do/think everything that emerges inside of us.

In this stage, it’s common to begin various forms of inner work that get to the root of our core selves.


People who have reached this stage have a thorough and multi-layered understanding of the origins and reasons why they think, feel, and behave the way they do. Not only have they explored their conscious ego, but they’ve also explored their unconscious mind to meet their shadow selves and other buried core wounds.

Self-Understanding is a lower world path that goes downwards and inwards, touching and revealing the very nature of our Souls.


When we love ourselves, we’re fuelled by a deep understanding of ourselves. In fact, without the previous stage (self-understanding) it’s almost impossible to practice self-love because we don’t know what or why we do, think, and feel what we do.

Learning how to love ourselves means that we stop punishing ourselves, start nurturing our inner child, and begin experiencing greater self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-forgiveness.


When we experience self-transformation, we enter a death and rebirth process that can feel uncomfortable and destabilizing at first. But ultimately, any change we undergo is liberating. In other words, we become more Soul-centered instead of ego-centered, and we’re more comfortable in our skin.

Thanks to the previous five stages, we’re able to make space for new growth to occur. Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, we feel more expanded, free, and grounded.


Self-mastery is self-explanatory – it means mastering the false self (or ego) – but not with a tyrannical or domineering stance. Instead, mastering the false self is done with love and understanding.

Instead of being slaves to our egos, we live from the heart and Soul, and our egos are in service to the Soul. 

When we experience self-mastery, our inner and outer worlds are balanced (i.e., we are spiritually integrated), and we become the Kings or Queens of our own middle worlds (everyday life) and lower worlds (inner life). We are self-contained, calm, perceptive, wise, compassionate, and lighthearted.


When we walk the path of self-transcendence, we are seeking to move beyond our limited egos and attachment to our Souls, and rest in the deep spiritual Oneness at the center of who we really are.

The desire to self-transcend may come naturally throughout time (as a result of diligently walking the spiritual path), through a sudden mystical experience, profound transpersonal insight, or a deep inner calling to taste ultimate freedom.


Self-Realization occurs when we stop identifying with the limited ego, deepen into a Soul-centered presence, and recognize ourselves as one and the same as the Divine on a visceral level.

Ultimately, to experience Self-Realization is to see through the insubstantiality and impermanence of the ego, the dreamlike nature of thought, and the illusion of attachment to all phenomena, and into the vast, spacious, and eternal presence that exists everywhere.

In this stage, we are free from separation and find our true Home again. What remains is a pure radiance of being, a sacred union with Life, and an ever-deepening blossoming of love, connection, inner peace, and openness to existence.

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