The Honest Truth about Spiritual Awakening and Ascension Symptoms

*Disclaimer: this article is not meant to substitute medical treatment in any way, shape, or form. Nor does it constitute a medical diagnosis or treatment plan. This article is meant for general informational purposes. If you’ve been experiencing a physical symptom that hasn’t gotten any better over time (or has gotten worse), seek medical attention immediately.  

In the spiritual community, there is often mention or discussion of “ascension symptoms.” If you’ve been on the spiritual path for a while, no doubt you’ve heard this term — and perhaps dove deep into Google to figure out if what you’re experiencing is indeed an ascension symptom.

Are ascension symptoms real? Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes… but not *everything* is an ascension symptom, and we have to be careful about how we define this term.

Typically, in spiritual circles, an “ascension symptom” refers to any physical, mental, or emotional symptom that appears as a result of you anchoring more light. What does it mean to “anchor more light”? This is actually quite a scientific process through which your physical body begins to receive and channel more light from Source energy. Light is, after all, a frequency or vibration. You are made up of light. Your cells are made up of light. Your energy field is made up of light. When you receive a Reiki or energy healing treatment, the practitioner is channeling light directly from Source through her/his body and then infusing your energy field with this light.

With repeated and serious inner work and self-development, you become able to receive more and more light as your whole being expands. Your cells actually call out for increased light the more you work on yourself. We could call this a process of “expansion,” because your cells are opening up to incorporate more and more light into your own being and, consequently, into the world surrounding you. (Since you and the external world are really one.)

What happens is that our physical bodies are sometimes not quite ready to receive and incorporate such vast amounts of light. So, it hurts. You get a headache, a stomachache, joint pain, dizziness, or any of the other common ascension symptoms (including but not limited to):

  • pain behind the eyes
  • loss of appetite
  • rashes/hives
  • nausea
  • stomach issues
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • overwhelming emotion
  • crying for “no reason”
  • confusion
  • chills/excess sweating
  • fever

Perhaps one of the problems with the use of this term is that SO many things are categorized as “ascension symptoms.” There is a similar phenomenon at work here as with the term “detox symptoms.” Not *everything* is a detox symptom, and not everything is an ascension symptom.

So, what’s the truth about ascension symptoms? Maybe there isn’t one stable, singular truth (just as there isn’t one singular truth for anything), but here are four points to remember when you’re trying to identify what’s actually happening to you.

1. Yes – they’re real!

Yes, ascension symptoms are real. I’ve experienced them myself, typically as muscle and joint pain and as the feeling of electricity running up and down my meridians (energy channels). These types of symptoms typically arise after some intense self-development or inner work, or following a healing session with an experienced practitioner. Sometimes, they *do* come out of nowhere, but this is rare.

An uncomfortable or painful physical symptom is more likely to be an ascension symptom if you’ve been to the doctor, gotten tests or X-rays or even MRIs, and been told that nothing was found. (Especially if this has happened to you repeatedly.) You’re not crazy, it’s not in your head, and you need to step up the self-care and self-compassion if you are indeed experiencing ascension symptoms.

However, some medical conditions take years to be diagnosed, so it’s important to continue checking in with your doctor if troublesome symptoms persist. This is particularly true given that ascension symptoms do not linger for months or years (see #4 below).

2. Yes – they can be symbolic.

This is not always the case, and we don’t always need to know exactly why an ascension symptom has shown up in the way that it did… but, sometimes the symptoms can be symbolic. What do I mean?

Example 1: knee pain. (Which I’ve experienced myself as an ascension symptom!) This symptom is symbolic because you’re considering a big change or move forward in your life, but it’s so scary that you get stuck emotionally. Pain in your knee arises to help you look at this and learn how to move forward with less fear. What’s happening here is that your cells are already asking for more light, in order to help you move forward more quickly and powerfully. However, because you’re carrying the low vibration of fear or worry, the light sort of *clashes* with this energy in your body… resulting in physical symptoms in your knee.

Example 2: throat pain, dryness, itching, or constriction (without any other flu or cold symptoms). You’re learning to speak up and express your needs, instead of staying quiet and going along with others’ desires (as you did in the past). This is wonderful! BUT, you feel concerned and you fear people will abandon or reject you because of this. As you anchor more light by aligning yourself with your truth and speaking more authentically, that light *clashes* with the energy of concern and the fear of abandonment. All of this plays out in your throat chakra, which is in charge of your voice and of expressing your needs.

The symbolism of your symptoms will not always be this clear-cut. And sometimes there are no “logical” explanations for what you’re experiencing. Just know that you’re not going crazy and ask your Guides or Angels for assistance. You can also ask them to tone down the intensity of the symptoms, or to be more gentle with you. Sometimes our Guides are so excited to help us ascend that they send us way more light than we can physically handle! (They forget about this whole physical body thing because they don’t have one.) Ask them to slow things down for a while.

3. Yes – they’re uncomfortable.

They are truly uncomfortable, distressing, and/or painful. For this reason,

please check in with your doctor and keep track of your symptoms.  

Don’t just assume that they are ascension symptoms. They might be something else, like an underlying condition. This doesn’t mean you have to be scared. Ultimately, every condition we experience — including illness of any kind — can serve as material for deeper awakening. If you do have an underlying illness or issue, it’s best to know about it. Once you know, you can evaluate what needs to change in your life in order to reverse this or at least get it into remission. Knowledge is power.

If you’ve checked in with your doctor, gotten some tests done, and nothing was found, you can proceed cautiously assuming that you might be experiencing an ascension symptom. Of course, continue to keep track of it. If it gets ANY worse, go back to the doctor. If it stays pretty much the same, try some other things while monitoring yourself:

  • Epsom salt baths for detoxing your body
  • lots of meditation
  • lots of water
  • lots of vegetables and low-sugar fruits
  • very gentle exercise, if you can
  • lots of sleep
  • calling a spiritual teacher, healer, or friend
  • journaling
  • spending time in nature
  • allowing yourself emotional release (cry, scream, feel your feelings)

If you’re indeed experiencing an ascension symptom, it will begin to subside in a few days as your body properly integrates and moves that light through your cells and systems. This can take anywhere from one day to 1-2 months, at most. If anything lingers beyond the 2-month mark, go back to the doctor to be safe.  

4. No – they shouldn’t last forever.

If a symptom lingers or gets worse over time, it’s more likely that you need to address an underlying medical condition. So, go to the doctor and get checked out.

Sometimes, the problem with this whole idea of “ascension symptoms” in spiritual communities is that people are encouraged not to take action when they’re having physical issues. Stepping up the self-care is always great advice. But sometimes part of that self-care must include going to a medical doctor and seeking treatment. For example, if you have a bacterial infection, you must go to the doctor and take antibiotics. I know this sucks, but it’s life-saving. You can care for yourself even more by taking a good quality probiotic throughout and after your course of antibiotics. But don’t just forgo the antibiotics — that’s dangerous.

This is sort of similar to what happens with the idea of “detox symptoms.” Although it’s possible to experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc as a result of sugar withdrawal, for instance, those symptoms are not supposed to linger for months. They come and go in waves for a couple of days, at most. Then they pass and you feel great. If you’ve been having a persistent physical symptom for over 30 days and someone just keeps telling you it’s “detox,” stop listening to them and go get checked out. I’m speaking from personal experience on this one.

The same is true of ascension symptoms. Ultimately, no one will know better than you what’s going on in your body. If a certain symptom scares you or makes you feel nervous, it’s best to go to the doctor — EVERY time. Even if you’ve been to the doctor with the same symptom before and they told you it was nothing. Go to a different doctor and get a second opinion.

Gather as much information as you possibly can to rule everything else out. Once you’ve determined it really can’t be anything else, and you know you’ve been doing a ton of self-development and spiritual work, then it’s very possible you are experiencing an ascension symptom. In that case — welcome to the club!


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