There is an important distinction between when someone starts to witness and the Self Realization of awakening. I spoke to this prior on Stages of Witnessing but its worth exploring in various ways.
The witness is a detached observer of the events of our lives, thoughts and emotions. There is a watcher throughout waking, dreaming, and sleeping. There is a continuity of observer underlying all experience.
Some people just zip right through and the witness wakes up with awakening itself.
However, the witness may arise before awakening for a time and then fade as the kundalini rises and falls. This is what some mindfulness practices attempt to culture. But there needs to be sufficient awareness to favour – otherwise it’s just mind noticing itself, not consciousness.
From an energetic standpoint, if the rising kundalini Shakti reaches makara, just above the third eye, there may or may not be a brilliant white flash. But in any case, the kundalini then no longer goes down so the witness is supported and becomes ongoing.
This may well be felt like an awakening but because ego identification continues, there’s the me and the Self together, both. It’s close but not Self Realization. The witness may be accompanied by some value of liberation and a great deal of expansiveness. But as long as we remain identified with the ego, it is a poor cousin to the actual shift. I’ve seen some describe this as a soul awakening or similar.
To understand this more clearly, we can refer to the global vs point value. The Atman of Self Realization is global awareness. Within that global awareness, it is aware of itself at every point. Our “individual” awareness we could say is one of those points, akin to a wave on the ocean of awareness.
With the initial witnessing above, the point value has becomes aware that it is aware, that it is the observer, and it observes the contents of it’s experience. But it has not yet woken up to itself. That requires sufficient clarity for global awareness to wake up to itself in the point.
For the local awareness to become aware of itself requires another step back. (not just that it is aware) We shift back into the boundless surface of global awareness and witness the local observer perceiving the objects of experience. We witness the witness. That becomes Self Realization, Self aware of Itself.
We could say the first is the wave recognizing it’s part of the ocean. And the second is when the ocean recognizes itself in the wave. A stage deeper, but on a much vaster scale. This is the shift felt across creation.
With the later shift into Unity, we progressively recognize that same global awareness in all things, mySelf in everything. At the climax of Unity, Atman reaches a place of being aware of itself both globally and at every point within itself. That gives us the platform for a point to look beyond global awareness and recognize the origins of awareness beyond Atman in Brahman. This is the doorway for the Brahman shift.
An not to worry if the mind is not able to follow this abstraction. We’re discussing the fine points of dynamics beyond even universal mind.