I mean, really, its called a "path" for a reason, right?
While I perhaps understand the desire for instant change towards a spiritual life I've never really understood the expectation, I presume its a weird, Western adolescent post Modernism thing part of the species is going through. But, yes, its a process; we are becoming who we are really are, trying to strip off the aggregate of false ego we've hidden ourselves beneath for however long we've been alive.
That's part of the process too, of course. I'm kind of Neoplatonic that way.
I think this idea is all around us though, and not just in Western traditions; its a core notion in many forms of Buddhism as well, though perhaps their notion of what exactly the real self is, that person in the mirror without rank, and what mine is are not quite the same. Its the goal of psychology as well, that speaking about the soul it gets its name from.
Excuse me, I'm beginning to ramble a bit.
So, yes, a process. I think some of the modern language of ceremonial magic, as well as the way the spirituality of such has been redirected (I'm looking at you Mac and Uncle Al!) has confused us though. The wholly external "Holy Guardian Angel" is one example, the focus on "Tiferetic Consciousness," whatever that might be, is another. The first is, at least, a useful in the short term, as it certainly looks that way for a while, given how the laws of spiritual proximity work. I would imagine that everything looks that way for quite some time, actually. But then we engage in Theosis or Bhakti or whatever you want to call it, and we disolve ourselves into the other. For some things that dissolution is not complete, and possibly cannot be complete, for other things, we were never really two to begin with. Those thoughts and ideas that didn't seem like ours, that come out of nowhere and make us think "well, yeah, why didn't I see that the last 100 times I looked at this?" become our very own, as they always were: we are just not the "we" we were before.
That second metaphor, made so popular by the Golden Dawn/RR et AC, bothers me a little more, probably because it is in rather gross violation of kabbalistic thought, this is the kind of thing that caused the Shattering of the Vessles and stops the flow of shefa. Go read Gikatilla's Sha'are Orah, its dense but well worth the read. The metaphor that I, personally, grok to comes, ultimately I guess, from the Song of Songs, but is found throughout the Nevi'im and Ketuvim and is really brought to life in the Zohar.
The union of the Bridgegroom and the Bride.
Here we have the bringing together of the nefesh and ruach. Not just the lower aspects of the ruach either, not just reason but intellect as well, where those flashes of true insight come from. In modern hermetic language this is the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. And its not what it seems to be. The "Higher Self" language is misleading when we forget that the Higher Self is the Lower Genius, not the Divine Genius so many mistake it for, and we've all seen what happens then.
It is, however, making onself fully human. The Zohar tells us the story, interpreted from Genesis 1:27: Male and Female He created them (or "They" if you wan't the plurality of the Hebrew Elohim). The Zohar teaches that the first human was both male and female, two beings combined in one, back to back. In their yearning to face one another they were separated into Adam and Chevah (Human and Life, whereas before they were Human Life). This was the fall and we've spent the rest of our existance trying to come back together again. Yes, I realize the sexist nature of the story. You really wanted something else from a Bronze Age peoples?
To bring our life (the nefesh) and our humanness (the ruach) back together again makes us fully human once again. I suppose if we were to use the metaphors of modern ceremonial magic, this would be the final processes of the grade of Adeptus Exemptus (feel free to use that, if you happen to be using that grade system). It is, though, only the foundation for something else, the next phase in the Work, the realization of the Divine Genius, the neschamah and its components.
That's another discussion though.