In my last blog, ‘A Spiritual Practice‘ I mentioned that some people are curious about or desire out of body, or spiritual, experiences. And, that many people aren’t consciously in their bodies in that their mundane (or everyday) minds are preoccupied with thoughts that distract them from a conscious awareness of their connection to body and spirit. But that’s not an ‘out of body experience’ per se.
The ego mind is concerned with worries, problems to solve, old memories, projecting itself onto to others, self-aggrandizement, self-preservation, etc., and if we happen to notice that this isn’t delivering the peace of mind and happiness we desire then we may start to look for things of a ‘spiritual’ nature. But all too often we continue to try and ‘find it’ with the same ‘mind’ that keeps us in a perpetual state of mental chatter and a feeling of disconnectedness.
Or, in other words, we continue to try and ‘think’ our way to happiness. One more teacher, one more book, one more article, modality, or … blog? All these things can be quite helpful and necessary (even enjoyable) in forming an understanding of how to make a conscious shift in thinking but they can also become a preoccupation or an addiction. True liberation comes when we’ve learned how to observe our thoughts (meditation) and to not identify ourselves with, or become overwhelmed and controlled by, them.
The fourteenth-century Buddhist adage: “Don’t believe everything you think” comes to mind … or should I say, floats by my windows of observation?
Too often the mind becomes addicted to the thought of ‘being spiritual’ instead of actually learning to remove the blocks to our spiritual essence. If we engage our ‘mind’ with something that goes against our true nature (I’ll let you decide what that is for you) then it is quite difficult (damn near impossible?) to align with that farseeing, inexplicable state referred to as ‘spirituality’ or a ‘spiritual experience’ – which is, ultimately, our true nature. I’ll let your ‘mind’ debate whether that statement is true or not …
The mind allows us to formulate sentences, invent stuff we don’t need (or do need, as the case may be), and to remember where we left our car keys … wait … it should help us with these things! This same mind also allows us to project, worry and lament. These are not productive qualities folks. Stop it!
For many years and from a young age I have been a ‘seeker’ of things spiritual (and some not so ‘spiritual’). Raised with a religion that produced more angst than answers and looking to other religious edicts, psychology, self-help books … ant farming, I never felt more alone and disconnected from the sense of peace that I desired (although some self-help books helped, and the ants were pretty cool).
I discovered meditation in my mid-twenties and took it to the extreme. Hours of blissful contemplation taken to levels that would make a Himalayan monk ‘envious’. Observation of all things to the point of non-engagement in practically anything. Except surfing. Ocean surfing that is, the internet hadn’t been invented yet, and it was pretty amazing to be part of the ocean and communing with dolphins on regular basis, a meditation / ‘spiritual experience’ in itself.
Fast forward a few years to a return to searching. Theater classes, and then bicycle road racing (I have eclectic interests) and all the disciplines that I bestowed upon my person ultimately left me, once again, feeling disconnected and deeply despondent. After having reached rock bottom (yes, this place exists) and a numbness that drove me to the brink of (euphemism alert!) contemplating a transition to the other side, a ‘life saving’ (unbeknownst to me at the time) decision was made. Get a mountain bike! Turns out that leaving bleak routine and austere ambition behind and heading for the hills can be really good for you. Well, it was really good for me at least.
Discovering new places in a place that I had lived for most of my life had a profound effect on my psyche. So profound in fact that, after a year of giddy communion with nature and soul-soothing solitude, one evening before going to bed, on a whim and having not formally done so in years, I did a conscious meditation before heading off into a deep sleep.
As the night turned into early morning a dream of painful childhood memories came up in a confusing collage of images including anger, isolation, and ultimately, self-empowerment. I awoke in the early hours of darkness, perplexed at the symbolic images presented to me. As I soon discovered, they represented a longing for healing with my father who had passed over when I was 11 years old, a deep sadness over the emotional isolation of my youth, a desire to heal the rift with my Mom and the message that I held the key to my own happiness, or salvation if you will.
As I lay in bed contemplating these things I closed my eyes to go back to sleep and immediately a vision of light shone within my minds eye like a headlight bending around the corner of a long tunnel. I had experienced subtle and blissful encounters with light during meditations in the past but this was a ‘from the other side’ presence on a completely new level. God, Angel, Being, whatever it was was intensely vibrant, conscious, and immensely powerful. A feeling of love in it’s purest form. The experience that I had yearned for my entire life was here. Again!
Immediately I spoke to it – “If you are going to disappear on me again like that time twenty-three years ago when I reached out in a desperate attempt to grab hold of you and you consequently disappeared, then just go away now because I couldn’t handle that disappointment again. In fact it would break my soul.” As soon as those words came out … the Light moved closer, doubling it’s intensity. It could hear me! It was finally time this time! This time, instead of grabbing … I surrendered. I threw my arms open, releasing years of pain, fear, walls and blocks and surrendered with my whole being. The Light promptly engulfed me like a cascading clunk of a thousand spotlights all turned on in unison! Whoosh!
This was is it! I had found nirvana. I had found heaven! Completely enmeshed in pure white light and a sense of womb-like security. I couldn’t help but think that this must be what it feels like to be on heroin, only much better as there were no perceivable side effects.
A sense of lightness came over me as the ‘heaviness’ of my physical body began to fall away. I remember looking down and seeing my body several feet below as my spirit floated into a state of ecstasy beyond anything I had known before. Nothing could harm me here. There was no physical body to protect, feed or take care of. I was in ‘the arms of God.’ And I was loving it!
After what seemed like twenty minutes (the most blissful twenty minutes of my life) I rose upward to another place, feeling a spirit presence next to me and a higher power above me. I quickly knew without words that the spirit next to me was my long departed Dad. Then, the ‘God Spirit’ above spoke – “The father you knew on earth is now your spiritual brother and I am Heavenly Father to the both of you.”
This brought an instant sense of healing and release of the pain I had been storing in my mind and body for the past 25 years! My dad (now my spirit brother) was still with me and so was God! This was getting better and better! I was overwhelmed with joy!
After a while I started ‘moving’ again. I could see stars and planets buzzing by. Traveling at what seemed like the speed of light into space, I saw Saturn with it’s beautiful rings. Then Uranus. Then Neptune. Just before Pluto everything stopped and I was suspended in pure awareness of all that had taken place. Time had ceased to exist and a feeling of being ‘One with the Universe’ came over me. This must be what God feels like, I thought, and maybe I had even become ‘God’ on some level. ‘Eternity’ was easy to grasp and the concept of ‘no end or edges in space’ seemed completely reasonable. Everything just ‘was’. No figuring it out. No mystery. It just was.
As I observed all this it started becoming apparent that I had a choice. I could stay here in ‘pure consciousness’ or I could go back and finish what I had come to earth to do (and share the experience with others). I decided to come back to ‘Houston’ – so to speak.
As I lucidly returned to my body and opened my eyes I could not contain myself. I couldn’t wait to share this with like, everyone! I smiled all day long for days on end. Everything seemed like a movie that was happening all around me. I was even watching myself within this new awareness.
It took about a month to fully assimilate back into my body and to feel my feet touching the earth again but I’d found ‘enlightenment!’ and was always going to feel this way! Hmm, not so fast pilgrim. Turns out I still had that unfinished earth business to take care of and it wasn’t particularly pretty all the time. I sunk back into some dark, angry places and processed a lot of fear that I had suppressed over years and lifetimes. But the Light experience changed my perception of life and gave me the ability to finally release the deeply ingrained and deeply misguided religious (and other) beliefs imprinted upon me as a child (and many lifetimes past). Even today, as I go through the highs and lows of life on the physical plane, the Light continues to be a place of strong connection and strength. Before, like a distant memory, my mind had always been a believer. But now, my soul had been viscerally reconnected with the divine.
I also came away from the experience with the gift of intuitive dream interpretation, the perception that ‘enlightenment’ is a dynamic (changeable) state of consciousness and that ‘God’ is just a word we use to try and describe the indescribable. Just as the seasons change during our continuous loop around the sun, so can our perceptions of life be changed by our subjective experiences (consciously, or unconsciously). Whether we rise or fall within that spiral is ultimately up to us (again, consciously or unconsciously).
As far as I can tell, it would seem that most of us are of spirit and light (consciousness and energy) and we are either learning to create the experiences we want or continuing to perpetuate old fears, habits and belief patterns (usually a combination of the two). The mundane mind has a powerful voice in this, but there are much greater voices. The voices of Spirit and the Heart. You know, those places that we close off with rational thinking in an effort to protect our egos. I’m not judging this as good or bad. It’s something we do tend to do in the physical world of challenge and survival, and for good reason at times. But do remember, there’s more than meets the eye of physical perception as we make our way through this physical experience.