MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES

24 Sep

The concept of “mystical experience” is widely misunderstood in western culture.  It seems to be more easily accepted and understood by those who have been subjected to eastern religions such as buddhism or Taoism in their upbringing. Up until 1970 modern psychiatry did not distinguish even between mystical experiences and mental illness in the form of psychosis. In fact, Arthur Deikman, one of the first researchers to recognize the distinction in some way, even termed a spiritual experience of the divine “mystical psychosis”.  Later on Carl Jung went on the give mysticism a stronger more viable place in the multifaceted treatment of patients, proving in fact that the spiritual condition of a person is relevant to their perception of the world and hence their mental states.   Even though Jung completed his research many decades ago, we in the Western world are much slower to adapt to change in the practices which reflect our deepest beliefs, and it is clear that Western culture lacks the ability to believe in something which cannot be proven by the 5 physical sense.  Jung was inferring that medicine in general needed to look beyond the physical and into the world of energetic intuition, a concept well ahead of its time.

It is possible in fact that our evolution as species have caused our gradual intuitive dumbing down until this point where we are entering a period where we will not even be able to sustain ourselves, such is the damage we have caused the environment which we live off of now. It almost seems like the smarter we got technically and intellectually, the more we forgot of the fundamental principles of life.  Many in the West are experiencing a complete disconnect with the natural world, oblivious to the impact their choices have on the world.  It is very uncommon if not impossible for someone living in a third world culture to experience such a disconnect as they rely more heartily on what the earth can op0rovide them as sustenance.  When we entered the “Age of Reason”, in the 14th century, the world became a “show me” place. Great physical discoveries, coupled with rapid advancements in mathematics caused man to begin to leave behind the superstitions brought along with them from the Greeks, romans and middle ages middle ages and begin to seek quantifiable proof if something was to be believed.

Indigenous and ancient cultures have no problem working with and interacting through the energetic influences of nature, but as we became more technologically and materially oriented and dependant, the western world has become a cluster of cultures with a stark inability to survive in a cooperative fashion with the environments that sustain us. Our current generation has been raised by 8 cumulative generations of people who taught and supported only the 5 sensory approach to life.  It was a kill or be killed mentality in all of our modern developments.  Any type of interaction with the energetic dimension was dismissed as superstition and imaginary.  Separation from our initial source has been viewed as heroic and progressive. But times are changing now, and people are becoming more and more attuned to the importance of staying conscious of that feeling of connectivity some people experience through a mystical or a spiritual experience.

Throughout the ages, these experiences have been reserved for prophets and poets, usually men. The occasional woman made  landmark impression on the theological world such as the ecstatic revelations of St. Theresa of Avila, personally my favourite saint, because of her ground breaking work in meditation and connection with the soul, which is best experienced through the book “Entering the Castle” by Caroline Myss.  In it, Myss describes common states of conscious ness in mystical experiences and goes on to say how these experiences arte no longer reserved for monks in monasteries, that in fact we were becoming a world of “mystics without monasteries”.

According to Delphine Ciafardone Rossi’s theological dissertation for her PHD, “Mystical experiences, defined in the literature as a wholly transformative event, can elicit positive and lasting changes in one’s perception of reality, forever changing one’s life meaning and purpose.” 1  The symptoms of this experience have  common traits: a sense of connectedness to all, a feeling of understanding God beyond words and langauge, feeling of presence and of stillness.  Mystical experiences have the longe term effect of eliciting a compassionate mindset and a desire to be of service to others.   Those who have experienced a mystical shift in consciousness find they can relate to other common symptoms at first; a substantial change in sleep patterns, a feeling of unrelenting joy, contentedness, a sense of connection to all living things, abundant energy, desire to help others and loss of fear & phobias are amongst some of the most common shift experiences identified.  Some people find that their ability to learn and understand complex connections has been greatly sped up and that the creative voice within becomes much stronger and more insistent than in the past. Physically some people report experiencing tingling sensations in the crown of the head and base of the spine. Some become physically more energetic, even seeming to regress in physical age and feel and look younger.  The immediate effects are almost like euphoria, and over time of course, the immediate and obvious effects quiet down, but the lasting effects never fully disappear, lending themselves instead to an ability to change the overall worldview of the affected individual over time.

Modern psychologists and doctors use a standardized test to assess the degree to which you have a) experienced a mystical shift and 2) how it has affected your life and choices, determining whether or not you have a “resilient world view”.  To asses the degree to which you have had a divine experience, the INSPIRIT test  developed by Dr. Jared D. Kass, asks you to answer four questions and relate them to a scale of “did not have this experience” to “convinced me of the existence of God”

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES (have you had one of the following?)

1- an experience of profound inner peace

2- A feeling of unity with the earth and all living beings.

3- An experience of God’s energy and presence

4- An experience of a great spiritual figure (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Mary, Elijah etc…)

And for each of these decided a rating  of 1-5 :  1 being that you have never had such an experience and 5 being such an experience convinced you of the existence of God.

The most important aspect of these experiences, says Kass, is our ability to develop a healthy and versatile worldview, whereby we are able to experience life’s trials and tribulations peacefully, “if your world view is resilient, you can respond to a crisis constructively”.

And this is the whole point isn’t it?  Everyone I speak to says they want to be “happy”, that this is the ultimate goal of their lives, but in fact this really isn’t what they are seeking. What we are all seeking is the ability to handle the trials and tribulations that are a natural part of life’s journey, with equanimity and peace. We want strength of heart and the ability to make something good from all of the difficulties that we will manage each day. Kass says a resilient worldview is empowering because it can help you each day to 1- mobilize your energies when you need to act 2- relax your body and mind when you need to rest 3- think for yourself when others don’t know what is best for you 4- trust in others and in life itself when you have done all that you can.

Spirituality is not the only way to develop a resilient world view, but it is one that has worked for countless generations.  When we speak of it here or elsewhere, it is not in relations to any religious affiliation, but rather to the recognition that there is “a spiritual core that creates and sustain the fabric of life”.2  In twelve step programs they call it finding a higher power so that you can meet life on life’s terms. Spiritual awareness in life can create mystical shifts. The more one is open to the possibility that there is a cohesive intelligence which is the generating energy behind all human experience, it is not such a far stretch to begin to want to access that energy consciously and use it to experience physical life.

Religious institutions have risen up over the centuries accumulating their power based by claiming to be the “go between” for God and man. More commonly experienced mystical shift have eliminated the middle man and people are able to now take up their personal divine power.  If you were in need of guidance, you were not encouraged to listen to your heart, you were told to follow what the church told you. Each one of the Masters had a distinct method and approach to teaching, but the one thing they all had in common was the belief and understanding that God lives within each individual. Jesus was very clear in his teachings that we should make no other laws other than the ones he set down, which were divinely given to him, and yet not only did we add a plethora of rules, we even created rules about how we could communicate with the energy of the thing that gave us life in the first place! It is your inalienable right to be on a first name basis with our creator, but for a long time we didn’t understand this or how to use it. Religious institutions made God separate and unattainable to us in a bid for power and control over the cultural development of our moral behaviour. Communication with God in most religions was reserved for a specialized few, chosen not by God but by men.  Woman were quickly ruled out of religious power hierarchies, probably because the powers-that-be felt threatened by the power women held as healers and child bearers. Woman may have been perceived as having too much power over “life and death” of a culture and so, often very violent steps were taken to control them. In western history people who claim to have direct contact with the divine have been rejected out of hand as lunatics and psychotics. It is very interesting to note then that Abraham Maslow, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology discovered that the symptoms of a mystical experience and psychosis were essentially the same, except that a mystical shift resulted in a heightened state of consciousness that allowed the person experiences it to be aware of the experience. conversely, crazy people don’t know that they are crazy – but awakened people know they are awake.

This is perhaps why one of the precipitating factors in a mystical shift can be an emotional “disorder” such as clinical depression or bi-polar disorder. The emotional state of the individual is already so stressed, that at certain moments they are more open to a “peak experience” – an experience of divinity within themselves. We have become so conditioned to believe that divinity exists apart and separately from us, that we have stopped believing the most basic interactions which the universe not only can but MUST have with us in order to continue moving forward in creation. The perception of separation form the source which created us is in large part responsible for emotional disorders such as depression, bi-polar and anxiety.  Mystical shifts can have the effect of curing patients of these disorders are they cannot exist in the shifted and more healthy worldview that one adopts following the unity that is experienced during the shift.

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side note…

17 Jun

Just a  note to those of you who have been asking about the next chapters…they are coming 🙂 thank you for reading me … I am working hard to finish this book.  I appreciate so much all of your coments an dfeedback, thoughts and experiences. They are enriching me and the book in so many ways. 

Meanwhile I have been keeping up with www.honesttogodjo.wordpress.com if you are interested in discussion about mental illness and integrating spiritual lifestyle into modern living. 🙂 I love the dialogue.

~Namaste~

CH.4 BEING STILL

5 Jun

One morning while out visiting friends I received  an urgent call from my husband announcing that he had been laid off of work.  It was potentially tragic news.  With many financial responsibilities, not the least amongst which was our five burgeoning teenagers, horse farm and various living creature to care for, this unexpected news could have really sent us both into fear quite easily.

Instead I found that I was more interested in the unfolding story than was I afraid of anything.  A few moments after he told me, I sat quietly and waited to see what my reaction would be.  To my own surprise, I found that not only was I not upset, but I was in fact quite excited!  In the past this news would have been received with a great deal of fear and reactivity. I was unable to handle life’s most basic challenges without overwhelming fear. My reactions would have been unconscious and desperate.  I would have run out to find a job, tried selling of parts of the farm, horses, my car…panic!  And when no solution would present itself within a short time I would fall into a depression; my mind’s way of trying to control the uncontrollable.  But my mystical experience clearly showed me that we are in fact not only all connected, but we are all the same thing. We emanate from the same source and the purpose of our lives is to experience everything that can be lived within the context of our choices. This is how I came to see everything as an experience, not as something the universe was doing “to me”.

Prior to my shift, I had absolutely no faith that anything was going to help me but myself and I exhausted myself daily with trying to control the uncontrollable.  I tried “making my family happy”, I tried working very hard, I tried taking on multiple roles and tasks, I tried..and yet I did not succeed at anything but exhausting myself.   Take my husband for example. Every day he would come home tired, overwhelmed and obviously unfulfilled in his daily life.  But because of who he is and how much responsibility we have in our lives for our kids and the farm animals we take care of, he was choosing to put his sense of responsibility over his personal happiness.  But God enters when we are not making decisions that can move us forward creatively and spiritually. When something is in our way, impeding our ability to reach our highest creative selves, I guarantee you that the universe will take it away to make room for your best interests to play out.  You can see this in your own life, looking in  the past to things you may have been disappointed about loosing or not getting what you thought you wanted but can now see the reason and the better situation you are probably in because you didn’t get what you wanted.

Instead of reacting to my husband’s news, I was able to sit back and just observe the unravelling of events that eventually led him back to a job he had very much enjoyed in the past but had left for this new project.  I could see that the Universe was taking care of him and we had nothing to fear.   The positivity of my reaction to this “bad news” created a scenario where we were able to look forward to the upcoming “unknown” like two kids who were enjoying a really terrific mystery movie, not quite knowing what was around the next corner.  We could have acted like we would have in the past; standing still afraid and reactive. and as his partner I could certainly have created fear and distraction, and surely would have in the past except for this new feeling that we were absolutely and certainly cared for.

The great benefit of this new connected mentality is the lack of reactivity I experience.  Being “non-reactive to the events in life is often a great after effect of mystical shift. Being reactive only cause us to reanimate the negative energy that has caused us pain.  Being non-reactive means that we see things form a more universal viewpoint and are able to stand back without trying to control and solve all of the world’s problems at once.  The shift allows us to face our problems with a detached knowledge that all is as it should be (yes…even the worse scenarios ARE EXACTLY AS THEY SHOULD BE) because they are as we have created them. We are able to create ANY scenario we want. The change of attitude from fearfulness to fearlessness. Life is not about you, what happens to you, how it affects YOU, what YOU will do, where YOU stand in the middle of it.  Life is not about YOU. And yet…everything is about You.  Figure out where you stand and why you stand there…and then move forward. Bring that energy outwards and use it for someone else.  You need to know YOU to know what it is you even have to offer someone else.  Taking the time, do the work…then move past it.

Many people get stuck in the self search.  For most people, life is all about them. Everything that happens is taken personally, and most people become blindly self-absorbed unable to look up from their own lives. Be aware that there is a fine line here.  You HAVE to spend time in introspection and self understanding. Otherwise, you will continue to prove Einstein’s definition of insanity true; doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, really is crazy. But the result of the self search will be that you take what you learn of yourself and become of greater service to the world.  Woman often tell me that they don’t have the “time” or that by taking the time to spend with themselves, they feel “guilty”. Our culture has been very negligent in respecting our personal need for introspection.  If you want to give so much to your family, friends, job – then you have to know what it is exactly you are giving them?

Can you sit with yourself?

Take yourself out to lunch?

Can you be as giving to yourself when there is no one around to approve the giving?

How much giving do you do for the approval of others?

Being still and alone requires that we also be alone with our thoughts. Our boredom.  We are thrill seekers, and when there is no chaos, often we will try to create it.  Being still means doing nothing and getting out of the way. Be a watcher, not a fixer. Spend time with yourself and start to enjoy your own company. One of my favourite essays by Canadian songwriter Tanya Davis called “How To be Alone” illustrates in fine detail the struggles we may encounter in standing still and taking the time and energy to get to know yourself as well as you would a partner or a friend. The poem urges you to start small and grow from there: lunch by yourself, then to a movie maybe, a dinner with fine linens and no book to uphold between you and your fear of the perceptions of those around you. If you are at first lonely, be patient – Davis advises.  You will find that over time, the way you make choices and how you treat yourself and the people around you will change because the value you place on the opinion of others will change. You will need more time to be still and centered in self and will find that what you have to offer those around you will grow exponentially.

It is important to have quiet time every day to maintain this connection. Learning what works for you takes time and things may feel a little new and awkward at first, like any new habit, learning how to integrate your spiritual interior in the life and habits you have always had.   Standing still and taking the time to understand yourself before reacting to anything will result in naturally more serene and connected life and will help you to become conscious and acknowledge the influence of the spiritual in your daily life.

CH.3 THE MODERN MYSTIC

31 May

ARE YOU A MYSTIC?

“The Mystic’s time has come again” ~Caroline Myss “Entering The Castle”

According to author and spiritual teacher Caroline Myss, a mystic is “someone who is called to know the divine through its mysteries”. The call comes in any variety of forms. If you are attracted to this topic enough to be reading about it, you have probably had a mystical experience and may be seeking validation of the experience through what is written here and elsewhere.  Maybe you have had some experiences that have given you a clear indication that you are not alone. Maybe you have had a supernatural experience or have received intuition that seemed unlikely but then was validated. Whatever your experiences are – your life holds a magical quality to it that wasn’t present before and it may all seem very unreal.

The basic universal law of free will dictates that you have choices: You can either use the experience and live like it happened or you can deny it and live like you have been; the choice is yours. Like many people, you probably come from a point of view that these types of things only happen to “special” people with unique qualifications or degrees and lifestyles; monks who live in caves and survive in seclusion or other individuals who have given up all their worldly material attachments to devote themselves to spiritual pursuits. Eons ago and through the ages of historical evolution, we as a race began to believe that were not able to have direct communication with the divine, or that the divine was unable to communicate with us. This incorrect perception of who we really are is the root cause of all of our problems and this is the correcting time.

These shifts in perception are hard-won usually coming through people who have had a rough time of it; the way one gets to a shift is not usually through a great deal of easy living.  Usually, a shift occurs when life is unhappy, threatened, unstable and frightening.  Shifts occur to people who are on the edge and often ready to jump – standing at the crossroads as the song says. But let’s face it. Life isn’t easy or fair and if you haven’t heard the news,  it’s not supposed to be. The point of life is to be able to accept the situations that cross your path and know yourself better through them. You can either know yourself honestly or know yourself in the twisted context of your past and of the culture that surrounds you, your parents and friends and work place.  To know yourself honestly means to be in deep intimate touch with the clear objective reasons why you make the choices you make and have the thoughts you have.

For example, why do you believe what you believe? Did you arrive at your conclusions independently or are you following directions which may or may not reflect what your life needs?Most of us begin by believing what we believe because we are told it is how “everyone thinks”. Emulation is our primary method of survival as a species, so we imitate, and look for approval. A mystical experience will demand you come to terms with your own truth, within yourself, independent of anyone’s approval.

Mystical connection and communication with Source is available to every single human being.  Everyone has the capacity to send and receive information to the universal source that is All Life.   Intuition is what we were given to enable this communication; thought and emotion is what allows us to interpret and understand the communication.  In fact we are communicating with God all the time – we just aren’t aware of it.  Mystical experiences bring a heightened sense of awareness to every event that transpires in your life.

GRACE

Shifting does  not seem to be an experience that you can create, although some practices including yoga, meditation and use of certain psychedelic drugs can bring on similar feelings of euphoria and connection, even allowing the opening of the portal for the experience through stimulation of the pineal gland in the brain. ANd it isn’t that God is choosing who is worthy or who is judged by Him to be “good” or “bad”.  The opening of  communication happens simply when you are ready and when it is time.   The experience of awakening itself can only be “received” from the divine source from which it emanates.  This is what some people call “grace”.  It is not a value judgement by God. It is a moment in time where the source of universal energy aligns itself with your conscious mind and allows you an opportune glimpse of the true reality you are born into in this life. It produces a feeling of clarity of thought, boundless joy, fearlessness and an endlessness and continuity which comes from an identity you have deep within your essential self.

The only qualification you need for a shift is readiness. But believing that you are worthy of the experience and that it is authentic is another hurdle. Like a battle between the soul and the ego, the soul speaks quietly in a voice which is difficult to translate because it emanates from behind your conscious thought.  Of course we often have a belief that only “special” individuals are able to have an experience of enlightenment. But again, it has everything to do with the universe aligning itself with what you know inside you are ready for.  Today, maybe because of the terrible state of affairs we find our world steeped in,  many people are standing at this place as the global shift pattern that we are observing seems to indicate that a generation of individuals who are  coming into readiness to receive what needs to be relayed.

There is a new way of seeing life that has opened up to you and because it is so different from what you have been told to expect of and from life it takes time and circumstances to rearrange the perceptions you may have. The most important validation you can receive about your experiences will come from inside of yourself when you realize that your experience is trustworthy – that you are trustworthy.  After your shift, you may find that you become poignantly aware of are an incredible number of synchronicities and seemingly magical interferences. Eventually you will be able to rely upon them more consistently as you learn to understand and listen to your inner-self whose voice you came to understand in the experience.  Problems no longer become “problems” as much as the next stage of understanding. Every situation or “problem” that crosses your path can be viewed as another opportunity for deeper understanding and connection to Source.  What you may have experienced before as “chaos” and pain may very well now be viewed simply as a situation, another experience with which you will learn and move forward creatively once again.  You will find with this new adventurous and aligned attitude towards life’s hurdles you even come to enjoy certain challenges that may have previously caused you tremendous anxiety. As they say in the promises associated with the 12 steps, “your whole attitude and outlook upon life will change” – and this is only the beginning.

CHAPTER 2 – MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES EXPLORED

26 May

Of a large group of people throughout Europe and the United states surveyed in 1987, fully 40% reported having had a mystical experience. Those who have experienced a mystical shift in consciousness find they can relate to certain common symptoms; a substantial change in sleep patterns, a feeling of unrelenting joy, contentedness, a sense of connection to all living things, abundant energy, desire to help others and loss of fear & phobias are amongst some of the most common shift experiences identified. Some people find that learning has been greatly sped up and that the creative voice within becomes much stronger and more insistent than in the past.  Physically some people report experiencing tingling sensations in the crown of the head and base of the spine.  Some become physically more energetic, even seeming to regress in physical age and feel and look younger.

            In her book “Entering the Castle”, Caroline Myss says that we are becoming a world of “Mystics without monasteries”, that this energetic shift is occurring to more than just those who have chosen to dedicate their lives to spiritual work. It’s happening to accountants and lawyers and housewives, unbidden.  Our modern western culture clearly illustrates a lack of connection to the natural world.  Since entering into the “Age of Reason”, around the 14th century, the world became a “show me” place.  Indigenous and ancient cultures had no problem working with and interacting through the energetic influences of nature, but as we became more technologically and materially oriented, we have become a culture with a stark inability to trust and believe in what we could not verify with our five physical senses.  My generation, for example, has been raised by 8 cumulative generations of people who taught and supported only the 5 sensory approach to life.  Any type of interaction with the energetic dimension is dismissed as superstition and imaginary.

Despite our cultural blindness to the metaphysical or energetic side of life, there are some lights throughout history that have shone too brightly to be extinguished by our unreasonable disbelief of the ethereal.  To name a only a few; Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Mary Magdalene, Francis of Assisi, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Joseph Gurdjieff, St.Theresa of Avila, Mother Theresa, Krishnamurti, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, Lao Tzu – throughout history we have seen the impact of individuals who have received divine guidance and have acted upon that guidance. Since the beginning of our history we can see that the universe has always given us teachers, illuminated individuals, to help point the way.  Enlightened souls – old souls if you will- that are able and open to receiving clear direction from the divine intention that our creator has for us.  The most important common factor of all of these individuals is that they had the absolute desire to extend themselves outwards and use their knowledge to be of service to others.

Religious institutions which have risen up over the centuries have accumulated their power based on claiming to be the “go between” God and man.  Jesus was very clear in his teachings that we should make no other laws than the ones he set down, which were divinely given to him, and yet not only did we add a plethora of rules, we even created rules about how we could communicate with the energy of the thing that gave us life in the first place.  It is your inalienable right to be on a first name basis with our creator, but for a long time we didn’t understand this or how to use it.   Religious institutions made God separate and unattainable to us in a bid for power and control over the cultural development of our moral behaviour. Communication with God in most religions was reserved for a specialized few, chosen not by God but by men.  Woman were quickly ruled out of religious power hierarchies, probably because the powers-that-be felt threatened by the power women held as healers and child bearers.  Woman may have been perceived as having too much power over “life and death” of a culture and so, often very violent steps were taken to control them.

In western history people who claim to have direct contact with the divine have been rejected out of hand as lunatics and psychotics.  It is very interesting to note then that Abraham Maslow, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology discovered that the symptoms of a mystical experience and psychosis were essentially the same, except that a mystical shift resulted in a heightened state of consciousness that allowed the person experiences it to be aware of the experience.  conversely, crazy people don’t know that they are crazy – but awakened people know they are awake.

This is perhaps why one of the precipitating factors in a mystical shift can be an emotional “disorder” such as clinical depression or bi-polar disorder.  The emotional state of the individual is already so stressed, that at certain moments they are more open to a “peak experience” – an experience of divinity within themselves.

We have become so conditioned to believe that divinity exists apart and separately from us, that we have stopped believing the most basic interactions which the universe not only can but MUST have with us in order to continue moving forward in creation.

MYSTICAL CASES:

There are many famous cases of mystical experiences.  Many of the early reports come from religious organizations, such as the Catholic church.  Those who went public with their experiences were met with often met with great scepticism and sometimes even tortured and killed for reporting of them. The early mandate of the church especially was to establish control through fear and to assure that communication with God only happened through a priest or other religious authority – guaranteeing control of the divine by man. Some of the earliest records were of experiences by both men and women, often later made saints by the church in recognition of their courage to live by their spiritual conviction.

~ St.Theresa of Avila, who wrote The Interior Castle, was often sick as a child and suffered from hallucinations and fever.  She claimed that during one of her illnesses she rose in consciousness, to a state of ecstasy where she experienced union with God – the sense of oneness. Common physiological changes in prolonged mystical states which are common experienced are decreased breathing, pulse, circulation, and brain waves; also the person loses awareness of the body. In such a state of rapture described by Christian mystics, the body seems to be on the verge of extinguishing. St. Teresa of Avila wrote in The Interior Castle that in the moment of union, the soul “is utterly dead to the things of the world, and lives solely in God…I do not know whether in this state she has enough life left to breathe. It seems to me she has not; or at least that if she does breathe, she is unaware of it.”

Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical and not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter’s Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, an angel drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there   seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times   into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed   to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.   The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the   sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it…

St. Theresa’s teachings, for Christians and non-christians alike, continues to be of great importance in the world of spiritual knowledge because she introduced the concepts of the “mansions of the soul”, which is a visualization which if performed can allow you to become aware of the deepest parts of yourself.

Jesus is another obvious sufferer at the hands of a culture incapable of believing that God would speak directly to one person.  His holiness lays in his ability to follow his conviction to his very torture. Same for Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. Each served the call of their deep inner truths with courage and conviction.  The stories are extraordinary. Take the Buddha, living in a cushy place all of his life, unlimited money, a king for a father, every toy a child living in 563 BCE India could want. He never saw a day of pain or longing for anything in his life, and yet he was called by something more powerful to live outside of his palace walls and was lead into a life of pain and sacrifice, because his soul demanded it of him and he could not do anything but listen.  The teaching they all shared most importantly was to contyinue to remind us that God or whatever it is you call the life energy, lives within US – not from an outside source.  This of course threatened the “powers-that-be”, and they were made to suffer pretty seriously for their convictions.

It is not surprising then that the view that western society takes of people who say they have had a conversation with God  is very dim at best.  In fact, in his book ‘Conversations With God”, Neale Donald Walsch admits to feeling slightly insane himself. It is very difficult for us to shake off what we have been taught about who we are and what our place is in the world. But this is what a mystical experience challenges us in fact to do.

If you have had a mystical experience, no wonder you may feel a little crazy at first! Maslow found that the symptoms of psychosis were very similar to those of a spiritual awakening. But really crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy.  Awakened people know they are awake – they are conscious. The other important differentiation that Abraham Maslow makes between psychotic symptoms and reporting a mystical experience is the after-effects. Psychotic patients continue to be psychotic.  Their lives are not improved by their psychotic delusions, but in fact they become less able to function in society after a time.  Conversely, people who experience a mystical transcendence find their circumstances and happiness in general improving over time as the experiences continues to impact their choices.

The call of the mystical comes in many forms and has been interpreted in every way possible by each different culture.  We express our understanding of the divine according to how we live in our environments and how we have chosen to survive.  But the mind of the world, even in the west, is opening up and psychologists today have come far in integrating what they now know is a vital aspect of human behaviour – the soul or energetic mystical aspect of self – with the physiological and bio-neurological impacts of human living.

CHAPTER 1- AWAKENING

26 May

ImageThe best way to explain what happened to me is that my life received divine intervention; mystical experience of such magnitude and power beyond what I could ever have imagined was possible, that every way I thought I saw the world changed and opened up.  I was filled with feelings and possibility that simply did not exist before.    This shift had to have come from a “power greater than myself” because every single aspect of my life changed from then onwards.  In the experience, I was given a glimpse of our human nature – of who we really are. Some people call it a spiritual experience or a moment of enlightenment.  It very much paralleled a near death – although I was very much alive. A cosmic brainwashing; which was exactly what I needed.

For a long time I struggled with the “why me?” of the experience, but then realized quickly that this was not my question to ask. Everyone has to ability to connect to the divine – but generally we humans have to be in a pretty painful place in our lives to allow that possibility to enter into our hearts.

AWAKENING

Mystical experiences can take a variety of forms. They can happen while you’re awake, or in a state of meditation and even in a dream, like in my case: This is the entry I wrote the morning after the night of my planned suicide.

 

Journal entry January 17, 2009

I am on an airplane that is zooming through a crisp night sky. I somehow know that my horse is aboard with me and I feel comforted knowing he is there, although I cannot see him. I notice I am the only passenger on board but feel comfortable with being alone. I am sitting on the right side and can see ahead into the cockpit. The plane is very clean, the seats are blue. I feel content sitting there. I see two people in the cockpit up ahead dressed in uniform; one is a woman and one a man. They are bustling about and I see them begin to panic. I am made aware that the plane is in trouble, but I feel no panic. The cockpit door is open and I can see the consoles and panels. I know that the plane is going to explode from the front, and I am going to die. My emotion is relief at solving the lifelong mystery that exists in the back of everyone’s mind; the great unasked question as to how and when we are going to die. Suddenly, the cockpit explodes in catastrophic bang and flames come rushing forth like a soft wave of giant orange and yellow feathers, floating surreally towards me. Time seems suspended. For a moment I look down at my arms and see the hair curl quickly and i see them poof up in wisps of smoke and I begin to burn, a whiff of burning hair and flesh. And then I am…somewhere else.

There is no pain, and I am not surprised or shocked. I feel comfortable and at home. I look around at this room, all white and smooth and clean-looking as if the walls themselves aremade of light. I see a door in front of me, which is also white, but almost imperceptible. There is also a grey door to my right, but I am not at all attracted to that one, even though it has handles and is clearly easier to access and open. I walk unhesitatingly to the white door and push on it slightly. It swings open easily and noiselessly, revealing a vast awe-inspiring canvas of natural beauty.

 

I feel immediately surrounded by God; I am a part of God, or the Tao…the energy of ALL. In that moment, I feel my eternal self expand upward and outward and shudder with happiness. I know that I am part of this place as I am a part of every place. As if every environment exists all in one. It is awesome and beautiful. I feel Joy; incredible overwhelming joy and freedom unlike anything I have ever known.

Although the door hangs over what seems to be an unending precipice which lies below my feet, I am not afraid at all, because I suddenly know this is where I come from; it is where we all come from. It doesn’t look any different from “here”, but it is EVERYTHING. I understand there that there is nothing that separates anything; you or me or that tree, we are all the same. We are The All. The view from the door is amazing; rolling mountains covered in soft white snow the sky a crisp azulene blue. Below me are farmers and animals; sheep, goats and cows grazing on grass more verdant than anything I had ever seen. I can see waterfalls all around, and above me birds dashed in and out of enormous white clouds. I do not mistake this place for the “heaven” of my Catholic youth; it was much more than that. It was “earth”- not separate or apart. I could feel everyone I knew and loved alive or dead, there was no difference in the feeling, and they were fine. Everything feels together, in perfect synchronicity.

 

I know somehow that if I step out that door, I will not fall to my death, but will somehow be liberated and able to fly…I will be able to just BE ME for a while. A “while” is relative though because there is no “time” like we understand it. Everything just is, and the essence of me that is eternal (did I meet my soul???) stepped forward in an instant. There was no ego and therefore no fear in me and no need for speech or “thought”. Everything flowed in and through me, through everyone…we were, all at once. It felt like God was giving me a small break; a reminder of where I came from. A little furlough from human life because he knew I was at such a crossroads and it was time. Everything felt light and unimpeded. I stepped out and flew joyfully around the mountains. I looked at the people and animals and recall a sense of total love for them. I went in a sort of semi-circle enjoying my freedom for a while until I knew I had to go back to the room. I had more things to learn there but since time didn’t move in the same way, I felt no pressure; only a knowing that everything happens when it is meant to and I could move about freely. Everything felt congruent, and everything was everything all together; there was no separation in anything and I felt so free!

 

Eventually I decided to come back to the white door where I found my grandmother, now much younger, maybe mid twenties or early thirties. Although this was younger than I had ever seen her of course, I knew her well. She died nearly 15 years ago at 96 years old. She was sitting at a table with another woman I don’t know, both dressed in beautiful brown soft cotton smocks like North American pioneer women in the 1800’s. They were busying themselves exchanging thoughts and making ornately carved and polished wooden boxes. She welcomed me warmly and we greeted each other like old friends. We spoke with no words; no one spoke in fact. We all just…communicated. I asked her about the boxes and she explains that they keep our memories safe, and that I would be shown them by my mother when it was my time to know these things. I am aware of my mother lingering in the tent where the other box makers were assembled, but I don’t see her. I knew she would not yet come out to see me.

I say goodbye to my grandmother and I see a man waiting for me. He is young and handsome. He looks like a 30-year-old hippie from the 1960’s; someone I would want to befriend. He is wearing a cut off green army vest donning a peace patch on a worn left breast pocket, a plaid shirt, old jeans and running shoes. He has five o’clock shadow, and the most beautiful smiling blue eyes I have ever seen. I know him as an old friend. He has a tattoo on his face of a fish hooking his lower lip and I get the funny irony right away and laugh. He laughs with me…always so peaceful in his eyes. (The remarkable part of this that I noticed afterwards and upon reflection of my emotions of the event was that I didn’t feel “less than”, or “unequal to” this man. We were equals. He was a gentle teacher and not an authority over me. He was a companion, and a uniting presence and I knew that he had always been there). He is pushing a baby carriage and tells me to follow him because he has something to teach me. Again, no words pass between us, He speaks in my mind…or even in a deeper place than I can describe. He takes me onto a bus where, and I sit down. He starts playing with the baby in the carriage and making him laugh. Until that point, I had noticed but not really paid much attention to the baby; now, all I could hear and feel and see even was the resonance of his laughter, and I knew suddenly that the baby was God. The indescribable feeling that I received from hearing that baby laugh was my experience of God; that was how God was explained to me. I felt God, and God feels like Joy.  I thank the man, and we quietly walk back to the room, no words needed to pass between us. Suddenly, I am “alone” in the room; I can no longer “see” him, but I feel him with me, beside me. I am awoken by a 6:00 a.m. phone call advising me that my niece had been institutionalized for attempting suicide that night. My life changed from that moment onwards.

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The next few weeks were spent floating on a spiritual pink cloud. Everything felt congruent, cohesive and meaningful. I was filled with abundant love and goodwill and a desire to help everyone in any way I could.  I felt completely connected with the world and everything and everyone in it. Then, a process began unravelling inside of me which I have since seen others go through.  I began to experience synchronicity and coincidence and symbolic communication from the energy of the universe one instance after another. I became hyper-aware of a spiritual presence in my life at all times. I began to observe other’s experiences and read about mysticism in the past and found many parallels to my own experience which over time validated the authenticity of the event to me.

In my desire to maintain this feeling of connectedness I decided to develop a method which would work for me. I started to look for spiritual teachers and others to share their experiences. My expectations of what others knew of this kind of experience were very low; I thought at best we would emerge a tiny secret society of potentially crazy people who believe they have experienced a God consciousness.  I instead found that the mystical shift had become more mainstream accepted even in our western culture and each person is experiencing in a unique and individual way.  I discovered many common threads between my experience, those of well known ancient mystics and people who had near-death experiences.

GLOBAL AWAKENING

The awakening of one individual after another is contributing to what we are now becoming aware of and referring to an emerging Global Consciousness.  This united intuition is allowing us to understand the basic functionality of our world in a very unique way. It is vitally important that we begin to use this new and empowering understanding in every dimension of our lives.  In this book, I will share my own experiences to help others to connect to their inner resources and move forward with conviction in their newly discovered spiritual knowledge.

Everyone has the capacity to have this experience. The only ingredient required for getting there (which is nowhere at all) is willingness. In the past mystical experiences were reserved for Catholic saints, meditating Buddhists and reclusive monks. Today, more and more individuals are experiencing a shift which makes them feel more connected to the planet and to all living things. They feel a slowing down of their material desires and a great need for communion with the essentials of life. We are coming upon a collective awareness which is so extreme and profound that it will change every single thing we think and do.  Our actions of course will naturally change as our thinking doesand once again the Universe is giving us what we need; a new experience of life.  Our job is to understand it and ourselves and to use this new comprehension of where we belong in the grand scheme of things in the most productive and conscious way possible.

Aside

ONE MIND: Introduction

24 May

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By J. Brault

A Beginner’s Guide To Personal Consciousness Shift

INTRODUCTION ~ SHIFTING TIMES

The first 30 years or so of my life were spent in a state very much like sleep. I ran through my life making choices based on what I had been told rather than what I knew.  Like a blindfolded person in a forest running unceremoniously into random trees and consequences, I was not yet aware of the landscape of my life or theexperiences that contributed to who I believed I was. I cared more about what others thought of me than what I thought of myself. This is what I had been taught by my culture, my family and friends.  I had lost the ability to listen to my own intuition, having been taught to mind my parents and the things they cared about more than what I felt inside. In adulthood, I went about making important decisions based on motivations I didn’t even know I had. It is normal that we are told as young people what the expectations we should ahve of our life are.  It is also necessary in adulthood to take responsibility for what we believe and this time presents itself differently for everyone.

I was governed almost entirely by fear of failure and regret- my ego or the part of my mind which identifies me as human and finite.  I was more devastated having disappointed my parents or teachers than if I had disappointed myself. Very often I found myself afraid and feeling quite hopeless and helpless.  I had no clue what it meant to live life joyfully, and despite all the Sundays I attended church with my family, having my first communion and attending Sunday school, I didn’t have the first idea what faith was. The world felt like a crazy out of control place that was going to eat me alive. And, looking at my parents as an example of what life looked like, I figured you grew up, worked allot, got miserable and died. Nothing looked very proimising from where I stood for many years, but I developed the “chameleon” abiity of blending in with my surroundings to gain acceptance of the world around me.  Soon I was unable to distinguish between the “masked” and the “real” me.

I became as increasingly unhappy as anyone living an incongruent life can be.  Over time this hopelessness unravelled into what they called clinical depression and bi-polar disorder. The doctors tried to find solutions through a variety of pharmaceuticals, my family tried to reason it away with our personal family demons and friends did what they could, but until I experienced a deep personal shift of my own, happiness would forever elude me.  After 17 years of doctors and drugs and exterior solutions I eventually found that there was no person, no pill, no drug, no situation that could create happiness for me – it would have to come from within a deep dark hidden place that I had lost access to a long time before. It would have to come from a total change of my mind – I needed a miracle.

I have learned that we always get what we need. All ways.

 

Around 1997 my life began a complete unravelling process. Looking back now it almost seems choreographed perfectly, although it certainly didn’t seem like that at the time standing in the middle of a chaotic mess; it felt more like I was about to drown in circumstance.

My father had died leaving a great rift of fear, sadness and lack of resolution in my life.  My marriage was dissolving before my eyes and I was home parenting my three young children who were at the time all under 6 years old.  Everything I thought life would be like when I was younger was the opposite of what I had created.  My family of origin had become uncommunicative and distant and I felt increasingly alone in a world full of people.  I had long before given up playing guitar, drawing, writing or painting, feeling as though these activities were a waste of time since they did not contribute to the family coffers or make a meal appear. Eventually my world became smaller and smaller until I stopped answering the door or the telephone and holed myself in, firmly resolved to be as uninvolved in people and relationships as possible since everyone else seemed to be the problem. I had not yet identified that the common factor throughout all of these unhappy situations was in fact me.

The marriage fell apart and I moved out with my three children, the dog and cats, a coffee table and their bedroom furniture. I got a job and began attending a self help group which emphasized use of the 12 steps.  After a while, I found my voice again, and began to play guitar with the new friends I was making. I began to draw and pain and write slowly, shaking out the stiffness of so many years lacking in self expression.   Later my job and my world began to open up and I found myself in a new life, with a new husband and now seven children.  Luckily, my second husband was a musician and so we pursued music together and found so much happiness in sharing this experience.  My life as a professional musician took off with his support, and for a long time, things developed neatly along these lines. But, creativity can only go as far as the creator, and so my music was not evolving after a time because I wasn’t evolving. Although I had changed a great deal about my exterior circumstances I found that my perceptions about life had followed me because my thinking had not changed.   I was repeating the same mistakes, just in a different context.

I realized I was terrified of major changes again after the experiences I had during my first marriage and subsequent divorce, and that this fear was controlling many of the decisions I was making – or avoiding. I was standing still, not moving forward, afraid to create any chaos and change which I didn’t feel I would be able to handle. My life had become “good enough” and I coasted through it, trying to maintain the precarious balance, hesitant to shake up any of the waters. I was trying to control the uncontrollable until of course the universe interceded on my behalf and shook things up a little.

With seven young children running around it was very easy to hide behind the  circumstances of my life.  I was busy, involved, teaching, doing soccer, making meals, 16 loads of a laundry every three days, balancing an impossible budget. Tere was loads to take me away from my central issue, which of course was ME.  We had a large house, a garden and a pool. It was easy to find ways to stay busy. But, quietly in the background I had this unhappiness was once again building inside of me.  I piled activity upon activity until I was certain I wouldn’t have to stand still and face the ultimate challenge – my mind.

As well all know though, avoidance only makes problems grow. I became so deathly afraid of change and even just normal life situations that I suffered from horrendous anxiety attacks which would cause me to pull my car over in the middle of a busy highway, not answer the phone and never ever go to the mailbox.

I thought the unverse hated me. I took the evnts of my life not only personally, but as a slight.  Soon I perceived every event in life was present to cause me pain and fear and stress.  I remember often saying in my head “I must have been VERY bad in a previous life”  that obviously if there was a God- He was punishing me.

Over time, I created everything I feared.  I feared loneliness, so I found myself alone. I feared failure, so I failed.  I fear attack from others, and was attacked. I feared negative judgement from my community and found myself branded with a giant scarlet “S”.  Physically I became frequently sick. I was overweight from the medications, and my heart would beat so quickly that on a couple of occasions I thought I was having a heart attack. Even worse, my only sanctuary had been found in singing, but had now become so terrifying for me I was sick before nearly every performance.  My songs were tentative and didn’t flow from my heart and I worried constantly about what the audience thought of me so I stopped writing music afraid to reveal too much of myself to the world.

About ten years after all of this, in 2007, we moved onto our first farm.  I believed this would be the answer to finding happiness.  However, the farm became another perfect opportunity to dive into work and avoid myself again.  The unhappiness continued to grow.  My life was developing with or without my help. Being on a farm had been my dream since my earliest memories.  I had always loved farm work and now I found myself working 16 hours a day, running a riding school, boarding stable, lessons, shows, kids, school, driving, meals, shopping, stalls, singing – there was never a time in my days where I sat quietly to gather myself.  I just kept running from one marathon to another until I was exhausted beyond recognition.

In 2009 I was done. I had reached a bottom of unparalleled depths. My children now older didn’t need me as much, we had moved to a new farm and life had become quieter since closing the riding school and just having our own quiet country life. I found myself with a great deal of open space and time which I had no idea how to fill. Without any chaos to fill the quiet spaces, I unravelled once again into a seven week depression that lasted until one night I decided that I could not see any possible future for myself and would end it.  I felt without purpose and without hope or desire.  I no longer had children, family or chaos to blame my unhappiness on, I didn’t have an extremely busy life; I only had TIME and it felt like horrendous torture, alone with my mind.  I couldn’t even decipher my own thoughts, they were so pent up and running so fast.

I went to bed one January night with a new resolve. With all of my pills lined up beside me; Lithium, Seroquil. Desyrl – I felt like an emotional cripple.  I didn’t know where I belonged in this life anymore and I wanted to check out. The plan was that I would sleep until everyone was asleep, maybe until 3:00am which had lately become my weird hour of waking. I would get into my pick-up truck leaving a note that I couldn’t sleep and had gone for a drive (not terribly abnormal for me in those days).  During that drive, I would go as far as I could until I would find the perfect highway underpass to run my truck into, causing myself to die and no one else.  I didn’t want my children living with the legacy of suicide and felt this was the best option. I felt a kind of relief on this decision. Ironically and because I had simply “given up” control over my future, I fell into a rare and deep sleep. My life was about to completely turn around and I didn;t even see it coming.