My hope is that if I’m ever lost, I’ll come back to this entry and be reminded of how I’m meant to be living. I scribbled these truths on a piece of notebook paper in a moment of clarity. I was in the process of integrating a sacred experience -
You have guardians protecting you
You are strong and protecting yourself
There are few true ways to move through this world:
We are all one big energetic family
God is the breath, the heartbeat sustaining ALL
You are meant to be because the universe exists.
We live in a mystical cosmic structure, naturally. It is only our stubborn minds and years of conditioning that prevent us from accessing sacred experiences daily; the sacred is always here, awaiting our attention. Mystical experiences are difficult to describe because they exist in a realm beyond language and reasoning. In fact, ineffability is one of the trademark qualities of a mystical encounter. As soon as we attempt to put our mystical experiences into words, we have already shrunken them, regardless of how beautifully we speak. Still, it is in our nature to want to share our experiences with each other, so we do the best we can. I’m going to attempt to recount my understanding of the mystical here.
How sweetly I remember the first time I ever fully stepped outside of my mind. It was during a sacred ceremony the night I met the Medicine Father. “Show me what you’ve got!” I challenged the spirits before we began. “I’m ready. Bring it on full-throttle!” An hour later, I was curled into a ball on the floor - far from the respectable lotus pose I was meant to be maintaining - crying underneath a pink blanket, completely in awe and entirely transported to a more real Reality than I’d experienced before. The initiation into that Reality had begun with the removal of my mind. It was sucked out from my ear, to be exact, by some sort of spirit entities.
I remember watching my mind from the outside in and realizing how severely it had been limiting me. My mind was not the be-all-end-all definitive source of ‘what is’ or ought to be. It was a sea of self-constructed thoughts that had little to do with ultimate Reality.
The following morning, I shared details of the ongoing struggle I had detaching from the pervading impressions inside my head. “I can’t get my mind to leave,” I said, “and I’m not sure the spirit creatures will always be there to help me.” Even more disturbing: if ever I managed to steer my mind into a neutral state, it didn’t stay there long. My mind had the tendency to drift to a place of negative possibilities. “Why is this?” I asked. “Why not drift somewhere amazing? Why always the downward spiral?!”
A gentle-souled man then posed a simple suggestion to me, “Instead of trying to forcefully push your mind away, why don’t you acknowledge it with gratitude?”
And so I did. During the second night of ceremony, I showered my mind with pure, unadulterated gratitude.
Thank you for being there, mind. You do so much for me. Thank you for your creative imaginings, for your power and insights. Thank you for accompanying me when I need you.
And you know what? My mind got out of the way. With no fuss or frustrations, it quietly dissolved, revealing something much more immediate and essential: Reality.
I danced for the first time I’d ever danced in ceremony. My body moved effortlessly! I was dancing without watching. Alive without contemplation. Open and empty of all of me, but filled with all Reality. I felt connected to everyone and everything - my tribe, my other human beings, the mountains and valleys and deserts and trees - all of us rejoicing.
As I rolled through a list of all the people in my life I wanted to give more to - more thanks, more awareness, more understanding - I suddenly realized, “It’s everyone! It’s infinity! You don’t need a list. Live in gratitude. Live giddy with gratitude daily!”
At the end of ceremony, I texted a picture of myself back home to a friend. “It looks like you just made love to God,” he said.
The undeniable inter-connectedness of all people, things, elements of nature, past & future happens, and cosmic entities is a core element of a mystical experience. I have yet to experience an awakening accompanied by a feeling of superiority. In fact, the exact opposite holds true: a deep sense of humility prevails. I return from ceremony with an undeniable urge to serve humanity. I return a better, sweeter, more open-hearted, more connected me.
During a sacred insight, one may see this connectedness as a matrix-like grid or web of energy. Or the wholeness may be felt as a shared consciousness or unity. This sense of unity is not merely intellectual, it is known as a deep understanding. I often feel this connectedness at the primal, tribal level. Sitting in a circle during ceremony with my sisters and brothers and the Medicine Father, I am overwhelmed with the feeling that -
This is how it’s supposed to be! This is what it means to be alive. We are here together making music, exploring consciousness, supporting each other’s discoveries. We are in a place of great soul-integrity. There is no need to defend; there is only understanding.
There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be.
At the end of one such ceremony, a diva sat atop a fuzzy white pillow and reached for a glass bottle of Voss at her feet. I crawled over to tell her she reminded me of a snow bunny.
“I’ve wanted to tell you something, too,” she said. “You are so beautiful!”
“So are you,” I smiled. Thanks for noticing me.
“I can’t lie about my truths anymore,” she said. “Not to others and not to me. No more lies!” the snow bunny smiled. “Not even white fuzzy ones.”
“Did you feel the alien presence here tonight?” I asked.
“Yes,” the snow bunny nodded. “Don’t worry. They’re friendly.”
Vivid imagery of the pyramids and other Egyptian symbols had come to me during the evening, just before I realized the ever-present eye in the sky was watching.
“Know we’re here,” it said to me. It was as non-threatening as a flower or a tree. It twinkled as it spoke. The only reason it could have been perceived as scary was because it was so other-worldly.
“Why me?” I asked ridiculously. “Why are you talking to me?”
“Because you’re here,” it said - or rather sent telepathically. “You showed up,” they continued. “You’re the one suddenly paying attention. We are always here.”
They are always here. Watching.
Encountering the Divine - Gifts & Protection
God is a force beyond all comprehension, supporting the entire cosmic structure with its energy. I think of God as the sustaining heartbeat of all eternity - the breath that moves the universe inward and outward through a series of expansions, collapses - life, death, and re-birth. God may appear in a variety of forms during a mystical encounter. Accompanying the presence is often a sense of sacredness, reverence, and wonder.
One of the first Goddesses to ever visit me in ceremony was a flowering Goddess, Shakti. I bloomed alongside her in the center of a lotus flower. Little did I know, she was about to bestow an incredible gift upon me.
She entered me as a serpent, penetrating deeply down my throat. I didn’t realize it was her at first, so when she arrived in my belly and planted a seed, I thought, “Great, now a serpent-demon baby is growing inside of me.” I quickly corrected my thoughts back to Reality. It was not a demon baby - as strange as the creature inside me seemed - it was the idea of a child being born in me. I saw the child first as a beautiful Hindu God (truly of Shakti). Then he became a human; he became of me. He was a small, male being sitting beside me, waiting to be guided.
I’d never felt that before - what it would mean for me to bring another consciousness into this world and support its growth and journey.
Later my boyfriend would laugh and say, “You couldn’t get to that point on your own?”
“No,” I said. “That’s what these ceremonies are for. They get me to where I need to be.”
Thank you, Mother spirit, for planting that seed in me.
It could have also been a creative seed that was planted in me - a reminder of my power to create anything. Perhaps I was meant to bring all of my root, sexual energy up through my chakra system so that it could be expressed more fully, in higher forms of creativity, rather than just through sexuality.
Another gift given during a deep meditation was a reminder to marvel. Sometimes I try so hard to figure out the world (analyze, compartmentalize, configure reasons for everything) that I have difficulty letting go. I demand certainty before I feel comfortable moving on. I ponder endlessly, existentially. But we need not do so. We need only to look around and marvel. Marvel at the struggle. Marvel at the joy. Marvel at the way we dance, at the art we create for each other, the food we eat, the homes we build for our families. Marvel at the love, the heartache, the forest trees. Marvel at the mind’s fanatic wandering. It truly is a miracle to be here at all.
I walked through an olive grove in the Sacred Valley and knew I was protected. It wasn’t just the trees protecting me - it was saints, prophets, ancestors, angels, all things heavenly. I’d forgotten how ever-present and protective spirits are.
One ceremony, a friendly spirit made of rocks sat atop my shoulder and used a tool to remove an unwanted entity from my back. The multi-dimensional entity had been latched onto my back for several weeks. I’d been feeling it there as it curiously watched the world through me; it didn’t feel harmful, but it wasn’t exactly helping either. I was glad it was removed.
Later that same evening, I was so caught up in another group member’s energetic release that I momentarily blacked out until one of the prayer singers gently brought me back. I knew then, I needed to work on protecting myself, and upon that realization, several spirits appeared and constructed a white shield surrounding me. The shield was strong, solid, and filled with iridescent light and protective energy.
The Medicine Father had warned us of this: during and after ceremonies, our energy systems are exposed wide open for all the world to see. We need to be careful of who we encounter and where we go, as we are sensitive to receiving all sorts of energies.
After returning home from that retreat, I climbed into bed and was kept awake by a crystal-clear vision of a super-imposed reality. It was Saint Francis of Assisi kneeling near a forest stream. He was there to watch over me. He wasn’t too alert. He seemed peaceful and at ease. His calmness told me I didn’t have anything to worry about. There wasn’t anything dangerous in my vicinity.
During another ceremony, I found myself in a protective, crystalline transport device floating through an kingdom of jeweled mysteries. I was given a glowing, ruby-like gem upon entrance to this mystical place. The gem felt like an initiatory reward, a “Good job, you’ve made it to the next level!” boon. The transport device and gem lingered with me post-ceremony, much in the way St. Francis had continued to watch over me. This time, the lingering felt physically tangible; I could feel the weight of the ruby beside me as I moved through the world to places as mundane as the gym. It glowed brighter whenever I was in the company of someone I could trust, someone with whom I could be vulnerable, somebody who understood sacred, cosmic mysteries. It was another form of protection.
Transcendence of Space & Time
I was once asked, “Where do you go when you meditate so deeply? What is this other place? Is it here, physically?”
To this I say: the places one encounters during a mystical experience are always here. To transcend, one need not go anywhere physically; transcendence is a level of awareness accessed which allows the individual to perceive multiple dimensions, planes, ‘times’, and spheres of the cosmos simultaneously. The union of past and future are merged into the present so that everything is always happening - now.
Those who share the details of their sacred encounters often describe a sense of arriving at an ultimate Reality, claiming that their experiences were “more real” than the ordinary state of consciousness we experience during day-to-day living. I think of it like this: when you are dreaming at night, no matter how real the dream seems, once you wake in the morning and move through your day, you can typically look back and say, “That was just a dream. Now, I am awake. I understand the difference between the two.” Similarly, in the midst of a mystical experience, you can clearly look back at day-to-day living and say, “That is but a mere dream when compared to this Reality.” The things experienced during a sacred encounter cannot be qualified as hallucinations, beliefs, or even versions of reality; what is encountered is known as fact.
Often accompanying a mystical experience is a new and deeper appreciation for what it means to be alive. This could be due to an ego death, re-connection with one’s most authentic self, or visionary revelations experienced during the encounter. During a sacred experience, a deeper sense of self-acceptance, purpose, and personal calling are often unveiled- and after having felt these things so purely, it can be difficult to return to regular life without integrating these discoveries. In fact, returning from a sacred experience can be downright painful! This has been the case for me when I haven’t been living 100% congruently with my highest calling.
“Mind the gap,” my dear friend says, “Between where your life is now and where you know it needs to be.”
People sometimes return from transformative retreats and quit jobs, leave marriages, and uproot from old patterns of thinking that are no longer serving their development. Had we been living more congruently with our spirits pre-retreat, we wouldn’t have to perform so much reconstructive surgery on our lives upon re-entry.
A friend shared the difficulty she experienced when returning from one of her own sacred encounters. “I became so depressed,” she said. “I’d just spent an entire week playing with God. I didn’t want to return from that! I wanted to stay with God forever, playing.”
We can! We can construct our lives so that we are always playing with God. The ability to integrate one’s mystical experiences into everyday living is key to long-term empowerment and peace. It is not enough to experience mesmerizing, blissful, mind-blowing encounters with the Divine. Individuals blessed with sacred experiences are blessed so they may return to the ‘regular’ world better equipped to make lasting, positive, truth-inspired change. These initiates are meant to help evolve humanity. This does not make them prophets, saints, or revolutionaries (though they can be), nor does it make them innately more important than other human beings; what it does give them is an added sense of responsibility. They cannot un-see what they have seen. After a sacred experience, one’s consciousness will never return to its prior state of being. It has reached ever-higher planes, and there it will reside.
What I remember most from one of my first sacred meditations with the Medicine Father, was the incredible love I felt for my boyfriend, for all my beloveds, and most profoundly - objectlessly.
During the portion of the meditation when my heart-space was focused on my boyfriend, the amount of love I felt for him terrified me. It was so raw, real, and pure. I realized he was not just someone I was dating, he was the man in my life (and that meant a lot to me!) Perhaps he was even the man of my life.
No matter how much love poured out of my system, I was always replenished with more from within. I had never felt a love with such intense clarity. I was not ‘in love with love’ or ‘in love with possibilities’ or ‘in love, but from a wounded place that needed healing.’ I was just Love. I was Loving. It was my reason for being! I remember thinking of my boyfriend, “I wish you could feel this feeling! I will spend my entire life trying to give this feeling to you.” I began to laugh and cry simultaneously because of the fact that I could feel such profound love - the fact that I could generate that - astounded me. And suddenly, the love was no longer solely directed at my boyfriend, it was out-pouring for anyone I’d ever loved - then it was outpouring for everybody - then the love began flowing through me objectlessly.
The fact that we humans are capable of such a powerful feeling brought me to ever more tears of depth-filled joy. Surely it must be our greatest gift, to feel this love. We go through so much - our hearts are so broken so many times - yet we continue loving. What beings!
This is a true gift: to love as a human being.
The Medicine Father and the prayer singers filled the room with songs of powerful healing. “They are my cosmic parents,” I thought. “This music is their love, healing.” A beautiful tree enclosed in a bubble emerged from my heart. I felt myself elevating. The Medicine Father approached and tapped between my brows. My third eye was blown open and I was taken to the center of the cosmos where I realized - the center is everywhere. We are always located at the twinkling center of things.
I could call this place Mt. Meru, Shambala, or Mountain Qaf. Whatever the name, I am intimately familiar with the place.
I can’t explain it this evening. My friend wrote from thousands of miles away. But you are becoming powerful, my love.
He had always wanted power for me.
“Are you there?” the Medicine Father whispered beside me in ceremony.
“Yes, thank you,” I smiled. “I’ve arrived.”
Update: If you’re curious to read additional personal stories about spiritual transformation. I have several others, but I’ve combined some of my favorites into a book that will be published soon, so the stories can't appear online. Just reach out, and I'll send them your way!