I’m often asked, “What can others do to have a mystical experience?”
It is a valid and important question. Spiritual awakening or mystical experience, realizing God, the Divine, or one’s purpose in life are spiritual longings inherent to many of us. And lately, it’s becoming more and more apparent that a lot of us are in fact, having these types of experiences. But what about those who desperately yearn for something like this and it just isn’t happening? Can one make it happen? Are there exercises one can do? Or dogma one can follow to ensure communication with the Divine that resides in each of us?
The answer is no. First of all, there is no one dogma that will satisfy everyone. We all have different spiritual needs and lessons and we do not all comprehend in the same way. You would not explain how to bake a cake using the same words you’d use when talking to a four-year-old as you would to an adult, now would you? Of course not.
But that doesn’t mean that just because there’s no tried-and-true set of rules you can follow to find your answers that you are left completely to the mercy of luck or fate. There are certain things you can do right now to help open yourself to the possibility.
Here are my suggestions:
1. MEDITATE – Even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes a day, meditation helps you disconnect from the endless chatter of the outside world (and more importantly, your own ego chatter) and allows you to open the channels of communication with your Higher Self–that part of you that connects you with God. And you don’t have to follow an elaborate ritual either; all you have to do is sit quietly and breathe. More about this in a forthcoming post.
2. GET OUT IN NATURE – Take a walk in the park or around the block and allow the sights, the sounds, the scents and the experiences of nature to surround you. If you’re able to spend even more time outdoors, such as camping, hiking, horseback riding, boating, gardening, etc., so much the better. Sometimes just sticking your toes in the sand or going barefoot in summer grass can recharge your spirit. The important thing is to absorb what is around you: take a deep breath and really notice the scents, sounds and sights; feel them as they nourish your spirit.
3. OPEN YOUR HEART AND YOUR MIND – Although this sounds easier than it is, meditation can help a great deal in this area. New experiences cannot get “in” to a closed mind. In the practice of Zen, there is a state of consciousness referred to as “Beginner’s Mind.” It is something we are all supposed to strive for. It means that we should approach each experience as though it were something we’d never encountered before. It is in this state that we can know the true blessing of each moment.
4. LOOK FOR JOY IN YOUR LIFE – Take a few moments right now and jot down five things that bring you joy.They don’t have to be things that cost money, they can be simple things like spending more time with your family. And don’t forget to list your hobbies because when you lose yourself in your hobbies, believe it or not, it’s at that moment that your mind is truly in a meditative state and you probably don’t even realize it!
I’ll make it easier for you. List your five things here:
Now work toward incorporating more of those things into your life.
If this seems like an insignificant suggestion, don’t be fooled. It is powerful. It will change your life. But you have to follow through; that which brings you joy is the gateway to the realization of the purpose of your life.
5. RECORD YOUR DREAMS – Maybe you’re longing for improved health, a red Ferrari, a chance to compete in the Olympics, or whatever, and that’s great, but you have to actually do something to help instigate the process. Here’s a place to start: imagine your goal in intricate detail, as much detail as possible. See what it looks like in the palm of your hand, feel what it feels like to have achieved that goal–the great amount of joy it brings you, and feel your gratitude to God, the Universe and Self that accompanies the realization of your goal. Describe how it tastes and how it smells, and what sounds you notice as you attain your dream. Note how your life has changed because of it. Then write it down. By putting into words your hopes and dreams, you are setting the molecules in motion to help manifest these things into your life. And the more explicit you can be when you imagine them, the better.
Besides recording your dreams on paper, voice recorder or computer, another way to do this is to cut out pictures that show people doing the things you want to do (or have). Then paste them onto a poster board near your computer or work-space where you can see it every day. In the Bible, Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” So while you’re asking, why not EXPECT THE BEST? If you always settle for less because you’ve convinced yourself that that’s all you deserve, then that’s all you’ll get. On the other hand, if you look for the best, you will find it. Or I should say, it will find you.
One of my favorite quotes is by Les Brown. He said, “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars!”
So WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
The dreams you have while asleep are important too but they sometimes arrive in codes that make sense only to you. However, if you write them down on a regular basis, after a while you’ll begin to see a pattern emerge. This is another way the voice of your Higher Self communicates with you. It’s up to you whether to listen or not, but if your life isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, what have you got to lose by listening to your Higher Self?
6. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - How many times have you gotten on an elevator when the only other person in the elevator was a person who gave you the creeps? You feel the tension in your body and your gut says, “Something about this situation doesn’t feel right,” but you push that thought away, telling yourself you’re being ridiculous. Then you hop on the elevator anyway, in spite of the warnings from your body. This is how people get hurt. Or worse. Better to look like an idiot than to have something bad happen.
Shamanism teaches that when you become familiar with your own body’s messages, you also become more in tune with your Higher Self. So the next time you’re pondering what to do in a given situation, ask your body! Try on each solution like a big, fluffy coat and see which one feels best. The key here, is to allow your body to speak and not to impose your will upon the message.
The first lesson I learned in martial arts was that before proceeding with anything, you should make a quick survey of the situation and if something didn’t feel right, it probably wasn’t. The best defense is not to knowingly put yourself in harm’s way and to be aware of your surroundings and of what your body is telling you. Nine times out of ten you can avoid confrontation this way.
7. WATCH FOR SIGNS – This goes along with the previous suggestion of being aware. Not only can you avoid danger this way, you will also begin to notice little nuances that lie beneath the surface that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
The day after my mother’s funeral, I looked out my window and there were about 20 flickers (a type of woodpecker) on our tree in the backyard. I thought it rather odd, then called my neighbor to see if she was experiencing the same thing. She wasn’t. She came over to see all the flickers and by the time she arrived a few minutes later, my entire backyard–along with the trees and houses of my nearby neighbors–was black with robins. The flickers were gone, but I didn’t see them fly away. Nor did I see the robins arrive. At the time I was still in shock over the death of my mother and it barely registered in my brain that this was something unusual. However, I couldn’t escape the feeling that the robins were trying to be near me because as I looked out the window, they kept landing on the gutter outside right above my face and when I opened the door and stepped outside, they didn’t even try to fly away.They just sat there staring at me. Thousands of them.
There are signs like this around us all the time. And by paying more attention and giving them more credence, we open our minds, thereby allowing a new set of awareness to enter. (And meditation will help you notice these things as you’ve never noticed them before.)
8. BELIEVE! – NOTHING is impossible. “How do you know?” you may ask. I know because the impossible happened to me. And it’s still happening. I also learned that what we believe is more important than any sort of scientific justification. I learned this the hard way because every time I tried to disprove or validate my supernatural and mystical experiences, it always turned out to be a complete waste of my time. So trust your heart. You know the truth.
9. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! – There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “If you fall down seven times, get up eight!” Yes! Maybe all you have to do is turn the next corner and you will find what you’re looking for. However, you’ll never find it if you don’t keep walking. Remember, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. It’s only our minds that tell us so. Our minds and spirits are powerful tools, but like anything else, when we learn to use them properly, we can accomplish so much more!
10. LET GO IN ORDER TO GAIN CONTROL – Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? But my entire book is about this very concept. I wasn’t looking for a mystical experience when it happened. It found me. And I have discovered that the more I try to force things, the more resistant they become. That’s often because we are looking in the wrong place for our answers. Our answers (and God) aren’t “out there”; they’re inside of us, and as long as we keep looking “out there”, we won’t find what we’re looking for. When I step back from my ego mind–that part of me that thinks it’s in charge and will fight to the death to maintain that position–and allow things to come to me, that’s when the magic happens. Every time. This too, is easier said than done, but it is important. It’s the same as the expression “Let go and let God.”
I know all these things because I lived them. The circumstances in my life arranged themselves in such a manner that it was as if I had no choice but to abide by their principles. Technically, yes, I had a choice, I always have a choice, but in this instance, my mind and spirit would not allow me to choose to go against the very truths I had sought my entire life and suddenly discovered had been deposited at my feet. The interesting part is that they revealed themselves to me backwards. I was living them before I understood what was happening to me, i.e., I was enjoying the finished meal (which I had somehow unknowingly prepared) but I had to figure out the recipe if I cared at all to understand or explain how I was able to make such a splendid meal in the first place!
So, this is my advice to you. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Be aware of what’s around you. Listen. Taste. Breathe. Love. Laugh. Trust yourself. Allow–and the magic will find you.