|Have you ever had the experience of knowing you had, for a
brief moment, crossed over into another dimension? All my life
I’d had brief, sporadic experiences of this phenomena. Then one
day, I listened to a sermon from a visiting speaker at our local
Unitarian Univeralist Church. He spoke about having mystical,
transcendent spiritual experiences, and how it was common in all
religions to have these. They happened often when people were
experiencing the beauty of nature, or during deep meditation, or during
any time when, for whatever reason, a person experienced sensory
deprivation. Anytime someone could shut out the competing sights
and sounds of daily life and was able to contemplate a more meaningful
existence for a brief moment, these experiences were possible. It
was then that I began to understand what I frequently
You always know when you’ve had one because there is an ineffable quality to the experience. I have experienced them driving down the highway, when the boring, repetitive nature of a drive I made every day and the drone of the car engine or the sound of the wheels against the pavement soon lulled me into another place in my mind. Sometimes I would have them in those brief moments between being awake and falling asleep. Sometimes, when lost in thought so deep that all other sights and sounds were shut out, I would feel I had seen things that were real rather than imagined my own thoughts. And often during meditation, unusual images would float into my quiet, blank mind. When this happens, that ineffable quality is felt. You can’t explain it, but it FEELS different than normal thought.
I decided to start encouraging these experiences so as to explore this phenomenon more fully. First, I needed to find a quiet place, but in my apartment on a busy street, there was no room of the house where I could shut the door and completely drown out the traffic outside. I needed silence, and since that was hardly going to be possible, I would settle for having some kind of white noise in the background that would be repetitive and predictable. I went into the bathroom, shut the door, turned on the shower, put the toilet seat down, put cotton in my ears to at least muffle all sounds, and sat down to meditate. Not the most effective way to meditate, since I couldn’t really lie back and totally relax or I’d fall off the toilet. But I was able to calm myself, slump over and let my body go as totally limp as possible, and then start to zone out.
At first there was a lot of mind chatter, which is common. I usually see and hear words in my mind, as if I’m talking to myself. In between these chattering moments, which gradually became fewer and fewer, I would sense an image which had nothing to do with my chatter, in which I had that feeling. That indescribable feeling. That feeling of being somewhere else. That feeling that, for a moment, I had left the present reality. It was only brief, just one or two images, and as soon as I realized I was there and began to turn the images over in my mind and analyze them, I was no longer there. In that space, you can’t think analytically because it is a place of pure experience. Using the analytical side of the brain seems to pull you back and make it disappear. I wondered in that moment if I could ever turn off the thoroughly logical, thinking side of me, long enough to stay there for more than a few seconds.
During this first session, the things I saw were:
A red desk with a key inside it
My oldest son sitting in a chair
My oldest son as a toddler sitting in a car seat
A shelf containing little packets that looked like teabags
My aunt and grandmother, who recently died, dancing together.
Empty black space with objects floating around
Now, what did those things mean, and are they somehow related?
I’ve never owned a red desk, nor ever seen one. But when I saw the red desk, for some reason the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” came to mind in which the children of the book go inside a wardrobe and find themselves transported to another land. I found myself wondering what the key in the red desk was supposed to unlock. I felt certain that I would find out at some later time.
When I saw my son, full grown, and then saw him again immediately as a toddler in his car seat, I felt I was being shown that it is possible to go back in time. In this other dimension, time is meaningless, which quantum physicists have been telling us for some time.
The shelf containing the many different teabags seemed to represent the many, many choices available to me.
My aunt and grandmother lived together for many years, and my grandmother had recently passed away. Also, their church does not believe in dancing. But to see them dancing together made me feel that death had set her free from her previous restraints. Not only the physical restraints of living in physical form, but the restraints of a belief system that was confining and unnecessarily restrictive.
As I watched the empty, black space with objects floating around in it, I felt somehow the infinite nature of the universe was being communicated. We are objects adrift in a vast expanse, and it’s this expanse we are now exploring. I could not identify any of the floating objects, and it’s as if the objects themselves were not important, only the fact that they were in some way defining or explaining the space they were floating in.
At that point, I stopped the meditation because I remembered my previous training in my Psychology of Learning class, that short term memory can only store around seven plus or minus two chunks of information at a time and to add more would have been to lose what I was holding there, so I chose to stop and come to the computer and jot down the things I had seen while they were still vividly in my mind. Because the six things I had seen appeared to be six disjointed and unrelated things, my mind was storing them as six chunks instead of one continuous experience. I realized this because there was a seventh thing which I began to see, and as I was experiencing it, I began to realize that I was losing some of my memory of the previous six things, so I chose to let go of the seventh rather than lose any of the previous six. However, now that I think about letting go of the seventh chunk, I am still able to retain some memory of it. It involved the headboard of a bed that I had previously owned but had sold. The headboard had been made by my grandfather, and before I sold it, I had asked my grandmother if she would be offended if I got rid of it. We didn’t have space to store it at the time, and she said no, she didn’t mind if I got rid of it. In my image, there were things stored behind the headboard. I don’t know the significance of those things, but the fact that the headboard is gone and I felt I had to get permission to get rid of it is, I think, significant. Is this process going to help me let go of things that should long since have been gotten rid of?
So, what I seem to have learned today is that there is a vast expanse that I am going to be exploring where time has no meaning, where there is a key that unlocks things, and where previously restrictive beliefs are going to be shed in favor of greater freedom and more numerous choices. That sounds good to me.
I also need to stress that when you are seeing these things, there is a very real feeling that you are not in your regular space-time, that’s how you can tell the difference between them and just regular thoughts. And as soon as you start to try and analyze what you see, you pop back into your regular space where things feel normal. So resist the urge to analyze. I believe that over a period of time and with practice, I will be able to stay in this space for longer periods. For each of the seven observations I mentioned, I was only with each one for a very brief few seconds. It was not one continuous experience of seeing seven things at once. I came out and went back in for each one, probably because my own limited ability to sustain the state at this time.
Some might question why there is any value to this experience. First, if one is curious at all, one must have some kind of expectant feeling about what else might be discovered. Second, even if you cannot leave space-time and you are only exploring your own subconscious mind, there is value to that, especially since it is incredibly difficult to make changes to the subconscious mind through conscious means. Third, the process of spending time in deep meditation is extraordinarily restorative mentally, emotionally and physically. Fourth, trusting your inner wisdom is incredibly important, and something most people do not do, so spending time getting in touch with that wisdom is quite valuable, in my opinion. Also, if you believe in a supreme being or Source, you might just encounter it during your travels, or at least get some sense of your connection to the rest of humanity and the universe at large. Fifth, if you have questions, you might find answers.