The mystical experience isn’t just for saints and monks. It’s possible for all of us.
Here at the Diaries, I often refer to myself as a mystic. What I mean by that is that I cultivate in my spiritual life a direct connection to God. I personally contact divine presence through a daily practice of sacred meditation, but other mystics may achieve a connection with God through art-making, walking meditation or even dance. Everyone’s process is different, but I will focus mostly on meditation in this post since that is what I recommend to get started.
A mystic believes that it is possible to make direct contact with their higher power through inner seeking, and they pursue that connection in their spiritual life through the artful cultivation of their consciousness.
It’s a pretty daring proposition when you think about it. I mean, it was for me, as I was agnostic (verging on atheistic) for almost a decade around my college years. When I finally had a spontaneous spiritual awakening in 2013, that all changed and I felt the call to explore sacred meditation. Seven years later, I’ve developed a clear, tangible connection with divine presence through meditation, and I can firmly and confidently say that the mystical experience is very real and very possible for all of us. But still…it never fails to surprise me when Spirit comes near.
I’m not a monk or saint. I’m what a friend once called a “householding yogi.” And I guess I like that term, but I prefer mystic. I’m someone who lives in the ordinary world (rather than the ashram or monastery). I have a full-time job and bills to pay and a partner, but I also make time for meditation for an hour a day in the evenings. And that’s how I developed a strong mystical practice.
So, how do you achieve a mystical experience?
I have a few blog posts already where I talk about how I meditate. Check them out here and here for more information. In short, you sit quietly in a room where you can be alone. And you attempt to still the mind as much as possible, and then you call on God. Very simply, I inwardly think “God” and repeat that thought like I would use a mantra. If you keep your awareness on your desire to meet God, you will make the connection. In our science-is-everything world, this feels kind of like a miracle every time.
One note, in meditation, you don’t always have to call on God. You could make contact with your angels or your spiritual guardians. You have helpers on the otherside who are guiding you all the time. But I do recommend that you get to know the feeling of seeking contact with God.
Why do I prefer mysticism?
I appreciate the path of sacred meditation because it allows me to form my own definition of what is happening, and who and what is on the other side. I sense Truth better that way. I sense the Self better that way. When I operate outside of dogma and theory and mainstream spiritual culture, I am free to sense what I sense. Whether that’s a voice that says it is God, or a vision that looks like a Hindu angel, or nothing at all. When you pursue inner truth outside of the mainstream currents, you are self-reliant, and you are free to discover what is REALLY there for you. That way, you’re not looking for a carbon-copy of your neighbor’s realization or experience. You’re not looking for your experience to match what you’ve read in books or forums. This is raw mysticism. What matters most are the truths that make themselves known to YOU. Sometimes what you discover through your inner-wisdom will align with what other’s have found or what the holy books have shared, and sometimes not. Both forms of content are okay and valid. Even after you receive impressions in meditation, you get to run them through your very own heart to see if they feel right for you. At the end of the day, you are the navigator.
I guess at bottom, a solitary mystical path that doesn’t need authorization from a church body or a guide who has been there before is really the fastest way to sense your higher truth.
This is the fastest way to transcend man-made definitions and concepts of God. My inner guide once called it Para-brahman, which means an experience of God beyond what is commonly known or conceived of God. (PS, receiving little-known Hindi terms in meditation happens all the time for me. No prior knowledge of that tradition, but that’s just the kind of thing you’ll get in meditation. Kinda cool.)
Here’s my #1 tip in spirituality. Be choosy. Be selective about your methods of seeking. The ones that will serve your awakening and union with God the most will emphasize your INNATE ability to connect and to perceive truth. This is called sovereign, independent spirituality. Sovereign means you find your own way, you make your own sense of things based on what you experience in meditation.
Do note that the word sovereign here means you have the spiritual authority to connect to God directly; it does not mean your command is above God’s. The best mystics join their personal will with the will of God, and that’s actually how we advance the furthest in meditation.
What does it feel like to have a mystical experience?
Just like visiting with your best friend is different every time you get together, making contact with God varies from day to day. What is variable is your energy and mood, your degree of seeking God (or focus/will/openness), the energy of the day, and what’s next in your spiritual curriculum according to your higher soul.
But there are a few universals here that I can share:
- If your eyes are closed (which I recommend), you can perceive light moving around you. It’s not the light from your lamps. It will feel different. You can feel this light when it comes near. It’s holy light. It carries with it a sense of peace and stillness. It’s not the everyday kind of peace either, it’s profound peace. But I will say from experience that beginner meditators sometimes have a hard time relaxing when surreal lights come near and so it does take some practice and readiness to receive this peace and to relax into an exchange with the divine. If you’re new to this, try meditating with a blindfold to shut out lamp light, so you can see only inner light.
- Your physical body will feel different. Everyone is different, but when divine presence is near me in meditation, I get out-of-body. Sometimes just in my hands. Other times my whole body. When it’s my whole body, there’s a feeling that I am spinning in space. It’s actually pretty cool when that happens. When I first started meditation, I got out of body and got these spins often. It can be kind of distracting if you’re trying to dialogue with your spirit guides, angels or even God. What I recommend if you start getting “too” out of body, is visualize the column of light coming from God down into your head and body and move it with your mind’s eye down into the ground. Visusalizing energy in this way works. Divine light is responsive to your will and your consciousness. As a mystic and a meditator, what we’re doing essentiually is linking up consciously to this light of God and running it through our system in a way that reconnects us to God, to our planet, and to all beings. This is divine union with creation, and for many mystics this becomes the goal in our sprititual path.
- With enough meditation, you will ultimately receive truth and wisdom. It will not always be easy information to receive. Often it is about where you still need to heal in your heart, where you need to take responsibility, or new habits you should adopt out of self-love. The more you integrate this guidance in your life, the more universal truths will come. About the nature of God, the nature of time, how to best serve in this world, etc. This is how we heal ourselves and learn who the true self is. This is how we learn to bring more love (the nature of God) into our lives.
If it’s so natural, why don’t more people explore mysticism?
I honestly think that we are coming out of a dark age in our spiritual history where spiritual experiences were too tightly regulated by church governance. We’re also living through the age of reason (which is largely an improvement from too much superstition and blind deference to dogma), but what that also means is that if something can’t be measured and observed by science it is not considered a valuable pursuit or a good use of time. See where I’m goin with this? Both strict dogma and atheism are systems of thought that oppose the path of independent spirituality. And honestly, mystics have to overcome those dissenting forces every day to do what we do. It’s hard work and takes some stubbornness and bravery really. For the very nimble mystic, you will listen to and even entertain the validity of those opposing systems and weigh your approach against theirs all the time. That’s how a mystic stays open-minded and avoids fundamentalism. Pro tip: always be open to being wrong about what you think you know.
Finally, I think the number one reason more folks don’t explore independent mystical experience is because it’s so novel and has been “not on the menu” for so long that we wonder on some level if it is dangerous. Yeah, I mean fear. Fear is a huge barrier to this path. You don’t have safety in numbers like you would in organized religion, and for a social being like a human that can be unnerving.
Overcoming fear on the spiritual path really deserves it’s own post, but in short I will tell you how I overcame fear and really started connecting in a visceral way with divine presence.
I internalized the truth that I am one with God. We are all one in God, and therefore God’s divine presence and holy light is within us always. When we realize that, we can harness it. Internalizing this truth is best done through affirmation. Use affirmation throughout the day and in meditation for long enough and you can reprogram your psyche. Here’s a protective affirmation to try:
“I am surrounded by God’s protection and peace.”
Any time I feel fear creeping up in meditation (because it does for us all periodically), I just remember God. That I am a child of God, a branch in the tree of God. No darkness can overcome me with that knowing.
When I finally internalized my spiritual protection, I started really developing as a mystic. Every mystic has their method to instill a sense of divine peace and safety in meditation, but this knowing is so key. Your guides won’t come very close if you have a lot of fear in your system. They don’t want to scare or destabalize you. They will operate within your unique degree of readiness and comfort. Because they respect your free will. Your mystical experiences are in direct proportion to how open you are, so shedding blocks to the otherside is a part of the path.
I’ll end it here for today. If you want to know more, do check out “The Variety of Religious Experiences,” a scholastic survey of contemporary mystical phenomena as presented in a lecture series at the University of Edinburgh.
For me the insight of how little I know about everything was a substantial leap. Conditioned ego suffered on that one. From there it was a matter of leaving the plane without a parachute. Freefalling, for me, embodies the mystical view. Nothing to cling to and no beliefs to hold. Just the simple act of being in proximity to what the senses embrace. Great sharing, thank you.
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Couldn’t agree more, Bryan. Free falling in the meditation space and surrender are the #1 thing that opened me. Hope you’re well. Happy New Year.
I am well, you take care of yourself. You have so much to offer!
I like what you say about coming out of an age where spiritual experiences are regulated by organized religion, and at the same time we’re living through an age of reason where if something can’t be measured by science, it’s not considered valuable. Bob