What is a Mystical Experience?

 In Attention, Inspiration, Meditation Resources, Meditation Tips, Sarah McLean

When was the last time you felt in deep communion with creation? Perhaps it was while you were hiking that the wind in the trees and the birdsongs charmed you. Or maybe it was a vibrant sunset that captured your attention. Perhaps it was the magical twinkling of stars in a dark night sky. Or while you sat and listened to the rushing water by the creek in a canyon. These moments make time stand still. They leave you awestruck.

They don’t happen because you’re especially spiritual or deserving, or you’re in the right place at the right time, or you’ve wished it into being. Instead, a moment like this a gift that you have to be present for. Your attention has to be open and unadulterated. You have to be relaxed. Then your awareness expands and your sense of separation dissolves. There are no boundaries between you and that which you are observing.

It’s a fusion of lover and beloved. Your awareness, and the awareness of that which you are in love with at the moment, merge. And all that is left is awareness itself, unbounded. In these moments, everything seems to makes sense.

Some experience bliss during these experiences. Some report that they hear a heavenly melody or an angelic choir, while others see bright sparkly lights, taste divine nectar, or are intoxicated by celestial perfumes. Some experience tears and laughter simultaneously, it’s as if the perfection of life overwhelms them.

Reading or hearing about a mystical moment is very different from having one. That’s because they transport us from the world of time and space into the world of expansion and illumination. So it is the work of poets, artists, and musicians to translate the sublime experience for us.

Mystical experiences can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. If one only lasts a second or two, we often don’t give it much significance. We simply enjoy it, then dismiss it as a “nice feeling.”  But for a those who put knowing the Creator and its Creation first, these moments are message that calls them to embark and continue on the mystic’s path, the path to love or what some call Self-realization.

Who is a mystic?

A mystic rarely calls herself (or himself) a mystic. They are somewhat detached from the hypnosis of social norms and customs, cultural conditioning, and worldly influences. She (or he) is no longer interested in the roles people play, or her or other people’s status, or their own self-image. These external measurements are no longer that significant. What is significant however, is to expand her consciousness and open her heart to love. She deeply desires to experience union with creation and Creator. She wants to honor the divinity in everything. She wants to see the world as divine. It’s her ultimate goal.  Maybe you are a mystic. But if you are, you probably won’t tell anyone.

A mystic’s path is far from formal. It doesn’t require gaining more knowledge, thinking your way into a divine or ecstatic state, faking it till you make it, or doing endless acts of charity. It doesn’t require you to get deeply involved in your religious practices, either.

Instead, the journey requires faith and patience, as the path isn’t linear and can be a little confusing, much like walking a labyrinth for the first time. You want to get to the center, but it can seem as though the path is leading you away from it. Faith that you heading in the right direction will ultimately get you there.

A mystic walks with present and open awareness, a deep desire to know the Divine, and the ability to receive.

They realize that there is no knowing the timing of Divine realization. That’s why spiritual practice is essential. It will help you to maintain your faith and help you be more patient. Whether you engage in daily prayer, meditation, creative practices, or your work in the world,  your awareness will become more attuned to the subtle and powerful forces of love, synchronicity, and magnetism.

Can meditation make you a mystic?

I love meditation practices, such as a breath awareness or mantra meditation, as they naturally settle down the nervous system, create more silence, open the heart, expand awareness, and provide the opportunity to merge with the source of my attention, the source of all that is. I call it the field of love.

I’ve been practicing meditation for 20 years. It’s known as the perfect antidote to stress, but what is more important to me is that meditation attunes my awareness to the wonder of creation and the love that lives though you as you. And in all things.

Am I supposed to have visions in meditation?

There are no experiences considered ‘bad’ in meditation. You’ll definitely like some meditation experiences more than others, but no matter what your experiences are in meditation, don’t worry about doing it “right.” Each meditation and its experiences will be different depending on your ever-changing physical and emotional state as well as your life circumstances. This can include how you slept, what you ate, what your personal interactions were like that day, etc. Don’t be surprised when your experiences change. Do realize, however, that each meditation will offer you the most nourishing experiences for you.

I live in Sedona where there can be an emphasis on the mystical experiences both in and out of meditation. Though mystical experiences can and do occur in meditation, they are generally not the norm.

What can and does happen in meditation is that you can have all kinds of physical sensations such as twitching, coolness, warmth, feeling light or heavy, feeling pain, or tingly. You can experience emotions such as impatience, wanting to stop, boredom, enjoyment, joy, sadness, fear, grief, anxiety, anger, frustration, or sham. You will also have thoughts such as reviewing the past, planning or imagining the future, thinking about others, repetitive thinking, obsessing, wishing/hoping, attachment, and judging your experience. You can also fall asleep.

You might begin to expect or want your meditation to go a certain way based on previous ones, and this could frustrate you when you don’t have those experiences every time. Don’t try to repeat your great experiences. Instead, treat each meditation with the beginner’s mind, with no preconceptions as to what will happen. Mystical experience are spontaneous. That means you can’t  plan them or wish them into being.

What is this about transcendence?

What can happen if you are easy on yourself in meditation is the state of transcendence. Transcendence means to “go beyond.”

This is a naturally occurring phenomenon marked by the loss of time and space. You no longer sense where your body begins and ends and no longer are concerned with your to do lists. Transcendence is a deep dive into the source of your attention: into awareness itself. This dive serves to eliminate the stress that can shroud your perception, and the qualities of harmony, peacefulness, and intelligence are enlivened in you. When you are not meditating, you become more sensitive to synchronicities, your intuition, and sensing the Divine in all things.

It’s important to remember that meditation isn’t about having mystical experiences. The goal is to simply do it. The practice itself, no matter what the content of it seems to be, will help you to have a better life.

Think of it as a way of expanding your senses so you awaken to what is really happening and who you really are.  Meditation cultivates inner peace and spaciousness and makes way for magical mystical moments in your every day life.  I invite you to give it a try.

Sarah McLean
Sarah McLean considers herself an American Transcendentalist. She’s dedicated her life to exploring meditation: living as a resident of both a Zen Buddhist monastery and a traditional ashram in India, as well as living and working in a Transcendental Meditation center. She headed up the education programs at Deepak Chopra’s center in California and Byron Katie’s School for the Work. Sarah is a best-selling Hay House author of the books Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation and The Power of Attention: Awaken to Love and its Unlimited Potential with Meditation. She's also a sought-after speaker who is determined to create more peace on this planet by helping people wake up to the wonder and beauty of their lives and the world around them through the practice of meditation.
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