I know I said the last installment was the end of our Energy series on the blog. However, I don’t feel right dropping a post series making elaborate claims about the nature of Energy and the Universe without providing at least a little bit of ‘how-to.’ (if you haven’t read any of the other installments in this series it starts <here>)

I’m tempted to write that it’s better to have some meditation practice before you start trying to feel your own energy, but my own history reminds me that my first introduction to energy came without any previous meditation practice. In fact, it was the informal study of my own energy that led me to meditation – not the other way around.

Becoming energy sensitive is an exercise in developing comfort with subtlety. Too often we think something doesn’t exist if it doesn’t hit us over the head. Or my personal favorite, “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”

That may be true for commercial purposes or a graduate thesis… but there are plenty of stars and galaxies and all sorts of things in the Universe we can’t measure with current scientific technology that very much do exist.

As I mentioned in the second installment of the Energy series – there are certainly times where I have struggled with my own energy sensitivity; doubting it.

A few months ago, though, as I quietly worked at my desk in the office, all I could hear was the ticking of the clock on the wall. It was so loud I couldn’t concentrate. I actually had to get up and walk away for a few minutes. In a moment of association, it struck me that the clock was always ticking – just that loud, just that way. It had been for years and years, I just didn’t always hear it.

Energy sensitivity is like this. When we’re distracted, when our attention is full of other things, we don’t notice our energy, even if we are familiar with energy-sensitivity. For people who are unaware of their energy, then, it’s fairly easy to ignore. We shouldn’t mistake subtlety with non-existence, however.

Most people actually do have experience with energy sensitivity, they just don’t think of it that way. The pain in our heart from a terrible break-up or loss of a loved one, the tingly feeling that comes with a new romance, gut feelings, some types of anxiety – the physical sensations associated with all of these are expressions of what’s going on in our energy field.

If you’re interested in starting to develop your own energy-sensitivity, I recommend the (fairly standard) exercise below.

Okay, So…. How do I do it?

Allow yourself about fifteen minutes in a quiet place (where you will not be disturbed) to try this exercise. That’s fifteen real minutes not five ‘this-feels-like-forever-surely-it’s-been-fifteen’ minutes.  🙂

If you’re the type of person to be constantly checking the clock or be worried that you should be spending your time doing “more important” things, set a timer on your phone or stove or whatever so that you are able to temporarily release the clock-anxiety.

It is critical to success of this exercise that you be able to ‘get out of your head’ – if you’re worried about how much time you have, all the things you need to do, or re-hashing some event at work, home, school, etc – you are unlikely to be able to do that.

The easiest way I have found to developing initial energy sensitivity is to stand or sit (whatever is going to be less distracting) with your palms about three-to-five inches apart in front of your heart.

Some recommend rubbing your palms together until they get all tingly and warm. This can be very helpful in the beginning as it will get your attention out of your head and into your palms – where it needs to be.

Try to move your palms as close together as you can without actually touching. Hold them there. Does it feel as if the surface of your palms or fingers are pulling together? The initial sensation to ‘feel’ for is an almost magnetic attraction between the palms of your hands.

Now slowly pull them apart… what happens to that magnetic sensation as you pull? Stop at about eight inches apart – keeping your concentration on the insides of your hands only – start moving your hands close together again.

Do you feel any resistance? (Keeping to the magnetic imagery – it may feel like you’ve flipped two magnets so that they are ‘like-to-like’ and are pushing back against each other).

Once you’ve developed some initial ‘magnetic’ sensation¸ slowly move your hands towards and away from each other, as if you were clapping in slow motion. Focus acutely on the sensation between your palms and how it changes. You should start to feel as if the air between your palms develops a ‘taffy-like’ quality.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything the first time you try. Spend fifteen minutes really trying this exercise every day for a week and I’m fairly certain you’ll feel something by the end of the seven day period.

The people that I’ve recommended this exercise to usually get so freaked out the first time they feel something that the minute they become cognizant, it’s gone.   If this happens to you, don’t worry. If you’re interested, keep trying. As with anything in life, practicing will help your energy sensitivity to develop. Soon you’ll be able to ‘hold’ the sensation with full cognizance.

Once you’ve developed a high degree of confidence working with the energy between your hands, you can move on to exploring the energy around your full body and in your chakras. I will post some exercises for those a few months down the line.

It’s important for me to disclose that I am not an energy master, by any definition. I have become familiar with my own energy and that of the “Universe” in various ways at varying levels across a number of years of casual observation and lay practice.

Energy-sensitivity is indispensable in walking the spiritual path for a number of reasons, but it is not synonymous with the spiritual path (ie – simply developing your energetic abilities does not equate to ‘walking the Spiritual Path’).

Resources for further study

If you’re looking for some teachers who specialize in energy development, you may want to check out the following resources;

Sonia Choquette – On the surface, Sonia Choquette’s work is about intuition, but get just a bit more in-depth and it’s all based in energy and vibration. I have taken some incredibly helpful, fulfilling online classes with Sonia Choquette. I’ve enjoyed a few of her books and I’ve twice gone to her for personal appointments at key junctures in my life.

Barbara Brennan School of Healing – I have never personally taken any internet or live classes with Barbara Brennan, but her book Hands of Light was the first book I ever read about energy back in 1995.

Deborah King – A well known name in the world of energy healing.  I have taken some online energy classes from her website – fascinating stuff!

WARNING: This is not a book review.   This is the first post in my new series “Dances with Books.”  To learn more about what that means- read here

I found freedom in the ugly truth” – Madonna, Living for Love

Prelude

Some dances are fast and frenetic, they start and finish before you even know what happened.  This is a slow dance.  A long dance; one that started four or five years ago.  I was sitting down to dinner with my husband and in-laws at a local Tapas place when my brother-in-law brought up the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage.

He had been struggling for some time with some personal issues and thought it might be helpful for him to go.  I must have made a dismissive noise because he looked pointedly at me and said, “I thought this sortof thing would be right up your alley.” “You’re not going to find yourself by going somewhere,” I responded, “you have to look within.”

So I had to laugh, embarrassed at my own arrogance in that long ago conversation, when I read that renowned spiritualist Sonia Choquette’s latest book, Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed, chronicled her time walking the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.  As I read her story, an understanding that had only just started developing in the prior year became clear. [1]  In walking with Sonia, I found my own path out of bondage – a bondage I hadn’t even realized I was in.

Binding Light

Before leaving for her trek, Sonia writes quite a bit about the beating she takes from herself and others about her reactions to the loss of her father and brother; “I prayed for these feelings to go away, but they didn’t budge, and for that I was also disappointed in myself.  Being this angry with my now-dead brother didn’t fit in at all with my self-image as a spiritual teacher and guide, and that left me feeling embarrassed.  If I let slip to anyone that I did harbor these feelings, especially to any of my spiritual or professional peers, I was immediately chastised.  I was told things like: ‘Forgive him.’ ‘Don’t Judge.’ ‘It was your karma to have a brother like this.’ ‘Be grateful it wasn’t you.’ ‘I’m surprised that you feel this way given that you should know better.’”[2]

No matter where we are in life or on the path we can expect to be subjected to the expectations of others.  People always seem to have an idea of what it means to be ‘spiritual.’ They say things like; “If you were so spiritually advanced you would do this more, or do that less.  Be more x, be less Y.  Care more about this, Care less about that.”  Etc.

Not only do we face expectations from others, but also from ourselves.  Sonia writes, “It.. shamed me.  I was not supposed to be angry with him.  He was dead, for God’s sake!  I was supposed to have unconditional love for him and be glad he was at peace.” [3]  As frustrating and discouraging as the criticism of others can be, nothing is quite as defeating as our own unmet expectations for ourselves.

Sonia relays how she chastised herself about her feelings, “Come on, Sonia.  Really? Haven’t you worked out your childhood wounding yet?… How pathetic of you.”  I’ve certainly faced this kind of self-recrimination in my own heart many, many times in the last eighteen years.  I thought I was past this – why do I still get angry, jealous, hurt, frustrated, etc.  Without realizing it, I had constructed a prison out of my own (and others’) expectations and locked myself inside.  No wonder I’ve been so stuck.

Mind over Matter = Over Head Projector?

Not only do we carry the judgments of ourselves and others, but we also project our disappointment in ourselves onto others.  We make a bad situation even worse when we take a particular comment or behavior of another person and magnify it through the lens of our own insecurities.

Sonia writes, “I.. recognized… that the one who had injured me most was not my father at all.  Rather, it was me, by treating myself the way I had interpreted him to be treating me when I was a child” [4]  Here Sonia describes how she treats herself and we would do well to pay attention.  However, this type of projection can come into play, not only with self-treatment, but directly in our interactions with others.

I came to a realization late last year that because I was insecure about being attractive and desirable, I was projecting those feelings onto my husband.  I interpreted particular behaviors and comments on his part in such a way that they reinforced my own insecurity; clearly he found me unattractive and undesirable.  It took some powerful soul-searching by me on this topic to recognize what I was doing because although I didn’t feel unattractive or undesirable I was worried that I was and that created the impetus for my projection.

People have hundreds of motivations for doing and saying the things they do – but we interpret them using our own filter.  This isn’t to say that our projections are only the products of our imagination.  It may be that there is some truth to my assumptions and interpretations when it comes to my husband.  But it may be that 10% of what I’m interpreting is true to his feelings and the other 90% is my projection… or it may be 50/50, or it may all be in my mind.  The bottom line is – how he actually feels is quite independent of my projection.

Clean Break

It is only by engaging with our expectations, fears, and insecurities that we can begin to see how and where we project them.  Sonia writes, “Maybe it was time to stop judging even these dark parts of myself and just acknowledge and accept that I have some of these fears at times…”[5]

Reading about Sonia’s walk helped me come to a deep realization of my own.  I had been mostly defining myself by my mystical experience eighteen years ago.   While I have certainly been actively walking the path and have endured and exulted in a number of spiritual tests and triumphs since then, there was a part of me that was always looking back to that experience and trying to get “there” again.  There was a part of me that thought any “authority” I had on spiritual matters was informed by that experience.  For the first time in eighteen years – I was able to start releasing my hold on that attachment.

This may sound like nothing, but it can be very powerful to take a defining moment in your life and say, you know, that was incredible and I learned a lot, but it’s over – really over – and it’s time to move on.  It’s time to stop seeing the rest of my life as the waves created by that one impact.  I found freedom in my own ugly truth. Yes, there are lots of expectations I’m not meeting.  No, I’m not spiritually connected all the time – experiencing union and bliss.  But also, I no longer have to keep trying to be ‘there.’  It’s okay for me to be right where I am.

This liberating understanding further refined a concept that has been germinating inside me for a few years; the concept of allowing.  To allow is to “permit something to happen or exist.”[6]  When we allow we are not making anything happen, we are not forcing a particular outcome.[7]  We are simply letting people, events, ourselves be what they are.  When this concept originally occurred to me a few years ago, it was via the understanding that “we need to allow people to change.”[8]  But, for the first time, inspired by Walking Home, I realized I needed to apply this to myself.  I need to allow myself to be who I am, where I am, now.

Sonia writes, “I also needed to stop seeing my ego as ‘the enemy’ and start seeing it as the ‘me’ who needed more love.  I didn’t have to fight my ego when it flared up in pain.”[9] Ego can be a very loaded term in the spiritual community – often associated with negative connotations.  Here, it seems to me, Sonia is saying, we need to stop pretending we can leave our ego at the curb, we need to recognize that it is part of who we are.

Diseases of the body often (though not always) have innocuous-seeming warning signs before developing into deeper problems.  In like fashion, we ignore or gloss over the concerns of our ego at our peril.  Our fears, hurts, angers and insecurities that are not handled in the conscious realm of the ego don’t disappear – they sink to our subconscious where they become much more difficult to find and eradicate.[10]  We need to allow ourselves to have an ego and we need to allow ourselves to engage with it.

Inside Out

One of my favorite expressions over the last decade or so is this one; knowing is half the battle.   I love this phrase because there is a little trick to it that can catch the unwary, but the truth is there for those who look.  Most often this saying is used to reassure someone that – when they’ve figured out the cause of a problem – they are halfway to conquering it.  The trick, of course, is in the word “half.”  Knowing may be half the battle, but you still have another half battle to fight… and presumably you’re tired and discouraged from the first half!  There is a gap, and not a small one, between understanding and execution.

As Sonia puts it, “Forgiveness, at least for me, came about in increments.  I had to feel and honor my wounds and traumas before I could release them.  For years I had tried to forgive through spiritual platitudes, but in spite of my ambitious ideals, I only managed to bury my wounds even deeper into my bones.  Walking with my pain freed me from it.  I always wanted to forgive, but it was only through the act of being with my pain fully, walking with it day after day, that it began to ease up and leave my body, allowing me to open up to greater understanding of how people hurt one another, myself included.  In doing this I found compassion and could forgive and hope to be forgiven” [11]

It is something, a significant something, to recognize a pattern in my life – to see an attachment for what it is and start to loosen my grip. It would be naïve of me to think, however, that now that I can see the problem clearly it will just disappear on it’s own.  Even such a passive-seeming concept as “allowing” requires considerable effort to practice.  Sonia mentions walking with her pain.  I suspect I will need to walk with my own pain, my own insecurities, for quite some time before I can let go.  For now, at least, I’ve found my way out, my own path to freedom.

Songs I danced to while writing this: Madonna – Living for Love, Ariana Grande – Break Free, ODESZA – Say My Name, Calvin Harris – Outside

[1] In my post Everything is Now, I write about the process of ‘becoming’ – instead of thinking of development as time-based, recognizing all the pieces and parts that have to come together to make something what it is, or – from a different vantage point – someone who they are

[2]Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 –kindle location 199

[3] Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 – loc 193

[4] Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 – loc 1036

[5] Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 – loc 3409

[6] definition from dictionary.com

[7] I want to also note – that to allow is not to be a doormat – it is not to ‘let someone walk all over you’ or let you walk all over you.  Rather, allowing is about being and awareness; surrendering an imagined sense of control to an observation of how things come to be what they are.  Also – a recognition that they might change, and that’s okay.

[8] I use this word with the same intention in my post “Trickster Makes This Road” when I say, “we need to allow him to remain uncategorized.”  I hope to develop this concept more fully in an upcoming ‘dances with books’ post featuring the book Thanks for the Feedback – but, in a nutshell, what I mean here is that we need to stop engaging in behaviors that pigeon-hole others and ourselves, that make it difficult for ourselves and others to change.

[9] Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 – loc 4638

[10] once they are in the subconscious, they attract the Trickster influence to cleverly trap us in such a way that we cannot escape without engaging with them. As Sonia writes, As Sonia writes, “It’s frustrating when you are possessed by a pattern because you can’t really see it until it becomes so obvious that it smacks you in the face.” See my post Trickster Makes this Road for more about this.

[11] Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed; Choquette, Sonia; Hay House; September 2014 – loc 4753

Things that we’re afraid of are gonna show us what we’re made of in the end”
– Blessid Union of Souls “Hey Leonardo (She likes me for me)”

I do not remember most of my dreams, and by most I mean nearly any.  Sometimes I wake up with an intense feeling that I had a particularly meaningful dream, but I spend the morning grasping for details that are just out of reach. Or, I remember fragments, but not the most meaningful parts.  Like the time I dreamt I met my spiritual guide, a Tarot reader in a mall, and asked her to do a reading to help me on my spiritual path.  I remember her drawing a large number of cards and going through them all in detail with me.  In fact, at the end of the reading she gave me a binder which included all the cards she had drawn along with the meaning and analysis of each of one.  When I woke up I couldn’t remember any of the cards or their meanings.  Undoubtedly, some of you may be thinking that my soul or subconscious retained whatever it needed from that dream even though my conscious mind doesn’t remember it.  That may be true.  Unfortunately, it makes the situation no less frustrating or disappointing for the ’waking’ me who is trying to find her way.  For someone actively walking the spiritual path (especially a follower of the Jung / Campbell tradition), being unable to remember dreams on a regular basis is akin to having a deep and abiding love of music, but being unable to carry a tune… Or worse, it’s like being sometimes able to carry a tune beautifully and other times (unpredictably) finding yourself rendered completely tone def.

This post, however, is not about all the dreams I don’t remember.  It’s about one I do.  About fifteen years ago, I woke one morning from a dream that changed the way I thought about myself and my life completely.  The dream has ’haunted’ me at times ever since.  Although I was already meditating regularly and actively walking my spiritual path at this point, it felt like communication coming directly from my subconscious, higher self, or the universe. I share this dream with all of you because i’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and because I believe it contains a powerful message, not for and about me specifically, but for and about all of us.

In the dream I was walking in my old neighborhood and needed to go to my childhood home for some reason.  Our once cheerful bungalow looked shuttered and abandoned and, while recognizable, more closely resembled something from a horror story than a nostalgic memory.  I knocked on the door and then pushed it open and made my way inside.  The house felt empty, but waiting.  A dingy and dark atmosphere greeted me, but sunlight streamed through from the windows dappling dusty clothes and papers strewn about on furniture. I was looking for something (I don’t remember what) and found myself digging in an old, packed, clothes closet upstairs when suddenly I came face to face with the menacing grimace of a skeleton!  I screamed and ran only to find another by the window. I changed direction and nearly collided with a third. I ran through the house screaming, trying to find an exit.  When I finally found the stairs, I rushed down them only to find a young girl with long white-blond hair waiting at the bottom.  I did not recognize her, but there was something very soothing about her presence.  “There is nothing to be afraid of” she told me calmly and then pointed up the stairs, “Take another look”. Begrudgingly (and with some trepidation) I trudged back upstairs moving very slowly and carefully. I spotted the skeleton by the window and my initial terror gave way to curiosity as suddenly something about the skeleton struck me as very strange.  I moved in for a closer inspection and realized that it wasn’t a skeleton at all…or well, not a real one; certainly not any monster out to get me.  It was a Halloween decoration; all crepe paper and card stock.  I reached out to touch it and a piece came off in my hand.  I turned back to the closet where I had found the first skeleton only to realize it was another Halloween decoration, this time made of vulgar white plastic.  All the skeletons were fake and, under examination, there was nothing real or scary at all about them.  Feeling an immense weight lift from me, I made my way back downstairs where the young girl was waiting.  She motioned for me to follow her and pointed to a small window under the stairs.  “Look” she told me “this is what’s inside of you”.  Through the window I could see only black and as I leaned over to look through, I nearly fell into the oblivion beyond.  My first thought was “empty – inside I am empty” and something like disappointment settled in my heart.  As my eyes adjusted to the infinite black space, though, tiny specks of light became visible.  They were stars.  I wasn’t looking into empty space – I was looking into actual space.  I was looking at the universe.

I woke from the dream with great clarity on what it had meant.  Often, in literature and even in real life our homes (or the state of them) represent us.  So, my childhood home represented me or some aspect of me.  Perhaps the state of the home represented my years of neglect, of not -in fact – even living there. My presence there at this time, looking for something may have been a reference to my meditation and self-study in my waking life.  The skeletons represented all my fears.  I think it’s worth noting that, in the dream, it wasn’t that my fears weren’t real….or we’re nothing.  They were ‘physical’ entities.  It’s rather that, under scrutiny, I could view them more objectively.  They seemed terrifying but were, in reality, decorations crafted to be scary.  It was I who had made them personally threatening, the way a child will do with shifting shapes and shadows in their room at night.

Although everyone has to come to terms with their fears in their own way, I think the message from this dream is a relevant one for everyone to mull over, not just me.  The most important message, though, was that inside all of us, in the houses of being and life we have built for ourselves, once we have realized our skeletons are all paper, we find our connection to the universe.  This piece of us may at first seem distressingly empty, but only because we cannot easily grasp infinite space.  Once our inner vision adjusts, we realize that what we’re seeing within our own hearts is the starry sky we look up at each night in search of our dreams.

Everything is Now

Recently, I’ve been on an LBL kick.  For those of you not ’in the know’ 😉 LBL stands for life-between-lives and describes where the soul goes (and what it’s doing) between incarnations on Earth.  My recent foray into Michael Newton’s books on this subject has stirred up a lot of interesting meditative explorations for me and thus I’ve decided to start a new series on the blog that’s dedicated to examining some of the ideas in Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls.

One concept that comes up repeatedly in these books is that, between lives, souls reside in a space “outside” of time.  Newton refers to this as “the coexistence of past, present, and future time in a spiritual setting.”[1]  However, I would argue that the spiritual world is not happening “outside” of time.  Rather I think at the energetic level of existence there is understanding of the fundamental truth that there is no such thing as “time” apart from motion.  Time is our mechanism for differentiating between motion that has already happened, motion happening now, and motion that will happen. It’s purely an aid to understanding – although in this case it actually might be inhibiting understanding. Before I can further discuss what I think is happening in the spiritual world or layer, though, I should probably offer a little explanation around the way I understand the concept of “time.”

Somewhere slightly more or less than a decade ago, my husband and I had been having a spate of discussions about what it meant to be a “wizard” in The Lord of the Rings universe vs. the Harry Potter universe, basically focusing on the differences in what various characters were able to do and / or not do with magic.  This led me to reflect on how, although some ethereal concepts (like magic) are portrayed very differently across artistic work, some are portrayed exactly the same everywhere.  For example, whenever a show displays “time stopping” all on-screen activity freezes.  So I further questioned – if all motion in the universe, everything known and unknown, every particle however great or small, were to stop moving – would anything meaningful, such as time, pass?  The answer I concluded was “no”. Thus I came to my belief that time does not exist apart from motion, they are intricately tied together

Frozen in Time

Unlike Time with a capital “T” which we often see as linear (past à present à future), motion is relative.  Thus, time “passes” differently for particles moving at different speeds. If that sounds strange to you, consider that we have a number of everyday examples which illustrate this.  For example, if we put meat in the freezer the motion of particles in the meat that cause decay slow down.  Thus, time is “passing” at a different rate for your steak than it is for you. Or, let’s say you buy a piece of machinery, but leave it to sit idle for a number of years.  Although you won’t be able to stop ALL motion for that equipment (depending on the environmental circumstances), if you store it in relatively pristine conditions without use, once you start using it, however many years later, it will be as if virtually no time has passed for the machine. Meanwhile, the world around it has kept on moving and changing.

If you take the above premises as true and agree that any individual object’s (or being’s) experience of time can be different from that of it’s surroundings, we can begin to use that idea to examine the experience in the spiritual world.  The Spiritual world appears (according to Newton’s research) to be energetically based.  It makes sense to me that fluid or “released” energy moves faster than “fixed” matter.[2] In fact, we know this to be true from basic science.  When studying the states of matter, we learn that the particles caught up in a solid are immobile or moving very slowly.  Liquid particles are more mobile and bounce around more quickly, and gas particles are the most mobile and move very quickly.  Further, we have calculated the speed of light energy to be 186,000 miles per second – that’s pretty darn fast! In my college Astronomy class we learned that looking at distant stars is actually like looking back into their past, because their light takes so long to get to Earth. For example, in the case of Alpha Centauri, the closest star (at one light-year away) what we see ‘now’ when we look at it through a telescope is what happened on the star a year ago. Adding these ideas to the ones we’ve already laid out about time, we can see that in the energetic state motion would be much more fluid and could be extremely fast compared to the motion of activity on Earth; thus allowing souls to do perceived “years” of work in seemingly minutes of Earth time.  Or potentially, such fluid energy could be slowed down or stopped; allowing a soul’s re-entry to Earth to be timed to a very specific drop-point, or birth.[3]

 The Future is Now

Another reason this is worth mentioning is because, although we have difficulty understanding how one can predict the future when we’re thinking of time as some sort of entity in it’s own right, we can all understand that there’s a predictability to motion.  If you can accurately understand the motion of an object, you can predict it’s future. In reality, we are all predicting aspects of the future all the time (sun rising, setting, people getting older, etc.).  Our understanding of the “motion going on around us is often limited, though, so our ability to predict future events is also very limited. In Journey of Souls, Michael Newton notes, “I was puzzled why my subjects did not fully see the future… as part of an all-knowing spiritual setting.  In trying to sort this out, I finally came to the conclusion that the spirit world is designed to protect the interests of each soul”[4]  While I certainly can’t claim to know how the spirit world is designed relative to the interests of a particular soul, I can offer a possible answer to why Mr. Newton’s subjects didn’t fully see the future – even in an “all-knowing” spiritual setting. As I noted earlier, our ability to predict the future is limited by our understanding of the motion of things around us.  Presumably, in a spiritual setting like the kind of place Michael Newton is referring to, the understanding of the motion of all things in the universe is much greater.  But, if we agree that time doesn’t exist apart from motion[5], then there is no future that “exists” yet so pieces of a future can be predicted by what’s already been set in motion, but there will always be a chance that things could change[6]

Some Things are Timeless

Another quote from Michael Newton that refers to time in the spiritual world is, “In the subconscious state, my subjects experience a chronology of time with their past and present lives which resembles what they perceive when conscious.  There is a change when I take them into superconsciousness and into the spirit world.  Here they see the Now of time as one homogenous unit of past, present, future”[7]  I believe what is happening here is that, in the superconscious state, Newton’s subjects have lost their ’sense’ of time and thus they are perceiving everything as motion.  In their awareness of the direction and flow of the energy (which they, themselves, are a part of) they understand how things came to be the way they are and what they will become, but there is a wholeness to this understanding that doesn’t require the concept of time to make sense.  I know this is probably confusing, the closest I can offer as a way of understanding this concept is to imagine buying and planting a package of flower seeds.  On the cover of the package is a picture of beautiful blooming daisies.  When you look at the picture, it is unlikely that you will think that time “made” the flowers look like this, rather you will recognize that their “future” is a function of what they are, not a function of time.  In fact, if you were to plant half the seeds in the packet and leave the other half on your counter, in the time it takes to grow the planted seeds, nothing is going to happen to the seeds on the counter because time alone is meaningless to them.  For the planted seeds, though – various things are required for them to become beautiful flowers like those pictured on their packet; soil, water, air, nutrients, etc[8]. When you see the lovely blooms in your garden, you are likely to understand on some meta level (although maybe not on a precise scientific level), how all of these things came together to “make” the daisies before you.  Time is the way we understand the difference between our experience of the daisies when they were just seeds and our experience of them now as flowers, but there is no real force, such as time, that contributed to them being what they are. [9]  If you can see in this example how the “becoming” of something can be “apart” from time – perhaps you can see how, when connected at a very deep level, a person can understand their own life – and even further their own soul’s trajectory – in such a way.

To wrap up, I believe that in the energetic “soul state”, the soul no longer has a need for the concept of time and thus it becomes unimportant.  Rather, the soul understands that it is energetic flow and direction (or motion) that explain where the present has come from and what the future will be.  So what does that mean for those of us still here on Earth?  Not much, I’m afraid. I enjoy thinking puzzling through the mysteries of the Universe, but, like many of us, I work in the sort of field where all people care about my understanding of time is that I show up for meetings appropriately and don’t miss work deadlines.

Post script: If you’ve been studying my footnotes you will realize that I talk about Michael Newton’s books in plural (both Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls) but all my quotes come from Journey of Souls. This happened to be the only book I had with me when I was gathering quotes. However, I did do an index check and re-read portions of Destiny of Souls as part of writing this post. I did not find anything during that effort that I felt either added value to or made me reconsider what has already been presented here.

 

[1] Newton, Michael Journey of Souls <insert publisher>p160

[2] Although I have asserted in other places on the blog, and do in fact believe that everything is, at heart, energy – it does seem that some energy is more ‘fixed’ than other energy. Some energy does seem to be ‘locked up’ in a physical state while other energy is free moving. The Alchemists were hinting at a like understanding of the world, I believe, when they spoke of having to ‘release the soul’ of a physical object like a plant or stone.

[3] I will discuss this more in an upcoming post about Newton’s concept of “The Ring of Destiny” a place in the spiritual world where we study and choose our future lives.

[4] Newton, Michael Journey of Souls <insert publisher> p212-213

[5] And in fact, it seems that Michael Newton himself understands this when he says ,“It makes sense to me that time, rather than being an absolute of three phases is only an expression of change.” but the way he talks about time elsewhere in the books and the sorts of things he doesn’t understand suggest to me, at time of writing, he didn’t fully grasp the implications of this statement.

[6] I will elaborate more on my thoughts on how this works in upcoming post about free will vs. fate

[7] Newton, Michael Journey of Souls (insert publisher) p195

[8] if you have a Christian background, as I do, I am sure you have not failed to recall the New Testament story about where seeds fall and how they grow in relation to the “Word” taking root in people’s hearts – if that adds an additional layer of meaning to this analogy for you – you are welcome to it.

[9] And if you saw Violets instead of Daisies, you are likely to think that the seeds were mis-packaged and were, in reality, Violet seeds.  You are not likely to think that the Daisy seeds grew into Violets – because at a deep level you recognize that the seeds are the germ of the plant’s existence.

Sometimes, one size doesn’t fit all

While my husband and I traveled in Japan, we had the opportunity to try on yukatas (Japanese summer traditional dress for festivals and ceremonies,etc).  It was great fun to put them on and I loved the style and feel of the garment, but ultimately I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing one on the street.  It’s beautiful, but on me it felt like a costume.  In contrast, while we toured the temples in Nara (outside of Kyoto) I saw a couple wearing traditional dress, including yukatas, and it looked so right.  The clothing was a perfect fit on them, not only bodily, but holistically.  This is how I feel about organized religion.  For some people (and, truly, I have met people like this) it works beautifully.  They find comfort in its structure and it acts as a vehicle for them to bring love, kindness, and understanding into the world. As long as a religion remains true to it’s roots (which are usually based in love, compassion, understanding) and avoids setting up false dichotomies of “us” and “them” to facilitate conflict, I think it is a wonderfully helpful institution for many people.  Often, I have lamented that my life would be so much easier if I was one of those people.  Unfortunately, on me, religion feels like a costume.

I was raised Catholic (as so many of us wanderers were), but I can remember questioning church dogma from a very early age.  As a child, I believed in reincarnation, the church didn’t.  That was the main discrepancy, I know there were countless others.  My memories of early church education are mostly of well-meaning volunteers scaring the living daylights out of me with dire warnings about evil lurking around every corner. (One particular instance that comes to mind was of a youth educator who told us we needed to be careful about hand position while praying, because if we held our hands the wrong way, regardless of our intentions, we were actually praying to Satan and not God.  Can you imagine?)  We shouldn’t have to be scared into believing something, the positive aspects of the religion should be strong enough to stand on their own; to make us want to believe.  As soon as I was old enough to control my own destiny, I distanced myself from the church. My parents were never really critical about it and managed to convey a type of support by not being outwardly against the idea.  I think they, too, we’re struggling with their faith.

The Hindus have a concept of the “seven layers of reality.”  It is important to note that these layers are all reality – one is not more real than the others. As humans, we are singular and unified beings, yet we are also simultaneously a collection of cells and even further a collection of atoms.  All of these layers of us are “real”.  I have come to a place where I think of religion along similar lines.  Truth is at the heart of all religions and they have developed a symbology to represent this truth.  That doesn’t mean the imagery is false or wrong; like any visual aide it can be tremendously useful for providing an understanding of the divine.  What I struggle with most about the imagery of any religion is that it often becomes, at heart, a projection of aspects of the self.  Again, this does not mean it’s wrong, in fact, I think it has quite intentionally evolved this way.  However, projection is an outward form of expression and can sometimes distract us from looking inward.  Also, religious imagery is often “pure” or relatively one dimensional, representing supreme good – like Jesus, or supreme compassion and peace – like Buddha, or supreme evil – like Satan. But, in reality, we are incredibly nuanced individuals – we risk losing something of ourselves in the projection.  Over time we may come to see those aspects of ourselves that don’t neatly fit into the imagery we want to emulate as “bad” or “wrong” and therefore to be “oppressed” or “eliminated” rather than explored with openness and understanding.

In January of this year (2014), I had a whirlwind experience with a Christian Mystical church in the area.  It was a small group, only five, including me, at the service I attended. On the altar, a pair of pictures rested; one of Jesus with hands in the teacher position and one of Mary looking both serene and seductive.[1]  The pictures were of equal size and it was clear they were meant to represent the divine masculine and feminine energies.  When we had brunch and discussion together after the service, the reverend inquired on my feelings about the images. I noted that I was still chewing them over to see how they fit with my personal beliefs.  He then said, “Well, it’s not really about the imagery, you know, it’s about the energy behind the imagery”. See, and that right there is what I struggle with.  At heart, I believe that energy is the root of everything. If you believe it’s about the energy behind the imagery, why not go straight to that? It seems limiting and unnecessary to have to go “through” graphical representations to get there. According to Daoism – In the beginning there was the Dao which separated into the yin and the yang[2] and from that came forth the myriad of things.  Why not start with Source and back into differentiation?

If you don’t go to church or aren’t part of an organized religion, people tend to think that you don’t believe in God.  This is true for some of us, but not all. One holiday seven or eight years ago, my family was playing the game “Loaded Questions”.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, basically all players confidentially answer a personal question and the ’reader’, which rotates, has to read the answers and guess which answer belongs to which player.  The question came up, “How many times were you in a place of worship last year?” The answer bubbled up from deep in my soul, “I am always in a place of worship”.  It sounds like a clever answer, but is a true expression of how I feel.  Just because I don’t go to a particular building to worship God doesn’t mean I’m an atheist.  As is true for so many of us, my beliefs in God are personal and complicated.  Actually, to clarify, my beliefs are incredibly simple in my heart, but difficult to explain. But my beliefs inform and direct so much of my life that it’s heartbreakingly laughable when I get criticism from a relative for my ‘non-religious’ behavior.

I don’t have a lot of interest in getting into a theological debate with anyone.  I’m happy with what I believe.  If you’re happy with what you believe – great! Let’s just both be happy instead of trying to convince each other why one view is better than the other. :). And if you’re confused, lost, or unhappy in your relationship with the divine – relax, you’re not alone – we’ve all been there at some point. Keep walking with an open mind and heart and you’ll find your path.

 

[1] I won’t lie – seeing Mary looking about the same age as Jesus and looking somewhat seductive (she had her fingers clutched to her shawl as if about to take it off) was very disconcerting.  I mean, I get it – Mary represents mother, maiden, wife, and all the feminine roles (at least I believe that is what they were trying to suggest), but perhaps some Catholic concepts are too firmly embedded in my psyche for me to feel comfortable seeing “Mary” cast in such a way.

[2] yin representing the divine feminine (among many other things) and yang representing the divine masculine (among other things)

“Conceptual substitutes for ineffable experiences are not adequate.  They are products of rational thinking.  All forms, according to Samkara, contain an element of untruth and the real is beyond all forms… And yet we cannot afford to be absolutely silent” – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Religious Experience and it’s Affirmations

According to Google, there are over a million words in the English language, but the options seem paltry indeed when an individual is faced with the challenge of describing a spiritual experience. Worse, the words that would normally seem appropriate in such a situation are often either abused or so loaded with negative connotation they make most of us cringe when we hear them.  Faced with this challenge, the spiritual practitioner battles the simultaneous conflicting urges to be silent and to spread the word.  When I was ‘in the thread’ (the phrase I use to refer to my own experience of union) I used to wish I could just ‘touch people’ and ‘give’ them the sensation inside of me.  I realized that even in crafting the most beautiful poetry, I could not express this feeling.  The message of the heart struggles with the words of the mind.  And yet, as Radhakrishnan says, we cannot be silent – the deep desire to share, to bring about more love and happiness in the world, is also part of the experience.

As I have walked the path I have encountered a few ways of handling these challenges, most of them variations on a theme.  Many practitioners end up co-opting common words or phrases and giving them their own “special” meanings.[1]  I am no exception to this rule.  As evidenced above, I refer to my own experience of union as being ‘in the thread.’  Thread is not normally considered a spiritual word and yet I settled on that one because it most captured my experience.  As a single thread is woven into an intricate tapestry it is both itself and integrally part of something much larger.  A person looking at the finished work would have difficulty distinguishing an individual thread, yet without all those single threads there would be no tapestry at all.  In Greek Mythology, it is also a thread that Clothos weaves, Lachesis measures, and Atropos cuts to represent a life.  And let’s not forget that it was a thread Theseus used to navigate the famous Labyrinth and avoid the bloodthirsty Minotaur.  Even a humble thread can have references that make it perfectly appropriate as a spiritual path term.  To be fair, it is not that I researched possible words to use and picked ‘thread,’ the phrase ‘in the thread’ spontaneously occurred to me as the ‘right’ one for me to use at the time.  However, it’s possible that my pre-existing understanding of these concepts subconsciously contributed to my choice of phrase.

One of my meditation teachers refers to her experience as “when I was in the river.”  At first glance these two ways of describing a similar experience may seem quite different.  After all, a thread is a fairly stationary item unless someone is using it and a river is constantly moving; dynamic.  A river can be vast or narrow, but will always be larger and more diverse than a single thread.   I instantly recognized where she had been, however, because it is the feeling that the words are trying to describe that promotes the understanding rather than the words themselves.  In fact, I could have used that phrase to describe my own experience – it just isn’t the phrase that occurred to me.  This sort of translation is like understanding the concept of “Ow” in almost any language when you hear someone, in pain, exclaim it.

In reading descriptions of the spiritual experience, you may notice that a single word can have dual (or more!) meanings or multiple layers of meaning. If you’ve read Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu-Li Masters or have done any work with Tarot or other symbology you are familiar with this concept. An example of this most people will be familiar with is the word ‘see;’ sometimes it refers to using one’s eyes and sometimes it refers to an inner observation that has nothing to do with rods, cones, and optic nerves.  As another example which may help with readability of this blog – I often use the term ‘energy’ (if I haven’t used it a lot yet its only because I’ve been holding back 🙂 ).  I think energy is the root of all manifest existence so it pops up everywhere across my spiritual landscape.  I use this term the way many people use the term ‘science.’  There are types of science; Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.  But “science” is not just the sum of all these individual parts.  For many, the word ‘science’ is an approach, a philosophy, a worldview.  That is linguistically analogous to my use of the term ‘energy.’  There are lots of different types of energy, but my concept of energy is all of those and more.  It is the stuff our universe is made of and ‘energy’ is simply the best term I’ve found to describe it.

For those who are suffering through the use of casual terms to refer to weighty spiritual matters in your reading, I appreciate your frustration.  Let me apologize in advance, because I am quite sure I will hardly be consistent in my use of terms even across this blog.  The best advice I can offer is to recommend you keep meditating (or if you aren’t already, start! start!) and keep reading on the topic and understanding will come.  I remember reading somewhere that immersion is the best way to learn a language. 🙂


[1] This is yet another parallel with Alchemy – see post “Full Frontal Alchemy” for more speculation on Alchemy as a Spiritual Path tradition.

This story begins quite some time ago – Actually half a century ago, but for me, it started maybe six or seven years ago.  I had a particularly hard time letting go of an old ex-boyfriend.  It was comical really.  Our actual relationship had been only 6 months. Granted, it had been a pretty weird break-up (he had told me that he still loved me, and he still wanted me, but he just couldn’t be with me any longer).  I had met my soulmate and married him.  Yet, five years later I was still thinking about this particular ex-boyfriend on a semi-regular basis even though we lived over a thousand miles apart.  Why couldn’t I let go?  Years before, a wise English teacher of mine from highschool had mentioned that perhaps there was a past life influnce at work here.  She said, “maybe you were together in a past life, but it’s not right for this lifetime.”  Although I have believed in reincarnation from a very young age (My mother tells me I first mentioned it around age 5) I certainly had doubts about specific past life influences.  No doubt this was a simple crush that I have become a bit obsessive about – I had a hard time accepting that it could be a real past life influence and that kept me from giving the idea any serious creedence for a long time.  Some five years later without feeling completely over this guy, though, I was ready to explore the idea.

I looked up past life practioners nearby and found one that wasn’t too expensive not far from home.  The woman operated out of her house which was in a somewhat dilapidated neightborhood.  As the sun set, and I approached a stranger’s house, alone, in the darkening evening, I admit to being a little nervous.  My fears were not assuaged by the cacophanous barking of multiple dogs coming from behind the door.  I am not really a dog person.  I don’t hate dogs, but due to two dog-related incidents in my childhood I confess that I am somewhat uncomfortable around them.  A middle-aged woman of slight build opened the door a crack and, upon confirming my identity, let me inside.  Her Rottweiler and German Shepherd barked and pawed wildly at the sliding doors outside.  I gulped as I noticed some of the paw prints on the window were well above my height.  “Do you mind if I let them in?” she asked.  “They’re super friendly, and wouldn’t hurt a fly.”  I bit back my retorts about flies being small enough to evade their enthusiastic bounding and managed to nod as she motioned for me to take a seat on the couch.  Thankfully, the dogs were much calmer once inside.  The Rottweiler, of course, came to sit on my feet.  Not atmy feet, on my feet.  Suffice it to say, it was not a very auspicious beginning to a relaxing Past Life Regression session.

We chatted for a few minutes about why I was there and what brought her to Past Life Regression therapy.  She walked me through the process a little bit.  Having been a veteran meditator, even at the time, I was curious about how this would go.  Introductory work concluded, she directed me to a small side bedroom, closing the dogs outside (Thank you!).  The bed was fairly snug around my frame, which at 5’4” is hardly towering, and the room was so small her chair barely fit between the desk and bed.  It created the mild effect of being at the dentist’s office, having her loom over me.  I hadn’t thought to bring a recorder (this was my first time doing something like this and I had no idea what to expect) so she offered to take some notes and I gladly accepted.  She began a relaxation sequence and I tried to let-go and sink into myself.  With past life regression, you are usually completely conscious (this was not something I knew at the time) and the therapist puts you into what’s considered a mildly hypnotic state.  I think because of all my own meditation work, it was maybe harder for me to ‘feel’ as if I was under hypnosis or in a trance (or, rather, to feel that this was in any way different than what I usually do).  She directed me to visualize that I was in a room with boxes and asked me to open one and see what I found in it.  That line of visualization went pretty much nowhere – I found a key in the box and said that I was a princess having a birthday party, but to me it just felt like I was making it up – it felt, honestly, a bit silly.  Perhaps sensing this, she tried to take me to another lifetime.  For awhile I just seemed to be drifting and I think we were both getting a little bit frustrated, but finally I got something – although it still felt so hazy as to just be an impression, a feeling, at first.  The therapist kept asking me to look at my shoes (every time we tried to hit a lifetime she would ask me to look at my shoes).  But, Suddenly the scene snapped into focus and I remember thinking, I don’t care about my stupid shoes, I just want to describe what I’m actually seeing.  So, I did.

In the reflection of a large dresser mirror, I saw “myself” in a dark dress with white polka dots – only I didn’t look myself.  I was with someone and we were involved.  Not in flagrante delicto, but passionately working our way in that general direction.  Then something happened – or rather, maybe, didn’t happen – and I saw us both sitting against a bed headboard; talking and smoking.   “Is this your ex-boyfriend?” the therapist probed, “Yes,” I returned, “it’s his face I see on this man, although I don’t look like me.”  She followed with more questions, “Did you have sex?” she asked.  “No… I… we didn’t… we stopped.”  She asked for more details, “He’s someone important.” I told her, “Like a General or something like that.  He’s married… he has a wife and children… but they are somewhere else.”  She asked if I was married, “No… I… had a fiancee… but he died… in an a..accident… there was an explosion or something… maybe a crash… I’m not sure.”  She talked to me more about where we were, “We’re in some kind of house.. or bed and breakfast or something…”  the décor was somewhat reminiscent of my host home when I studied abroad in England in the mid 90s.  “We’re on the second floor… out the window… there are cars…I can see cars out the window on the street… people are sortof watching”  The relationship was definitely clandestine and also clearly somewhat tortured.  I could feel in those moments a sense of hopelessness about it.  We loved each other, but it wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, because he had other commitments that he would never break.  My impressions in the moment were that this was because of his inherent moral compass rather than any external factors – although those were certainly complications.  The therapist tried to bring me forward (I’ve learned later that this is a practice they do) and asked me how I died in that lifetime, “I was sick… it was some kindof long sickness.” She also asked me whether there was anyone else and I indicated that there was someone later who identified as my current husband.  The details were somewhat more sparse at this stage and she started to pull me out.

On coming out, I wasn’t really sure what had happened – had I just made up the whole thing?  It had felt sortof real, but ‘re-living’ the memories wasn’t like watching a movie, clear and crisp, as I had expected it to be.  When the therapist had asked questions, I had reached for answers and they were there – but were they real?  I took the brief notes from her that were written on a 5×7 sheet of note paper and thanked her for the experience, still a bit muddy-headed about the whole thing.  As I was driving home, pieces began to fall into place regarding my old relationship.  My English teacher had had it reversed – the relationship between me and my ex-boyfriend  wasn’t wrong in this lifetime – it had been wrong in that one and we had just been unable to overcome it in this lifetime.  There was no reason why we were unable to be together in this lifetime.  Once, in fact, my ex-boyfriend told me a year or so after our break-up, “There was always something that didn’t feel quite right about our relationship.” and suddenly that made perfect sense.  The most wonderful fact of all, however, was that I suddenly felt something resolve deep inside me around our relationship.  It was as if all of my confused, romantic feelings towards him were exorcised and I could see him in a new, clean, light.  I felt a deep soul-level love for him as a person who had been very important to me, but I no longer felt any inclination to have any sortof relationship (even a friendship) with him in this lifetime.  It was amazing how immediate the relief was and that it has lasted even until this day.

I was so happy with the results of my past-life regression session on my current life that I no longer cared whether it had been a ‘real’ experience or not.  That’s why, when I suddenly came face-to-face with the woman in my remembering it literally knocked me off my feet….. (to be continued in Part 3)