My mother and father named me after a mystic saint. Then, I chose another mystic to be named for during my Confirmation. It seems my relationship with mysticism began from the time I was born (actually, long before that) and is still a significant part of my spiritual life.
Mystical experiences of varying degrees, or ‘peak experiences’ as Abraham Maslow called them, have been fairly regular occurrences in my later adult life. In contrast to this, someone recently wrote that she had been meditating for years, but was not having mystical experiences. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why I do I have mystical experiences and other people don’t?”
Is it in the DNA? Does someone have a predisposition for it before they are born? Does one have to live an ascetic life as a monk or nun in order to reach these heights? (Okay, that one is not a factor because I am not a nun.) Does a person have to reach a certain state of awareness in their meditative practice or have a near-death experience? Or does a person just somehow get cosmically bonked on the head and voila—a mystical experience occurs?
I’m not inclined to favor the bonked-on-the-head theory, though I certainly know people who believe they just happen and then you simply have to wait for the next one. I’m not a big believer in spiritual accidents—unexplained events, yes—accidental peak experiences, no.
DNA? There are certainly some people who believe certain bloodlines are more superior, but I don’t buy that. All bloodlines are created in the image and likeness of the Divine, and we all have the capacity to deepen our connection with the Divine. Heck. the deer in the backyard of my previous home at times were more tapped in than I was, so I am convinced the ability lives in all of creation.
Predisposition? Hmmm. A friend of mine says we pack our bags carefully before we come to earth because we only get to bring a couple of them with us. Maybe some of us pack our bags with an inclination toward a greater opening to mystical awareness. I could buy that. Could that show up in one’s DNA? Probably. So from that viewpoint, maybe predisposition is genetic. But then, does a predisposition ultimately live in everyone because we are ultimately of the Divine?
Reaching a state of awareness through meditation or near-death? It has been my experience that there are some events that open the door widely. Furthermore, I have discovered, we can create the opportunities for mystical experiences to take place. We don’t have to wait for them to bonk us on the head, seemingly out of nowhere. Since I don’t recall having mystical experiences as a child or young adult, I believe I stimulated those experiences into being.
How do you do that? How do you stimulate the mystical experience to occur? Here is what I did:
1. I stopped assuming I understood God and the universe.
2. I surrendered to not knowing anything.
3. I opened to new ways of experiencing the wonder of the Divine—not only as Father,
but as Mother, Friend, Non-human, Universe, Undefineable Presence, I Am, Beloved….
4. I fell in love with the Divine and allowed the Divine to fall in love with me.
5. I visited sacred sites and regularly participated in mystically focused ceremonies
that expanded me beyond my physical reality.
6. I did not seek mystical experiences; I opened to a greater capacity to love and to
7. I meditated and prayed daily, opening my heart and mind to the unknown, ineffable
nature of the Divine.
8. I committed to being in loving Divine service each and every day.
What we as humans may long for most in our lives is intimacy—a depth of it that is beyond what we can presently imagine. And it is through our intimacy in Divine relationship that we enter the mystical realms. We cannot make mystical moments happen; we do not have to wait for them to come from out of the blue; and they do not happen to only special people—we invite them in.