I used Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as a roadmap to getting me back on the spiritual path. I wrote three pages of stream-of-consciousness each morning. This helped me get a lot of psychic garbage out of my system.
I still felt residual pain from the infection, as well as tingling in my left leg. My intuition told me that physical exercise, such as yoga would probably help.
I only went to yoga once a week on average, but I noticed improvement immediately. Less tension in my body, more of an optimistic outlook on life, all that good stuff. Then I saw that my yoga studio was offering Zen meditation classes.
Our teacher recommended a copy of Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. While reading it, I came across a passage that described the mind like a river constantly flowing. Rather than trying to resist our thoughts, one should allow one’s thoughts to come and go.
The image of the river was a good one. I wanted to treat my mind that way. Relaxing it. Letting thoughts come and go.
So one night, in September of 2006, I lay in bed, on my side, breathing deeply, envisioning my mind to be a flowing river. No resistance. No grasping for thoughts. Just going with the flow of mind.
Eventually I fell asleep.
I don’t remember exactly what my dream was that night. Only that it had to do with The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, a show I never really liked. In the dream, I was watching Boris and Natasha talking. Natasha said something about “moose and squirrel” in that thick Russian accent of hers, and I started laughing hysterically.
Then I woke up. I was awake in my bed. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. But I could still hear the sound of my own laughter inside my head. It was like I could hear someone else laughing, but they were laughing with my voice.
The laughter was becoming more intense, more high-pitched, more frightening. I told myself that this laughter was simply a projection of my subconscious mind, and that it wouldn’t and couldn’t hurt me. I relaxed.
The laughter ceased…and then I felt a powerful Force surrounding me, moving through my body, enveloping me. It was the most exquisite, blissful sensation I’d ever experienced. My face split into an involuntary grin. That’s how good it felt. But in my head, I was freaking out. I still couldn’t move my body. At first, I thought I was on drugs, but I remembered I hadn’t smoked cannabis in months…at least not since I got on this whole spiritual kick.
Great, I thought to myself. I’ve done it this time. I’ve really fucked my mind up.
I tried to move. No luck.
Okay, I told myself. I’m going to get out of bed on the count of three. One…Two…THREE!
I gathered my will and put every ounce of mental strength I had into trying to get up.
I don’t know how to explain what happened next, other than to say that my consciousness became partially dislodged from my body. One minute, I was perceiving everything from my head (through my eyes and whatnot), and the next thing I knew, I was perceiving everything from the center of my abdomen. And there was a terrible pain in my head…well…where my head should have been, in my astral body, maybe. Who knows? In any case, I felt something like a gravitational force pull my consciousness back into my head where it belonged.
I lay there, still unable to move. Still feeling this Power flow through me.
“God,” I prayed in my head, ” I don’t know what to do right now. I’m going to just trust that no matter what happens, you got me. You support me. I’m giving myself over to you.”
I let myself relax.
The Power left. My body was free. I sat up in bed, staring at the wall for I don’t know how long. Then I got up and walked into the living room.
My roommate was on the couch watching TV. He saw the look on my face.
“What’s up, dude?” he said.
I told him what happened.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s crazy.”
I went back into the bedroom. I didn’t think I’d be able to fall asleep. But I did. The rest of the night passed without incident.
The same can’t be said about the next night. And the night after that.
To be continued…