I lived with it every day: a sick sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach the second I became aware of being awake in each morning, random waves of overwhelming anxiety all day long, and sudden leaps out of bed at the moment of just falling asleep.
I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t find relief and could never put my finger on it, so I turned to the most logical source: there must be something wrong with me.
And then this happened, one of the many unexplained incidents that have occurred in my life. I call them "in-between" experiences, where I find myself in a state of being that is not a wakeful state, yet I am not asleep.
This one occurred in 1992, while I was resting late one night on the show grounds at a horse event in Canada.
I first became aware that I was standing on top of a hill. The terrain was hilly, familiar, like home, except this earth wasn’t covered by many trees; it was covered, instead, with a lush carpet of beautiful and brilliant green grass. I was at the very top of one of the hills and found myself amazed at the symmetry of the landscape and beauty of the rolling terrain.
The clouds above mirrored the earth in shape and hung from the sky heavy with moisture, managing somehow to surpass the extraordinary beauty of the land beneath them. Like over-sized water droplets straining to not fall, it seemed at any moment that they would give in to gravity and surrender to bursting on the ground like over-filled water balloons. Low and full, I was tempted to reach out and swirl them with my hand (the movie ‘Contact’ comes to mind when Jodie Foster’s character swirls her hand through the stars).
Here’s where I start to lose words to describe what happened next.
I first had the thought, “the clouds are so beautiful...” and then watched in awe as the colors began to change almost as if in a delighted and conscious response.
Are they reacting to me?
The colors started to evolve and expand right before my eyes, and the more my attention focused on the colors, the more intense they became. Greys, purples, blues, greens, yellows… every color I could name, were bringing the clouds to life. It was beyond mesmerizing, and yes, they WERE responding to me.
What is this?
Colors that don’t exist exploded in the sky, and I became utterly paralyzed by the impossible beauty that was unfolding in front of me. I was stunned, unable to move as if I had fallen under a powerful spell. Gripped in awe, I then watched as the clouds parted, and the experience became even more impossible to describe.
The parting clouds revealed the sun, but this was no ordinary sun like we see here every day. It was far, far brighter, yet didn't hurt my eyes and carried with it an intense Presence. When I saw the light of THIS sun, I felt my face BURST into an involuntary smile of recognition, and very cell of my body scream a resounding “Yes!!!!!!!!!!!”
It was if I was suddenly seeing a dear, dear loved one that I had forgotten even existed, and my one and only desire in that moment was to be reunited. With that next thought, I felt myself float up, accelerate with nearly blinding speed, and race toward the light in a rush of sound.
(Later, I discovered that this was similar to the tunnel described by those who have had near death experiences, though I had no awareness of those types of experiences prior to mine.)
The light was piercingly white, yet also full and golden, and so exquisitely beautiful. My attention was completely captivated, and I lost all awareness of EVERYTHING else.
EVERYTHING. No earth. No family. No human me.
No thoughts. No fears. No anxiety. Profound relief and ecstasy completely consumed me.
I had heard about the idea of unconditional love and unconditional acceptance, but it didn’t compare to what was happening to me at that moment, just like the colors in the clouds will never compare to the colors we perceive here in physical experience.
This was perfect love. Parent receiving child. Exquisite tenderness. Fierce love, burning with ecstasy. Palpable love that instantly shattered my understanding of everything and created a perspective that, from that point on, left me obsessed with comprehending the indescribable.
It nourished my being and moved through me, like I would imagine electricity moves through matter. That sense of “something is missing/something is wrong” was gone INSTANTLY in the flash of my smile, filling spaces within me that I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WERE EMPTY.
I was complete. I was HOME. The light wanted me, and I wasn’t looking back.
I WAS back. That was 30 years ago, and I’m still regaining my balance.
Like the experience itself, the contrast between here and there is a pain and emptiness that I also can’t find words for, but it did give me the knowing that “here” is incomplete, and that “here” is not where we can satisfy that “something is wrong” feeling.
“Here” is not where I can find relief from anxiety.
Anxiety is real, but the source of it is not what we think, and there is no talking ourselves into feeling better.
All that does is create heaps of shame and feelings of failure because, literally, we can’t satisfy a craving that cannot be filled from here! It’s like the dog I saw on a Youtube video licking the TV that is paused on a picture of a pizza…
Why can’t I taste it? It looks so good. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, look up "dog licks TV pizza.")
This world of reality we live in and don’t question is the source of our anxiety, which is why the journey to relief is a much different type of journey than dealing with symptoms and learning how to manager stress.
We have to go further, and we have to go deeper. We have to make contact with the larger reality beyond.
We have to learn how to take ourselves Home.
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