My Mystical Explosion

The word “mystical” is used in many ways.  One meaning is to describe subjective unusual experiences.  I have had several highly unusual mental and emotional experiences that I have great difficulty classifying with other experiences.  These experiences leave a hum of change in me — some that last for decades.   I call these “mystical experiences” for lack of a better word.

Below is one of several such experiences I have had.  In the future, I hope to post a few more.

But I am curious:  How would you define, “mystical”?  Have you had any experiences you’d qualify as “mystical”?

Shortly after leaving Christianity, a friend tried to explain meditation to me.  But I had enough “spirituality” and just needed a vacation from religion.  He was patient and waited several months before bringing it up again.  And when he did bring it up, I rudely laughed at the silly practice of sitting on your butt trying to think about nothing.  But he gently demystified it for me and made it sound easy.  Then he slyly challenged me saying, “I’ll bet you couldn’t meditate for just 20 minutes even if you wanted to.”  Well, that was clever, he was using my pride against me.

So I decided to take the challenge to show him I could easily meditate.  But he was right.  At my first meditation,  I jumped up after only 5 minutes.  I was simply counting my breaths and I jumped up, irritated and bored out of my mind.  But I would not let silly old meditation defeat me.  So with diligence, six months later, I was finally able to comfortably meditate for 20 minutes.  And even with that level of a meditation came welcomed benefits:   I lost my difficulties falling asleep and it became much easier to control my temper.  I thanked my friend for the introduction.

Two years later, I was now meditating about 45 minutes a day or so.  It was Autumn and I was upstairs “sitting” (the common word for meditation is Zen circles).  My meditations had changed;  I would count my breath for 5-10 minutes, and then relax my body part-by-part and finally in the last part of the sitting I would tame my thoughts by not letting them wander too far.  But that day, for some reason, after going through the relaxation phase at about 20 minutes into the sitting, I felt a sensation of a ball of multi-colored light rotating in my upward turned palms.  The hum of the slowly spinning, warm light was deeply relaxing while it grew in intensity.

Just then, downstairs, my roommate let out a huge sneeze!  The sneeze caused the ball of light in my hands to explode outward engulfing my whole body into a deep thoughtless space where I felt my body blur into all the space around me.  I later learned to call this energy Qi and that the space around me was called my ethereal body.

When I came out of the sitting, in what felt like just 5 minutes, one and a half hours had actually elapsed.  Time had collapsed.  My mind was bright, and alert but very relaxed.  It took me twenty minutes to go downstairs, I did not want to move or talk to anyone.   When I finally did go downstairs, my roommates noticed a difference in me — a solemn calmness.  I thanked my roommate for the sneeze.  We all laughed.

Related PostsMy Supernatural Experiences


Filed under Events, Personal, Philosophy & Religion

32 responses to “My Mystical Explosion

  1. Sounds to me you had a mystical experience.

    But what, if anything, did you do as a result of it?

    I felt “touched” by a greater force while in a Catholic Church attending a funeral for my last surviving uncle, Dominick. I was meditating as the priest performed his ritual, and then, all of a sudden, I felt “on par” with the celebrant, that minister.

    I became as spiritual as the one saying Mass!

    It was a realization that meditation practiced over the past 18 months had led me to: a path to the Almighty with no need of an intermediator, such as a clergyman.

    Saints preserve us, I might have said some time earlier. But, on that September day this year I decided to start a blog and to write about . . . life . . . spirituality . . . PTSD . . . veterans . . . and a list of other topics I have interest in and concern about.

    I took steps on a Journey toward a Buddhism
    practice with Christian overtones, feeling comfortable to publically call myself a Zen Christian.

    Have not had the need to practice law since!

    michael j

    of Conshohocken, PA of USA

  2. Great story! Thanks for sharing.

    I’ve never experienced anything quite that powerful, but I’ve had moments in my life like that, usually involving meditation, which I really need to start doing again.

  3. Steve Wiggins

    Very intense. My life has been punctuated with a few moments like this, but nothing with that kind of duration. I tried to do mediation several years ago, and it is no slouch of an exercise! I tend to believe it is cerebral, one of the many thinks our brains can do if we let them.

  4. dude! yeah! i’ve a handful of these. but i’ll start where you do.

    define mystical: the problem is you can’t. it’s something that really can’t be defined, only experienced. it’s life beyond reason is the closest i can come.

    i was heavy into yoga in my college days. in germany i did a “burning hatha yoga” practice with a local german yogi. this involves a super-heated room and lots of sweat and incense. the first time i was SO uncomfortable with the heat, but felt great afterwards. the second time, i got a little better, and the third.. whoa. i was clicked into something else. i felt i could understand what my teacher was saying even though he didn’t speak a lick of english and i only super-limited german. i felt as if i knew what was going to happen like in 5 minutes.. some sort of ESP of who was going to enter the room, what they would say, and what would take place. this continued for most of the night.

    i still get like this sometimes. clairvoyance? i dunno.. but it’s something.

    i got this a few times this summer as i prayed the Hours and walked the labrynth here locally. i need to get back to these practices as i’m sorely missing them.

  5. @ Contoveros: Yes, that is the question. What do these experience do? I think experiences feed into our complex selves and come out in unknown ways. But they can be no more that just interesting if you attach no more to them than that, perhaps. But sometimes they come with emotive vibrancy like humility or awe.

    @ Mike Yes, discipline ourselves to do the things we feel we ought to do is tough. Tell me about it !

    @ Steve I believe it is cerebral too — I don’t think I am going anywhere or touching a spiritual world at all.

    @ Luke I totally agree — We can’t define our experiences. Words can only take us so far because we can’t enter each other’s minds. Simple as that. Nothing mystical about not being able to enter another’s mind! 🙂
    I wager that both religious folks like you and atheists like me can be divided into 2 camps (I love taxonomies), those that have mystical experiences and those that don’t. I don’t think it is important to have these experiences, but I think they change our ways of feeling the world — atheists or theists. Some are more inclined to minds that do this stuff than others.

  6. Earnest

    Great story!

    It’s strange to be in the position of spoiler on this one, but I have a story of my own that is similar but has a reverse interperetation.

    When I worked a lot of nights in our previous house I slept a lot in the basement. And my wife and 2 toddler boys above me would be as quiet as they could, which often allowed me some sleep.

    On 2 occasions I recall being awakened by what sounded like a gunshot, but which turned out to be a boy dropping a toy on the hardwood floor just over my head.

    What was fascinating was that each time I awakened, my first impression was not of sound but of an image. It was the same image both times, that of a very bright annoying black and white checkerboard covering the center of my vision. I could look past it to see the objects in my room. And then it was gone.

    So I suggest that if one is in a highly dopaminergic state, as I assume I was on hearing a “gunshot” next to my head, one can have visual hallucinations induced by loud sounds which can be stereotypical. So sorry Sabio I think you were hallucinating not having a spiritual event. But gosh it would have been fun if it had been spiritual!

  7. @ Earnest
    My eyes were closed during the meditation, so it was an eyes-closed hallucination. But you would have to go further and declare it also an emotional hallucination too and a learning hallucination. I have had hallucinations before, lots of them. This was different from just a simple hallucination.

  8. Earnest

    Perhaps Sabio yours was an opening-lotus hallucination and mine was a what-the-hell-was-that-noise hallucination!

  9. purplehymnal

    Hi, I found your blog through Otagosh, and hope you won’t think this comment is spam for commenting on this post so long after it went up!

    In re: mystical experiences, I can’t honestly say I’ve had any, that have not been a direct result of conditioning (by the cult I grew up indoctrinated into the beliefs of) and/or pure and simple wish-fulfillment (i.e., praying and feeling like I was talking to “god”, or wilfully having to convince myself that I did).

    I did experiment with meditation for a while a couple years ago, although I haven’t felt the need to return to it after I dropped it, last year.

    I also want to note that I chose a very directed (I guess you could say “lazy” LOL) form of meditation, wherein the distracting chants are not left to stand on their own/open a “gateway”, but they are paired with very specific imagery and mythologies, in a concrete pattern, by which one is (supposed) to receive insights, illumination, or simply stress-relief.

    Mostly, I got the stress-relief and some minor insights out of it. Nothing out-of-this world mystical, except the thought of hacking my own brain was kind of cool. 🙂

    I look forward to reading the rest of the blog!

  10. “hacking my own brain was kind of cool”
    –> that was fantastic

  11. purplehymnal

    Hee, thanks! It pissed off the religious Gnostics I tried to discuss the experiences with, something fierce, though! 🙂

  12. Lovely story! I really wish people would be more candid about sharing experiences like this; it seems to be something of a taboo among Internet Buddhists anyway.

    I wrote a post of the (relatively trivial) experiences I’ve dubbed ‘Zen moments’ here, so I won’t repeat them here.

    I’ll add one that happened since I wrote that, though—not dramatic either, but interesting, and the effect was much as you described yours: it simultaneously energized and calmed me.

    I was sitting at the zendo, for a full day of practice. The previous day, I had received dokusan, and gotten some good advice. I was applying it to the best of my ability.

    Quite suddenly, I ‘saw’ the ‘thinking loops’ my mind was going through, and was able to let go of them, like letting go of a balloon just to see it disappear in the blue sky. After that, two things happened: my sense of scale disappeared, and my sense of separation between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ disappeared. It was as if my body and the zendo became one thing, perhaps the same size as the Himalayas, whereas ‘I’ was just a nondimensional speck of consciousness peeking out first through one eye and then another, or just wandering around somewhere within that vastness. Specifically, the distinction between things happening ‘outside’ my body—sounds, light, smells etc.—and ‘inside’ my body—aches, the motion of the breath, the motion of the body, the humming in the ears, etc.—disappeared; it was all the same thing.

    I managed to reach that state several times during that day, and touch it a few times during shorter meditation sessions since. It was qualitatively different from my usual experiences, but similar to those ‘Zen moments’ I blogged about. I figure it counts as a mystical experience—although satori it isn’t.

  13. @ Petteri: (belated reply)
    I have had many experiences of my body expanding like that. Apparently it is pretty common. Likewise with blurring or uniting with the environment. Actually did a little of that today.
    Yeah, it ain’t satori — just a hallucination.

  14. I started meditation in the last few months of my faith. It was partly meditation that convinced me that Christianity couldn’t possibly be the ONLY way. I haven’t done it since my departure from belief, but it is something I enjoyed and may start again.

    Great story btw…do you still find time to meditate?

  15. Thanx, Alice. To answer your question, there are several important points:

    (1) Every Day Activity Meditation
    I have meditated on and off for years. After much training, it is easy to mental exercises while doing daily activity. The goal of meditation is to do it when not sitting in a quiet space.

    (2)Types of Meditation
    There are many types of meditation – many methods. And they all accomplish different things. There is not one thing called “meditation”, just as there is not one thing called “prayer” — as you well know.

    (3)Meditation ain’t What it is Cracked up to Be
    There are huge claims with meditation, and I had some benefits from it for sure. But the other claims are exaggerations, in my opinion — except for certain types of people with tons of sitting. And life is too short. Meditation can be like brushing your teeth — yeah, some benefits but they level off at some point. But meditation communities make a religion out of it — exaggerations, false hopes, pride and more.

    So, with those three points, to answer your question. Now I rarely do formal meditation but I do meditation-like practices in daily life very often. My post today on the Wet Web was an example of just a sort of thing. I bank little on it. I treat it like exercise, sex, cooking and laughing — just part of life.

    I hope that helps. Your thoughts?

  16. I guess I fell into the (3) category for a while. I totally get what you are saying about it being just a part of life, I guess I do more of it than I realized.

  17. @ Sabio Lantz responding to Petteri

    <blockquote."I have had many experiences of my body expanding like that. Apparently it is pretty common. Likewise with blurring or uniting with the environment. Actually did a little of that today.
    Yeah, it ain’t satori — just a hallucination."

    But it does beg the question. “Who is hallucinating?”

    As someone who has only “intuited” the proximity of samadhi for some 40 years, I wonder at the inclination of those who dismiss it’s manifestation with indifference. Except that, the indifference seems a prerequisite for more of the same.

    Patanjali, gives us the terms sabija and nirbija.

    I have to assume the former. But still am inspired.

    Interesting blog.

  18. @brmckay,
    Yeah, indeed, who is hallucinating?
    Especially since the brain is primarily a hallucinating organisms: changing airwaves to sound, light waves to sight, surfaces to feelings, molecular shapes to tastes, and gestalting from the minimum of information.

    BTW, I prefer the later, “nirbīja”, just because seeds are too hard to spit out! 🙂

  19. @Sabio Lantz

    And then of course, the chicken and egg paradox.

    Brain first then Self?

    Or, is the elegance of the conundrum inevitable, when non-finite origin mascarades as tiny things.

  20. A way to look at meditation is as the path back. It is stepping into the Christmas Eve of Ebeneezer Scrooge, to lament, to understand, to release, in the presence of spirit. One can meditate in life by accepting all as real, my experience.

  21. I still have mystical experiences. I wrote a book about reaching a high level of meditation where I had to stop meditating and focus more on the “special insight” I developed while meditating at a three-day retreat with a Tibetan Buddhist monk who spoke no English but enabled me to understand more about my life and the world that has influenced me than anything ever did before . . .

    Mysticism is — indeed — in the eye of the beholder. But it’s effect can be judged by its influenced of the mystical experience. That would include those of us reading about the mystical events, such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross just to name a few Catholics who kept much of what they wrote in line with the church’s eye toward any heresy. their mysticism came through despite careful scrutiny used hundreds of years ago.

    Daily meditation (sitting) has flowed into my daily “waking’ life. it grows and expands when I write, when I swim and when i do dishes. It is indeed a “practice.”

    I “practice” mindfulness whenever I can, be it while driving with lots of time on my hands or reading such offerings as this one where my heart and mind slows me down to take in more than what the bare words might suggest.

    Yeah, meditation can be used anywhere. Thanks for providing such a forum for all of us to experience it here!

  22. Great story, Sabio.

    To answer your questions:

    How would you define, “mystical”? A brain or emotional “fart”, “sneeze”, or “belch” that is triggered by an event or experience we want to make mean that its special and that we are special. Mystical experiences can be powerful and helpful, but not anymore than any other experience could be (watching the birth of a child, dreams, or witnessing a million other natural events or feelings).

    Funny how we humans only label the pleasant mysterious experiences and feelings as “mystical”. Whereas our unpleasant, dark, and depressive feelings and experiences (that transcend ordinary experience) are interpreted as evil or psychological, even pathological disease if these feelings linger too long.

    Have you had any experiences you’d qualify as “mystical”?
    Yes, many. Both in and out of silent, sitting meditation. I used to interpret my “mystical” experiences as supernatural or from god(s) or subtle energies in my body or the universe. Now, that I know my overlay of interpretations is what gives meaning to these events, I find these feelings pleasurable and wonderful but not magical or from a higher being.


  23. What happens when you get rid of any need for, or sense of ownership of the experience?

    i.e. Who is it that “farts”? Who is unimpressed?

  24. @ brmckay,
    Yes, I am familiar with the all-knowing, deep, heavy statements like this from both Hindu and Buddhist circles: there is no self, Brahman the Universal self, the God-Head and so many more.

    Ah, and the need to say things correctly to show that you indeed understand ultimate reality. A safe life of religiously-correct aphoristic pablum is not one for me.

    My view of many selves addresses the no-self versions of these idealisms.

  25. No need to get all huffy about it.

    The question, being for SkepticMeditations, was frankly a good and useful line of inquiry. Especially, if the gist of it has not yet been explored.

    Since you’ve already decided what is, and is not, pablum though, I suppose I’ve transgressed against the reigning protocol.

  26. @brmckay,
    On threads, it is a good idea to write “@so-and-so” to direct your comments.

    But your comment inspired my next post here.

  27. @ SkepticalMed,
    Thanks — our perspectives are similar.

  28. @brmckay,

    Thanks for taking the time to challenge my comment with your reply, “What happens when you get rid of any need for, or sense of ownership of the experience?
    i.e. Who is it that “farts”? Who is unimpressed?”

    Your question reminds me of a Zen koan like: What’s the sound of one hand clapping?

    Who farts and is unimpressed?
    It may be true that we don’t yet have a good definition or understanding of our concept of “self”. Perhaps our notion of “self” is not even the correct hypothesis. I suspect that many people want the “self” to be tied to notions of a soul.
    Because we don’t know, to me, only means, we don’t know and I don’t feel the need to say, “Ah! It’s proof of a soul, self, or wandering ghost” or some such leap of faith.

  29. @SkepticMeditations – “Thanks for taking the time to challenge my comment with your reply, ”

    Sorry it seemed like a challenge, though I guess I was pushing you a bit on the fairly self-reflective aspects of your last paragraph about what is being called mystical experiences.

    Sabio Lantz – “Have you had any experiences you’d qualify as ‘mystical’?”

    SkepticMeditations – “Yes, many. Both in and out of silent, sitting meditation. I used to interpret my ‘mystical’ experiences as supernatural or from god(s) or subtle energies in my body or the universe. Now, that I know my overlay of interpretations is what gives meaning to these events, I find these feelings pleasurable and wonderful but not magical or from a higher being.”

    As I understand it, from Zen, Patanjali, Buddha, Lao Tsu, and Life in general, the ripened experience is more of an “empty mirror”.

    Perhaps “mystical’ should mean ‘not-ripe-yet’. I was just wondering how you see it from that angle. In case it mattered.

  30. @brmckay,
    Challenging my thinking in your comment was meant to be a compliment to you.

    It is poetic of you to call mystical experience “ripened” or like looking in an “empty mirror”.

    I loved poetry in college around the same time I started meditating and seeking mystical experiences in meditation and soon after joined a Hindu-inspired meditation group as an ordained monk for 14 years. Poetry was a way to “heart” and development of intellect was often shunned.

  31. @SkepticMeditations


    I was noticing that I didn’t mention Sri Ramana Maharshi. That’s odd, because the inquiry into “Who am I?”, was his whole thing. Didn’t need meditation if you followed it to it to the end. Piercing the illusion of identity with the conceptual sense of self.

    I read him in college but didn’t get it. Took near 40 years of meandering practices to see the simple power of it.

    Based on other things that have precipitated from my first comment, I figure that Sabio, and possibly you, might consider the above to be a religions script I’m running. Wouldn’t know what to make of that. It’s useful or it isn’t.

  32. brmckay: I agree there are other ways to get at the same “results” of some meditation practices. That is my whole concern though is what is the “result” being sought of the practice. The concept of “self” may never be resolved. The “self” or “I” seems to be construct of human speculation. Religious scripts try to provide the answers. I don’t buy their interpretations.

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