I was inspired to write this post after reading about Tom Wootton, a man in his 50s who had been meditating since the age of 5. Tom would detach from his body and find himself floating above and looking down at himself sitting there. He intuitively knew that this and other meditative practices would bring him to a state of ecstasy. Altered states of consciousness soon became the most important thing in his life. It was only later in his practice as a monk that he found ultimate ecstasy after suffering from deep depression. Once he found ecstasy in depression he found it everywhere, at last finding equanimity. A deeply encouraging story for sufferers of stress, anxiety and depression and one that may resonate with anyone who has had childhood spiritual experiences which is more my own perspective although stress is also a part of my life at the moment.
Tom’s early childhood story is almost identical to mine. I was an extremely happy young child and the pleasurable altered states of consciousness that I was able to reach at this young age gave me, like Tom a profound state of happiness and a feeling of a spiritual closeness to a ‘God’ like entity
I loved to sit on my own in quiet solitude or silence, contemplating space, searching for meaning in objects or simply trying to remove any thought at all from my awareness. I embraced a God that my parents did not talk about. I craved quiet. In order to meet this need I adapted my routine to every situation doing things like memorising a single motorway bridge while in the car and keeping it in my minds eye as the sole focus of my attention until we reached the next one.
It was a very ordinary day at nursery school in my life as a 3 or 4 year old child, but it was also the day that probably changed my life forever as this was the day that I became ‘different’ The teacher was telling the story about animals. We were listening in silence and I was for some reason listening to the story with my ears while having my eyes focused intently on a drawing pin and finding I was enjoying the light headed sensation that the focus of my intent seemed to be giving me. The more I focused on that pin the more engaged with this story I became and the more light headed I became. The room rearranged itself into an animal, children and teacher kaleidoscope. Myself the other children and animals all joined each other to became part of the story and I had the sensation of being above myself and everything else. Everything was perfect, peaceful colourful and somehow seemingly interconnected and I felt very part of this. When I think of heaven this feeling is it. The next thing I felt was a jolt, The teacher was asking if I was OK and what had happened, and the morning carried on while I sat alone feeling confused.
This was not the first time I had had this experience, although it was something that normally came in the early morning, along with colourful floating shapes that drifted around my bedroom. I also used to bring the experience about to entertain myself. I believe the only reason I remembered this early experience so explicitly is because I was asked to describe it to various psychologists throughout my early years at school. The experience felt so natural and right that I feel sure it is not unique to me, and is common in young children who like myself just accepted it as normal but more usually forgot about it in later years. My memory of how to achieve such states possibly only still exists because of all the fuss that was made about my description of this one. It was the re-living of the experience that was disturbing to me and not the experience itself. From this moment on I ‘doubted’ myself. What was normal had become ‘abnormal’, ‘fanciful’ or just plain untrue, my life became a puzzle to be solved and I am almost certain that the self doubt that exists in other areas of my life exist because of this. The broken bits that Joe Bray refers to in his recent post. http://josephbray.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/broken-hearts-in-the-forest/ I would like to add that I have an ordinary life, run a business and have a family, have never used drugs or had any mental health issues.
As an adult I have gone through a period of stress and anxiety due to some major personal life changes. During this time I have re-discovered my spirituality, Meditation and some of my earlier experiences of altered consciousness. These are welcome and feel natural although the surrounding life circumstances are harder to live with.
This is a post for all sufferers of stress and anxiety, as well as those who as children were able to experience OBEs and other altered states. Please share your own story.
Read More about Tom Wootton: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bipolar-advantage/201207/how-i-found-ecstasy-in-depression