I’ve always been, since I was a child, someone who is very tapped into my soul.
”Soul” is one of those slippery terms that varies too much based on the person, so I’ll define it as I understand it. I can’t claim to know what the soul is made of, its exact properties, nor exactly how it operates.
But I have always had a strong awareness (and sense) of a part of me that I would call simply an awareness in itself. It does have its own attributes — it is ME, in the deepest sense. But it is something that remains constant while the rest of my human character does not.
As humans, we define ourselves by humanly things: genetics, various factors in the environment, values, likes, dislikes, and so on. The soul is outside of this. It is a constant presence — an essence — and many describe the soul as having more of an “observer” role throughout our Earthly journeys.
Being aware of my soul to the degree I am today often makes me feel like I am simultaneously in two worlds.
All of this generally sounds like a positive thing, and it is. But now that I have been through multiple types of consciousness-breakthroughs as well as various types of spiritual experiences that came to me rather spontaneously, I’ve become increasingly able to differentiate between the “soul” part of me and the “human character” part of me.
The Challenges of Increasing Awareness
As I become more aware of my soul as I am experiencing being human, I’ve realized that there are inherent difficulties that can come with this.
Part of the difficulty for me has been the fact that learning to follow your soul has been very much like walking blindfolded in a pitch dark place, having to learn to use another set of senses to guide your way.
You have to develop this set of senses, and keep developing them, if you want to fulfill your soul’s desires and understand yourself to the very core. This requires discernment: you have to know when to shut out outer influences and trust your inner voice.
There is a time to acquire knowledge from outside yourself, and a time to shut it out and pay more attention inwardly.
I’ve noticed that the majority of people I meet don’t really know how to trust themselves, let alone listen to themselves, and it’s not really their fault. We are part of a time when we look to external authorities, common knowledge or perhaps the “latest” knowledge in order to decide what anything means. We are taught this from a young age — we get our knowledge from going to school and having someone tell us what things mean.
It’s not a surprise to most at this point in time that as a whole on Earth, we are spiritually lacking, because we are mostly cut off from our selves.
The idea that there is wisdom to be gained from our own selves — from a part of our selves — sounds ridiculous to many. So they don’t even attempt to believe in themselves or begin to listen. They see themselves as just another human going to school to “get smarter.”
From the time I was 17 years old, I began to have significant things happen to me psychologically (including my first “consciousness-expanding” experience at 18). If I, for example, had had a parent who was not very open-minded and I had told them what happened to me, I could’ve been committed to an asylum.
Instead, I learned to follow what my intuition was telling me. Because it was sending messages to me loud and clear, and honestly, those messages were hard to ignore even if I had wanted to.
The other difficult thing that happens when you begin to align more with the “soul” part of you, is that you begin to have things happen to you that make it more difficult to relate to others at times.
You may begin to feel, see, and desire different things that sets you apart from the rest. You may become more detached and potentially not enjoy the things you used to enjoy in the same way anymore.
Values or other perceptions you felt once were a part of who you thought you were may begin to fall away as your human character expands beyond what you thought it could ever be.
Seeing the Duality More Clearly: My “Higher Self” Is a Parent to Me
I like to say this journey of awareness really accelerated starting at age 17, and I am now 35. It has taken me this long to be aware of this “soul” part of me to the degree I am now, after developing my mental tools.
In one key experience I had which was some type of random out of body experience, I sensed my “higher self” presence there directly. It felt as though it was the parent and I was the child, yet both were me! It’s hard to make logical sense of with the way we understand things, as it did feel like a separate presence from me in some way, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t somebody else.
After that for about two weeks, I felt this incredibly secure, beautiful, unimaginable sense of love. It felt like something was taking care of me, showing it loved me and wrapping me in the most unbelievable security blanket. It wasn’t a presence I sensed at that time, but rather just the love itself.
I still don’t fully know where that sense of love came from, but I believe it may have been a result of experiencing that higher consciousness state in the way I did.
The Expansion of Your Understanding of Your Identity
As you continue to wake up to your soul’s presence and understand that you are not just merely the human character you’ve been playing for so long, there is usually a bit of an initial shock or time period of integrating this knowledge. Because quite honestly, it changes your life completely. But it only comes to you when you are ready.
When this integration happens, over time you slowly start to uncover things that feel like you simply had long forgotten them. But at the same time, you can’t put these memories on any kind of timeline. They feel like they are coming more from another dimension (for lack of a potentially better term) than they are another “time.”
For one thing, I began to constantly get what feels like pieces of memories coming from this “soul” part of me. I was able to feel that it not coming from the same part of me that my typical human memories come from. But these memories are so vague that I can’t hold on to them for more than a second. However they often offer me some recognition of something. They often feel like a very sudden remembrance and confirmation of something I experienced but once again, on a timeline I cannot pinpoint.
No matter where you’re at in your life in terms of understanding who you are and how things work, I think the most important thing to take away from all this is simply to believe in yourself and trust in yourself. Learn to go within.
Sometimes this starts by simply questioning who you think you are and why. Where do some of your opinions and perceptions come from? What types of emotional attachments might you have that drive your desire to interpret something one way or another?
Try to look at yourself objectively and with an open mind, and watch how your thoughts tend to process things. Are you mostly negative or positive? Where is the negativity coming from, and does it have any basis?
The journey within typically starts with questions and really learning to acknowledge why you are feeling what you are feeling, without judging yourself.
It’s all easier said than done, but it is one of the most worthwhile journeys there is — and it becomes an endless river of learning as well as many rewards along the way. Over time, you’ll begin to have more confidence, depth, and clarity than you could’ve imagined having.
A long time ago, my talented best friend and spoken word artist Cory Russo wrote a poem about the power of pain and how it can change us entirely. For me, one of the most meaningful lines from this poem was, “I can make an atheist drop to his knees and pray — I AM PAIN.” (Click here to listen to her entire poem!).
This line is meaningful on many levels. For me, it has only become more relevant and meaningful over time, as I relate it to my journey of life’s experiences kicking my ass and deepening my character in the meantime.
It is my journey of a dominating skeptical attitude into openness, as I became more aware that this skepticism was primarily due to my own lack of awareness and knowledge, which in turn led me to believe that I was knowledgeable enough to assert my opinion on things I didn’t know enough about.
Like most people at one time of our lives or another, I was more aware of popular opinion regarding certain topics that seemed “illogical” and this is the stance I would take, without actually having proper experience regarding that topic.
Skepticism obviously isn’t necessarily bad — as everything should be examined properly and skepticism often exists for a reason.
However at the same time, it has the great potential to keep us closed, and doesn’t always allow us to actually examine from a neutral and open mind state. We don’t have to believe, but we don’t necessarily have to be skeptical, either.
Being open is ultimately about getting to a point in life where you have enough humility to understand that our levels of knowledge are always relative and life truly is a much more multi-dimensional place than we can fathom or experience easily here on Earth.
After 34 years on this Earth, I’m at a point now where I look back and see how much openness has given me vs. how much skepticism did. There is no comparison.
For example, if I had allowed skepticism to dominate what was happening to me during any consciousness-expanding experiences I had at a very young age (without knowing what the F was going on with me), I wouldn’t have learned from it the way I did.
During that sensitive time, I had to completely shut out the noise from the external world and really pay attention to what my own self was telling me about this experience. If I had listened to some others, I might have believed instead that I needed to be reeled in with some medication.
Now, to elaborate on pain and suffering.
Many of us that are trying to understand the mystery of our existence often wonder why, if there’s some sort of higher power, that pain and suffering are allowed to exist to the extent that they do. What is their purpose? Why would a higher power make us suffer seemingly needlessly at times, if there is one?
It is something I had pondered on some occasions myself, but as I grow in awareness I feel I’m starting to understand it a bit more.
There is not necessarily one easy answer, as there are multiple reasons why pain and suffering occurs. Sometimes we cause our own, from our own lack of awareness. In those cases it is just simply cause and effect.
For whatever reason, from a young age I had multiple consciousness-expanding experiences that shattered my reality as I knew it.
My entire life felt like an illusion as I had discovered new inner worlds on another consciousness plane, not produced by thought and conception, but as a literal direct experience.
While I learned certain things in the moment of those experiences, it has taken me years to process each one of them and really understand them more over time.
These experiences did not come from a firmly held belief in anything. They were simply something that happened as a result of listening to myself and following these “feelings” I was getting from my intuition.
I was always very eager to share them with people, but with these not being common or well-understood phenomena, I was usually met with responses like, “are you SURE you weren’t on any drugs?”. Thankfully, this did not make me question the validity of my experiences. They had shaken my world in a way that was unlike anything I could have imagined, and I felt like I needed to share what I saw with the entire world. I felt I had a very important message.
But, people learn things at their own rate and in their own due time. It was not my place to control that, as much as my ego desired people to understand. All I could do is tell my story and leave it at that.
After the first experience, I still did have many unanswered questions about life and existence (and still do). There are many things I simply can’t know yet and am not going to pretend to. Each subsequent experience would show me a little more context, but generally what they gave me was more insight into the nature of our true selves, or our essence.
They led me to understand that there is more to our selves than what we experience here on Earth.
Yet as significant as these experiences were, the insights gained from them felt very obvious and clear. This knowledge is something that is with us all the time! It is just blocked by so many elements of our humanly experience. All of it was completely familiar. It was just finding something so essential that I had just long forgotten.
The best way I can explain it is that it was literally like waking up from a dream (the dream in this case being your current understanding and experience of your entire existence) into a completely new “world” where you suddenly meet your “real” self and you directly experience that you had merely been playing this human role your entire life, thinking that the role itself was you.
What an illusion! And what incredibly immense JOY it was to encounter my “real” entire self again! To see that there really IS more than this human drama we are playing out; that all of our sorrows, our worries, our pain, would someday be put in perspective. It feels like such an insane relief.
I had never known joy like what I felt in that experience. I literally cried for days out of happiness in meeting this part of myself. There is no way I could respond except by just an endless release of emotion. In attempting to explain it to my mom, I’m sure she thought I was nuts. I had no words.
There is no comparison between way that I see and understand life after these experiences versus my perspective prior — i.e., the “me” at that time that thought, “I have no reason to believe there is any form of existence after death or let alone any higher power. Why would I?”
And honestly, at that time, I was right — I didn’t have a reason to believe it. I had no personal experiences or insight into any other mode of existence, and I was never the type to blindly believe things like this. I was never religious, never believed in God (especially not in the traditional sense), and I had been a self-professed atheist or agnostic. I was once actually almost prideful to proclaim that I thought we entirely cease to exist after death.
That being said, words never fully do an experience like this justice.Unless you’ve had a similar experience, it’s easy to underestimate how much this can shift your entire psychological landscape.
It’s not just, “oh I didn’t know this and now I do,” the way typical knowledge acquisition works. No. It felt like I got a whole new operating system — and it mentally opened up door after door to new realizations. My beliefs didn’t change; I was just simply awake.
Occasionally I would casually ponder as to why this knowledge regarding our selves is as uncommon as it is. Why is it for the majority of us that our consciousness levels are lowered to the point that we have no recollection of these things unless we have some sort of consciousness-expanding experience?
I have learned over time that there is a VERY good reason why we aren’t able to easily remember our existence outside the Earth realm. Continuing to play the “human role” after meeting the “essence” or “soul” of ourselves and seeing that it’s so much more massive than this and not confined to this body, can feel very odd at times to say the least. It can make it incredibly more difficult to focus on just having a normal human experience if we are not ready to properly integrate the knowledge with our existence here.
Regardless, I understood that we are here on Earth to have an experience, no matter what that experience entails. Within the experience will be many trials and lessons.
So, any pain and suffering we may go through — it may be seem needless or unjust, but it’s not us or even close to our entire story.
However, suffering WILL ALWAYS deepen our characters and give us perspectives we may not have been able to have had otherwise. It rounds out our character and strengthens our spirit.
Ram Dass speaks on this all the time. He is a former Harvard Psychology professor who turned Hindu spiritual teacher and later in his life suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.
I’ll take this passage from one of his most recent articles:
“There is a line from a letter that I wrote to the parents of a young girl who was raped and murdered that I would like to share with you. It said, ‘Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. In other words, you go beyond just the horror and pain of it because it takes you beyond it. You can’t bear it and it is only in the dark night of the soul that you’re prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.’
It’s the horrible beauty of the Universe and to realize that there is a wisdom inherent in it, and that wisdom includes suffering and that all suffering is not an error. Until you are resting in a place that understands that, it’s quite presumptuous to think you know best. I have watched in the work I do with people that are dying, where they suffer and suffer and suffer and if I could, as a human emotional heart, I would do everything I could to take away their suffering. It breaks my heart that they’re suffering and I watch as the suffering burns its way until they finally give up because the suffering is so great. I’ve watched as they give up, something emerges in their being that is so beautiful and so radiant and so spiritually innocent, that it’s like they meet a part of their being that has been hidden all their lives. It’s like an egg being cracked open.”
He also talks at length about what suffering through his stroke has given him, and that he wishes that all people could experience the grace that the suffering gave him, but without the unfortunate experience of the stroke itself.
It is from people like Ram Dass and my own consciousness-expanding experiences I was able to have that I feel compelled to share this message:
The experiences we have here on Earth are all for a purpose and there is hidden beauty in them that we will eventually be able to see. The greatest part is that it is not our entire story, so we must have hope that one day we will be able to see the greater context for why we are going through what we are going through.
My wish is that you may retain a glimmer of hope and that every minute, every second that you fight a battle you are strengthening your own spirit (even if it feels like the opposite) and the end result will be something beautiful.
If you’re currently suffering from anything at all, hang in there and know that you are not alone, and there is a bigger picture that you will see one day that will bring you a peace and understanding like you could never imagine.
”The wound is the place where the light enters you.” —Rumi
A couple of weeks ago I left my body for the first time, consciously, yet during sleep. In the last 6 months or so, many “lights” have turned on in my head and I have come to understand the self in a much larger sense even than before even though I wasn’t necessarily seeking to.
For those of you who might be reading this that don’t already know me, I’ve had a natural “spiritual sense” for as long as I can remember. Meaning, I was never one to blindly believe in anything (I grew up an atheist regardless of going to the Mormon church for years as a kid and a Catholic high school), but spirituality was a natural part of me since the time I was young, and I wouldn’t have ever given it a label if I didn’t have to in order to communicate the idea. In fact, to say it’s a part of me is strange – because everyone is a spiritual being; it’s just that only some are aware of it.
“I wish I were a real girl”
One of the many things I’ve felt over the course of my lifetime is that I’ve never felt “real.” From the time I was as young as 5 years old and probably before that, I’ve always had this feeling of life being surreal to me. I even remember once saying to my friend at age 7 or 8, “I wish I were a real girl” (funny, I know).
As I got older and started to understand myself, spirituality, and my place in this world further, I realized that the part of me I identified with the most was not the one interacting on a daily basis. It wasn’t the one working at a job, interacting with people, or playing my role here on this Earth. That was secondary to who I was. I intellectually knew this already, but the self comes in many layers that can be deeply explored to greater and greater levels. There was something very far behind all of this that I kept wanting to further explore, to understand it more and receive any insights along the way.
It wasn’t until I came across near death experiences on nderf.org (and I must say at the right time in my life; at any other time I may not have been as open and the stories may not have been as relatable as they are to me now). Reading these actually gave me a faint sense of “remembrance” – of remembering things that would come back to me based on certain things people would say and how they’d phrase certain things in the journey into other states of consciousness. That’s what was so remarkable. Sometimes what they would say would spark visions in my mind of another world.
In fact, I read hundreds of them before I finally had an out of body experience myself, which was completely unexpected, as I had never had anything like it in my life, wasn’t anticipating it, and wasn’t meditating at the time (though I suppose you could call reading near death experiences a sort of meditation).
The experience started in what felt like a lucid dream (I’ve also never had a lucid dream previously in my life). Right before I had fallen asleep that night, I had read an experience about a man who was at a funeral for his niece who had died at only 19 years old. He had had no previous spiritual experiences of any sort, and yet he heard her talking to him during her own funeral. He barely believed it, but she kept talking to him and showing him things – images and messages. She told him that she wasn’t talking to him directly, but he was the only person to be able to hear her. Her name was Michelle.
After I finished the story, I fell asleep. Then I found myself in what felt like a consciousness state where I felt awake and asleep at the same time (essentially a lucid state), and wondering if I could possibly talk to Michelle. I expressed with my mind in this “dream” that if in the nonphysical dimension, time is more or less meaningless and energy can will itself to wherever it wants, then SHOW me – maybe I could communicate with a spirit like Michelle right in that moment (this was essentially me first understanding certain attributes of a non-physical dimension, then inviting and wanting an experience).
What was different about this was that I was asking for an experience to happen while not being in an ordinarily consciousness state. I could not, while completely awake, just think about wanting an experience then willing it to happen immediately. My state of consciousness was already different being that I was in this lucid state.
Immediately after that, my entire body started vibrating HARD. Legit, actual vibrating, and my body kept fluctuating from hot and cold, and it was LOUD. Not loud in our everyday physical dimension, but the noise was heard in my mind. It sounded like a train chugging along on its tracks. The vibrations woke me up, so after they stopped I was essentially awake but had the strangest sensation I have ever had. Almost as though I can lift up out of myself, but I didn’t know what had just happened so I didn’t even realize that I was somewhat disconnected from my body and likely could have willed myself further out.
It ended there because being mostly awake now, my rational mind piped in and went “WHAT just happened?” and I had a natural fear response to it – I laid there for a while then when I could get myself together I looked up the “vibrations” and realized it was a common symptom that happens before you’re able to leave your body.
The vibrations in and of themselves felt very significant to me personally, since they encompassed my whole body, and felt as though they could take my body to another dimension of reality. I thought it was incredible in the moment, and the vibrations actually felt pretty good to me (albeit intense) as long as I was able to enjoy them.
I wish I could have gone farther, but what was a bit odd in my experience is that it wasn’t until the next day that I began to realize some of the other aspects of the experience (perhaps I needed some time to process what had happened).
The next day, I realized an intense, all-encompassing, pure sense of love.
Love doesn’t even do the word justice, because our Earthly experiences of love are nothing like what this was.
I realized during the experience that I felt as though I had fully “met” my higher self, and this higher self actually felt like it was almost a separate being from me, but was myself at the same time. I’m still not sure 100% of it was a separate being or not, but I am fairly sure it wasn’t. I felt like this presence is with me at all times, and one of the strongest parts about it was that I felt like I was the child and it was the parent. It gave me the sense that I was always being taken care of by it, or looked over by it. Even now a few weeks later, even though I don’t sense its presence the way I did during and shortly after the experience, I can still feel its love at any time, and I talk to it often (if some witnessed my conversations in my mind they’d think I’d gone insane).
This love I felt is a love unlike anything experienced in our typical earthly lives – it carries incredible wisdom. You can learn so much from it just by experiencing it. Your current beliefs or thoughts would not matter, because this love shows you, in direct experience, that you belong to something greater. Nothing that we do in our earthly lives matters (not achievements, nothing) as much as how well we are able to love ourselves and others.
It is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to accurately describe. But it also showed me directly, just by being itself, that we are not alone in a cold, and indifferent universe left with only our speculation or interpretations of it; but rather we are here on this earth for just a temporary time – a small interval of our existence to experience things, to learn, and most importantly, a complete part of a massive whole. While it’s important for now, there is so much more to YOU than your earthly role and your body.
We are just children here and very immature in our wisdom. Again, I grew up an atheist, non-religious, and I still don’t interpret anything as a “God,” but if I did I would call this love “God,” and this love is equally and us all, accessible to varying degrees at any time, always guiding us, should we only remember how to recognize and listen to it.
By the way, I am only one out of thousands that have had this experience of love and higher vibrational states, most often experienced in an NDE rather than purely an out of body experience. I am forever grateful for what this experience showed me – or in other words, what I allowed to happen to myself.
By the way: If you have had an out of body experience yourself and/or know a lot about this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts.