Processing Peak Experiences: Planting Soulful Seeds
I had what is commonly called a “peak experience” this past weekend.
There are a lot of reasons to not get into specifics here. They include the idea that the telling of peak experiences, unless required, is generally egoic. I agree with that idea in most instances. The telling of these experiences can diminish their power in our own lives unless they themselves dictate the telling. After all, we don’t own them.
Instead, if we’re lucky, they own and possess us.
Another reason to keep them safe within us is so they can grow. It’s said that Mary, visited by the Angel Gabriel and seeing the events that included her cousin Elizabeth proclaiming her role as a sacred vessel, “kept these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Why? Speaking specifically about them removes them from the realm of spirit, bringing them into the solid world of form vis a vis the mind and emotion of humankind. Spiritual things, specifically peak experiences, are even affected by our own minds, let alone the ideas of others, who may comment on them, either approving or diminishing them. Both these outcomes have their danger.
These experiences want to be born into the world, it's true, but they have their preferences about how to do that. It’s generally best to let them stew within us so they can continue to digest, dissolving into our spiritual bloodstream until they leak naturally into our lives in the form of compassion, light and wisdom.
This is what I am attempting to do as I process the events of the past weekend. I never want them to leave, yet it is their responsibility to do so. As I said above, I don’t own them. The possessing of spiritual experiences is a recipe for religion, which has come to define “stagnation.”
No, best to let them cook, break down, digest. They are, after all, food for the soul. The whole point of experiences like these is integration.
Put another way, any time we participate in deep ceremony we are given a bag of seeds. Bags of seeds can be eaten, it’s true. If we do that, we are nourished for a day, and that’s nice. This is analogous to the possessing of the experience that I described above. It’s not an evil thing to do. It’s not that bad. But as this doesn’t allow the experience its fullest expression, there’s a certain melancholy to using them this way.
The process of a more sacred integration is different. Consider this metaphor.
Seeing the full moon, I take my bag of seeds outside. From teachings past, I know that these seeds need to be planted in such lunar conditions. My field was already prepared; a sense of the sacred, teachings and soulful experiences. A lifestyle that honors the ethereal. A meditation practice. Respect and love for both light and dark.
Standing with my bag, I look lovingly at Tierra Madre’, Grandmother Earth, Unci Makah, and I ask permission from Her to further disturb her Sacred Soil. Waiting for her permission, standing rapt, wrapped in her soft, warm light, it comes.
Kneeling now, I carefully move a few inches of earth aside. My fingers enter Her with compassion and reverence until she is ready to receive. Taking a single seed from the pouch I received from Grandfather Ceremony, I place it gently into her. With peace and purpose, I press the seed into Her, like tucking a sleepy child into bed. The solitary seed sighs gently into place. An urn of blessed water is by my side and a ceramic cup is attached by a string to my belt. I take the cup, fill it, and pour a cup of water over the soil-y sleeping place. Has a child ever gone to bed without asking for water? And I move to the next.
I work this way for four nights, until my bag of seeds from this ceremony is depleted.
Sleeping deeply now, dreams come to me bearing gifts. Like portions of peak experiences, the dreams can be journaled. Language generally exists for their telling. After all, they’re already in my mind and are made for human consumption, the rowdy little brothers of spiritual experience. They’re playful and silly, yet also made of the ethereal, and have their messages.
The days are filled with dreams, too, as I go about my ordinary world reality. I seek to honor the light I was given as I swim in waters that seem less, polluted. Yet, it also is sacred. Maybe just a little less beloved.
I had a peak experience last weekend. I am planting my seeds.
Be gentle with me.