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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual development’

I decided to read some old diaries, from years back. I had expectations: I would see how much I had evolved over the last year, how truly different I had become after all of my spiritual experiences, and I would feel compassion for the Kirsten of yesterday, pre-Spiritual Awakening. Perhaps, I pondered, I could hold a ceremony for that poor woman shredded by anxiety and beaten down by depression; a ‘soul healing’ for who I used to be.

I read avidly, looking for all the signs that I had, indeed, achieved Enlightenment. The more I read, the more my spirits fell. Something’s wrong. I did not see much difference. I poured over diary after diary, hoping that I would see how much I had transformed. I didn’t see it. Instead, I saw that I was the same. THE SAME. After a year of dazzling and shocking revelations, wild visions, intense talks with God and the Universe, countless hours of meditation, regular experiences in states of altered consciousness, a total spiritual breakdown, trance states, taking to the dead, reading people’s minds, channeling, you freakin’ name it, nothing fundamental was different about me.

I read back through Soulbank, hoping that I would see evidence of my progress there. Nope. What I wrote in 2009 followed the same–or similar– themes as now. I poured over everything I wrote over the last year, looking for huge shifts in my Ascension Process. Nope. I had revelations, forgot about them, had them again; I would swear something was new and shocking, but actually it was an understanding I had arrived at years prior. This was something similar to my Nine Churches in Six Years journey, which led me from the Catholic Church to the Episcopal Church to community churches to something called New Thought. I arrived at the end where I had started out: confused. Angry. “Why,” I thought, “am I not getting anywhere?”

I ask the same question now: “WHY am I not getting anywhere?” The answer is quite plain and simple: there is nowhere to go. There is no final, spiritual destination. There is no correct path, no best way to Get There. There is, actually, no path at all. I always thought that a moment would come when you knew that you had arrived: you were happy, almost all the time, and everything–all the Big Mysteries–would be solved. You would have found peace and radiate love. Children and animals would naturally gravitate towards you, because they sensed that you contained a Buddha or Jesus-like radiance. Dammit. I was gonna be HOLY.

I started reading about monks who had spent 20 years meditating and found that they were still angry, judgmental, fearful, and confused. Sometimes they were happy and calm; sometimes they hated everything and everybody. That made no sense to me–isn’t the point of all these experiences that we come to peace with ourselves and our God? And isn’t that peace that ‘surpasses all understanding’ supposed to be permanent? What’s going on here?

I myself was very judgmental for quite some time regarding paranormal investigating. It was a pseudo science, it was pointless, it was providing no solid evidence for life after death, and so on. At some point over the last year, it hit me: just as there is no right way to figure out reality and God and the Universe and the nature of consciousness, there is no WRONG way to figure it all out, either. If the Ghost Radar and weird audio are leading you somewhere you want and need to go, then that is just as valid as attending Mass, meditating for hours, praying, chanting, spinning, or eating strange berries that make you see serpents in the clouds. Who was I, or anyone, to judge what method was best for finding yourself or discovering the secrets of the Cosmos?

Last January, I went through hell. I had traumatic memories surface, I had odd and scary thoughts that I couldn’t control, I experienced emotions that terrified me and made no sense. I truly thought that I was losing my mind. I felt energy run through my body like I was some kind of live wire or mega-charged battery. I couldn’t sleep, I felt dizzy and spacey, and I was sure that I was losing my grip on reality. I dutifully trundled off to therapy, meditated, prayed, and attended support groups for such things as Spiritual Emergencies, Kundalini rising, Spiritual Awakenings, Ascension, Light Workers, and so on and so forth. I howled at the moon and found my spirit animal. I took classes on mediumship. I pondered becoming a shaman (HA! Nobody should want to be a shaman) or at least, a spiritual guide for the nether worlds of the soul. I meditated until I entered trances and had visions. It faded away after school started in February and used up all my energy.

But my research had just begun. What had I gone through? I read thousands of pages on Kundalini openings, yoga, and other spiritual practices that scared the crap out of me–they had dire warnings about Kundalini energy making people insane or suicidal. That, of course, kicked off my anxiety. Then, I found out that menopause has the SAME SYMPTOM LIST. Yup. Perhaps everything that I experienced and labeled as deep, spiritual transformations was simply the result of hormones dropping and rising precipitously and messing with my neurotransmitters. That realization was quite sobering and more than a tad depressing. Was any of what I experienced real in any sense at all?

There are many articles that link menopause to spiritual enlightenment or Kundalini rising. For those of you who don’t know, Kundalini energy is supposedly stored at the base of your spine and rises up through the seven chakras. At least, I THINK that there are seven chakras. If you block the rising energy, it will negatively affect one of your chakras and cause physical symptoms. It is often experienced as heat spreading up the torso. If you have ever had a hot flash, assuming you’re a woman of a certain age, that’s EXACTLY what Kundalini energy is supposed to feel like. “Menopause is Enlightenment,” one website affirms. If this is Enlightenment, it kind of sucks.

I couldn’t, of course, figure out whether or not menopause was the Ultimate Cause of the difficult emotions and upsetting thoughts that plagued me for several weeks. In fact, nothing really explained it to my satisfaction: too many life situations could have caused it, and the explanations ran the gamut from psychological issues to hormonal imbalance to spiritual emergence. In the end, there was no way to define or pigeon hole it; it was weird, it was unexpected, it was inexplicable. However, I did learn one thing: the thoughts, feelings, and crazy energies were NOT the problem. My reaction to them was the problem. I panicked; I freaked out; I spent endless hours online trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me.

As usual, anxiety was the villain in my story. It always is. It always has been. I could have chosen to simply let it go, observe it all, find it curious but pay it no undue attention. My need to label it, to find a box to stick it in, created pain and confusion. It has taken me a very long time to figure this out, but here it is: you don’t need to label every experience or rank it as desirable or terrible. Spirituality is a very vague concept, indeed. Everything we do and are is ‘spiritual’, if you believe that there is more to us than meat. All roads lead to Rome, if you have a sincere desire to learn and commit yourself to loving yourself and others as part of your search. Stay off the Internet. Trust me, it leads nowhere. Even therapy was mostly unhelpful, as every individual has her own take on what it is you are experiencing, and that could end up confusing or upsetting you. Don’t let other people define the experiences you are having–and don’t worry that you don’t know if your lightheadedness is the start of an Out of Body Experience or just PMS. Any experience can be interpreted as spiritual, physical, or psychological. You can convince yourself that you are going crazy in a thousand ways–that’s how anxiety works.

There is no Path. There is no destination. There is nowhere that you are supposed to end up, spiritually speaking. You are already where you need to be. You are already spiritually developed and have been since birth. The mere fact of your existence and your conscious experience is enough to prove that you ARE the mystery and the answer to the mystery. There is nothing you are missing, need to find, or have to track down. Sometimes, we remember who we really are and think that we’ll never lose that revelation. Then we forget. Life is a cycle of remembering our divinity and falling back asleep. There is no achievement, just an awareness.

I don’t even call any of this a Spiritual Awakening anymore. It’s more like a Remembering and a Forgetting. The fact that I remembered some extraordinary events from another lifetime does not mean anything in and of itself. What mattered is how I reacted and responded to the memories flooding back into my consciousness from past lives and this life. The physical effects of this old reality coming back online were quite real and often astounding–I was frequently distracted by my visions and new perceptions. But  it was simply my body adjusting to the realignment of energies flowing through me. That energy might be called Kundalini or perhaps simply Spirit; in any case, we all experience this to one degree or another during transformative moments.

Spirit doesn’t change who you are. It reminds you who you are. Spirit wakes you up; it doesn’t ‘choose’ you, or confer special powers to you. You might change your circumstances, but you’re still who you always were. That’s the moment of realization: the search leads you back to yourself. The Path goes from Point A to Point A. It’s both liberating and depressing: liberating because you can engage in any spiritual practice you choose without worrying that it’s not the ‘right’ one, and depressing if you were hoping that you would be a different person after all the Experiences die down. Nope. You are always you. Always have been, always will be.

Understanding that the Universe loves you for who you are right now, is cause for celebration. That is the true spiritual epiphany.

 

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I’ve given up. Completely. Paranormal investigations might be many things, but one thing they are not: a way to prove that dead people can communicate with the living.

I still go out with my team. I love the ladies with all my heart; but I don’t believe that we are finding proof or even evidence of life after death. I’ve spent years writing about all the possible explanations for our EVP and weird photos, odd shadows and lights on video, anomalous Ghost Radar word strings, and so on. All this data we collected led us to no conclusions and no ‘proof’ that would satisfy anyone who wasn’t there. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what we do is not ‘scientific,’ not verifiable, not convincing to a die-hard materialist or even an agnostic. There will always be an alternative explanation, the suspicion of fraud (even though we’ve never attempted to mislead anyone in the entire eight years we’ve been together), the “I wasn’t there” attitude, and the general questions regarding our methods, motives, and procedures. Mostly, though, people just don’t care about the paranormal like they used to. There was a heyday for investigations when Hollywood sniffed out money-making opportunities and came calling, causing so many of us to fall in the Industry’s snares. Yup. I was opportunistic and fame-hungry too. I admit it. I cloaked those all-too-human desires with the idea that I could ‘share’ our discoveries with the world, and we would Make Them Believe.

The general public is no longer interested in our cool sound bites or our shadows that could be ghosts. I doubt that we will experience any kind of Renaissance in the field of the paranormal that involves iPhones or hacked AM radios ever again. That’s probably for the best. We never really knew what we were looking for, anyway, beyond the idea that souls might hang out at creepy places and want to talk into our recorders; the weird data we collected over the years was always inconclusive and misleading, subject to interpretation and doubt.

So why do I claim that we will never prove life after death? First of all, because there is no spiritual death–just the death of our flesh casing–and I simply don’t believe that our regenerated consciousness is going to choose to float around a dank, nasty hallway in an old asylum. Also, because whatever God you believe in–no matter what you call it–has placed an absolute prohibition on such proof. Not because ‘proof’ negates faith, but because if such a thing as scientific proof for the afterlife ever presented itself, it would terminate the individual’s spiritual path. Seeking and striving would end, and there would be complacency and pointlessness in our material lives.

I think that we found bits and pieces of consciousness out there that might well have been just enough to keep us searching and pushing forward on our spiritual quests, but never enough to answer our questions. Every spiritual quest eventually comes to an end, when we realize that we have hit the proverbial dead end. I hit the wall with paranormal investigations years ago, but I loved hanging out with my dear ones in scary places, and I still do. I probably always will; but I have adjusted my expectations and no longer expect to learn anything new or life changing with my trusty ghost tools. That part of my search is over.

Each individual is on the Earth in their particular incarnation to figure out the nature of life, change, death, consciousness, God, the spirit world, reality, karma, and how to manage other people and the planet itself. Our job is to figure all this out; it might take forever, but that’s what we’re assigned to do. This is the problem, then, with what we as paranormal investigators attempted to do: hijack others’ spiritual paths with information that would render the individual’s search for meaning unnecessary. By ‘proving’ the continuity of our eternal selves–our stated goal–all someone had to do was accept the truth of our findings and carry on, knowing that there was no spiritual work to do because we had done that for them.

Humans, however, resist like crazy anyone else’s attempt to define reality. We all instinctively know that we are on our own when it comes to the Big Questions. We can join esoteric communities, profess certain faiths, ghost hunt, meditate, wander the desert with our possessions in a small bag, chew on magic plants, or spin in circles until we leave our bodies. The point is, we do this alone even if we are part of a faith community. Every, single one of us has to figure this out in one way or the other: are we eternal? Are we a manifestation of God? Do we come back again and again to work on these existential issues until, one day, we fade into Oneness? Are we ghosts at some point? Are we, perhaps, always a form of ghost? No matter how hard we try to supply these answers for others, we simply cannot. This is hard, painful, frustrating, and intense work that we do in the process of our transformation.

I no longer look for answers in the outside world. I look within and stare into the darkness as well as the light. The outside world changes as I change; there are strange messages and astounding signs that point me in new directions and confirm some of my tentative beliefs about the nature of true reality. But I don’t share these deeply personal revelations easily, if at all; I don’t need someone ‘debunking’ my path or sneering at my methods.

The only thing I ‘hunt’ for these days is myself and God. Sometimes I find neither; sometimes both appear to be one; other days I simply wander, lost, wondering if would be easier to just open up my Ghost Radar and stare at the dots.

Much love to all,

Kirsten

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Contrary to the title of this picture, I will not discuss what the Bible says about the Devil. I will, however, tell you what my subconscious mind says about him, or her, as the case may be. It was 3:00 AM, and I was not fully asleep when a vision took over my mind. It was not a dream; it had none of the bizarre, disjointed features of a dream. It was a lucid presentation of an event–just how to classify such an event is beyond my skills to describe. Suffice to say that I saw an old, old woman–revealed to be 96 years old, the age of my death as foretold by a gypsy–who approached me, smiling. I was happy to see her at first, until I realized that there was something terribly wrong with this old lady. She grinned at me, up close, and I saw a mouthful of rotten teeth as the stench of her breath hit my face. “I am the Devil,” she hissed, and then lifted her arm and attacked me with a pitchfork, stabbing me again and again in my side.

I knew she had come to take me away, and I was terrified. The vision faded, and I forced myself to fully return to my normal, conscious state. My first thought was: I can’t go out ghost hunting anymore. Pursuing phantoms in the dead of night is messing with my head. My second thought was: I am possessed, or about to be, and I’m scared that I might end up committed at a place quite similar to the one I investigate on a regular basis. Thank God such asylums are not longer legal . . . my third thought: GET THEE TO A YOGA CLASS at the crack of dawn. So away I went, early in the morning, to a yoga class that included a meditation that seemed designed for me and my particular needs (i.e., escaping the Devil). We were instructed to sit across from an image of the Divine and he/she directed a beam of light to explode the dark kernels of fear and bad karma that we had accumulated. Those dark seeds turned to ashes and were blown away by the divine wind of love and unconditional acceptance. All the corners had been illuminated, and I need not fear. I was crying like a child by the end of that meditation, and most importantly, I no longer felt as if the Devil were trying to take my soul.

Ghost hunters are a hardy bunch. We stare death in the face and record what is left over. We listen to hours of audio that might include something we don’t want to hear, and don’t wish to invade our lives. We don’t know what responds to us late at night in the old mental hospital, but we’re OK with that. Most of the time. The last time I was at Cam, Louis captured an EVP that could be life changing–yet again. At the time we heard nothing but the insane, incessant banging of the pipes with their attendant odd after-effects that sometimes seem to carry the voices into the atmosphere. I don’t remember exactly what Louis said, something like “do you remember me?” and the response that we heard, huddled around his digital audio recorder in a courtyard, was: “Is that all you want?” No, it was not vague or distorted; yes, we ALL heard it, and Ty (my husband) verified on video that none of us was talking at the time. It was so clear that we could all identify the words quite easily, without headphones or any audio enhancement programs. The voice was . . . tired, and slightly metallic, and perhaps a little sarcastic. He, whoever this was responding to us, wherever he might be–did not believe that all we wanted was an answer to our usual, repetitive questions. Of course we ask the same things over and over, because we are not engaged in a real conversation–we don’t hear the response until hours, days, or weeks later. The voice appeared to know something that even we do not–no, that is not all we want, we want so much more than to know whether or not you recognize us, or know us, or even what you think about our activities in these hideous hallways . . . we want to know more . . . we want to know if you are really the soul of a dead man, and if so, where the hell are you that you can talk to us, why in the name of all that’s holy are you still at Camarillo, what kind of afterlife is that, and the scariest question of all–is there no Heaven? Because if there’s a Heaven, then why are YOU, whatever you are, STILL HERE, inhabiting one of the worst places on Earth?

If a little girl’s spirit can find itself trapped in a place like this, then what is going to happen to me? What if I happen to die somewhere that I really don’t wish to, such as a hospital or a crappy hospice center somewhere in South Dakota? What about reincarnation? I thought we had a choice. Some of my sappier, New Age tomes on the afterlife talk about the fields of flowers and the Being of Diving Love who reunites us with all the people we loved and who loved us, and it’s one, big party until we have to decide whether or not to move on to Higher Spiritual Realms or choose another life to live on Earth. It’s all good, right?

No, it’s not all good. Sometimes, it’s sad, tragic, upsetting, scary and a touch evil. We don’t know shit about the afterlife, really. Of course, if you are devoutly religious, then you DO know, and I admire your faith and divine knowledge–I mean that sincerely–but if you are unlucky enough to not feel that kind of faith to the marrow of your bones, you go out searching for your own answers.

Sometimes you get laughter and humor.

Sometimes you get confusion and sadness.

Sometimes you get the Devil, and he tries to take your soul.

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Allan1952 on flickr.com

What, exactly, makes contact with us on paranormal investigations, or “ghost hunts?” This question has haunted me, so to speak, for years. Most of us assume that it is the intact spirit of a dead human being; however, after reading Colin Wilson’s Poltergeist: a Classic Study in Destructive Haunting, I may have another answer. This time the answer may be definitive.

The path to the answer is long and winding, requiring us to make some assumptions the materialist will not necessarily welcome. First and foremost—and I doubt anyone would disagree with this point—humans are inexhaustible fountains of kinetic, magnetic and electrical energy. Secondly, that energy does not evaporate or disappear upon the death of the body (the laws of physics support this notion, specifically the Second Law of Thermodynamics). If we can accept the first two premises, I will add a third—human personality is intimately bound and expressed by the energy we store, produce and throw out into the world. Most of don’t ever attempt to harness or use our energy to affect the physical world; however, the interplay between human “foci” and the boundless energy of the poltergeist (more on this later) exemplifies this relationship between both complementary and oppositional forces (here I consider the forces in classic and quantum physics, but I must leave that for another entry). The evidence for the previous affirmations ranges from psychic healing to E.S.P. to apparitions of the dead (and living).  Anyone who thinks that the evidence does not exist has not researched the history of the so-called “paranormal”, and needs to read the peer-reviewed papers of William James and Frederic Myers from the Society for Psychical Research (to name two among hundreds who have studied anomalous phenomena).

How do we understand ourselves? We need to answer that question before we can decide what a ghost, a poltergeist or an elemental might be. There is an intimate interplay between our various “selves” and what we observe to be happening around us in haunted locations. It is a fact that something is “happening” during some paranormal investigations—but what we don’t often consider is the relationship between what we are observing and how we operate as human beings. Our minds do not create the phenomena per se, but the structure of our psyche organizes and energizes the spirits that draw from us in order to manifest or interact. If it seems intellectually suspicious to accept the existence of spirits as fact, I ask the reader to please read Wilson’s book—it makes perfect sense in the context of thousands of years of human experience. I am not asking for a leap of faith, but for the reader to consult an expert (Wilson) and to accept the preponderance of the evidence.

Our identity is not a solid, continuous, coherent structure. We have to construct our “selves” and create an identity from the fragments of our personality. Freud famously described the Id, Ego and Superego as the elements that constitute human personality. In the Huna philosophy, there are Lower, Middle and Upper selves. We are all aware of the “left brain, right brain” dichotomy, and the fact that one side of the brain can operate independently of the other. In broader strokes, there is the conscious and the unconscious mind, and the differences between “soul” and “spirit” that so many religions define (see Peter Novak’s The Lost Secret of Death for a fascinating discussion of this division). Across cultures, religions and philosophies, we find the same tendencies to view the human psyche as divided into various “compartments”, like rooms in a basement. Science itself supports this notion through studies of the brain, although doesn’t admit that there is a spiritual or extra-corporeal dimension to consciousness.

Wilson takes hundreds of cases of poltergeist disturbances and hauntings—both ancient and modern—and delves into the various theories that best explain the phenomena. He is particularly impressed by Max Long, Allen Kardec (father of Spiritism in Brazil), Cesare Lombroso, T.C. Lethbridge and the Huna philosophy of the self when attempting a coherent theory for the behavior and existence of “discarnate entities” Consider his understanding of the poltergeist:

“In addition to these two ‘souls’ [the conscious and the unconscious] we also “possess” (or “are?) a higher self, a superconscious being who might be regarded as the guardian angel, and—this is perhaps the most interesting suggestion—controls our future. It does so according to the desires and suggestions of the “middle self”—the conscious ego—and most of us have such messy lives because our suggestions are so muddled and contradictory.   . . .

These three souls use three kinds of vital force, or mana, each with a different “voltage,” so to speak. The form used by the higher self is symbolized in religions by the sun. By way of illustrating this vital force on its lowest level, Long cites Nandoor Fodor’s Encyclopedia of Psychic Science, and Lombroso’s case of the poltergeist in the tavern. For the poltergeist, according to Long, is a spirit—“lower soul” which has somehow, in death, become separated from the middle and higher selves. According to Long, the lower self possesses memory, and the middle self does not. So a disembodied lower self is an earthbound spirit of the type that causes poltergeist disturbances. The disembodied middle self, separated from the other selves, is a wandering wraith without memory—in fact, what we would generally regard as a ghost.” (312-13)

A poltergeist, then, is a manifestation that draws energy from our lower selves. The destructive haunting takes advantage of our “energy leaks” to create disturbances in the environment, from rappings and scratching noises in the walls to smashed plates and spontaneous fires. The ghost is a remnant of a soul that never integrated itself, never found a way towards union through a higher spiritual purpose or mission. The ghost, possessing no memory, repeats actions in a mindless loop; it never realizes that time has moved forward. For the ghost, time does not move, but is paralyzed in an eternal present moment where is replays a trauma or relives the habits of an old life. The “higher self” presumably is capable of moving on to another plane of existence or another dimension of reality that we cannot perceive. The higher self is what we usually understand as the soul, capable of evolution and transformation. It seems to me that this is what reincarnates, what is reborn and continues a particular journey of self discovery.

This suggests that one person can divide into various energy forms, both while alive and after death. Lower spirits find us at our most vulnerable and feed off our energy; we can project our “middle selves,” the spirit without memory, into a double that does our bidding at a distance. This may be the body involved in astral travel and out-of-body experiences. All of this can occur while we are consciously occupying the only “self” we recognize: the higher self, the superego, or the seat of the soul. After death, our lower self can continue to generate energy or seek it from others–it is the instinct unleashed, the primitive desires of the frustrated child loosed upon the world. We could haunt someone through the lower self, sucking up the energies of those who allow us, and creating havoc and chaos without the higher self ever realizing it. Our “middle self” could split from us and create a ghost, again without our conscious awareness. What happens to our soul, our “higher self” after death? I believe that we strongly identify with our most developed and aware right brain, and consider that to be the source of our true identity; however, if we have not integrated the elements of our personality, our being, then we may well create the hauntings that others investigate. Could our divided mind fill the world with ghosts and poltergeists? Could that happen even in life? That would explain the complicated relationship we have with spirits and ghosts, the interplay between our conscious and unconscious minds with the myriad wandering spirits and thought forms (elementals and nature spirits ) that surround us.

I have often wondered, as I sit in the darkened hallways of Camarillo or the dingy surgical suites at Linda Vista what is speaking to us, what is slinking around the perimeter, who is touching our hair or brushing our face. If we have enough experience, we know what is exterior to us and what has a “natural” explanation; or so we think. If activity seems to occur more often when a certain person is in the room, it isn’t luck or “sensitivity”: it’s a mild form of possession, an interplay between the overflowing energy of the lower self, the unconscious, and a fragment of consciousness “out there” that is seeking self expression. I now believe that we can be possessed if we are weak, incautious, vulnerable or unaware of our own powerful emotions. Our energy is like food for lower entities, who–in the end–are fragments of the psyche of the dead (and in some cases, the living). We need to exercise extreme caution when we undertake such voyages of discovery in the land of the spirits, because we occupy the same space–and we create the same potential for chaos and terror.

If there is a way around the dilemma of the divided self, it would have to consist of a combination of mental and spiritual practices: as Wilson states, cultivate the authority of your higher self, so that “you” (your true soul) remains in control of your unconscious or lower self. I would add to that the necessity of continual spiritual development and transformation. Pray, meditate, find your path and purpose–protect the soul and foster its potential for great good in the world. Only through conscious integration of all your emotions, instincts, desires and mindless urges will you achieve the possibility of eternity as a soul with its memory–the past– intact; only through such integration is there a future, many futures, for you–the authentic you. Without such a resolution, such a marriage of the selves, the haunting that will most terrify you will be your own.

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