Overwhelming Awe and a Feeling of Unity or Connectedness
My first encounter occurred when I was eight years old, after a near-fatal drowning.
My second and most significant experience began on a typical early morning fall day in Southern California, I was asleep next to my wife when I was suddenly awakened out of a deep sleep by a sensation of an ominous presence in the room. It was as if someone or something had entered our bedroom and was standing in the doorway staring at us.
At that instant, my eyes popped open and to my relief, no one was there, but I suddenly realized that except for my eyes, I was unable to move any other part of my body. I seemed to be paralyzed from the neck down. My God, I’m paralyzed, I thought. Every part of my being seemed to be seized by an overwhelming sense of panic and futility. I tried to call my wife who was still asleep and unaware of my dilemma but I was unable to move, or utter a sound.
After a few seconds, my attention was drawn to a brilliant bluish-white light a few inches in diameter that seem to be hovering in the corner of the room over the doorway. Looking back, I realized that the light seemed to shift my focus of attention, from my physical and emotional distress to a point or other space outside of me similar to what I experienced in my near drowning. At that moment, the sensation of fear and panic suddenly vanished and was replaced by an overwhelming sense of awe and a feeling of unity or connectedness, the shift between the two states was inexplicable which just seemed to pop in and out of my head as though they were being commanded by some source other than myself.
Mesmerized by the light, I am not sure how much time passed, but the light began to pulse expanding and contracting in what seemed like steady intervals which drew my attention even deeper into the light. Then in a flash, the light shot toward me flooding my eyes and brain with white light. At that same instant, I felt my body jerk which I later learned was a myoclonic reaction and suddenly I was able to move my arms and legs again. My first reaction was to jump out of bed to look around and try to figure out what the hell just happened. It didn’t dawn on me until later that I had jumped out of bed without pain.
For several days following this event, I continued to experience waves or rippling sensations of bliss that seemed to arrive in intervals of varying intensity. Hours later, when the blissful sensations began to subside, I noticed a change in my manner of perception and thinking, things appeared much clearer to me, as if the doors of perception had been cleansed. It seemed like the mental barriers that people erect and hide behind were suddenly stripped away. I began to see people and things in a different light at their face value without all of the subterfuge, duplicity, and absurdity that the human race has plunged itself into. I imagined that this is how an infant must experience being in the world, from a purely observational perspective without preconceived ideas, references, preferences, or judgments.
I felt elated, but I had no reason to feel this way except perhaps that I was glad I was not paralyzed, but that didn’t seem to be the case, something else was brewing that I couldn’t explain. These pleasant sensations continued for the next four days and affected everything that passed through my senses including my dreams which seemed more lucid than usual. Then the bliss sensations subsided and I was seemingly back to my ordinary state of being, at least that is what I thought.
As I sorted through the events of that morning, my thoughts and fears ran wild. I wondered if I was having some kind of mental meltdown, was losing my mind, and why did the quality of things look so different. I had no point of reference or adequate words to describe my experience. I consulted doctors and psychologists, but this was in the early 1970s, and professional opinions about the potential causes of my experience were unknown to most practitioners who cited everything from viruses, drugs, neurological damage, mental illness, brain tumor, and even a religious conversion. However, at this point in my life, I barely knew what any of these things meant, apparently, neither did any of these practitioners.
Since I was unable to get a satisfactory explanation for what was happening to me, I started researching my experience myself. Eventually, I stumbled upon a description of a little-understood condition in a medical dictionary known as sleep paralysis that fit my experience to the tee. The symptoms of this experience were as follows. An inability to move the trunk or limbs upon awakening, feeling very afraid, and within minutes gradually or abruptly being able to move again. It also stated that in some cases people feel that someone is in the room with them. These things cause people much anxiety and terror, but there is no physical harm. However, there was no mention of the light, or mention of the blissful sensation, or shifts in perception which led me on a path of self-discovery.
Similar experiences have been reported for centuries and there is no real explanation as to why they occur. My investigation took me into disciplines and fields of knowledge that I might not have otherwise pursued including psychology, anthropology, philosophy, biology, metaphysics, mysticism, physics, cosmology, lucid dreaming, shamanism, creativity, neuroscience, and consciousness. The light I experienced, seemed to return periodically, particularly during troubled moments in my life. I have come to think of it, as an ally that I could always rely on. Whatever this light is, it seemed to emanate from within my field of vision. The light was not always present and seemed to appear randomly each time but with less luminosity and frequency on each occurrence. Each time the light appeared I took it as a reminder to reassess my actions and goals. There were also moments when I felt humbled in the presence of the light. I can’t explain it; that’s just the way it was. I never spoke to the light, nor did it ever speak to me, at least wise not, in the same way that one communicates internally with one’s self or how we communicate with other people. My exchanges with the light were never verbal but rather more telepathic-like as if they came from an outside source. However, whenever the light appeared, I felt I was on the right path. The light continued to make occasional appearances through my forties and into my fifties, but with much less frequency and intensity.
By, Unknown Author