I recently came across an account of a mystical experience in Steve Taylor’s book The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. It originally comes from his doctoral studies and research, and can be found in full in his dissertation interview transcripts. Taylor describes this woman’s account in The Leap as an “energetic awakening,” or a “kundalini-like awakening.”
It was when my father died. We’d been in the hospital with him for about 24 hours and it was actually just as he passed. I was sat beside him and just at the moment that he passed there was a huge golden bright light, circular, it seemed to be from the solar plexus and it seemed to be suddenly there and it was spinning round and round. And that developed and grew brighter, and moved through my body and filled my body. There was a flood of joy right through me. It felt like something that was already in me. When I think about it now I can feel traces of it. It was just a sensation of pure absolute joy. It just overwhelmed me and it stayed for about an hour. It didn’t leave me until I went outside.
It felt like the most amazing thing. I found it difficult to reconcile what [it] was. I think if I didn’t talk myself out of it, how long would it have stayed? I felt the need to categorise what it was, whereas I think it was an insight into what is really our lives…
Something inside me has changed in the way that I don’t worry about anything – I know everything’s okay. There is some [sic] much more. This is just something that I’ve chosen to experience – it’s just a small part of what else is there. The full-time job I have is a temporary contract in the local government. I don’t know from one day to the next if I’m going to have a job but it doesn’t worry me. I feel a huge sense of peace…
The strongest thing from having that experience is that I feel a permanent connection to spirit. I feel that connection is permanently with me and it’s inside me. It’s not something I have to look for, it’s inside me all the time.Steve Taylor, (2013). A phenomenological investigation into the psychological transformation interpreted as ‘spiritual awakening’: Possible causes, characteristics
and after-effects (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). John Moores University,
Liverpool, UK, page 220-221.
This experience seems to bear resemblance to Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and mystical experiences more generally, in several ways:
- It was during a psychologically stressful time.
- The occasion was perhaps spiritually “charged,” or had a spiritual nature already.
- They suddenly saw a very bright light.
- It was perhaps golden, amber, or orange (as “fire” in Joseph’s words).
- It was circular (a “pillar of light” above the head in Joseph’s words may have also looked circular if one was inside of it).
- This light grew brighter and/or nearer.
- The light rested on their body, enveloped their body, filling them.
- There was a flood of pure joy throughout their being.
- It was overwhelming, amazing, joy and rejoicing.
- It stayed for a time, and then left.
- It was quite indescribable, hard to categorize, difficult to put into words or reconcile its nature.
- It was perhaps Life itself (or “Christ,” as Joseph put it, the one in whom one may have “Eternal life”).
- They feel a sense of redemption, of being saved from the anxieties, worries, perhaps “sins” of life.
- There was a great sense of peace, of calmness.
- Felt filled with the “spirit.”