Channeling. Astral travel. Angelic healing. Miraculous cures by prayer.
What do these things have in common?
They are all considered spiritual experiences.
Today’s spirituality is a catch-all phrase for any sort of experience with the divine. I’ve seen it used as a marketing tool for self-help books; a way to lure money from desperate people. I’ve also experienced spirituality as a means of self-reflection; a reminder of God as the thread between everything.
The other day, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. Having grown up Catholic, but not particularly religious, there was always a question mark for her when it came to God. So it was a surprise to me to hear that she’d had a spiritual experience – complete with physical sensations of warmth and an overwhelming feeling of openness and forgiveness in her heart. Since then, her relationship with God has changed and her faith has increased.
For months before this, my friend struggled both personally and professionally. I guess her cry for help was finally answered, since her life has done a complete 180.
Where before, she was struggling to find a place to rent, she is moving into a new place in precisely the town she wanted to live in. Where she was experiencing financial difficulty, employment is on the way. Where she was struggling in her marriage, her relationship has been restored.
In this age of science and skepticism, it’s easy to dismiss this as coincidence or imagination. However, I’m a firm believer that “the proof is in the pudding.” If my friend truly feels better and sees obstacles removed in her life, I’d say she’s got something working for her. The fact that she claims the Holy Spirit entered her seems unbelievable. Yet, just listening to her talk, I couldn’t help but feel moved and excited about her experience.
After our discussion, I had to ask myself, “Are spiritual experiences real?” If so, how do we define what is – and isn’t – a spiritual experience?
I’m going to go old skool for a minute and give us the dictionary definition of spiritual. According to Merriam-Webster, “spiritual is of, or relating to, a person’s spirit.” Synonyms include: non-physical, ethereal, formless, and immaterial.
What all of this says to me, is that a spiritual experience is, by its’ very nature, not of the physical. It is the moments we find hard to define or that seem incredible, that most often signal communication with God.
Here are some examples of spiritual experiences I have seen, felt, or read about:
- I have been to a church where every Sunday, a group of women would get up and start speaking in what sounded to me like gibberish. These women believed that the Holy Spirit was speaking through them in a language that could not be understood, but had to be felt.
- After a weekend retreat focused on deep meditation, I took a nature walk and felt completely filled with love and gratitude. I remember my eyes filling with tears and feeling completely in harmony with the Universe.
- I’ve read reports of yogis describing heavy pressure and heat moving up and down the spine following intense periods of fasting, yoga, and meditation. Referred to as Kundalini, when awakened, this powerful energy has a profound effect on a person’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
- The author Neale Donald Walsh, says his book and subsequent series, Conversations with God, was a result of channeled writing. According to Walsh, “…my hand remained poised over the paper, as if held there by some invisible force. Abruptly, the pen began moving on its’ own.” Dr. Helen Schucman said the same thing about her book, A Course in Miracles.
I could go on, but the point is this. Although each of these experiences is considered spiritual, they all differ in scope, medium, and intensity. As for the main question of this post, Are these experiences real? Well, that remains up for interpretation.
The fact is, whatever feels true for YOU is real. We often spend so much time searching for facts and judging our experiences, that we forget to just savor the moment. Be it in a moment in nature, during a healing session, or intense meditation, anything that feels like God IS God.
In closing, I leave you with this message which came through my inbox as I was writing this article. (Courtesy of Lisa Beachy’s Daily Angel Card emails, which you can subscribe to here by joining her email list.*)
Many of you pass around the word “spirituality” without really knowing what it is that you are searching for. Sometimes this leaves you sad or more confused than when you started the journey of looking for love, peace, forgiveness, or “enlightenment.”
In its’ simplest answer, spirituality is striving to know God. Stop searching and just be. God has created you. You are the Creator’s child. Therefore, God is always with you.
Would a good parent leave their child alone in a crowd?
Stop searching. Stay still. Breathe deeply to relax.
Then look around you to feel God’s love within you.
See God’s beauty around you.
Keep it simple.
You cannot overthink love, or you will think it away. It is about FEELING the love of God within your heart to know that God is there, taking your hand and joining you on the path, as any good parent would.
*Jan. 2017 Update: Lisa is no longer offering her daily Angel card readings, but you can still receiving free readings by visiting my Inspiration page here.