“What the hell is the point of this?” I said while hopping out of my car in a black paved parking lot of a rather skuzzy looking apartment complex. I was verbalizing a response to another rush of existential thoughts that had been for a few months now, flooding my mind.
It was early November 2013 and I was living in the suburbs of Chicago. It was 5 o’clock and the sun had nearly set. Looking out my window, the suburban landscape looked as it always did in a Midwest November; cold, grey, brown, leafless trees. Really just unattractive and shitty quite frankly.
Sitting down at the end of my bed, hands cupped in my lap, i settled into an evening meditation session. My mantra came to my mind silently and immediately took my attention inwards.
Suddenly, I felt strange sensations ripple through my body and a profound dizziness took ahold. A lightheadedness came over and my mind felt like it was spinning. There was an ‘energy.’
This ‘energy,’ ripped upwards through the back of my neck and up into my brain. A feeling of hotness swarmed over my upper body. A few bits of sweat started to bead on my face. A few more minutes and suddenly, POP. A strange and loud, yet inaudible sensation swarmed my consciousness.
I immediately open my eyes in fear.
Breathing heavily, nearly panting and my heart humming loudly inside my chest.
I felt exasperated, as if I was held under water for too long and was now gasping for air. Looking at my phone that was sitting right next to me, I was amazed that I hadn’t even been meditating for more than 7 minutes. It had felt much longer than that. No, it had to have been longer than that. There is no way….
But that’s when I noticed it. The bliss. As I slowly reorientated myself and adjusted my eyes, Waves of love and euphoria washed over me as though I had just stepped into a warm shower and was being cleansed. I stood up and walked outside of my room. I took a moment to glance out the window. I could see far into the distance as though my eyes had developed a binoculor like magnification. I watched cars go by and people walking the streets. Everything was incredibly vibrant and lit up. The colors on the few trees I saw and the buildings and houses all around, were pronounced in a way that made me feel in awe.
It was as though I had been living life through a black and white television and suddenly I had been upgraded to 21st century high definition. An eerie gold and orange glow enveloped the whole of a now, expanding awareness. I stepped outside my apartment and walked down the flight of stairs. Walking into the parking lot, past my car, I then came across a few brown sparrows playing in a puddle right next to a bush and a few trees. They were about twenty feet from where I stood.
I stared at them playing, flying around and chirping to each other.
Though instead of noticing something that was so ordinary and minuscule, I saw perfection. My eyes wouldn’t be removed from these birds and the dark green bushes and brown trees that stood behind them. After a few minutes, I moved on and as I continued walking, it began to dawn upon me the profound nature of what was happening.
This is not normal, my mind observed. How is this occurring?
Yes it was clear now.
I was in the midst of some kind of psychedelic experience.
Walking down to the train station, there was a skip in my step. The suburban environment glowed. I could feel and see its energy. From a kiosk, I bought a ticket for downtown.
I hopped on the train, found a window seat but didn’t reach for my earphones this time. My phone remained in my pocket, as I gleefully observed everything that was going on. The passengers filing onto the train, many peering into digital screens and many more head down, lost in thought.
A woman with a puffy red coat and a white scarf draped around her neck entered the train. Behind her was a man with a black jacket and a crewcut. They embraced each other and smiled while staring into each other’s eyes. The white pearl earings gleamed from her ears and i noticed a diamond ring on her left hand. They were in love.
As the train made its way east I observed the diversity of urban landscapes and suburbs that passed by. Red and Black grafitti splattered bridges and deserted buildings. Then high end apartment complexes and shopping centers. It seemed every minute i was leaving one world and entering a new one.
The silence was incredible. I was in noisy train, yet I somehow was aloof, shielded from all the sounds.
It was a profound sense of quietness. Almost an eerie silence.
After disembarking and making my way onto the city streets, I was overwhelmed by the perfection and the aliveness of the vast urbanscape. I walked amongst the crowds on the sidewalks and became drawn to the faces of all the different people I would pass. I could see the colors of their eyes, the texture of their clothes in a refined perception from ten to twenty feet away.
Intriguingly, their appearances gave off a robotic vibe. The man walking past me in a suit, carrying a briefcase, talking on the phone. The woman just a couple feet behind me to my left with a skirt, high heels and earphones plugged in her ears.
Then the cops standing on the street corner, talking to each other and exchanging some laughs. They all gave off an eerie, mechanical and artificial impression.
“Could these people be robots?”
The thought disturbed my otherwise blissful state of mind.
True to my habits, I walked aimlessly around the never-ending urban jungle, wonderfully lost in amazement like a curious and innocent child and in complete astonishment of the mysterious new dimension of life that I had somehow and accidentally, opened up too through a meditation practice.
”Is this….. nirvana?”
Over the next few days, this state of consciousness remained though slowly began to fade. My meditations over these days were much smoother than normal and I relished in this as a giant milestone reached. I went to my meditation teacher David, ecstatic.
“This is incredible, this is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me!” I remarked in joy to him.
“Good job, congratulations on keeping up the practice,” he responded.
Despite this ‘victory’ I still felt a little uneasy about the experience. There was a part of me that felt genuinely frightened by it all. While this specific experience had been ‘good,’ the sheer power of it was unnerving and not too easy to comprehend. It was like knowing that I didn’t fully understand the force or energy that I had tapped into and was now dealing with.
This was uncharted territory but I was an explorer and hesitantly decided to continue on.