QUESTION: I am currently 38 years old, and in my late teens and early 20s, I felt an intense spiritual connection to the universe. During meditation practice, I had intense mystical experiences. My body would be filled with amazing vibrations, I would have visions, I had an out-of-body experience, and I experienced physical healing. An example of this was a time that I was experiencing a tremendous amount of pain due to a decaying wisdom tooth. The pain in my tooth was overwhelming one day, but I managed to push myself to meditate. During meditation, what can only be described as a swirling ball of energy formed in the pit of my stomach. I felt this ball move throughout my entire body. It moved up and down my arms, my legs, and up the side of my neck, until it finally settled on my decaying wisdom tooth. The ball of energy remained on my tooth for several minutes until it finally faded away. My tooth pain was gone and I was able to have the tooth removed several weeks later.

A few months later, all of these experiences were gone. When I would go into meditation, I felt absolutely nothing at all. I no longer had deep spiritual experiences, I no longer had visions - I felt absolutely nothing at all. Meditation became lifeless and boring. I felt like I lost my connection to the universe, so I just stopped my spiritual practice. About three years ago, I decided that it was time for me to get back into my spiritual practice. I have been meditating on a regular basis in hopes of recapturing what I had experienced in my 20s. The problem is, that I feel nothing during meditation. As hard as I try, I feel no connection to the universe or the spiritual world. I am at the point in which I am ready to give up.

My question is: why do you think that I had the ability to truly connect to the universe and spiritual realms in my early 20s, only to watch that ability dry up and fade away? What do you think it would take to regain what I have lost? The thought of it makes me incredibly depressed and frustrated. I don’t want to just give up, but it’s hard when you keep at something but see no results.

ANSWER: The experiences that you are talking about are phenomenal, meaning that they are transient and not the absolute. I agree that they can be awe-inspiring and give us a relief from day-to-day life, but they are not spiritual any more (or less) than a great movie. Let’s take your example of the ball of healing energy that helped your pain around your decaying tooth. Where is that tooth now? Removed and discarded. Hence, transient. What we are after here is the eternal, not what is passing. Getting high is what you are talking about, or what these experiences are. I know in our culture there is tremendous confusion about these out of the norm experiences. But that is all they are, experiences. True spirituality is about becoming sober, about moving beyond experience into our true nature.

If you are interested in such phenomena as you describe, there are a myriad of ways to train one’s energies to bring about such experiences. Deep martial arts and qigong practice would be one, as would training one’s chakra system. But again, these are not spiritual practices per se, just ways to train one’s energy. There are many awake people who have never had any of the experiences that you describe. And there are many, many people who have all types of similar experiences who are far away from spiritual awakening.

I suggest that you retune your vision and reframe what you mean by spiritual connection. What are your expectations? Your description is one of wanting a break from everyday reality. What about going beyond everyday reality, while being firmly rooted in it? What if your experiences were an invitation into going deeper, and not the thing to pursue in itself? Do not confuse the menu for the meal. That is a mistake that many of us with such experiences can make. Ask for guidance to be shown what needs to be aligned in your search.