13 years ago when I was 16 there was a time when I felt depressed - not about my life in particular, but about the world and the way things are going. I kept having the thought that the evolving of the human race must have been a mistake. The way we treat the planet, other living beings and each other made me think that the human race was a cancer, a virus on Earth, that we shouldn't be here. This was a very painful thought, it occurred to me often and made me feel ashamed of my existence.
Once, I was sitting on the backseat of my parents' car as we were driving home one evening. The thought came to me again, racing through my mind over and over. "We are a mistake. We shouldn't be here".
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt surrounded by warmth. I remember thinking that this is what it must feel like to be an unborn child, floating in warm water, completely protected and in bliss. It was a wonderful feeling of being one with everything in the universe - I felt the experience came to me as a comfort saying: "You are not a mistake. You are all right. You are perfect and all is as it should be".
It lasted for maybe 5-10 minutes as I was sitting between my two sisters on the backseat and looking at the car floor. I didn't say anything to them and I don't think my family noticed it.
Later, it must have been in the same summer, another experience came to me.
One evening, I would lie on the floor of my bedroom covered by a blanket with the lights off listening to relaxation music. (I was very interested in psychology, meditation, yoga and what I now know to be spirituality. I had already had this interest for many years.)
After a while, lying on the floor, I had a very vivid visual experience behind my closed eyelids. It was almost like a lucid dream although I was wide awake. I was deep under the sea, swimming about effortlessly amongst fish, giant turtles, dolphins, coral reeves. I could feel the water cool and smooth against my skin, I could sense the pressure of the water in my ears. And I felt the most extraordinary bliss and connectedness with all the creatures in the sea around me and with the whole universe. That was the thought coursing through my head: "I am one with everyone and everything! It is absolutely wonderful!"
Tears started running out of my closed eyes, I cried silently out of pure joy and bliss.
I knew that at some point I would have to open my eyes and get up and go to bed, and yet I did not want to leave the sea.
Eventually I did, but I felt very much at peace afterwards as I went to bed.
The next day I lay down in the same way with the same music, but the experience did not come. I was very sad that I had been in what felt like Paradise and now I had lost it.
I came to understand that I couldn't seek it out or provoke it to appear - it had come suddenly to me as a gift I hadn't expected.
I have never since had an experience like that. I continue to "search" for it, although I know it cannot be found in the mind.
I discovered the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie two years ago and now know much more about spirituality, the ways of the mind and that bliss comes with a quiet mind. I also understand that my experience must have been what Tolle refers to as a satori in the zen tradition - a moments' opening up to the higher consciousness. Vivid visual experiences are actually said to be "beginners mistake" in satori, so that must be what happened to me at 16!
Today I am also interested in the physiological and neurological part of spirituality. Whatever we experience must happen in our brains, and some scientists now believe to have found that the answer to spiritual awakening lies in our frontal lobes - that we all have potential in our brains that are yet unused except in the few people that have awakened, who show remarkably different brainwave patterns.
I use brainwave entrainment and synchronization music in order to train and strengthen the communication between my two brain hemispheres, and it certainly improves my ability to stay mentally quiet and brings me in a strong meditative state.
My hope is in time to awaken fully spiritually by training my brain - at the same time I know it is important not to make spiritual awareness into a future goal and object, as it takes away the awareness of the present moment:)