My journey into evolutionary Christianity and centering prayer has felt like a prolonged version of Neo’s (The Matrix, 1st movie) departure from the matrix and into the Realm of the Real. The last few months have been quite intense. Like a faulty fluorescent light, sometimes the contrasting difference between these two perceptions of reality (asleep and awake) can be so vivid it feels like some kind of heavy inner vertigo, or having a rug pulled out from under me. As there is nobody to whom I can talk about these things at this point in time, would you be able to perhaps touch on what to expect, as in is there some sort of map from those who have gone before and/or people with similar experiences I can read about?
One of my esteemed spiritual teachers, the Abkhazian elder Murat Yagan, once commented that spiritual practice is mostly about “strengthening the nervous system.” And I’d add, balancing it. There is a natural tendency, particularly when the awakening experience is new and raw, to lean into it with your emotional center (the heart and nervous system), vastly magnifying its intensity, but also frying yourself a bit. This is what the Sufi’s call “moth-to-the-flame.” While it makes for a vivid spiritual life, it also runs you a bit ragged. It’s important for various reasons to keep practice steady and integrated. A regular meditation practice, some good body prayer (such as the kind Allen Borque offers regularly through our New England Wisdom network), daily work, reduction of story and inner self-absorption, and a good strong yang requirement in your face (job or responsibility to fulfill, aging parent with dementia to tend, woodpile to split and stack) will help the higher voltage intensity of spiritual experience to flow smoothly through your system and find its natural pathway to the ground rather than getting bottled up in your emotions.
I could put you onto all sorts of spiritual autobiographies, beginning with St. Augustine, but I rather fear that the same inner preoccupation that drives people to write narratives about their spiritual experience also virtually guarantees a somewhat distorted and overwrought account. So I’d just say, “go gently, and remember that every experience is ‘normal’ for God.” Err on the side of gentle and enfolding rather than dramatic and polarizing. It really IS all one, the ordinary and the profound, the awake and the asleep—but only when the heart can see it. And while the emotions may have their heyday, the heart shuts down with too much drama.