Varieties of Experience and Sensation

Scott,

I have been following your insights for a few months now. They have been especially helpful to me since the events I describe below. I apologize for the length of this email. I suppose I can summarize my question as follows: should one continue to maintain simple awareness when one’s spiritual practice unveils disturbing and even disruptive realities beyond our everyday physical experience? As a result of “opening” to reality, much that is strange and potentially dangerous can come pouring in. I haven’t seen this possibility addressed in any of your messages.

In August, 1997, I searched the Internet and came across something called the Fourth Way. I investigated it, found a Gurdjieff group right here in _______, and by September, I was attending their meetings. I know from your page that you are somewhat familiar with Gurdjieff, so I’ll just tell you what I experienced. They meet once a week. Each meeting begins with a “sitting.” The sitting is a kind of meditation. It involves scanning, sensing, the body part by part. Sensing one’s physical body. It lasts for about 30 minutes. At the meeting, the sitting is guided by the leader. We were expected to sit at home each morning on our own.

Beginning in late September, I followed this advice precisely. I was very attentive at the meetings. We were told that we would eventually receive a flow of energy beginning at the top of the head, moving down the spine, coming up the front through the genital area and up the chest and the face. By November, I began to experience this flow. I was told that this was *very* early for a beginner; the average length of time for this to start, I was told, was after about 5 years of practice. I was thrilled and amazed. My former scientific atheism was definitely out the window. But then something bizarre started.

By the end of November, invisible hands began caressing me, touching me. They would touch my back, my head, my face. It was uncanny. I thought that these were spiritual helpers of some kind. They started to direct my movements, sometimes gently (always gently) lifting me to a standing position, moving my head to one side or back, etc. When I would go through periods of receiving the energy (and these periods could last for several hours), the hands often came. Then, they started some kind of construction project on me. They injected some kind of material into my forehead (apparently, my “third eye” had opened by now). They sprinkled and then spread some kind of material on my back and legs. I told my group leader about being “under construction” but she didn’t have much to say about it.

Things got more complicated in December. In addition to the hands, I was visited by what I can only describe as “creatures”. They seemed like a sort of animal. They would glom onto my legs and bite my toes!! At this point, I figured that all was not well. These creatures came mostly at night, and especially when I went to bed. I would feel something like a hot blob, very large, sucking on my leg, and along with that sensation there would be the biting of my toes. I figured that these were some kind of creature from another dimension, feeding off of me. I was strangely accepting of it. It didn’t freak me out that much, because at the time I thought this just went with spiritual advancement – an occupational hazard. The creatures would also bite the top of my head. And other creatures, which seemed somehow different, would sort of lick my face.

At the end of December, things took a turn for the worse. The hands, or at least *some* hands, actually began to sexually manipulate me. After this, the hands became more obtrusive and obnoxious. For instance, when I got on a plane to fly back to _______, they poked me in the behind. Stuff like that. When I would have my periods of energy flow, they would put their arm around my neck to block the flow, or put a hand under my chin to divert the flow.

I left a few things out of this account. One was the fact that the “entities” created some kind of electrical “plug” on my back that they would occasionally tap into, creating a kind of buzzing sensation there. The other thing was that they installed some kind of living thing, like a big worm, inside my torso. This living thing would move around inside of me. Fortunately, I don’t experience either of these phenomena anymore.

After Christmas, I was quite sure that my little friends were not angels from God. When I got back to _________, I told my group leader about them in great detail. She said that this was all beyond her experience, and suggested I speak to the leader that came from __________ once a month. When I talked to him in mid-January, he told me I needed to see a psychiatrist, and that my experiences had nothing to do with “the Work.”

I did see a psychiatrist, and I continue to see one. I don’t believe that these visitations are the product of psychosis, but the resulting depression and anxiety do require psychiatric care. I’ve been prescribed antipsychotics, and I take them, but it’s just to “cover my bets.”

After my conference with the Big Cheese from ____________, I went into a mild panic. I felt very isolated. I broke off contact with the __________ Foundation and stopped “sitting.” My experiences were too real to write off. And the fact that I had been fine until I started this meditation was just too much of a coincidence.

Eventually, I stopped feeling the hands. But up until very recently, I still felt something walking around on my bed, particularly at night. (I used to be able to feel both my little friends and the creatures approaching me when I sat on the bed – I felt the mattress being pressed down, although I never *saw* it go down.) Also, the energy stopped flowing. However, I still feel a constant movement at the top of my head. It simply will not go away.

One more thing I should mention. This is the only experience I’m unsure about. One afternoon in December, during the thick of things, I was home and decided to open my blinds to let the sun in. I usually keep them down. After awhile, I noticed across the courtyard of my apartment building a man standing there, perfectly straight, and staring directly at me into my apartment across the courtyard. He was in his 30’s, bearded, and wore a poncho (who wears ponchos these days? 🙂 ). All I can say is, you had to be there. His stare went right through me. At first I tried to ignore it. Finally, I approached my window. At that point, this gentleman turned to his right like a robot, and robotically walked away. I never saw him before and I haven’t seen him since. I’m not sure what to make of this experience. My current theory is that either he was some kind of possessed person sent to “greet” me, or he was an apparition.

I’m searching again for a spiritual practice. I’ve tentatively concluded that “centering prayer” (a form of Christian contemplative prayer), coupled with simple awareness during the day, should be my practice. But I have been troubled by what I’ve experienced, and I’ve lost trust in “what is” to a certain extent.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and, hopefully, respond.

Awareness is not something you do, it’s what you are. If you fixate on money, the world will seem to be about money. If you fixate upon sex, the world will seem to be about sex. If you fixate upon politics, the world will seem to be about dualistic power struggles. If you fixate upon violence, the world will seem to be violent. If you fixate upon physical or energetic sensations, or psychic phenomena, then that’s what will predominate in you, in your field of consciousness.

Being awake, being aware of what is, is not about any specific kind of experience. It isn’t about psychic or energetic experiences, although you may notice the arising of those from time to time. Obviously, if you devote a lot of attention to them, you can get lost in God knows what. My advice (along with the advice of every serious meditation school I know of) is: DON’T! The essence of spiritual awakening and realization lies in discovering your true nature: awareness, wisdom, love, and compassion, so I would give my full attention to them, rather than what my own experience tells me is, at best, a distraction.

Finally, I think your choice of Contemplative Christian practice, coupled with general mindfulness (open awareness) is a wise and excellent choice. The true path is the one that works, the one that clarifies and liberates. If something doesn’t seem to feel right, you can just let it go, as you have wisely done.

Continue to follow and trust your own heart. That is worthy of your deepest respect and attention.

-Scott Morrison-

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