Once, a long time ago, when I was explaining to Chuck how I had gone out of my body, frightened that I was losing my mind, he blurted out with a big laugh: “It’s good to go out of your mind!” Anyone who works with Chuck will hear him say this at some point.
Every time he said this, it shook me. Every time I had another out-of-body, out-of-mind experience, I’d hear his voice telling me that it was good, that I should just let it happen, as often as possible. I could hear him telling me to keep training myself, in a shamanic sense: to let go of the constructs of this world by releasing my mind from attaching to them.
I knew he was right, but it took me a long time to be comfortable with letting myself go out of my mind. Now I can’t wait. Each day, as I sit and meditate, I await the moment of release from the things my mind grasps at. Sometimes I’m able to easily free myself, at other times I must sit for a long time as I work through the cogitations of my mind.
So what does that really mean, to lose the mind? In a shamanic sense, it means letting go of our judgments, our critical voices that tell us we cannot possibly be having this experience. It means shutting down our attachments to the known world and allowing ourselves to experience something outside of our body and our brain, momentarily forgetting everything our scientists, our religions, our parents, our teachers have told us is possible. It means freeing ourselves, even momentarily, from all that we perceive as real, tangible, and solid, and just letting ourselves have the experience.
Losing the mind in this way is a very sought after shamanic move, as Chuck always taught me. When Chuck suggested that I lose my mind as often as possible, he was asking me to face the dissolution of this world, this reality, and everything that I had been attached to my whole life. This went far beyond thoughts and perceptions. In fact, it extended even to letting go of the experiences themselves as anything to attach to. It took me a long time to understand this as well. Why wouldn’t I want to attach to those most amazing and transformative experiences?
In fact, Chuck was suggesting that, rather than seek out the experiences themselves, what I wanted was the enhanced awareness they offered. When we allow ourselves to lose our minds, we offer ourselves glimpses into infinity, glimpses of greater awareness. As we allow ourselves to have experiences that are out of the ordinary, we allow ourselves freedom from the attachments that hold us back in our daily lives too.
I had always had magical experiences in my life, but they got dismissed because of course they could not be true. They just could not happen in the world I lived in. But once I learned of the mystical experiences of the saints of my Catholic school upbringing, I had an inkling that in certain circles such phenomena were totally acceptable. But how would I ever be in a position to discuss such things? Even the Catholic Church, though it reveres such experiences, does not do so easily. It was in talking to Chuck about the shamanic view of the world that I finally found such experiences valued. What he described offered explanations for everything I had experienced, allowing me to release my lifelong fears that I was just plain crazy.
Under Chuck’s tutelage, I learned to balance the mystical experiences of my spirit while living in a world of solid objects and solid declarations of reality. In my inner world, I knew that reality did not work the way I had been taught. My spirit had always sought a far greater worldview. It had already experienced a world without boundaries, without limitations, without judgments. However, greater acceptance that such a world was actually a viable reality and fully accessible was not a process that happened overnight. It took a lot of work and incremental acceptance of a new sense of reality, based on my personal experiences.
In learning shamanic concepts, my psychic experiences, my meditation experiences, my magical, out-of-body experiences found a home, in a place of deep resonance. And that is when I learned that the experiences alone are not meant to be attached to, as Chuck had once suggested. For a time they were deeply meaningful—present and necessary to aid in growing—though eventually they wore thin. And then, the only thing that mattered was what came next to challenge me. It was in this manner that I began to understand that it was not the experiences themselves that were important in the long run, but just how open I could be to keep going, to keep changing myself, and to keep breaking through my attachments to a known world.
Every day I ask the universe to lead me, to teach me, to show me something important, to challenge me to let go of my mind, my self-importance, my grasping, needy, ignorant self. I ask that I learn from my experiences, and then I ask that I be freed from those experiences so that I can be open to another, and another, and another, with the intent that I never cease growing.
What am I to learn today? What am I to be shown; what gift of experience will I be offered? And can I accept it? Can I use it to go to a new level of my life on this earth, and enhance my spiritual awareness as well?
The world is now a far larger place, extending far beyond the mind and body, beyond what is real, as I have embraced a new idea of self as energy driven by a spirit that does not want to return to slumber. Real, to me, is no longer restricted to what others have taught me is real, but is open to interpretation. Real is what I experience. And that kind of real is enough for me.
To those who seek greater awareness, I humbly pass on what I have learned, as I ask myself to constantly face my ignorance and continue on this same path of enlightenment: Be open. Let your experiences come to you and, without judgment, release yourself from the cogitations of the mind. Come back to the world you live in more firmly grounded, more balanced in spirit and body, with a greater awareness of the possibilities that exist for you.
Your experiences will be uniquely yours, as mine are mine. But remember, the possibilities in this world are endless. Seek without grasping; experience will seek you.
Offered most humbly,