The experience of transformation can be very different for each person, because it IS experiential and unique to each person, not something formulated like 1 + 1 = 2. It can happen as a drastic event in a single night or a gradual shift through multiple years. Also, having one transformational experience does not mean that is the ultimate goal or the terminal station of the journey, because as long as we live our lives and experience our lives, transformative experiences can revisit us over and over again.
I can recall a few different experiences that has significantly influenced and shifted how I “be” in my life and they are all deeply connected with how I experience my inner world.
One of them was during a Phoenix Rising yoga therapy (PRYT) session I received in Japan. I can’t remember what pose I was in, since the significant experience happened as I released from the pose. As I stay standing in the sensation of the release, the practitioner, who is also my yoga teacher that I fully trust, allowed me to simply stay there and explore, with invitational dialogues.
There was a vivid visual image, as if I’m seeing a pond or lake. First thing I noticed was the coolness and darkness of it, as if I’m gazing in the shady area of this body of water. Eventually I started to notice a brighter, sparkly area under the sun, more toward the left side of my visuals. I stayed with the direct experience of gazing at this body of water. The significant of this visual, for me, was that it encompassed duality as one. The dark side and the bright side. Yin and Yang. Confusion and clarity.
This experience was one of the first baby steps toward coming to peace with being in a grey area, that is neither black or white, wrong or right, the spectrum that I often refer to as a “gooey place.” It was a step toward awareness and acceptance of the beginning, the end and everything in between. Being able to access deeper spaces and awarenesses within me through multiple PRYT sessions eventually led me to pursue becoming a PRYT practitioner.
Another experience happened through a process to heal from the shock (or the trauma, if I’m to use a recently popular word) of losing someone in my rock climbing group to a fatal accident. The visual of his body lying on the ground, where he fell, flashbacked repeatedly. I felt like my system was shutting down, I needed very long sleep and I could not focus. I sought a support from an EMDR practitioner who I had seen a few times prior to the incident for a different reason.
My “inner safe place” during EMDR sessions was informed through past PRYT sessions; when I sought the inner resource within, what I came in touch with was the inner wisdom that I became aware of through PRYT sessions. This inner wisdom always showed up as a body of water; sometimes a rather small body of water like a pond or lake, sometimes a much larger body of water like ocean, sometimes it is a bright daytime, sometimes sun is setting over it, sometimes it is a full moon night.
During that particular EMDR session after the climbing accident, I explored my confusion and sadness around the loss of the bright young climber that happened in the blink of an eye. At one point a vivid visual of the ocean washed over me. It was like a bird’s eye view as if I’m watching the surface of the ocean from the sky, seeing waves appear and disappear. Small waves, big waves, short lived waves and long lived waves. They all emerged from and dissolved back into the oneness of the ocean. In that moment I experientially understood he is one of the waves just like I am. The wave, that he is, touched another wave, that I am, for a short moment and dissolved back into the ocean. Just like the wave that I am touches others in my life for however the length or the depth we are blessed to touch each other.
I have resonated with a non-dual way of understanding our lives and spirituality since I was in college, but that has always been from an academic and rather “heady” standpoint. It made a lot of sense to me in my head, but I did not have experiential understanding of it. This experience of the ocean as oneness allowed me to start embodying the experiential understanding of non-duality. It was profound. The presence of the ocean constantly stayed in my background for a few months after that, as if I had this new filter to look through the world. While the constant presence of it dissipated over time, I can easily get in touch with that place if I reach out to it. One of my friends called it Samadhi. I can’t say for sure if was similar to the state of Samadhi or not, but it indeed was transformational for me in the way it shifted my way of being engaged in this world.