Participatory Mystical Awakening
Discovering and Practicing Mysticism – Part Two
So, how do we practice mysticism?
Once we’ve cleared up some of the common misperceptions about mysticism, we find that we can approach mysticism from a trans-rational perspective, believing that it is real and something we participate in, experienced in connection to our Higher Self, and deeply connective to others. You can read more in depth about those distinctions in Part One.
Getting past some of those mental hurdles, we now can step into our participatory practice. This is a co-creative process that we engage in with our whole being. While mystical experience can be received in many different forms and ways, we can practice our active engagement into the process by cultivating mystical awareness, learning to sense emergent mystical realities, then interplay dynamically with them and one another in convergent communion.
Attuning into Mystical Awareness
Our first step in participation is to cultivate mystical awareness. Another way of saying this is that we are learning how to see, how to listen, how to sense at a different, deeper level. We enter into a consciousness that transcends our normal, mental state which is usually preoccupied with material reality and self-focused thoughts.
Sound easy enough?
Don’t be discouraged. It is not only possible but much more easily accessed than you may think. While there are many contemplative methods of practice to clear the mind and shift into this state, many of them take years of training in order to attempt to “recode” your mind so to speak.
We (and others) have found it much easier and effective to simply drop into your heart space. Here, you may need to activate your heart into a state of flowing love. This is not thinking about your heart, but experiencing from it in a sense. From the heart space, the mind often becomes surprisingly still.
If you learn to dwell in this space, your awareness opens to a depth of perception you may not have experienced before. You’ll probably first start to notice a frequency of heart energy that is different. As you cultivate this awareness, you’ll also start to experience further sensations.
Sensing Mystical Emergence
Depending on what type of person you are, these sensory responses might be visual: images, pictures, colors, or flowing energy. These are usually seen in the mind’s eye, but sometimes open-eyed as well. The sensations may come somatically, felt in bodily awareness as energy, tightness, even shaking. You may get intuitions from your spiritual womb that speak insightful truth and wisdom into your life, or even for another (though distinct from ego manipulations, such as rescuing).
But the most common and primary emergence is a heart-burning that feels intensely energetic, almost painful at times. We call this bliss. It is an “ecstatic” state of being and awareness.
These all are the emergence of mystical reality coming into conscious awareness.
All of these perceptions come through a form of sensing that might at first be difficult to distinguish from normal awareness. But with more practice, engagement, and feedback, you can start to discern the different quality of sensations that come from mystical awareness. There is almost a thickness, a viscosity to them. They’re not the same as our usual transitory thoughts and sensations. There’s a received quality, as if they’ve been given to you.
They emerge from within, both from our human faculties rooted in divine materiality, and from God, Jesus, or spiritual guides speaking through our human senses. Our expressions and understandings will always be shaped by our culture, experiences, and limitations. And that is ok. That is the nature of co-creation. We don’t claim absolute truth or power from mystical engagement. Just experience with the divine for the blessing of ourselves and those around us.
Dynamic Interplay with Mystical Reality
While some forms of religious experience take people into this ecstatic state of mystical awareness, a common pitfall is to just remain in this passive, receptive state. People may do this because they over-indulge and become attached to the feelings of the experience (as in some charismatic expressions), or they just don’t see the empowering call to participate themselves.
While mystical experience can happen as a sort of one-way “download,” it is much more common, especially in Christian mysticism, for the experiences to be inter-personal. For example, this could be engaging with the mystical person of the Living Jesus as many people did in biblical writings and have throughout history. It may be engaging with Mary or other spiritual guides. And it may be sharing in this mystical communion with one another.
How can you respond to these sensations, to these gifts received in mystical awareness? If we are in a group space dedicated to cultivating and experiencing this consciousness together, we share them and watch the dance unfold. If we are alone, we might respond with gratitude afterwards—but while still in the midst we may seek to be our deepest selves and reply in some way. There is an almost playful dynamic here. It’s not all buttoned-up reverence, but a joyful inter-play. We are in a state of bliss after all.
If we allow ourselves to, we each may respond differently according to our creativity and personality. Let it be emergent from within yourself. Scripted or one-way relationships tend to be boring. Embrace the playful.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to me,” Jesus says.
(Next week, Paul will further explore how to connect with spiritual guides.)
Perhaps because we typically only hear of the stories of extreme mystical events around the world, we think they are rare and given only in special circumstances. But what if we just have simply not been listening, not cultivating mystical awareness in our forms of practice and spiritual gatherings? This is a common pattern of religion, substituting ritual in place of the original, powerful experience.
The New Testament is full of mystical experiences. If we can overcome our biases of modernism, why wouldn’t there be similar and even more evolved forms today?
We also may have overly individualized mystical experience, as we have much of the rest of our spiritual approach and practice. When we gather together with the specific intention to seek this consciousness, there is a heightening effect that takes place. We actually discover that we have more clarity, more presence, more capability.
The sharing of heart space in this consciousness actually expands our own individual capacity. We can enter into mystical awareness easier and also receive the feedback and guidance we need to develop in our own mystical practice. In this “we-space,” mystical emergence flows much more freely and dynamically in the mystical interplay with one another.
The nature of mysticism is communal. We can experience this both through our individual, 1st-person experiences of connecting to the deeper reality of the oneness of all things and directly engaging in 2nd-person experience with God, Jesus, spiritual guides, or other human beings. We can also experience it collectively, which heightens and adds so much richness to the mystical expression. We need to continue to evolve and create new ways of gathering and practicing together to engage in mystical reality together. Not only for ourselves, but also for the sake of the world.
That is what we are trying to practice here in Integral Christian Network in our WeSpace groups, and support through our network the creation of these mystical practices across the globe.
Practice: Beginning Mystical Awakening
1. Move into your heart space and attune in mystical awareness.
2. Sense what emerges.
3. Participate dynamically!
4. Commune with others.