Last weekend I witnessed a similar view to this photo on a farm in central Kentucky.
I laid on the grass, barefoot, gazing up through and over a beautiful maple tree, focusing on the enormity of the Milk Way. Shooting stars flickered, and with every breath, I became increasingly drawn into this cosmic spectacle.
I relaxed more.
Letting my breath settle into my body.
I focused on the silhouette of the maple tree, halfway closing my eyes, inviting a meditative state to envelop me.
My experience seemed like a short period, but later I discovered it must have been a few hours. I could feel my brain slowing down, the random thoughts spinning out less frequently, and I began to notice a faint web reaching up from the maple into the sky.
A feeling of amazement overwhelmed me—but I knew I had to remain calm.
The more I focused on relaxing, slowing my breath and heart rate, the more the web grew until it covered the entire tree, my body, the countryside, the Milky Way and far, far beyond into the universe. Every part of this vast web was luminous and flowing with energy.
Through years of hatha yoga practice and more recently acupuncture, I have attained many different meditative states—but none so overwhelming as this.
I am not certain I can adequately describe the experience in words, but I will try.
At first I felt thrilled, full of so much joy and awe that I cried. I recall the feeling of the warm tears trickling from my eyes into my hair. As time passed and I adjusted to being part of the web, I begin to feel connected to the ground, to each blade of grass and to the beautiful maple, which seemed to welcome me—enveloping me with its magnificent energy and love.
But the Milky Way kept calling to me, pulling me into its web and inviting me to explore its splendor—so much so that I could feel the spinning of our galaxy and its movement through space.
Gradually, I surrendered even more to the pull of this ubiquitous lattice, and I began to feel as if my self-awareness, (my ego), was simply evaporating into the night air. My entire being became absorbed into this cosmic web. It did not feel so much a web of life as it did a web of existence.
Deepak Chopra says that people are spiritual beings having a human experience, a rather abstract belief that has now become as palpable as the soft, caressing, feel of one of my favorite, old tee-shirts.
In the days after my experience, (one that some Buddhist, Hindu, and yogic doctrines describe as a form of heightened meditation or samadhi), I have developed a feeling of sadness.
This sadness is tightly coupled with yearning that every person on Earth quickly get to that state I experienced.
In my naïve dream of Shangri-La, we would all understand that we are truly brothers and sisters—given the divine responsibility of taking care of one another and our beautiful planet as we ourselves journey through this dimension.
I encourage all of you to take your shoes off, put your feet on the ground, lie on your back, and gaze up at the night sky.
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Apprentice Editor: Jess Sheppard / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Courtesy of author, via Dreamstime