Imagine walking on the moon and then returning to earth in Apollo 14? That's what Edgar Mitchell, the 6th astronaut to walk on the moon, talked to us about in our new book (see below). Few of us ever get to see the earth from outer space, but it was entering the vastness of space that led Mitchell to a deep, personal transformation, one of those moments that change us forever: unexpected and unlooked-for moments that take us out of our normal, rational selves and offer us a glimpse into another dimension of reality.
"We were coming home after being on the moon. As we rotated, a 360-degree panorama of the heavens appeared in the spacecraft window every two minutes. As my job had been the landing craft on the moon, I could now sit back and enjoy the view. I became immersed in the vastness of space. Suddenly, I realized the connectedness of everything, like the ancient mystics all said, and it was accompanied by this feeling of ecstasy, an overwhelming experience that I had never had before."
Having a glimpse of a different reality can have the effect of turning us inward, as if the outer world loses its relevance while the inner world becomes alive and vibrant. As Mitchell continues: "When I got back to earth, I started talking with Eastern mystics and holy men, and with spiritual people from all over the world. I studied virtually all the meditation disciplines and techniques and practices that there are. I wanted to know what had happened in that transcendent experience. The only answer I came to was that I was in resonance, a deep quantum resonance with the ground of my being. A theologian would say the ground of our being is God; I would say it is a field of infinite energy and potential and that when we have such experiences we are in quantum resonance with that deep reality. And when we get in resonance with that reality, we have this feeling of deep peace and the sense that everything is really okay."
Such transcended moments can take the form of dissolving our sense of being a separate self. For Deb's mother, it occurred when she was washing the dishes and heard the sound of a wild bird's song; in that moment, she became the sound and lost any sense of being apart from it. For Deb, it occurred when a worm crawled over her foot: "I was barefoot and had been walking slowly in meditation across the lawn. I stopped and was standing very still and silent when this worm crawled out of the earth and traveled across my foot before disappearing into the grass. I do not like worms that much, but in that moment I felt intense gratitude that it had deemed me safe enough to walk over, and then I suddenly became it: there was no difference or separation between us. I, too, disappeared into the grass. In that moment I ceased to be a separate, ego-defined human. It changed the way I saw everything."
Transcendence also awakens our heart to the love that is the essence of all life. Ed had this experience when he was on the ferryboat going from NYC to the Statue of Liberty. It was evening and he was gazing at the starlit sky. "It seemed the sky was clearer than usual with the stars shining brightly. Suddenly it was if the microcosm became the macrocosm and there was no separation, just one breath. The universe was breathing and I was part of this universal breath,
my whole body was breathing along with the whole cosmos. I became breath, and then suddenly it all became a bright light. All I could feel was cosmic love, that everything is love. I spun around and in every direction it was love! Within and without was love! Up and down was love! My whole being was blissful love!"
Such moments stay with us; they alter our fundamental awareness and constantly remind us of joy. We realize not to take ourselves too seriously, that we are vaster than our little selves. Have you had a life-changing moment? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every Thursday by checking Become a Fan at the top.
You can pre-order a copy of our book at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World.
It will be published Nov 3.
Ed and Deb Shapiro's new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Byron Katie, Ed Begley, and others, will be published Nov 3 2009 by Sterling Ethos.
Deb is the author of the
award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND
Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and
workshops. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com