Today I would like to return to your awareness an aspect of the Human condition that ventures past the confines of the physical realm and into the vast and infinite beyond. It’s our nature to migrate away from our bodies although we never really think of it that way.
It’s not difficult to see that we’re not entirely in one place all of the time. Our thoughts are often elsewhere, transitory and elusive, and virtually immune to the entanglements of time and space. We are free to go anywhere — to visit the past and present and even walk future paths replete with its uncertainties.
So how much of you are with us at this moment? If you were to hazard a guess what percentage might you come up with? For my part, I feel no more than eighty to ninety percent “here” as I write this article.
My ten to twenty has wandered off again, much to the displeasure of my editor who has reminded me I’m up against a deadline. My thoughts typically stray to faraway places and familiar faces. And where my thoughts go — I go.
In the following paragraphs we will use our nets of wonder to try and capture that fleeting butterfly bouncing freely out before us. It’s my supposition that we are mostly where our “thoughts” take us. Here we find that distance is relative.
Two people can be a thousand miles apart and still feel closely connected. Likewise, many of us know the feeling of being near someone yet feeling as though they are a million miles away. It’s not enough to be physically close when the butterfly has left the garden.
Welcome to Dream Land
Every night when we fall asleep we are transported to another realm. We do not have a choice in the matter. Try going more than three days without sleep and see what happens.
We know the body uses the opportunity for growth, cellular repair and a host of other crucial functions. But where do we go while the body is sleeping and why are we awake in our dreams?
I find it interesting that we don’t miss being awake while we are sleeping. The thought doesn’t even occur to us. We are often nudged back into consciousness through the help of someone or something. From there it’s often a blurry-eyed trip to the coffee maker.
We are told “eight hours” is what we need, though in reality that really depends on the individual. Some function quite well on less sleep, but children and teenagers, and even some grown-ups might require a bit more.
On days we don’t get enough sleep, we sure do miss it. We can’t wait to get home and collapse so we can “drift off” into slumber-land. Nearly a third of our life is consumed by that elusive state we call sleep and yet we really don’t know where we are while we’re there.
It’s generally accepted that we don’t go very far, that our brain is the crucible for all our dreams and it’s a contained experience. Though there is logic to that assertion, I don’t fully embrace it. It’s my contention (and other’s too) that the ethereal world is elastic and we are free to move beyond our physical body as it winds down and recharges through rest.
Those who enjoy “lucid” dreaming might have an advantage here. If they are able to walk freely in this realm and turn a few knobs and pull a few levers, there is no telling what they might discover. If they can navigate the oceans of slumber while knowing they are asleep, then the possibilities for self-discovery would seem endless.
I’m not gifted with such ability, but if I were I would certainly try to understand the light I was walking under and analyze the structure of my dream. I might also spend a lot more time in bed. So I guess it’s just as well that I don’t lucid dream.
In this “unconscious” state we can visit with relatives who have passed on and even reunite with beloved pets. We can also connect with the living in ways uniquely different from the physical world.
Twins are known to communicate while in a dream state. It’s my understanding that they will sometimes see their twin in a dream, then later call to tell them about it. Of course, the other twin already knows of the dream having seen their sibling too.
The passion from a lost “twin flame” can also bubble up in dream land. Here’s an opportunity to say the things that were never said and to maybe even embrace one last time. Here the emotional energy is just as intense as it would be in a physical state — and sometimes even greater.
There are also countless stories of wives who dreamt of their husbands while they were stationed in combat zones in foreign countries. Sometimes the dreams were foretelling of a serious incident or tragedy. Such events serve to further my sense that we can’t possibly stay in our bodies while we sleep.
The best that I can surmise is that the essence of who we are is mostly “there” when we are asleep and mostly “here” while we’re awake. In either case we’re not fully 100% in one place or another since we’re capable of “drifting” in and out even when fully conscious. So this space that some call the astral realm is neither here or there. It’s everywhere.
Here, There and Everywhere
It seems to me that we are not firmly anchored in place by our physical bodies. Our minds are free to “wander” and drift about while only lightly tethered to the Earth. And why is this so? The physical realm has much to offer in the way of tactile stimulation and there is much to be gained from this experience.
But consciousness enjoys freedom, although it likes having a place to call home. In a sense we have the best of both worlds, spiritual and material.
What we find, however, is that people far too often embrace the material world and find solace in their possessions. I would like to remind such souls of a rather well-worn expression; “you can’t take it with you.”
What you can take, perhaps, is the memory of the experience, the sensation and the lesson embodied within it. Like telling people of a fascinating trip or of a new coaster ride at the amusement park— you can explain the experience in great length and detail, but what it meant to you is what matters most.
And so we “think outside the box” and we “drift away” in our sleep and we “float on Cloud 9” and we were so angry we “were outside ourselves.” These are but a few examples of how we describe this external awareness.
The empathic can “feel your pain” and when a favorite ball player hits the ball out of the stadium we can feel his (or her) excitement. Is this energy in the ether? Are we in the ether?
That’s what some have accused me of being at times. This goes back all the way to grade school when teachers mistakenly identified me as a “clock watcher”. I did ignore the teacher, true. But I was not captivated by the clock either. I would frequently drift away from where I was to escape the prison I felt around me.
This “zoning out” was really a very natural state for me to be in. A zoned out state is not a neutral state. It’s a very intense, highly focused state. It does correctly imply that you’re “not there,” but you are somewhere, and you are somewhere in a big way.
Creative people can readily identify with this elusive state. It can, however, create a somewhat vacant stare which I admit I’ve been guilty of wearing from time to time.
Where we go when zoned-out I cannot exactly say. New understandings in the quantum world are expanding our awareness on a diverse array of subjects ranging from non-locality and telepathy to OBE’s and related astral projection. All I know is that I go somewhere, and somewhere is not always here.
So where are we when we’re not here? I’ll leave the question with you. Is this a cop-out on my part? -Perhaps. All I can say is we’re not always where we think we are. The body serves as an excellent interface with the physical world, but at times it can seem almost as though it were remotely controlled.
To say we are continually held in place by our physical body is like saying a raincloud will never surrender a drop of water. Sooner or later thoughts will wander and stray and raindrops will fall in a staccato rhythm consistent with the mood and energy of the moment.
I don’t know exactly where I go, but I know I’m not always here. For me, that’s at least a start toward understanding the ultimate transition or metamorphosis when we surrender our physical body to the elements. On that midnight train we might find that all the answers we work so hard to uncover were right before us the whole time.
We didn’t see them because we doubted our own abilities. We didn’t loosen our grip on all those things we accepted as truth. Instead we bought into phony concepts of reality where we were told how helpless and sinful we were.
There is no place for higher awareness in this void we call social order and so we never learn to use the spiritual tools imbued within us.
We are social entities, you and I. We are solidly individual and we are also collective. Yes, we are both. We cannot flourish just as individuals nor can we survive as a collective. But we do quite well in both worlds and in varying measure.
So we’re a little bit here and a little bit there and always somewhere. But wherever you may find yourself, you are never alone. And the butterfly will fly.