Have you ever experienced coming home from an authentic spiritual high? An experience so magnificent and transformative, that you simply feel like a different person upon re-entering your own house? So much so that you barely recognize yourself, the positive thoughts, the whispers of creative pursuits floating into your awareness? Last week, when I returned back to “my life” from a five-day spiritual retreat in Los Angeles, this was how I was feeling. More than once folks from work commented on how I looked different. And at home, the peace to deal with my rambunctious three-year-old seemed undisturbed. It is the beautiful “after-GLOW” of inner transformation. And as one of my spiritual teachers describes, an experience of the natural abundance of beauty, joy and peace often misunderstood by our modern human mind who will struggle with the idea of a life absent of complaints. So the experience also encapsulates the experience of an “after-GROW” – the time of reconciliation between what one’s heart longs to be and what the mind will agree to grow into.
While the experience of a strong spiritual high resulting in an after-GLOW and after-GROW isn’t new, it hasn’t been to this depth before. And usually within a few days of returning back to my routine I’ll incorporate a handful of new ideas/beliefs into my life, but most will remain the same. This time, life is different, because I am different. It reminds me of my first experience of love at first sight.
I was 16, at a student leader conference, watching a student written theater-production. As I was sitting near the front, the lead character locked eyes with me during a moment of pause in his lines and for that second there was no sound. I held my breath, not because of the dramatic pause, or even because he was FINE, but there was an attraction so powerful that clearly confirmed I am meant to be known by him and he was meant to be known by me. Or perhaps on a meta-physical level, the souls that breathe us were reconciled with one another in that moment and desired another opportunity to do it again because it was so sweet!
The reason we were attracted to each other so strongly matters less than the fact that for the following 14 months we had a glorious love-affair (as my 16-year-old perspective would label it) and while I was super clear I wasn’t meant to be with this boy forever, the experience of love and the growth I gained from our relationship will always be one of the great gifts of my life.
That moment of being ‘lifted’ in love was close to the feeling I had at this retreat. And the resulting experience of glowing happiness and growing challenges of a romantic relationship are similar to my current feelings of the after-GLOW and after-GROW. It’s all part of the larger experience of love, that some would even describe as bliss. Those beautiful moments when we peak into the windows of our soul or those of another, that reveal a bit of the inner radiance of our true selves. What a magnificent thought that a spiritual high is a revelation of bliss and the choice to fly high on love is always available to us.
Re-imagining peace can do the same.