When I was six years old, I had my first spiritual awakening. If an angel ever kissed my forehead or left his calling card under my pillow the night before, I have no evidence. I lay on my bedspread in the late afternoon summer in 1977 staring at the popcorn ceiling in a peaceful state of complete mindfulness. A warm summer breeze was blowing through pink-and-yellow curtains and a few inches of screened window of this first-grader’s room. Dancing shadows of the backyard citrus tree were moving over the plush dolls, toys, and ballerina-pink walls.
I was a bright and curious child, and punishment did little to deter me from exploring my world. I had just been sent to my room to “think about it.” Daily I climbed rugged fences and tall trees, talked to perfect strangers, and argued with parents and teachers for my point of view. I was often frustrated with adults who had their way while my opinion and feelings were not heard, which I interpreted as a lack of respect. I was not an angry child, but this lack of positive attention in my formative years led me to broadly disregard most of the boundaries and rules expected for children to follow. I was not hostile nor unfriendly in any way; I simply behaved in a way that made me feel happy and free, and that did not always make authority figures very happy with me. It is very likely that I was sent to my room on this particular occasion for some minor infraction like not cleaning up my toys, singing too loudly in the house, or getting a note sent home from school for excessive daydreaming.
I greatly enjoyed quiet time, which I came to know as “zoning out,” something I did often no matter how many people were staring at me or imploring me to answer their questions. I had an imaginary friend (in addition to a few real, physical friends), engaged with energies and entities no one could see, and was a master of daydreaming. A good amount of my attention was out the window, longing to be outside under a tree, playing with rocks, or studying an ant colony in the sand. I also held quiet space for myself and no-thinking for a part of every day.
So, this particular ripe occasion was most likely made possible by some special conditions that I had not experienced before. Since it could feasibly happen to anyone under the right circumstances, it may help to understand what the circumstances were that made this moment possible.
Laying there on my bed in my room, I was not upset at anything. I was relaxed, awake, quiet, with no expectation of anything: I knew I was going to be there for a while “to think about it,” and no one was coming to get me soon. I stared with fuzzy vision up at the space above me without doing anything else, nor was I focused on anything that I was seeing with the naked eye. I was present. Everything was stillness and peace. I had no need to do anything. I wasn’t angry or excited, or even thinking about the situation that led to the imposed solitude. Within me, all was peaceful and still and I got a sense that I was being embraced, accepted, and loved by something or someone I couldn’t see. It filled my whole being. In that state of pure mindful awareness, I experienced my first spiritual encounter with the Divine as a six-year-old.
At that age I had not been taught to pray, and had no memory of ever having attended a church. I had no concrete images of what God would look like, or what He, She, or It would say to me. What came to me that day was not an image, but pure Spirit which wordlessly communicated directly into my mind on a level that I could receive its message that All are One. Although I did not know the qualities of God at the time, this feeling I had was a direct experience of God. I had never heard nor seen anything about yoga in my life, but this is the day, the very moment, I awakened to yoga: complete absorption in oneness with the Divine…