It’s not all tie-dye, crystals and chanting.
At least, not for me.
In fact, the thought of some of those things makes my skin crawl.
What does ‘spirituality’ even mean, anyway? I guess it’s unique to each person.
To me, it means that there is something beyond the five senses — that we have a soul, and this soul, or consciousness, is nonlocal- it cannot be defined in terms of time or space.
I’ve only ever relied on two things when it comes to this — scientific evidence ( there’s more out there than you think), and my own lived experience.
My first appetite for knowledge in this realm was when my cousin Daniel died of a brain tumour, aged 6. He was blind because of the tumour, and yet insisting that he could see lights, and that a ‘door was open’ and reassured his mum he ‘was going to be ok’.
That stunned me at the age of eighteen, and I began devouring knowledge.
I read all the scientific books you could imagine: on Near Death Experiences, Precognition, Out of Body Experiences, Telepathy. I wasn’t especially interested in stories. I wanted to know whether our mind was somehow not confined to our brain. If the evidence pointed to something else, the implications for humanity would be incredible.
I studied Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University and after a year I left because I had read so much I wanted to get it all out there into the mainstream. The scientific field is absolutely tiny; there’s probably less than 1000 researchers studying parapsychology and anomalous experiences, but there’s a lot of good quality studies — and the evidence is beginning to mount.
I had been inspired by Lynne McTaggart’s work in The Field and The Intention Experiment and wanted to promote the idea that our minds could be far more powerful than we gave them credit for. It wasn’t a belief yet; I just wanted to open others to the possibility.
But spirituality? I didn’t want to associate myself with it. It didn’t seem very rational to me.
Yet I was still eager to learn more.
I went to North Carolina and personally interviewed NDE’rs, people that had clinically died and come back to life. Stories yes, but fascinating stories nonetheless. There were also researchers speaking at the event, such as Bruce Greyson.
After a while, I became disillusioned with the pursuit of this knowledge. My business, now an online magazine, was barely scraping by and I couldn’t support myself. I was in my twenties, and decided to shelve it and simply focus on having a good time.
And I did. Heavily immersed in the Manchester rave scene, I had a number of experiences that many would call ‘spiritual’. That started to shift things for me, but I was still sceptical. It was a little too freaky for me to contemplate.
Years later, living a more calm and healthy life, I began to practice meditation, and went on a Vipassana Meditation Course, which is like the mental equivalent of Ironman. Once more, I experienced strong evidence that my mind was not confined to my body at all, and I could intuit things before they happened.
I used to hide this part of myself because I could never understand it. Strong deja vu occurred in 2016 whilst I was travelling solo in Bali, a premonition with a strong sinister feeling that later led to me ending up in hospital the next day.
I also had my first lucid dream this year, where you can consciously control your dreams. It was fantastic, felt as ‘real’ as real life, and certainly wasn’t planned.
What to make of all this strangeness? There’s no frame of reference for it in society. What do you do?
Well, you start to accept it, and see it as something that could be potentially valuable. That’s the only thing you can really do.
Since being self-employed, I’ve started to try and use this aspect of myself, whatever it is. I try and ‘tune in’ to a potential client to see if they’re a right fit for me. I can meet someone and instantly get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vibe.
Trial and error works well- just keep testing yourself on the vibes you get, and you’ll soon learn how it works.
I realised that being embarrassed about spirituality was more about not wanting to be associated with the new-age fluff of the nineties.
It means something different for me. Spirituality is not a commodity; it’s an individual learning path taken within, that can only ever be understood by yourself. Spiritual growth in my eyes comes from our relationship to ourselves and the world. To me, it is a measure of how much we can love, trust and learn.
Learning lessons from my interactions with others? Absolutely.
But tie dye? Not so much.