The first time I consciously astral traveled was during guided meditation in yoga.
Astral travel or OBE (out of body experience) occurs when the spiritual body separates from the physical body and travels throughout the universe.
Ten students lay on their mats in a circle, our heads towards the center.
The instructor dimmed the lights and began the meditation. She spoke in a low voice.
Within minutes, my spine felt weighted to my mat as my chest lifted up. My back arched and my head dropped backwards. It felt like a string, attached to my sternum, pulled and drew my soul from the body.
I found myself in an ancient castle. As I stood on top the landing, stone steps descending in front of me. Behind and below me, were my classmates.
I saw some students fidget on their mats; some sighed; a few snored.
I turned to back to the stairs. Must hung in the air. I felt its dampness on my skin.
The stairs curved downward to the right. Every other step was illuminated with a candle.
My instructor droned on. I was twenty seconds ahead of her on this guided tour. I walked down the stone staircase before she told us there was a stone staircase.
My left hand on the castle wall, I guided myself towards the bottom.
I’d been here in the past and knew what awaited me.
I knew the door at the bottom of the stairs before I saw it. I knew it’s shape, color, and what was carved into it.
Tears flowed down my cheeks and into my ears. My chest heaved.
I didn’t want to see it. I knew once I did, I’d be asked to respond.
I didn’t want to be called to action.
I stood at the bottom of the stairs in front of the curved, red wooden door. The letters carved into it were in black.
R E L E A S E
As I debated whether to enter, the door unlatched and opened wide enough for me to see inside the room.
It was a turret. The rounded walls were nearly thirty feet high.
In front of me and towards the right was a bookshelf over twenty feet high. The spines of the books faced me. As I stepped into the room, the authors began to speak. They all spoke at once and though I couldn’t discern a single word, I understood the common thread throughout.
They shared stories of their lives; their hardships and victories; depression and happiness; love and loss.
They encouraged me to persevere; to remain strong; to remember who I am and why I’m here.
To rediscover my gifts; to hone them and then, to share them as they were given to me to ‘give’ away.
To live fearlessly in who I am.
It’s been said that if a snake cannot shed its skin, it dies inside, never showing its beautiful colors and patterns with the world.
Herman Melville describes a half-lived life as tragic. It is a life in which one does not attain the level of peace and joy available to them nor lead with their heart because of some imagined fear.
That. Is what these authors were telling me. Don’t die with your story still inside you. We all show up here with a purpose.
What was mine? What is yours?
Just as they had to find the answers they held within inside them, we must do the same. Face our fear and know our truth.
I was in awe of them. Wilde, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Confucius, Socrates, and others I didn’t recognize, but somehow felt I knew.
In one moment, I wondered how they knew me and in the next, I understood we are all connected.
As I looked at the books, listened to their words and felt supported by them, I saw the reflection of flames on the wall.
I turned to my left and saw a fireplace. The red-orange flames flickered, danced, and laughed. They were both joyous and mischievous.
Behind me was a large, wooden desk. It beckoned me. On the desk was an open leather-bound book filled with empty white pages and an ink pot with a quill pen.
As I looked at Book, it asked me to write the names of those in my life I needed to release.
The names came easily. I didn’t want to write them. I wanted to substitute them for other names; names of those who’s loss in my life wouldn’t hurt; names of those who would have no idea I’d released them; names of those who’s disentanglement wouldn’t be complicated nor impact the innocent.
But I couldn’t. Desk knew the truth. And I knew this is what I was in the turret for. The authors still spoke. The flames still laughed.
If I choose to write names other than the ones that instantly came to me, I’d return to do this all over again. One day. Another life. I’d repeat lessons if I didn’t step into my truth.
I walked to Desk and dipped the quill pen in the ink pot.
I wrote two names in Book, grabbed a handful of pages, turned them, and wrote my dreams, hopes, and goals.
I put the quill pen back in the ink pot and walked to the middle of the room.
Desk was now behind me and I was flanked by the authors and the flames.
I widened by stance, outstretched my arms at my sides and looked up. The glass dome at the top of the turret slid open and revealed the night sky.
My instructor droned on.
Moon coaxed me to come play. The stars twinkled at me with excitement.
As I floated up, the authors cheered. Soon, I the books were beneath me.
I was suspended on the current of the warm air, reunited with my family. Back when we were One; seamlessly rejoined. I didn’t need to explain myself. I was understood, cherished and loved.
Filled with joy, I was happy.
“If you're ready to be guided back into this space, begin to wiggle your fingers and toes…”
I didn’t want to return. I was home, complete within consciousness and love.
But I also knew this was the last class of the evening and the studio wouldn’t reopen till 6 a.m.
I had seconds to decide. I wasn’t sure if I could re-enter my body on my own, as I was never consciously aware of leaving it till now!
Would I hang out in the Universe and float in the night sky till the studio opened in the morning? Would they see body and think I died on my mat?
I wiggled my fingers and toes.
In the locker room, I used a Q-tip to clean my ears from tears. As I stepped into my snow boots in the lobby, my instructor called my name. I turned to face her.
"How was class?” she asked.