Last time out, we dug into the idea that having spiritual experiences has nothing to do with how “evolved” you are.
That those experiences come from moving your consciousness in creative and unusual ways.
And that anyone can do it.
Well, now I want to point out the fact that you’re already partway there.
And if you take the time to build on what you’ve got, you can discover some potentially life-changing experiences.
Without a lot of work.
The thing is, you already have superpowers…
Abilities that few people can match.
And you probably don’t even realize it.
So that’s where we’ll start…
If there’s one thing that every superhero has in common, it’s that they all have an origin story.
One that goes back to a stressful time in their life when they first developed their powers…
A failed experiment… Mystical encounter… Radioactive spider bite…
The interesting thing is, the origin story rarely goes all the way back to when they were born…
Those early, early days just don’t have that much impact.
Not in the grand scheme of things anyway…
Developing a superpower is such a pivotal experience, that it’s almost like life begins in that moment.
Because regardless of what came before, nothing is ever the same again…
You have an origin story too.
There may not be a singular transformative experience that forever changed the course of your life.
But you have one nonetheless.
Because we’re all faced with stressful and traumatic experiences when we are young…
Situations that push us beyond our means. And threaten to take us from our selves.
Physically… Emotionally… Relationally…
And those experiences teach us how to react and respond to the world.
When the threat is physical, it makes the story seem apparent…
Fight or flight… Do what it takes to survive…
It’s a story you can see.
But the real change happens on the inside…
In the way that we survive within ourselves.
Whether adversity comes all at once—or seethes quietly for years—it still forces us to take action.
We move our consciousness in order to handle the situation.
Sometimes it’s enough to make it out unscathed.
Sometimes we barely make it back to who we were.
Sometimes we never make it back at all.
Regardless, it’s the beginning of a superpower…
Discovering Your Powers
Unlike the movies, real life superpowers are a little harder to recognize.
And the weird thing is, the greater your ability—the more you use it—the more hidden it becomes.
Because it becomes such a fundamental component of who you are…
And how you live your life…
That you end up losing contrast.
To the point that you don’t even realize that you have a superpower in the first place.
But let me back up a little…
I’ve talked before about how consciousness determines experience.
And about how the ways that you move your consciousness determine the kinds of experiences that you have.
Well, you learn to move your consciousness in response to your environment.
Mostly by trial and error and repetition.
No different than an animal learning to survive in the wild.
When something works, it gets reinforced.
Certain motions become habit.
And the more you use them, the stronger you get in that range of motion.
Now, ideally, you’d develop in a balanced way…
And become capable and strong and flexible in every direction.
But the thing about stressful situations is that they are so intense, they force you to move beyond your limits.
It makes you stronger…
But it also makes you lopsided.
Because you tend to return to what works.
So, over time, you get really strong in a certain range of motion.
And the stronger you get, the more you rely on it…
Until you become supernaturally gifted with your go-to maneuver.
Well, having a superpower makes it easier to make it through life.
But it also makes it harder to see other options.
And so, even though life gets easier, your range of experience gets narrower.
Which is not necessarily bad…
But given that you’re here… that’s probably not the life you’re looking for…
Superpowers and Spiritual Experiences
Having unusual experiences is about moving your consciousness in unusual ways.
Sometimes that means an unusual combination of motions…
Like a martial artist, chaining together simple movements into something new and extraordinary.
Sometimes it means an unusual degree of motion…
Like a world-class athlete performing feats well beyond the limits of everyday exercise.
And sometimes it means developing a neglected range of motion…
Like undergoing physical therapy after years of debilitating stasis.
Ultimately, you want to do all three.
It may sound daunting. But it’s all within your reach.
Experiences that you never even thought were possible are probably just a few moves away.
But before you can learn to move differently, you have to recognize the motions that you’re already making…
Going forward, start paying attention to the character of your awareness.
The way your consciousness feels from moment to moment.
That way when it changes, you actually notice the change.
So what is the character of your awareness?
Think about it like watching a movie…
In a movie, there’s always something going on.
There’s always drama.
Just like life.
But instead of getting all wrapped up in the story and the actors and the action on the screen, you’re going to pay attention to the tone.
We don’t usually pay attention to the tone of a movie.
To the lighting and the color and the pacing and the music and the mood.
At least not consciously…
But the tone is always supporting the experience of the scene.
Like the dark shadows and eerie music and tense anticipation before the monster makes its move…
Tone sets the stage for experience.
And the same is true of consciousness.
Centered… Conflicted… Connected… Distracted… Fuzzy… Receptive…
Whatever it happens to be…
Pay attention to the character of your awareness.
And notice when it changes…
What happens when you get stressed?
Do you get more focused and determined?
Do you check out and go away?
Or do you do something else?
What happens when you’re happy?
Do you have a hobby that you’re really good at?
A situation where you always excel?
What happens there?
The more extreme the motion, the easier it is to recognize.
Which is why it’s good to start with where you’re strong.
And the more you pay attention to what you do, the more you’ll see the other options.
Not to change your default response in stressful situations…
(Though you can, with lots and lots of work.)
But to become aware of the other options that you have available to you.
What would happen if you explored a different path?
Or just went further down the road?
Many profound spiritual experiences are not so far removed from the familiar corners of your mind…
Habit holds us back as much as lack of mobility.
Or the belief that you need to be spiritually evolved…
Or that you need to be intrinsically gifted…
“Born indigo,” or some such garbage.
That’s another reason I like the superhero metaphor.
Very few superheroes are super from birth.
And some of the best never are…
I always thought that Iron Man was one of the most interesting heroes in the movies.
Partially because Robert Downey Jr. has done such a great job with the character…
But mostly because he doesn’t have any actual superpowers…
No super strength. No super health. No super flight. No nothing.
His “superpowers” are his intelligence and obsessive creativity.
He’s just a guy.
And yet, he’s gone toe-to-toe with unstoppable forces like Thor and the Hulk. And fights alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes.
And I love the lesson in that…
You don’t have to be super to be a superhero.
And you don’t have to be “spiritual” to have profound spiritual experiences…
You don’t have to live in a monastery. Or become an ascetic.
Or play the “spiritual” part.
The peaceful voices… The placid smiles… The steepled fingers…
None of that shit has anything to do with anything.
You either move your consciousness or you don’t.
You are just as capable as any monk or mystic…
You just have to pay attention and practice.
And that’s the thing…
When it comes to your superpowers, you’ve already been practicing your whole life!
The question is…
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Who is Zach Herbert?
He’s a cross between Tony Stark and the Dalai Lama. Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic.
Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
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