Astral Traveling on a Budget

There are so many things that fill our lives — work, family, laundry — that it’s hard to find time to do the thing that we are born to do: Astral Travel.  Now, you may snicker — astral traveling? You say it sounds a bit too airy fairy for you. Way out in left field and all. Well, believe me, you do this all the time.

You finish your to-do list for the day and finally sit down for five minutes to relax. You put a bit of music on in the background, or, on the contrary, turn off every electrical device in sight, and take advantage of your few minutes of peace and solitude. You sit on the sofa, close your eyes, and where do you go? You may think you are working out the number of people to invite to your birthday party or what to make for dinner, but what you are really doing is heading for that sphere of energy known as the ethereal. It’s that place full of light and insubstantiality; that place at the edge of heaven, at the edge of another dimension. You are standing at the gateway that opens to other worlds, other times, and other possibilities. Oh sure, every day annoyances come into your head like popcorn, but if you just follows your own rhythmic breathing, you will find yourself leaving office politics behind and wandering through the hallways of the fourth or fifth dimension. Pretty cool, eh?

Astral traveling, astral projection, is a meditative state of being; the suspension of time and space, getting lost in the Zone somewhere between Timothy Leary and Captain Kirk. It’s taking the zigzaggy path through the woods, finally coming across the trail that leads to “what if?” Traveling with your mind takes you back to a time when there were no restrictions on your imagination. It taps into your adult innocence in surprisingly wonderful ways. I mean, where else could you and Johnny Depp share espresso in a small café in Italy and talk about Renaissance art? Where else could you deliver that awe-inspiring speech that brings the audience to its feet? Where else could find out what really went on behind the closed palace doors of Henry the Eighth?

Many a truth floats between the zones of reality when you let your mind roam, especially if you can turn those five minutes into fifteen or twenty. We figure out ways to cope with loss and disappointment. We strengthen our weaknesses and sort out our emotions. We relate to characters in the books we’ve read, people we’ve met, places we have been. Or want to go. There are no computers in the astral world. There are no ringing phones, no screaming kids or dirty dishes. The longer one meditates, the further one drifts away from the nonsense of the day to our own crystal innocence.

And your heart really is innocent. You may think it is jaded, crushed, bruised or frozen closed. But the human heart is continually growing, adapting, learning, and feeling. When you “astral travel” you wander over to the other side of growing, adapting, learning and feeling. Back to the time when you believed in the good of your fellow man, to the time when you saw dragons in the clouds and faeries dancing at the edge of the woods at sunset.  Back to a time when words like adultery and cholesterol and obsessive/compulsive disorder sounded more like Japanese than English.

Alas, it’s hard to ride the astral train for any long stretch of time, One is not meant to stay in nirvana forever. The secrets of the prophets, the shamans, and the elves will often have to wait for another day. Sooner or later you will glide back to your body, back to earth, back to the way things were before you took that left turn at Jupiter.

Who cares if the astral trip was real or not? What matters is that you are never quite the same person as the one who closed their eyes fifteen minutes earlier. No one will know — or care — if you heard the cries of those waiting to be executed in the Tower of London or the whispers of aliens in some distant galaxy or if you remember swinging on the swing set when you were little. It doesn’t matter what you find in the depths of your mind. What really matters is that you keep that mind open.

You will not change the world on this journey: you won’t put a stop to war or abuse or neglect. You can’t pay your bills on the astral track, nor will you be able to stop tornadoes or make lima beans taste good . But you will find that your thoughts are clearer, your eyes can see further, and your breathing is more regulated. You’ll find that quiet spot in your soul where the spirit and the beyond are one. Your step becomes a little lighter, and your endurance lasts a little longer. You may be skeptical — but just give it a chance. Five minutes at a time. Surely you have a spare five minutes somewhere. Or, as they say, baby, make the time!

The great thing about astral traveling is that you can return to this energy plane any time you want. All you need is you. You, a little time, a little fresh air, and a little imagination. Astral traveling doesn’t cost you a thing. You don’t have to pay anyone for the information; it doesn’t turn your hair blue or change the love you have for others.  All you have done is found a different way to play. And people don’t stop playing just because they are middle-aged, you know.

And, in the end, who cares what others think? After all — Johnny Depp is still sitting at that table in Italy waiting for you. Or rather, me.

Ciao, baby…

Cosmic Chatter

              Do you sometimes have a hard time concentrating?  I don’t mean pay-attention-to-your-driving duty or don’t-cut-your-finger-when-chopping-onions duty.  I mean concentrating on spiritual things.  Ethereal things.   The airy-fairy connection between us mere mortals and that famous ‘higher power’.  Do you ever wish that your mind would shut up for five minutes while you try to summon a spirit from the Great Unknown?

            You know how it goes. You clear your schedule, get rid of the kids, feed the dogs, and hide the cell phone in the silverware drawer.  You make an effort to visit your special place, your sacred altar.  This can be your garden, a spot deep in the woods, your kid’s sandbox, or your living room sofa.  You tell yourself that today you are really going to connect with the void and what lies on the other side.  You have read books on angels, faeries, ghosts and extra terrestrials, and figure it’s about time you connected with one. So you get into your sacred mode.  You breathe slow and deep.  You close your eyes, rest your mind, and say a prayer.  The atmosphere is perfect for communicating with whatever is the source of your power.  You feel the tingle of something larger than life not too far away. And suddenly, there it is.  That nagging thought.  That idle chatter.  That empty gossip.  And the more you try to tune it out, the louder it becomes.

            Monks in monasteries found salvation kneeling on stone floors.  Buddhist priests found nirvana contemplating a blade of grass.  Priestesses found the secrets of gods and goddesses tending fires.  So surely you could find what you’re looking for right in your own back yard.  After all, you have a whole ten minutes!  But your mind won’t cease its aimless prattle.  Your thoughts wander from your need to buy a shirt to match your navy pants that are just a bit too tight to the price of gas to trying to remember the name of the movie star that played that crazy professor in the movie you watched last night.  You snap back to the center.

             Block those thoughts!

            You close your eyes, trying to drown out the stray thoughts with the repetition of a prayer or a mantra or the alphabet — anything to bring structure back to your concentration. 

            Wham!  You forgot to mail the check for the phone bill! 

            Stop it! 

            Bang!  Did I unplug the curling iron?

            Pay attention!

            What should I make for dinner?

            SHUT UP!!

            You continue with a dogged perseverance.  You pray harder.  Louder.  You try to summon the angel, the sorcerer, the alien.  This being is a member of your guidance team, a pointer towards self awareness and universal peace.  A very important part. Yet your mind won’t stop trying to chat with you.  You think about your boyfriend, your job. You wonder about what the dog is doing now that you’ve tossed him in the back yard without supervision. You think about things you should have said, things you shouldn’t have said. And you suddenly become conscious of your outer-self nagging your inner-self to be quiet.

            Why can’t your mind just sit still for a while?  What is Archangel Michael going to think if you let everyday distractions get between you and him?  How can you have a direct cosmic connection with Cleopatra when all this blah blah is tainting your aura? You were so serious about this connection when you planned this escape!  You are a good person, a pious person.  You’re the sort of person that stops for squirrels crossing the road and kisses your kids ten times a day (even if they’re 27) and takes only ten items to the ten-items-only checkout aisle.  You are kind to old people.  Or you are an old person who is kind to young people.  So why is it so hard to quiet your mind long enough to connect to the spiritual?

            Maybe it’s because you’re already interacting with the spiritual.  It’s all around you.  Connecting with angels and prophets and faeries and ghosts of the past happens all the time.  We just don’t slow down enough to experience it.  The innocence of children, the memories of parents and grandparents, the words of sacred texts and of simple poetry all connect us with the ethereal.  We just have to learn how to recognize it.  The wild world of faeries can be found in the unbounded energy of a puppy; the music of the angels can be heard in the morning chatter of the birds.  God speaks clearly to us through our own conscience. We just fail to heed the advice we’re given. 

            What has this got to do with all this mindless chatter that drives you crazy?  The thousand thoughts that run through your head are nothing more than your own spirit cleaning house, sifting through all the garbage so that it can get to the heart of the matter.  In the peace and quiet of the sandbox or your front porch you can safely sift through your thoughts and emotions, finding clarity in reasoning and understanding in reflection.  Your mind finally gets tired of rambling and lets the purity of your intentions come through loud and clear.  You figure out where you are going, what you want to say, what you should do.  And that’s what you came there for in the first place, isn’t it?

            So don’t worry the next time you look for a cosmic connection and find static on the line.  It’s just the faerie queen telling you that you left the check for the phone bill on bathroom counter next to the unplugged curling iron.