Union With The Beloved
The Mystical Experience in Nature
A few years ago while teaching a plant medicine retreat in Costa Rica, I had the most mystical experience of my life while in the rainforest. It feels strange to write about, trying to form the experience into words rather than letting it dwell quietly in my heart. Sharing the experience with anyone can feel difficult to speak about, since it’s one of the most private and personal moments of my life. But this direct communication with the divine has been echoing inside me ever since, as one of the most important (if not the most significant) moment of my life thus far. In a place beyond time and space, it has rippled through the whole of my life since.
On this particular day of the retreat I was teaching about the sacral chakra, called ‘swadhistana’ in sanskrit, meaning sweetness. We shared sweet medicines that awaken the sacral chakra, journeying with the plant spirits, meditating with them as they traveled through our bodies. The journey of the sacral chakra brings us into a space of union and direct intimacy with the divine beloved in all things. It is where we experience the merging of one with another, a sensual/sensory connection felt through all parts of our earth bodies. In the sacral we awaken to our desire for intimate connection – experienced through a penetrating sunrise, the soft earth underneath our feet, the touch of a lover, the beauty of a flower, the sip of cool water… And this intimacy is often experienced most profoundly in the natural world.
As we journeyed into the sacral center, I read prayers to the class, and we hiked through the rainforest down to the ocean. We spent time journeying with intoxicating ylang ylang flowers, cacao, and vanilla bean teas. We floated in the arms of each one of these plants, one by one, inviting their spirits to awaken us to receiving the beloved.
I invited everyone to create offerings for the earth spirits, giving love to all of the life around us as an embodiment of the divine. We bundled up plants and flowers, writing prayers filled with our deep gratitude for the spirits in nature. I sent students off to spend some intimate time with any lover they encountered – the ocean, the trees, the flowers, the wind… We each went off on our own into the rainforest, or along the ocean’s edge, meeting the beloved wherever we turned.
As we each went off alone, I walked along the ocean’s edge letting my feet touch the sand with affection, feeling the beings underneath my feet breathing. Watching spiral trails and winding patterns in the sand, I kneeled down and greeted a community of very small transparent crustaceans. I lay down in the wet sand as the tide came and went in thin sheets, sending love to these little creatures… Letting them see me, and seeing them as truthfully as I could, my eyes losing their blindness to the beloved.
I walked along the beach to a cave that had been carved out of the rock cliffs by the water. As the tide rose through the day, the cave would fill with water, and then recede again to reveal the inner chambers. I waded into the water and sat in the darkness of the cave, light visible from either end, where the ocean water streamed in to meet me with each exhale. Offering copal smoke, I sat in the darkness as the water flowed in and out, over my legs. My hands touching with tenderness the wet walls of the cave, feeling barnacles and all of the life that had formed on the surface over time.
The next half hour of meditation in the cave brought me into a deep place of prayer and overwhelming connection to the spirits there, merging together in the darkness. I felt waves of incredible peace and connection, and a feeling of wanting to stay held there forever.
At some point after making my offerings I was aware that it was getting close to the time we all gathered for lunch. I walked along the beach back to the forest, and the path wound up a steep hill through the rainforest to the permaculture center. I walked slowly by the trees, feeling very altered, overflowing with love and overwhelming gratitude.
As I walked, feeling so in love, all of the sudden a complete shift in visual and mental perspective hit my consciousness. I no longer saw or experienced separate forms around me… everything surrounding me, including my clothes, the stones, the sun, the leaves moving on the trees, the earth under me, was all of the sudden one presence. I felt as if I was walking suspended and floating in a bubble of energy surrounding me, and that energy was one conscious presence, one set of eyes, looking back at me.
As I experienced this presence revealing itself to me, (or rather when the blindness over my sight was removed), I also felt the most profound and intense love streaming towards me that I’ve ever experienced. The overwhelming love pouring into me from this conscious presence made me feel like the most important, cared for, and cherished being in the universe. Tears streaming down my face, I knew I was completely held in all directions by this presence; aware that all there was, was me and this Beloved together. Even moments throughout my life of sharing deep love with another person, (family, as well as lovers), it has only been a fraction of the love I felt coming towards me in this moment.
For 15 minutes or so I walked with the complete and total awareness of being held and loved by this presence through absolutely everything around me. I felt their loving touch in the clothes on my body; I felt their eyes in the sky above me, their breath moving in the wind. All the separate forms had merged into one, and there was only one loving intelligence surrounding me.
I cried with sorrow over a lifetime of blindness, stunned that I could possibly not see or feel this presence that is always there, in everything, supporting and loving me to a degree that I have only tasted within human relationships. I wept for the incredible loneliness and isolation we can feel, while being loved and held to such a degree at all times.
Tears streaming down my face, I spoke to this presence knowing that the mysterious blindness would return soon. It felt as if I had only 10 minutes left to see the face of the love of my life. I apologized for being so blind, for all moments of not seeing my beloved, when they are all that surrounds me. I kept saying through my tears, “how could I not see you?? how…” And yet this presence surrounding me just continued loving me, pouring love into every part of my body and consciousness. I have never in my life felt so protected and so precious. I wept knowing that I would have to say goodbye… knowing that even though this presence is always with me, the blindness would return, and I would feel again as if the beloved was gone. Knowing this awakening may never come again. I wept over all of us living without the understanding and experience of how deeply loved and held we are.
When I got up to the permaculture center buildings, the second I heard a human voice, everything took separate form again, and as if a veil instantly lifted over my internal sight, the awareness of this loving presence was gone.
In all of my years praying to Spirit/God/dess since I was a kid, I have known Spirit surrounds me… but I have never seen its full face before or since that walk in the forest.
I imagine that when I die this presence will meet me again. I imagine that I will return back to the truth of that love. I know in my heart it is this love that will receive me.
I pray that before I die I will see the Beloved again. I pray for my eyes to lose their blindness again, if only for a moment.
Now when I walk in nature, I speak to the Beloved, even though I can’t see their eyes. I know they are there, even if all I see now are trees, plants, rocks, and grass. I see the Beloved in all the forms they come in. I know now there is nothing that is not this presence… my mind and heart can at least still hold the memory of what I experienced.
I pray that we all will lose our blindness, knowing the truth of how sacred and loved we really are.
“That is what a mystic is—someone who wants to engage in direct dialogue with God. That desire ignites an interior flame that burns for the rest of your life, lighting your way…”
– Caroline Myss