Katy Perry got it right with her Firework video:
The spiritual experience can feel like that! There are certain meditation techniques in particular that can elicit such incredible moments of inner expansion and even a bursting-forth from the heart.
Or sometimes your heart simply opens up when you’re in nature, or when you see a newborn, or it can happen in a movie.
There are many other flavors and conditions of spiritual experience, too, not just this heart-explosion kind. But those explosion types are pretty darned awesome! There is NOTHING better on this planet than this level of intense spiritual experience.
So how can you create more of them?
Ahh, Grasshopper, the short answer is, you can’t.
A spiritual experience is what happens to you — it cannot be caused by you, the little self, the ego. There is no way at all to predict to whom it will happen or when. It’s not about “deserving” one.
Frequently people will be very diligent in maintaining their practice, meditating every day, and after awhile they feel that they’ve hit a dry spot. They can even feel a little bit dead inside. All they want is the experience of God, of the divine, and they feel like they have earned it with all the practices they’re doing.
It does not work like that.
There is no way to know when a spiritual experience will happen or why. It can feel exceedingly random — and even sometimes royally unfair! One person may be totally devout and earnest in all that they do to know God, and nothing happens, whereas along comes this newcomer who’s not got any discipline at all and never done these practices before, and voila, they get hit with this incredible phenomenon of awakening.
(Pro Tip: Never compare yourself to others! You’re getting exactly what you need, when you need it, in this life and on all spiritual matters. Also, just because someone else is very vocal or flamboyant about their experiences does not mean that those experiences are more significant in the context of real spiritual evolution. So don’t listen!)
It’s super important to appreciate that a spiritual experience is not evidence of attainment. We get so hung up on making progress on the path, and we look for markers and signs to know that we’re evolving. BUT ALL OF THAT IS THE DOMAIN OF THE EGO! It’s the opposite of evolution. It’s clinging to outward signs and symbols, or looking for status.
WHY do you want a sign that you’re evolved?
These are all in the realm of the ego. Comparisons. Doubt. Looking for proof, or looking to be built up with a sense of importance.
The ego is so slippery! It can even abscond with spirituality and try to take it over.
Wanting to have a flashy spiritual experience with fireworks shooting out of your chest — the type of experience which really truly does happen with meditation! — can actually cause you to be less likely to have it. It’s like wanting a relationship: If you are so fixated with finding a boyfriend or girlfriend that you become obsessed with it and are desperate, then it’s pretty much guaranteed you are not going to find one (or if you do, it’ll be wholly unsatisfying). The best way to find love is to stop looking for love. The best way to have an intense and transformative spiritual experience is to stop grasping for one.
Spiritual longing is different. This is what’s so beautifully captured in certain works such as the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila, a Christian mystic who lived in the 16th century who said things like “In the measure you desire Him you will find Him.”
So how do you have more of the intensity in your life that you crave? How do you feel more alive?
Redouble your efforts to be still*.
Commit yourself to meditation.
If you’re not meditating regularly, then make a point to do so.
If you do meditate every day, then first commit to meditating with greater conviction — don’t allow yourself to space out or to float. Don’t go through the motions. Build up the muscle of meditation, where your mind is trained to cooperate and can reliably focus for the time that you give it.
Then, when you feel that you’ve done that and are REALLY meditating for the entire duration of each meditation session, consider extending it. Add another 5 minutes to your practice — but only if you’re really doing it!! Don’t add time until you’ve build up the muscle.
Making the decision is all that’s required. Being firmly committed to this spiritual life, in whatever form it may take — it does not mean cloistering yourself in a monastery or going on some 28-day retreat. Today, in this life, whatever you have going on, you can make this commitment and decide.
Then, I would be willing to bet (though I cannot guarantee it) you will be blessed with divine surprises.
Your life will begin to unfold, or it will unfold anew, and renew again.
Those fireworks you crave? You may not experience them as you have once before, but something…. Something will happen that will invigorate and surprise you.
Spiritual fireworks are fun, but they’re not the goal nor the blessing. They are a random occurrence that mean little. What matters is what happens inside you, in accessing the part that cannot be changed.
*This statement is actually a total oxymoron! You cannot be putting forth effort and actually be still — but you do need to be determined to try! One of those difficult things to explain.