Last night I had a very powerful encounter with a spirit which made me question my perception. A spirit came to me in what I think was a dream, but could have been entirely real. The experience starts with me sitting in a chair in my living room lamenting my lack of engagement with projects I’ve started. I tend to be in my head way too much which sometimes keeps me from acting on desired intentions. Most weekends I am sleeping heavily, even though I don’t even have a bed. I usually either sleep on the couch or on the floor on a pile of clothes with a thick comforter. This time I was napping on my mom’s bed because she wasn’t home, and I had a specific intention to catch myself in the moment between being awake and dreaming.
The experiment came to mind because I try to make the most out of anything I do. Even something as banal as taking a nap is a chance to learn something new about myself. This time I was thinking about the separation we imagine between our conscious life and unconscious life, and also our time spent awake and sleeping. I reflected upon the experience of dreaming; how amazing it is that in a moment of supposed inactivity our minds are active and going on different adventures. I’ve done a lot of thinking about my dreams and sometimes my dreams put me on to things in my awake life. Babies and non-human lifeforms all dream. We are always active and living even when we are asleep. So I don’t think we actually ever lack consciousness, or at least that is what I was testing. I wanted to try and catch the moment between being awake and dreaming to see what exactly was there in the moment of nothingness.
It took me some time to fall asleep and like usual I spent most of that time thinking about relationships, desires, worries and so on. I didn’t feel overly tired but that was probably better for this experiment that required a lot of mindfulness. Still, I didn’t realize when I slipped into slumber and was soon in the grips of a very deceptive hallucination. I was sitting in a room which I recognized as my own but didn’t resemble any room in my house. It was dark and the only things in the room were a table with a laptop and some books and the couch I was sitting on. Suddenly I hear a noise come from the front door in my dream. I panic slightly and hide under the couch. It was a familiar reaction from when I was a child. If I ever sensed danger like a monster or perhaps a beating from a parental authority figure, I would hide under the covers, under the bed, or in the closet. Sometimes I would hide for hours in a closet just to try and scare someone or freak out my family and make them think I went missing.
The moment of fear passed in the dream and I came out of hiding. This whole time I’m still not conscious of the experience of dreaming. Lucid dreaming isn’t a skill of mine. I am transported somehow to the exact position I was in when I started my nap: in my mom’s bed, covers on, trying to fall asleep. This transition is one of contention in my mind. Did I maybe wake up from a dream and was fully conscious in that moment? Was it just one of those dreams which lines up directly with what I was doing before I fell asleep?
I heard a noise and felt a sudden energy enter the room. I was sure I was not alone. When I tried to move I felt resistance like something was stopping me. Instantly I freaked out and tried everything to snap out of what felt like a spiritual possession. I threw things and they wouldn’t travel their normal distance almost like they bumped into something. My legs floated in the air and I couldn’t move them. I could move my hands with difficulty, because it felt like they were being held. When I tried to yell for help I knew it was futile because no one was around. Still I banged the bed frame against the wall to try and alert anyone to come help me. I thought I was going to die. I pushed as hard as I could and finally got off the bed to try and reach my cell phone which I left in a different room. When I stood up I stumbled and could barely take a step. Fighting I reached for this piece of furniture to pull myself forward but the thing fell on the floor and I was pulled back into the bed. I felt totally powerless. Finally, in one last desperate attempt to save myself I focused on a thought. “Just like you are about to get up from bed for some water. Just calmly get up.”
Right then, I was freed. I was out of breath but in the same exact situation as the hallucination: in bed, under the covers, laying down straight. I got out of bed and stumbled toward the living room and turned on the light. The energy in the room began to normalize, but I was in shock. I felt completely distraught. The whole thing felt completely real. It was an overpowering experience which left me questioning my perception. I questioned my anti-capitalist beliefs. I questioned not believing in god or gods. I questioned my perception of reality. Holding on to the anti-capitalist beliefs which got me this far, I thought about Caliban and the Witch and how in early capitalism it was necessary for the capitalists and the state to wage war on spirits and any so called irrational beliefs. We have been conditioned to reject the spiritual elements of our universe (the so-called supernatural), or at the very least keep them at distance. I stopped thinking about the spirit as something which was trying to hurt me or punish me and started thinking about it as something I simply don’t understand.
There are things which happen every day which I cannot explain or understand. This was one of them. I think I just freaked out because it was such a strange situation and I was not able to control what was happening. I thought about what it is like to not have control over one’s actions and compared it to ideology. The experience reminded me of the way we all do things we don’t want to do everyday to exist in this capitalist discipline. I starting thinking about my project to have total control over my thoughts and actions. I thought about how that might be impossible, and how to reconcile the limits of self-control with the project for total freedom. I am rethinking what total freedom could mean but in no way does this make me resign to the powers that be in our current society. It does not make me want to turn back to religion or capitalist work discipline. Instead the experience empowers me to think we have spiritual/ supernatural aids in our mission and project for liberation. We should not forget about all the life which plays in the universe. We are only a part of the entire situation and we might never be able to comprehend all of it. The care and mindfulness necessary to live in a society where not everything is exposed and we don’t understand things but still coexist peacefully is a challenge. I wasn’t able to embrace the spirit in the hallucination. I fought it the whole time. But I don’t think the spirit minded. The last thing I realized is I spend some of my time contemplating suicide (less than I used to) which I think of as another obstacle towards free engagement with living. In this situation in which I thought I would die, I fought for my life. It is a sign for me to fight harder against that type of thinking, and to trust the natural energy of my body and the energy around me.