I had a heart- and life-changing Spiritually Transformative Experience (STE) in 2006 at the age of 26, after I had been healing myself for several years. I had been learning Reiki and working on feeling my heart after a bad trauma at the age of 13. I didn’t not believe in God, but I didn't really know God or feel like God knew me. Here is what happened.
One night I was writing in my journal when I felt a feeling come over me. I started crying and out of nowhere wrote that I wanted to devote my life to God.
Dear God, I have decided to give my life to you. And whatever that entails. I want to be guided by you, by the light. This is my pledge. I will work hard to follow this path and bring it to fruition. Please help me do this. Please help me bring light to other people. Thank you. Amen.
I didn't really mean to write this. I just felt overcome by a feeling (some might call it the Holy Spirit) and wrote that. I had also just been sick and had a high fever, and while I was sick, I was reading The Tunnel and the Light by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it, but that was going on right before I wrote that in my journal! Then I just finished my journal entry, writing about some other things going on in my life, no big deal.
That night when I was going to bed, I saw a light over my bed. The light went from one end of the room to right above me. I got the sense that the light knew me: knew parts of myself I had forgotten about or tried to hide from others. I started freaking out. I got so scared and tensed up, but then I felt a gentle and loving energy in my head. I thought I was getting a headache, but it just felt like love. It spread over my temples and forehead and the top of my head.
Then I felt a voice say into my head, "You don't have to be afraid, but if you are, you can wear a hat." I was given an image of a graduation cap in my mind. Being the way that I am, I tried to change the hat to a different kind of hat, and then the feeling stopped.
I started to freak out more the next day. When I was heading to my class the next morning (I was in graduate school at the time), I saw light inside of everyone, like the light I had seen was also in the whole world. Everyone was glowing and beautiful.
I had several years after that light where I had different things happen to me. I started having psychic dreams about people and about my life, and I still do have those, not all the time, but sometimes. I felt like I couldn't lie at all - I never lied a lot but if I lied, I really felt how serious it was. I also couldn't say something that hurt someone because I felt it deeply in my heart.
I also felt like I had some angels around me, guiding me to different paths. Like, where I should spend the summer. I also had a flash forward of a life path during this time. I started to write, thinking about a book I wanted to write, and as I opened my computer to start writing, I saw my whole life flash forward to show me what it would be like if I wrote that book. It was not good. So I closed my computer and stopped writing that book!
Finally, a very big part of my healing was stopping my nightmares. I had been having nightmares of demons since my trauma at age 13. I was not raised to believe in things like that, being raised in a scientific household and reform Jewish. I just had the nightmares on and off from the age of 13 until 26. The experience with the light allowed me to get rid of the nightmares. One night, just a few months after I saw the light over my bed, I was awakened to one of the demons circling around my bed. I was sitting up outside my body. I wasn't afraid this time, as I always had been in the past. In my heart I told it, "You can't hurt me. God lives in me and works through me." The nightmares never came back, and I had been really plagued by them for years. It felt like the biggest achievement, but I couldn't really tell anyone about it.
I came from a very Western medical background - my dad is a physician and my mom is a psychologist - so I know talk of light and demons is not sane or good in that world. However, I had two people who really supported me in understanding my experiences in a different way. One big one was my stepdad at the time, who was a Native American elder. My mom remarried to him when I was 24 or so. He always told me about the light, having psychic dreams, and being spiritual. It was very normal to him to see spirits and that helped me a lot. He not only saw spirits, but was a Marine and an engineer. I am forever thankful to him for his perspective and belief in me. I also found a Shaman to talk to while I was in graduate school while all of these things were happening to me. When I first went to him, I was so scared that I was schizophrenic and would need to drop out of graduate school. He told me we're all schizophrenic and not to worry. I would see him on and off throughout graduate school and it really helped me keep myself in balance.
My deep experiences lasted about 2 years, with dreams and feeling close to angels, and then I had a dream where I was lowered from a boat down into the water. I was given the message that I needed to learn how to swim on my own. In the beginning, I did not want to do that. I wanted to go live with God and the light forever. I looked around the world and felt like it was a wasteland. I also felt like God forgot about me. I went back and forth for a while as well, believing in what had happened to me, and denying it. I've finally accepted it, even though I know in the world I come from my experiences are "crazy."
It took me several years but I eventually found balance. I've spent a lot of time developing healthy spiritual practices, learning how to be grounded, and studying with spiritual teachers who help me, like Neale Donald Walsch and Suzanne Giesemann.
I am also working on writing and sharing about my story, something I consistently feel called to do, even though I've really pushed back against sharing about it because of my background. My experience was so deep and profound and changed me forever. It has helped me feel hope and purpose. I try to share that with people I know.
I also didn't know STE's were a thing until a few months ago! I just thought I had an experience with light, that was kind of like an NDE but not really because I didn't die. It makes me feel happy to know this happens to other people too and that there's a name for it! Thank you IANDS for the work you do.