I grew up in India with a very religious mother. Right from the time we were infants, she drilled into us the importance of being religious and spiritual. Our life revolved around it. I was a very sensitive child. And I was a people pleaser who was desperate for approval from adults. Since I was born with congenital anemia and had some food allergies, I was neither scholarly, nor athletic, the two qualities highly valued by my parents and society. I was mostly looked at with pity. Though, to be fair, my parents did take me to doctors multiple times to get diagnosed, but they were just dismissive. My other way to try and win my parents' approval was to be the most obedient best little girl in terms of behaviour. I was compliant and obedient. 

Mom emphasized the importance of prayer and meditation (not traditional meditation, but her way). Not only did I delve into religion and spirituality to please my mom, but also because I had the unquestioning belief of a child. If an adult told me that God existed, then God existed. It was as simple as that. If mom said that I needed to pray every day, then I needed to pray every day. 

By the time I was 11, I had learnt to read and write in my language - Gurmukhi, and was able to read out / recite our prayers. The prayers in Sikhism are a series of affirmations and some descriptions. Unlike other religious texts, ours contains mostly affirmations, as opposed to stories. The stories are narrated separately in the form of Katha. Mom had already told us all the stories when we were little. At age 11, I made it a point to walk to the Gurudwara, (about half a km. away) every morning before school. This was in keeping with what I thought mom wanted me to do. Mom had subtle manipulative ways of indicating such things without actually outright telling us to do these things. And I was just craving for that pat on the back.

Mom had said, that every waking second / minute, we needed to immerse ourselves in the spiritual. How? As per Guru Nanak's instructions, recite the Gurbani (Prayer) in your mind when your mind is free. If you do not have the prayer by-heart, then you could just narrate the Pehli Pauri - the first verse / step. If you found that you were not even able to learn or narrate that, then just say 'Waheguru' or 'Sat-Kartar' which translates to 'God' or 'The Creator' or 'The Divine Energy'.

As an 11-year-old. I took this very seriously. So every waking moment that I was not thinking or talking or paying attention to an interaction, I started mentally narrating/chanting the 'Pehli Pauri' or 'Waheguru'. I felt myself immersed in spirit as I did this - as in - my mental state felt elevated. I was calm at all times, no matter what. I did not get offended or even hurt when someone said something rude or mean - and this was from within. I found myself completely non-judgmental of anyone. And anything that might be hurtful to someone just evaporated for me. Like if someone insulted me, I had zero negative response to it - I felt no quickening of the pulse or no rise of anger within me. Just nothing. And that is how I was at that time.

A few months passed, and I had a dream. Only, I KNEW it was not just any dream. It was very special.

In front of me was the most beautiful sight ever - nothing that exists in this 3-dimensional world comes close to it. I was in the company of three female beings. They were the same size as me. I was not standing on the "ground." Rather, I was hovering a few feet above this scene. I just could not believe the beauty of what I was seeing, and kept repeating throughout, "It's so beautiful, it's so beautiful!" I was not still. I flitted from one place to another, delightedly admiring the beauty. The three beings flitted in perfect synch with me. It is somewhat comparable to when fighter jets put on a show, and they are all zooming at top speed, changing directions and orientation, yet all of them are so much in synch that they are always equidistant from each other. That is how the three of them and I were. They were there just for me - to show me around. But they stayed a little behind me, and I was free to go wherever I wanted to. I just kept flitting to different areas of this place, and they stayed with me.

I observed a shimmering waterfall. It was not just any regular waterfall. The water was made up of droplets of light. Pure white shimmery light. Underneath, where the water fell, it was surrounded by sand. Glimmery light sand - not physical sand. This waterfall and sand were the center of focus when I started my tour. Like when you switch on your system there is first a screensaver. Or, to be more accurate, if you are a gamer and start the game, there is a starting point, and from there you can go in any direction. 

I did see a lot of the landscape around this waterfall and sand, but now I do not remember what else I saw. But it was all nature. There was nothing that we would call man-made. I got a feeling that this was MY place, or my habitation. Like it was designed and created for me to reside in.

I primarily remember being super delighted and gushing to the three entities just these three words over and over again, because I was so overwhelmed by the beauty and joy - "It's so beautiful!"

The next thing I know my mother was waking me up because it was morning, and a school day. I gushed to mom about what a beautiful dream I had just had. Mom too got swept away in my excitement, and seemed very happy.

After that it was just the usual morning rush, rush, rush. I tucked away this dream at the back of my mind, and did not think about it for a long time. I can compare this reaction to this anecdote: In psychology class as an 18-year-old, I was introduced to the concept of the 'placebo effect.' I was blown away by the existence of such a concept. But the way it was introduced in class was something like this, "Another variable factor that we need to keep in mind while conducting research is the placebo effect wherein a dummy treatment works simply because the subject thinks it is the real thing." So as my mind went, "What, what! Is this real? This is the most amazing thing I've heard in a while. Why isn't this the focus of studies?" But the teacher kept talking about research, and we were hurriedly taking notes. And so I had to tuck that amazement away into a corner of my mind. And it was several years later that I went, "Wait, the placebo effect is actually an absolutely astonishing and amazing concept!" All the time in-between, I just treated this placebo effect as an annoying little variable factor that had to be taken care of.

So somewhat in that vein, I tucked away this mind-blowing experience into the back of my mind and went about my life. It came back to me years later when I was in a dark place, stuck with an abusive spouse with no way out due to my peculiar circumstances.