When I was quite young, in grade school, though I don’t recall what age exactly, I had a defining experience where I was confronted with the fact that I couldn’t necessarily trust what people say. It left me quite stunned, and with this deeply visceral feeling of “I don’t know”.
A few years later a related awareness arose, likely in middle school, where I made a vow to myself and I suppose with reality itself, that truth mattered more to me than any stories or beliefs we share or perpetuate as humans. I realized at that age that so much of what we think and say is false, and not only false, can often be hurtful and cause suffering.
I went through many phases, as a growing human does, of exploring what it is to live in this world. What is actually true? What can we genuinely trust and rely on? What is real?
No small question for an adolescent… I had no idea the path that this conviction would put me on in life.
I rejected most western spirituality and religion. It never sat right with me that our bodies are inherently sinful… and even within many eastern religions, that we’re here merely to transcend the body. Why the hell are we here then, to NOT be human?
I became an atheist for a while. That made some sense - at least atheists didn’t deny this very real human experience we are all living.
Then… in my later teens... I discovered psychedelics - as many do. Where I live, some of the most potent mushrooms in the world grow. Being naturally curious, I tried a lot of things in my teens and early 20s. I would say, it wasn’t always fun… bad trips are a real thing and they are pretty awful experiences. However, one vital thing psychedelics gave me was a visceral and embodied experience of spirituality.
I am one of those people who is extremely sensitive to these experiences. I saw ‘God’ many times, on doses that most people would take just to feel good.
Well, these experiences quickly got me out of my atheist phase… and free-falling into an existential inquiry on what is reality.
The big problem with this though, is our modern American culture has historically had a terribly dysfunctional and unrealistic relationship with psychedelics, mental & emotional health & deeply spiritual experiences.
There was no healthy structure for me to free-fall into. It was primarily a structure of "you're imagining things" or "you're crazy."
I was trying to explain to anyone I could, the experiences I was having - now not taking any psychedelics at all - these experiences and awarenesses were now happening spontaneously. I surely sounded crazy to most people I talked to.
I was studying psychology at the time in university, and at one point we were taking a tour of a psychiatric hospital - I was convinced I would be committed because they’d see how crazy I was.
I wasn’t committed… and I slowly rejected all of these experiences over the years and justified them away as all made up by my imagination.
I would have periods in my life where experiences like this would happen again, and then I would brush them off again.
I couldn’t truly make sense of them, though they were always niggling in the back of my awareness.
In 2018 I discovered the world of embodiment and was invited to a yoga teacher training/retreat that was embodiment-based - I was very excited.
The teacher shared yoga in a way that I had never experienced before - it felt alive. It wasn’t just another hollow fitness routine like so much of our western yoga is practiced.
But most of all, she started sharing about the principles of embodied spirituality, particularly the tradition of Nondual Śaiva Tantra (NST)... While she was sharing about one principle in particular, spanda, my entire body suddenly came alive… I cried, broke down, my ego died (yet again), I woke up, recognized reality in its totality.. All at once.
All the years of struggling to find structure, guidance, community and understanding around the experiences I’d had, all suddenly made sense.
NST doesn’t reject ANY part of reality - it is radically all-encompassing, accepting, empowering. It is also confronting - any false beliefs and human-mind stories will be brought to the surface to burn away, leaving only what is actually true.
Direct embodied experience. Not hollow. Not transcendent.
All of my own humanity is welcome. All of yours is welcome.
It is welcome, not out of obligation, but out of the sheer fact that it is true.
And the fact that truth and being with reality honestly, matters to me to my very core, I knew I had landed - body, mind and spirit - in an unexpected and foreign, but somehow intrinsically familiar home.
Life now made sense.
My human existence suddenly made sense. Yours makes sense to me too.
The thing is, I know so many people also feel how I felt for so long. Aimlessly wandering, hoping, giving up, waiting, collapsing, breaking down… over. And over. And over. In little moments and in repeated overwhelming existential crises.
Landing in NST has given me a home. It’s miraculously helped me understand other spiritual traditions better as well and what might have been originally meant by the words written down so long ago.
(I have more to share in another article soon on why NST and embodied spirituality is rising in the western world in North America in particular, we are a land of displaced people - removed from our own embodied heritage.)
NST has given me the foundation within myself to viscerally know my own place in this world, and to show up in devotion to truth and aliveness with all of my students, clients, loved ones, to the overworked cashier who stays upbeat and chatty even though he’s hardly noticed by many as a fellow human being, and the woman who flipped me off in the parking lot today out of some personal rage I know nothing about.
I love you.
This foundation allows me to have a proper view of reality, and as I grow in embodied and somatic skillset, it allows me genuinely to meet people where they are.
We are meant to be human while we’re human. It’s really that simple.
Our wildly creative minds have many believing differently.
How alive, and human, are you allowing yourself to be?
Guaranteed there’s more waiting to come out ;)
A note on Embodied Spirituality: NST is by no means the only spiritual tradition that welcomes all of our human existence. It just happens to be the one that I discovered first and resonates the deepest, as it's growing in popularity in the west, and most in alignment with how I'm living, particularly as a yoga teacher. There are other embodied spiritual traditions across the globe, some have well-documented structure, and many do not.
Megan is a Certified Embodiment Coach, Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor, lover of nature and things that make her laugh. To work with her privately, schedule a free consultation call here.
❤️🔥 Artwork by Florentine Faltin - www.inspiredbytantra.com