Humans often talk about the pursuit of excellence. We like to break old records and set new ones. We like to invent the best, build the best, and exhibit the best. In so many ways, we are all about the best.
Yet one area to me seems suspiciously under-represented in the pursuit of excellence: the experience of ecstasy.
No, I am not talking about anything drug-induced. Or anything cheesy.
While there is talk in health circles about achieving well-being, I do not find much attention focused on exploring the highest realms of emotional joy. What kind of positive experiences are available to us in the upper echelons of the human experience?
The most common use of the term ecstasy, I believe, is to mean an exaggerated state of joy. Joy times joy. Joy on steroids. A great win. A mind-boggling surprise. Contentment with an orgasmic swirl on top.
I’m not talking about ecstasy as simply feeling extra good.
One definition of ecstasy is “an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.”
ECSTASY FOR ME
Making an example of my own case, I’ve experienced what I consider true ecstasy about a half-dozen times. For me, ecstasy is a peak experience, the highest of the highs. I think of bliss as a notch lower. Bliss is sustainable joy; ecstasy is so intense I can only sustain it for a few seconds.
My ecstasy experiences happened through extended hugging or cuddling. The longer we would embrace, the more the energy flowed and intensified. The majority of times this happened, we were fully clothed, and while great affection was shared between us, the vibes were not overtly erotic and hugging was not intended as foreplay. I think of it more as pure love and being in the moment.
I consider these spiritual experiences, as an astounding blend of a mystical and a sensual experience. Even though we were inside our bodies, we were mutually swept up in a trance state.
Ecstasy came as an unexpected blast of energy. It did not happen through goal achievement. It was neither planned nor expected. We embraced ourselves into the bliss state, and after awhile, the ecstasy part just happened.
My brushes with ecstasy felt as if I were being pleasantly electrocuted in an entirely loving way. Current like low-voltage electricity flows through me/us. It’s an indescribably delicious joy spell that overpowers me with feelings of intense universal love.
I could only hold the state for a few fleeting seconds. It’s the most blissful, out-of-control feeling. It’s possibly analogous to realizing you’ve just left your body, becoming startled, and being yanked back inside the shell for safety.
GO TO THE LIGHT
Ironically, the place where I see ecstasy cited and studied the most is in the realm of the mystical, especially in near-death experiences. NDErs often describe “the light” as a force or presence that generates ecstasy. They didn’t have to do anything but be in it.
For me, the study of ecstasy matters because it gave me a North Star to follow. My own experiences were so out-of-the-ordinary that they inspired me to think more about God and other holy insights. If God is love, God is also ecstasy. As with many who have come back from near-death, the experience did not turn me into a follower of organized religion, yet nevertheless inspired a deeper curiosity about spiritual matters.
As with anything else, when you have a peak experience, it sets the tone for further exploration in that area. I don’t have to hit the peak level every time, but it does set the bar, and there are plenty of opportunities for less-than-ecstatic yet still completely satisfying blissful experiences. Just by knowing that ecstasy exists and what it feels like, I can better aim my explorations into my human potential.
We live in a world largely fueled by conflict and strife. We often focus our energy on what’s wrong, what’s bad. We often overlook the high end of the emotional spectrum and how to get there because our culture spends so much time and energy avoiding it.
SOULPHONE THE JOY
When humans start conversing with their ancestors, one consequence will likely be a resurgence of hope. Just like so much spiritual content already available under today’s conditions, there is plenty of good news, and when it will be delivered via SoulPhones at some future time, it will be enough of a wake-up call to lift our focus to the light.
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Photo by Joshua Bagby.