Lying on my back in our bed, I could hear the clatter of the keyboard as my husband worked at his desk. He was working from home now, as we had recently moved back to Utah from Bangkok, Thailand. It was late. My daughter was asleep, my homework was finished – mostly, and what did it matter if the apartment was a mess? I just needed to relax.
Having lived in Asia and learned more about the Eastern traditions of meditation, I had dabbled in the practice here and there. Meditation, to me, was and still is largely just a conscious effort to breathe normally and focus on not thinking. Not thinking can be surprisingly tiresome due to the great effort it takes to stop thinking about not thinking.
Regardless of the difficulty of meditation, I believe it has great value. I also believe that my Mormon upbringing largely failed to teach me how to simply be; how to listen; how to incorporate the traditional Eastern ways of spirituality with the Western ways of being Christian – being Mormon. So, I attempted meditation on occasion throughout my young adult life.
Apart from the tapping of keys coming from my husband’s computer, everything was quiet. I closed my eyes and began conscious breathing. In and out. The ebb and flow was soothing. I was entering a state I had never been before. I had transcended to a place that offered an experience and insights that will never leave my memory.
As a Mormon brought up in the church, during prayer and other spiritual exchanges, I had “felt the spirit” a handful of times, which manifests as a warm and calming feeling from within. But this experience was not prayer. This was meditation. This was different.
The experience began as I viewed myself peacefully floating inside a translucent sphere, unaware of anything outside of this strange bubble. I quickly realized that the bubble represented my knowledge or understanding of everything gained throughout my life. The bubble had the capacity to grow and shift to accommodate any newly acquired knowledge. The extent of the bubble was the extent of my knowledge.
Suddenly the bubble I was in began to shrink. I was watching from the outside as it distanced itself further and further away until it became nothing more than a tiny speck. I was looking at the vast and infinite amount of knowledge that existed outside of my infinitesimal understanding.
And that was it.
I got up from my bed, slightly bewildered at what I had just experienced. It took me some time to process. Did I fall asleep? How much time had passed? Was that a dream? Where did it come from? Why had it come? How did it happen? It felt so real. The message was so simple and yet profound for me. I’m not a vivid dreamer. I rarely remember any dreams at all. What I had just experienced, if it was a dream, was unlike any dream I had ever had. It was distinctly palpable.
I spoke to my husband about it. I wanted to make sense of it. In the end, I believe that the message I received was from God. Sure, it was humbling to know that I know nothing more than a speck in the grand scheme of things, but I’m in no position to argue. That aspect of the message was, in fact, easy to accept. I know enough to know that I know nothing. When I think about quantum physics, outer space (inner space, for that matter), or the engineering it takes to float giant boats, suspend enormous bridges, or lift colossal airplanes, I’m at a loss.
I know nothing, and I’m okay with that. The part of the message that I find divinely comforting is the idea that the answers to all of my unanswered questions in life are out there in the vast space that surrounds me and my minuscule sphere of understanding. I find great joy that my bubble of knowledge is so fluid. I have complete control over that growth. I can learn new things to whatever extent that I am able. We all can.
God knows that I have some deep and abiding struggles–religious conundrums with which I have grappled for years. Often the only solace I can find after all else fails is in remembering what I learned from that moment in meditation. I didn’t know how desperately I needed that imagery. I didn’t know that I would fall back on it time and again over the years.
Nothing like this has happened to me since, but I will always be grateful for the astounding and unexpected event that it was in my life. It confirmed to me the old adage, which has become my mantra in life: The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. A message that, for me, encourages eternal curiosity and humility.