The I Am Behind Who I Am

i-am

Do you ever get the sensation there is someone with you, in the background of your life somewhere? When I was a kid, I had a feeling of something faint in the background. I didn’t think it was God, because I associated God with church on Sunday, and most of what I felt about church was shoes that hurt and an itchy coat.

That childhood sense of something with me was most pronounced when I was by myself out in the woods or fishing or catching snakes or frogs by a pond. Something that knew me was near me. I don’t remember that is was comforting or loving, just that it was there. I didn’t think much about it.

When puberty began, that sense completely vanished. I spend a few years out of sorts with my family and school. I was awkward and hopeless, completely on my own, lost and alienated. In my late teens, experiences with psychedelic drugs brought that feeling back, but only later did I connect it what that feeling I had as a kid. At the time, it seemed the presence I felt was part of the drug experience.

When I began to meditate a few years later, I would experience a sense of presence. The sensation was in my arms and chest, and it came with a feeling of peace and well being. Sometimes the feeling was just above my head and a few inches behind me, connecting to the back of my head.

I thought of it as the sensation of spirit, a sensation of connectedness. I didn’t think of it as consciousness or awareness, and I certainly didn’t think of it as part of myself. Actually, I still don’t.

Then I ended up in the hospital – long story – where I was put into a coma for three weeks. I emerged from the coma with delusions – common when emerging from a sustained coma. The delusions are marked with vividness. Only later did I learn they were delusions. At the time they were exactly like real life.

As I came out of the delusions and began to get my “self” back, I had the sensation of something else looking out through my eyes. The feeling wasn’t alarming; it seemed natural. Everything was so crazy during that time, it was just another part of my bizarre recovery. I had to learn how to eat and walk again – those seemed to be the more pressing issues.

Yet that sense of something looking out through my eyes didn’t subside as things slowly returned to some sort of “normal.” The sensation has not left to this day, many years later. Something is looking out through my eyes. Some of the sensation is exactly like meditation, with a warm buzz in my chest and arms and a sense of well being and peace.

At any time, I can bring it into my awareness, in traffic, during moments of anxiety. It almost always calms me. I suspect that what I’m experiencing is the awareness of the larger “I Am” behind or beyond the self. If I were to choose one word for it, it would be “awareness.” Whatever that means. There is an awareness with me that seems to be looking out my eyes.

I believe it’s the same thing I experience as a kid in the woods, the same thing I experienced during psychedelic experiences and during meditation. Only now, it is much more pronounced. I can’t explain it, but it has become the centering focus of being alive.

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29 thoughts on “The I Am Behind Who I Am

  1. I also had the same woodsy experience as a child. I have never heard this described before. It is with me still but now I have a way to hold the peace. It relieves me from being the neurotic me that is generated by mind. Thank you for your sharing.

  2. Pingback: The I Am Behind Who I Am — Spiritual Awakening By Rob Spiegel | Open Hearted Musings

  3. When I do yoga and my hands arc toward the sky, I immediately feel the presence of a loving, creative source. Some call it God, Buddha, Muhammed., otherwise the other through awareness. Kadampa Buddhists believe in karma. Interesting and thoughtful topic.

  4. This is beautifully written, Rob. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us. Feeling that Presence truly can help us stay centered in the present moment and live with the joy and peace of “spacious mind.”

      • So the ‘something’, which you also call ‘awareness’, is non-local, yet is known locally by the body as presence (insofar as it exists, but not as definable ‘thing’)?

        Would you say that you know this ‘awareness’/’something’ is non-local because the mind sees that it itself constructs ideas of subject and object? In other words, subject and object as apprehended are thought constructs alone? There is a local body (as subject), and a tree over there (as object), but the knowledge of them both is seamless in awareness and only divides in the brain/body state we call consciousness? Or does that not ring true at all for you, Rob? Can you express it on other ways, perhaps? Many thanks.

  5. That’s an amazing question, Hariod. Beautiful in of itself. Can’t quite answer it. The whole notion of “something else looking out through my eyes” is so strange, it’s indescribable. I have a psychologist friend who just shrugged his shoulders when I explained it to him.

    • I’m glad I popped by to see if you had a response, Rob, as in fact you’ve replied outside the thread so I had no notification of it. Anyway, yes, much of this sort of thing falls apart in words, or fails to get any traction within them. I’m having precisely that issue with readers on my latest post, in fact.

  6. I believe we are all connected to a higher collective conscience & awareness holds the key ~ since I was a child I have known things without knowing how or why ~ just a sense of something greater at work ~ though try to explain this to some & eyes roll thinking who’s this crazy lady to say such a thing…I understand your connection ~ truly a gift

  7. Fascinating and extremely well written. When you spoke of childhood it was like you were describing me, swear to God’s! I have been told I am an intuitive and this write seemed to tap into this feeling. Really meaningful share

  8. Thanks Rob. Glad to hear you had similar feeling when young. Most of the spirituality I’ve experienced as an adult has been a matter of recapturing those childhood feelings in one way or another.

  9. I feel I’ve ‘come home’, Rob…. someone who has had similar experiences to myself makes my little heart sing!
    I call it ‘consciousness’, Rob. It is calm, objective, loving, contented, deeply satisfying, in need of no thing yet loving like company…
    I am so pleased you left a like on my latest post, so enjoyable to find you… 🙂

  10. I am suspicious that you chose to name this commentary “I AM” because you sense that the Great I AM is in you. We are all spiritual beings inhabiting material bodies. The spirit in us is continuously being wooed by the Great I AM. He is always with us, always waiting on us to invite Him into the empty hole in our hearts that only He can fill. His presence brings a peace that is beyond our understanding.

  11. i’m glad that you can experience a presence that feels good to you, and brings you peace. i remember as a teenager to feel a presence, outside me. that was always following me, watching me. i feared it and felt judged all the time. i was very careful with the things i did and thought. then, without warning, it vanished and i never felt like that again. i could never explain this experience and i think i never told this to anyone before.

    not sure if my story is in any way related to yours, but it made me remember it.

    • Fascinating story, Maskwriter. Not the same thing I experience, but very powerful. I’ve also had a number of strange experiences from childhood that I couldn’t explain, and like yours, one day the experiences just went away. It never occurred to me to talk with anyone about them back then, and they weren’t necessarily pleasant. They were peculiar. Oddly, looking back, I cherish those experiences.

      • i hope you’ll share them on the blog as well. that way, i will feel safer to share my own. (:

        do you think everyone experiences this kind of things? or just a “selected” few? and why would be that?

        i’m a very curious person, so don’t mind my questions if you don’t want to answer them. (;

      • That’s a heck of a question. No, I don’t think everyone experiences these presences. I think they happen to everyone, but perhaps they’re not noticed. That’s just a guess. The experiences do reinforce the notion that there is more here around us than we can see.

      • i believe in that as well. before i see the movie interstellar, i wondered if our future selves don’t visit us sometimes, trying to show us the best path for us. or maybe it’s us projecting ourselves, our souls on the outside.

        maybe i sound crazy, but it is a good exercise for the mind. and it’s fun too!

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