7 SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS OF MY NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE

What you really get from a near death experience is a numinous new perspective on life, the Universe, and everything, says Worthy Stokes  …

The last thing I remember before leaving my body was the U2 song playing on my iPod shuffle: It’s A Beautiful Day. I was out for a morning jog wearing headphones and stopped at a crosswalk to wait for the signal to change. When it turned green, I turned up the volume and raced straight into Death.

A van had run a stoplight, and at the very moment it crashed into me, the world disappeared. Instead of memories of my skull breaking against pavement, I remember only that song and an image of wide, open sky. Thus, U2 serenaded my departure from this life; the ensuing brain trauma erasing everything except for Bono’s voice. So, when I tell the story of my Near Death Experience (NDE), I always think of him.

Five years have passed since my harrowing return to my body, during which time the nuts and bolts of universal intelligence have emerged in waves and codes. During this time, seven spiritual teachings have emerged — to inform my life and work here on Earth 

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1. Consciousness is not religious, humans are. When I dropped into the vastness of the primordial, cosmic soup, I came face-to-face with infinity. I was lucid in my perception of an elegant, fluid order, and, at the same time, the experience felt wholly incomprehensible to my human brain. I felt neither shock, or distress. I floated about leisurely, as I noticed, rather abruptly, that religion simply does not exist beyond the human mind.

Having previously “believed” in Buddhism, I came back into my body with a transfigured cosmology for which I have no translation. My faith rests instead in a mysterious beauty that remains unencumbered by mortal bias, dogmas, or doctrines—all of which, I see now, are highly destructive to human beings. Religion perpetuates guilt. Consciousness activates possibility.

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2. Death is a choose-your-own-adventure experience. If you like Jesus, he’ll be there. If you love practicing meditation, maybe you’ll see a monk. If you are tired of patriarchy, perhaps a fierce Goddess or tree spirit will greet you. For atheists or stoics who think this is nonsense, the journey into Death is destined to unfold in a way that is relaxing, uneventful, and not at all weird. Each of us naturally transitions from one state of consciousness to another without the slightest bit of pain—which brings me to the idea of Hell, which isn’t real, so everyone can relax. There is no darkness in that final exit, and if there is, it’s probably because you wanted it that way.

3. We are all as connected as we are separate. There is an individuated blueprint in each of us describing multiple portals to other dimensions, but how this system mechanically functions is beyond us. Invisible points of contact, layers of free will, shifting realities, and elements of destiny all move and meld in ways that are too complex for us to ever name. In the popular TV series about NDEs (OA), there are gestures coupled with movements to be found in the afterlife, which combine in an eerie combination of breath and choreography.

This hints at an interlocking system we all share and must sort out together, because each of us carries a vital piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fully work until connected with others. In other words, the success of our collective matrix depends on its parts functioning as coherent, interactive particles engaging consciously. So yes, your healing journey is valuable to all of us. My NDE showed me that we are linked, and we are separate. We have shared paths, and we engage singularity. We are interdependent, and we are alone.

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4. Some things do not heal. Consciousness is not just for manifesting a Ferrari or a mate or healing a primal wound; it is not a spoon we can learn to bend with our minds. We do not have as much control as we wish we did, and we do not get to know why some things heal and others don’t. Asking why X still hurts (despite having done all the Work), as so many of us like to do, leads nowhere. Let’s ask each other instead, “What happened? What can happen next?”

Our job here is to hold each other’s fragility, alongside qualities of strength, power, purpose, and possibility. Even after having seen in my NDE how vast we all are, and how very little control we have in our lives, I returned with a belief that wanting to heal something was enough. Over time, I learned I was wrong. I learned instead to make peace with hundreds of things I cannot fix. Now, I pay close attention to what IS possible here, in the realm of the living. I find enormous solace in my understanding that on the other side, there is no pain.

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5. Transformation is your birthright. We have the right to change what we do not like, need, or love, in this wakeful, transient life. Further, we are spiritually and neurologically wired for transformation. I’m not saying transformation is easy, and I am also not saying it’s going to be an affordable, realistic, or linear process. Nor is it a test or an experiment. There are no grades, or getting it “right” or “wrong.” Showing up and exploring is what counts. Dreaming, breathing, building, evaluating, noticing, and repeating what works. Getting into your carpe diem flow while motivated by visions of awesomeness is a very good place to start. Find mentors, make revisions, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

Photo: Ameen Fahmy

6. We need our people guides more than our spirit guides. We are each like turtles bringing houses of consciousness from oceans of possibility to this shared, changeable world. Like turtles, we carry pieces of our primordial homes on our backs, which means we are all, always, “at home.” From this space, we can choose to be fiercely, tenderly present for each other, right here and right now. Yet I see countless seekers hitching rides on decorated spaceships to visit fancy vortices in search of “answers” and healing. The irony is we already boarded the most cosmic spaceships of all, our bodies, and we traveled a very long way to reach this life. Meeting each other in the flesh is a fantastic, holy, and healing event, in and of itself.

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7. Being human is the ultimate spiritual path. As spiritual beings, we are elements of unified consciousness, and as physical beings, we are connected by way of our neurobiology. Being human and being here in this life IS the ultimate path; regular meditation or devotional practices that nourish our relationships with each other are simply ways to maintain our connection with the Divine.

The task at hand, truly, is to care for each other in the physical domain, as creatures who age, break, triumph, and fail, through moments of tragedy and ecstatic, heart shattering joy. There is no need to look beyond this reality. Presence is what we are, and life inside of these beautiful days IS the messy, sacred experience we came here for. When we look outside of ourselves for truthful meaning, we shut down access to the very miracles we seek.

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Worthy Stokes is a healer, seer, and sage. Learn more about her work at thisworthylife.com, get her free meditations on Insight Timer, and follow her on Instagram @thisworthylife. Get on her mystical frequency with code NUMINOUS and a 20% discount: HeartMind: A 10 Day Meditation Journey for Sensitives and Survivors on the Path of Spiritual Awakening

COSMIC CULTURE FOR JUNE

All that’s Nu in music, movies, books, and film: read on for Amelia Quint‘s round-up of cosmic culture for June…

Virgo Florence Welch at Glastonbury

:: MUSIC ::

It’s music festival season! Time to adorn yourself with sigils, pack your sage smudges, wear your favorite talismans, and get going. Here’s your mystical guide to the best music festivals happening this month, and the lowdown on which one will give your soul the nourishment it’s craving.

Gentle reminder: have fun, and while you’re there, please practice proper safety. Love and respect the place you’re in, love and respect yourself and those around you, and all will be chill.

GLASTONBURY

June 22 – 26, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, UK

The ladies rule Glastonbury this year, just as Morgan le Fay once did. Go for what’s sure to be a stunning performance from the high priestess of all festival stages, Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. Stay for Adele’s ferocious pipes, the PJ Harvey’s uncompromising artistry, and up-and-comer Låpsley’s dream-pop. If there’s time, let Unknown Mortal Orchestra sweep you off your feet with their cinematic brand of rock. Also, word on the street is that there’s a secret set from Radiohead in the works, so be ready to drop everything and Thom Yorke dance at any moment.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Lunar goddesses. Water sign people who want to touch the sublime parts of life through music.

BONNAROO

June 9 – 12, Great Stage Park, Manchester, TN, USA

Bonnaroo may have the most universally appealing lineup out of this year’s festival set, with an undeniably danceable blend of crowd pleasers. There are your typical festival darlings like Tame Impala, Haim, and Blood Orange, supplemented by a few nostalgia acts (Third Eye Blind) and hot young things (Sunflower Bean). Still, for a festival that has a history of catering to a niche crowd, this year’s list refreshing! Hip-hop lovers, put Bryson Tiller and J. Cole at the top of your list. Fans of The Weekend and Kanye West circa Late Registration will definitely approve.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Magpie Air sign people who want a little bit of everything.

Gemini Fetty Wap at Electric Forest

ELECTRIC FOREST

June 23-26, Double JJ Resort, Grand Township, MI, USA

This gathering is unique in every way, from its eclectic lineup to its singular location. Set in the heart of the Double JJ Resort’s beautiful ranch property, the forest provides the perfect environment for people to release the wildness within their souls. The lineup consists primarily of electronic dance music mainstays, including Bassnectar, Bonobo, and Disco Biscuits—the kind of music that will keep you dancing into the wee hours. Club favorites like Fetty Wap and DJ Mustard (Needed Me, Or Nah) are also on the bill, so there’s something here for everyone’s inner maenad.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Fire sign people looking for an ecstatic route to enlightenment.

MOUNTAIN JAM

June 2-5, Hunter Mountain, NY, USA

If you’re looking for a festival where you can kick back, relax, and let me music move you—this one’s tailored to you. Top billing goes to Beck, Wilco, and The Avett Brothers, with support from Brandi Carlile and high vibe favorite Michael Franti & Spearhead. He’s so loved by those of our ilk that you can even take a yoga class while he serenades you through sun salutations! If you can deal with the fact that Train will be covering Led Zeppelin II in its entirety, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

THIS FESTIVAL IS FOR: Grounded Earth sign people who want to reconnect with their roots.

:: FILM ::

THE NEON DEMON

In this Valley of the Dolls-style thriller, Nicolas Winding Refn of Drive acclaim follows an aspiring model’s descent into the fashion industry’s dark underworld. Elle Fanning stars,and it’s rumored to have been inspired by Venus-in-Leo-gone-wrong, Elizabeth Báthory, who allegedly bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her own youth. Will the film be a successful indictment of youth worship, or will its model-filled scenes prove otherwise? Reviews so far are mixed, so you’ll have to decide for yourself. If nothing else, it will be beautiful.

THE NEON DEMON premieres June 24 in the United States.

TIME TO CHOOSE

In the new documentary by the Academy Award winning director of Inside Job, Charles Ferguson explores solutions to the climate change crisis. He interviews experts in the energy field, including politicians, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators, and individuals already directly experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change. Come to help save Mother Gaia, stay for the narration by your internet BF, Oscar Isaac.

TIME TO CHOOSE premieres June 3 in the United States.

:: TELEVISION ::

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Surprise—Orange is the New Black may be the most woke show on television! Last season’s brave exploration of faith and miracles was, in many ways, a depiction of what we’ve all experienced in our respective journeys. Watching the Litchfield women do full moon rituals, gather kitchen supplies for spells, fear judgment for their beliefs, and grapple with doubt was, for me, a deeply humbling experience. I don’t want to spoil anything, so suffice to say that let’s hope they continue that narrative in the forthcoming season. We need it.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK premieres on June 17 on Netflix.

AQUARIUS

If you’re experiencing The X-Files withdrawals, this could be your fix. Set in the psychedelic 1960s, David Duchovny goes undercover to investigate Charles Manson’s infamous cult. It’s not an mystical show per se, but his descent into the Manson family’s world illustrates how Aquarian age concepts go wrong when lower Neptune urges (think sex, drugs, rock and roll, and madness) distort the original message. Aquarius is worth watching as a modern mystic.

AQUARIUS premieres June 16 on NBC.

:: BOOKS ::

THE PAST LIFE PERSPECTIVE

Curious about who you may have been in a past life? In this book, licensed therapist Ann Barham opens the doors of her office for a revealing look at what actually happens in past life regressions, including her own experiences and those of many clients. She explores the potential of regression as an aid for personal healing, spiritual inquiry, and discovering your true nature across multiple lifetimes.

The Past Life Perspective will be available June 7 from Atria/Enliven (Simon & Schuster).

THE GAIAN TAROT

After a long hiatus, this beloved tarot deck from Joanna Powell Colbert will be back in print with an updated guidebook and illustrations. The art is a mix of animals and people living in wild nature, and the deck’s comforting energy is grounded and relatable. As an owner of the deck, I can say that it provides incredibly accurate readings, especially for personal journaling and spiritual practice. Get your hands on this quickly, because copies will go fast!

Gaian Tarot will be available June 28 from Schiffer Publishing.

COSMIC CULTURE FOR APRIL

Check out Amelia Quint’s round-up of cosmic culture for April, bringing you the most mystical new releases in music, film, and literature…

Chelsea Wolfe

:: MUSIC ::

CHELSEA WOLFE

If you’re experiencing an inner underworld journey, channel Ishtar and listen to Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss. According to Consequence of Sound, the album is a metaphor for descending into the subconscious. It’s also inspired by her experience with sleep paralysis – a condition that causes vivid, disturbing hallucinations on a nightly basis. That sense of the numinous comes across in her stark black and white artwork, ethereal personal style, and fuzz-driven music.

Chelsea Wolfe kicks off her tour in Las Vegas on April 24 with dates across the United States through June 7.

DESERT MOUNTAIN TRIBE 

It’s Aries season, which means it’s the perfect time to roll down the windows, turn up the music, and take a ride. That’s what you’ll want to do when you hear Desert Mountain Tribe’s feisty, psychedelic brand of rock and roll. With titles like “Interstellar,” “Heaven and Hell,” “Leave It Behind,” and “Feel The Light,” it’s definitely cosmic in scope.

Their new album, Either That Or The Moon, is set to release April 3, and the band is touring the United States all month.

Desert Mountain Tribe

:: TELEVISION ::

THE PATH

Hulu’s new character drama, starring Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, follows a husband and wife’s relationship as they are seduced into a fictional upstate New York cult. Trigger warning: the show’s tagline, “to belong you must believe,” may feel eerily familiar to those who have had negative experiences with organized religion or exclusionary spiritualities; however, it poses important questions that we, as mystics, need to address.

The Path debuts on Hulu March 30.

The Path

THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

If you’re looking for high vibe Netflix bender material, look no further. Relentlessly optimistic, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the ultimate in positive entertainment. If you’ve been living in a bunker for the last year, the show follows Kimmy as she navigates life in New York after escaping a doomsday cult. Her unflappable spirit in the face of trauma – and everyday disappointments – will inspire you to keep going. The completely on-point social commentary and hilarious banter are the icing on the cake.

Season 2 premieres on Netflix April 15.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

:: FILM ::

THE REVENANT

Put away your Gilbert Grape memes – Leo finally got his Oscar (with additional thanks to the moon and Mars in his sign of Scorpio on the big night). The intense Scorpio energy of his chart also helped him pull off a gripping performance as frontiersman Hugh Glass in 2015’s award season sweetheart, The Revenant. In the film, DiCaprio as Glass faces down a grizzly bear and, ultimately, nature itself. Is it allegory or coincidence? You decide.

The Revenant will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 19.

The Revenant

THE WITCH

I’d be in remiss if I didn’t recommend Robert Eggers’s The Witch, a stunning (and disturbing) depiction of a Puritan family who become cursed by a witch living in a nearby wood. It’s certainly not perfect, but the film is rich in folklore and got a surprising amount right about modern witchcraft – including psychic attacks, wild nature, and sacred sex. You can read my full review here.

The Witch was released on February 19, but is still in many theaters due to popular demand.

The Witch

:: BOOKS ::

#HIGHERSELFIE

Can spirituality and social media coexist? In their new book, #HIGHERSELFIE, UK life coaches Lucy Sheridan and Jo Westwood say yes! Together they investigate why astrology, tarot, crystals and everything Now Age is taking over the blogosphere. Billed as a spiritual manifesto for Gen Y, the authors also offer up straightforward advice on how to avoid the “compare and despair” trap, let sh*t go, and generally stay on your ultralight beam.

#HIGHERSELFIE will be released via Hay House UK on April 5.

#HigherSelfie

BECOMING WISE

In Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, Krista Tippett mines her experience as host of NPR’s On Being for spiritual lessons on the nature of existence. Her list of awards and credentials are impressive, but what’s even more so is the philosophical conversation she’s distilled into this book. She gathers powerful teachings from “across disciplines and denominations” into a 21st-century meditation on truth, beauty, and love.

Becoming Wise will be released via Penguin Press on April 5.

Krista Tippett

MY MYSTICAL LIFE: SOME EARLY VALENTINES SELF-LOVE, AND CHELSEA DOES DRUGS

Haute Chocolate and some new lingerie on the path to self-love, and thank you Chelsea Does Drugs for a grown-up conversation about humans and the quest for altered states of consciousness…

Pandora’s Box, $30, Haute Chocolate Brooklyn

:: MONDAY ::
Early Valentine’s #1. So when the founder of a local fine chocolate company reaches out to ask if you’d like to sample her wares, you do not say no, despite the fact that a couple of weeks back you vowed to get off the sweet stuff “again” having got back on it in a pretty major way over the holidays. But wait! The mouthwatering treats at Haute Chocolate that arrived today are all organic,organic, vegan, and bittersweet, and billed as “virtuous hedonism.” Yay party in my mouth.

:: TUESDAY ::
Early Valentine’s #2. When my friend Sophie alerted me to new lingerie site True&Co I had to check it out, since treating myself to good underwear has become an ongoing self-love practice of mine. Not least since writing my book means I barely wear “outside” clothes these days, and a nice piece of lace is like literally the only thing standing between me and all out pyjama-geddon. The most fun thing? As a new customer you get to do a quiz that helps work out what items on the site will fit you best – kind of like…brastrology! And yay, when my pieces arrived in the mail today they fit like a dream.

Lovestories Nightrider bralette, $64, True&Co

:: WEDNESDAY ::
MUST MUST MUST watch TV alert!!! Chelsea Does Drugs. A.k.a. Chelsea Handler going to Peru to do ayahuasca as part of her new “Chelsea Does…” series for Netflix. Chelsea has always been a guilty pleasure of mine – I know she rubs some people the wrong way, but I just love her realness. Which comes across in every frame of this segment – in which she also gets high with friends at a pot-themed dinner party, smokes a joint with Willie Nelson, gets monitored by a doctor while on Adderal and then Ambien (+ vodka), and visits a shaman to try and access a non-drug induced trance state. She also interviews recovering drug addicts and experts, and if the aya scenes, which show every step of her ceremony, steal the show, honestly it was just so refreshing to see an honest and non-sensationalist discussion IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA about humans and drug use. How grown up! As for why Chelsea likes to access altered states? Of course I had to Google her birth chart right after – and with a Pisces Sun and Leo Moon…well, say no more.

:: THURSDAY ::
Major kudos to my friend Robyn, who launched her book Go with Your Gut with a party in NYC tonight – and 9 months pregnant too! I didn’t make the event since I’ve been feeling totally wiped out this week (like the majority of people I’ve spoken to actually, what-up cosmos?!), but I’ve got my copy on order – mainly since Robyn’s theory that not only good physical health but our mental and spiritual wellbeing is directly related to our gut health is a pet subject of mine. In fact, here’s a great story we posted on this subject a while back.


:: FRIDAY ::
Had a “material girl” moment interviewing J Crew president Jenna Lyons today – what a woman! I’ll post a link when my interview comes out – it was for a Red magazine in the UK – but for today, I’m still mainly obsessing over her office, which is about the size of most NYC apartments and stacked to the rafters with 25 years worth of books, pictures, trinkets and momentos (including a MAJOR Citrine crystal cluster she picked up in Marfa, TX). To me, she’s living, divinely feminine proof that you can be a real person and totally rock it in the corporate world, having risen to the top by simply doing 100% Jenna. An inspiration fo sho.