My earliest remembered out-of-body event had to do with the fact that I was a bed-wetter until I was about ten years old. I don’t remember my parents or my sisters ever ridiculing me or teasing me about bed-wetting. They would casually remind me to go to the bathroom before going to bed. If I had an accident at night, I just told my mom, who would tell me to take a shower or bath and she would change my bed or ask me to put my bedding in the laundry so it could be washed. Even though I was not criticized at home, there was talk at school about bed-wetting and I knew enough to keep this bed-wetting thing a secret.
As I grew up, I began to have fewer and fewer bed-wetting incidents, but each time it happened it made me angrier. I became more and more frustrated. I didn’t like wetting my bed and I didn’t like that funny, brown, rubber mat Mom always put under my sheets to protect the mattress. One final time, I woke up wet, yelled out in frustration, and began to cry.
Mom came running into my room and asked what was the matter. I showed her my wet pajamas, sheets, and blankets and began to scream at her, “I went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom.” She told me to calm down and tell her exactly what had happened. I told her that I knew I needed to go to the bathroom and I went in there and sat on the toilet. But when I started to pee, I woke up in my bed and I was all wet. Standing there in my wet pajamas, my crying subsided, only to be replaced with fitful anger.
Mom reached out to me and gently put her hand on my shoulder, smiled, and said simply,
Oh! I wiped away my tears and asked her what had happened to me. She said that when I went into the bathroom I must have forgotten to take my body with me. I asked her what she meant, and she explained that I only spend part of the time in my body and that when I had gone into the bathroom I probably just went without it. Somehow, this made sense to me and I never did wet the bed again.
After my mom had told me about being apart from my physical body when I wet my bed, I began to pay attention to what happened when I went to sleep at night. I noticed that I attended some kind of
night school with others whom I recognized. If I didn’t focus too much on this
night school, I could travel out-of-body and go play with neighborhood friends.
When I got a little older and more mature, these nightly sojourns changed. I visited school friends and approached people, girls especially, outside the confines of an adolescent social structure that severely limited my interactions with the attractive girls attending my school or the slightly older ones at high school. I became particularly interested in a blue-eyed girl with curly, auburn hair named Kathy. I found out where Kathy lived by following the school bus to her stop and then casually riding by on my bike while she walked to her house. She lived farther from school than I did but in a familiar neighborhood. At the time, I had a paper route and delivered the town paper throughout her neighborhood so I was familiar with the area and her house.
Ever since I began these visits to Kathy's house during my nightly out-of-body experiences, I could always find her house during my travels. Well, I did get lost a few times while being somehow lured off course by some unconscious agenda. By the way, these were not dreams. Dreams have a different character about them, quite dissimilar to out-of-body experiences. Late at night, or more usually early in the morning before I woke up, I would float out-of-body outside the front of her house and hope that she would come out. A couple of times, I drifted through the house trying to find her. But I never could locate her. I seemed to get lost in the interior of the house, snared by various attractions in any particular room. Out-of-body navigation can be difficult, especially for one so young as I was at the time. Later, I learned to hold my intent, my particular night's itinerary fast in my mind so as not to be distracted by shinny things like some magpie.
As I moved deeper into my teenage years and fantasized about living apart from parental oversight, I began to have nocturnal out-of-body sojourns to a particular house in a forested area. I always experienced myself moving toward the house from an altitude and was able to see it surrounded by trees on a forest-covered mountainside. As I swooped down to ground level and moved closer to the front of the house, I noticed that it had board-patterned siding (i.e., not stucco or cement blocks) and was nestled into the woods.
Through the years, I visited this location over and over again. On several occasions, I drifted into the house and discovered that it had an antique-looking desk downstairs at the foot of the staircase. There was also a greenhouse attached to the side of the house. I thought I saw two small sets of stairs leading to the greenhouse from the main structure. I didn’t realize that the structure I was describing was to become my future home, a house I would build myself with the help of my sons. I moved into this house in Virginia near The Monroe Institute when I retired from the U.S. Army.
I knew my family and myself as normal, regular just like everybody else. I still know that to be true today as a middle-aged adult. But, in the intervening years between then and now, there were mindful reflections, some re-membering (as in realizing wholeness again), these were the awakenings, the realization of my true spiritual nature. The YouTube video below attribution goes to: Path 11 Productions, April Hannah and Michael Habernig..
The word trip, as in
LSD trip, says to us that one doesn’t really go anywhere on these trips yet experiences the world differently. Perhaps this voyage, this journey through earthly life, is a real trip. So if what we are experiencing as electromagnetic physical reality earthly life is actually a trip of sorts, then who, what, where, and when are we?
This question, of course, has been posed before in other words
and in other ways. But the answer is always the same. We are, have
always been, and always will be spiritual beings. The illusion of time
and space simply provides for a sea of experience. Realizing this, it
is easy to see that Guidance does not come from outside us, for
there is nothing
outside of All That Is. This whole notion
of my true spiritual identity has its earthly root in my
childhood, in both my family life experiences and religious education.
My religious education focused on the importance of a spiritual existence beyond our perception of the physical. The church taught that this spiritual existence was the real everlasting reality. What we see around us, as our physical world, constitutes the ephemeral and limited. The act of birth itself positions most of us to view the apparent world through a monocle, a lens through which only the physical world can be perceived. Death frees us from this finite perspective.
One particular Sunday, during the service at the Science of Mind church in Los Angeles, the minister caught my ear with something he was saying about taking personal responsibility. As I looked up at him, I noticed what appeared to be a blue light-bubble surrounding his head and shoulders. This was not a fixed spotlight; as he leaned or moved slightly to the right or left the bubble seemed to follow him or float as it were around him.
I watched this light for several minutes until I turned to my
mom and asked,
What is that blue light around the minister?
Mom whispered to me,
That’s called his aura. I’ll tell you about it
at lunch. You can pick the restaurant today. She raised her index
finger to her lips and whispered,
Be quiet for now so that everybody
can hear what he is saying. I looked back at the minister and
watched the blue bubble for the rest of the service.
And lunch? I don’t remember where we went or if Mom told me anything about the minister’s aura. What I do remember, looking back after fifty years, is that such subjects were addressed casually, as if to communicate, Everybody knows that. Such an attitude left no reason to question or to doubt the veracity of such parental guidance.
There was something else, too. The church-oriented religious education of my youth seemed to focus on a spiritual aspect of us, usually talked about relative to a life-after-death existence, and a physical aspect involved with life, as we know it here on Earth. The doctrine of the church did not emphasize a distinction between these two expressions, but, as a practical matter, the church teachings did. At home, there was less separation between these two perspectives. Expectation and realization of a whole being came from a family life, a behavior, treatment of one another, conversations, and an identification with a spiritual self who was, as the expression goes, in this world but not of it.
The teachings of the church would lead one to believe that we are physical creatures that have a soul or a spirit and that these aspects of self are somehow separate. At home, we were taught to realize (to make real) that we are always and always will be spirit and sometimes have physical experiences. These physical experiences never disconnect us from who we really are. Of course, when I was ten or twelve years old, I didn’t understand all this. I thought my parents were really dumb and old-fashioned.
Recently, a friend of the family for more than fifty years said
that one thing she remembered was my mother healing the
burned hands of our housekeeper. As the story goes, our housekeeper
burned her hands in a stove accident and yelled to my
Mrs. Atwater, Mrs. Atwater, come help me! Please come
help me! Mom came immediately and calmly held the housekeeper’s
hands in her own until the pain disappeared. From that
day forward, the housekeeper told everybody how Mrs. Atwater
had healed her hands. I was just a toddler at the time.
Until recently, neither my two sisters nor I recalled this story that was so clear in the memory of our family friend. But such things were just normal around our house. I grew up seeing miracles as normal, regular, and happening to us just like everybody else.
I tell people I grew up in a metaphysical or metaphysically oriented family. Some people say something like,
Isn’t that wonderful... Others ask,
What do you mean? And to them, I reply with memories of my normal childhood told in little
stories, like the following ones.
One of my childhood chores was trimming the ivy that cascaded over a rock wall bordering our driveway. I remember clearly one particular Saturday when I wanted to play with my neighborhood friend, Mike. But before I could go play, I knew I had to finish cutting back the ivy. It was a matter of importance to me that I got my chores done; that I was an active participant in the family activities and responsibilities.
On this particular Saturday, my forearms broke out in a rash as
I worked on the ivy. I showed my dad and told him that I couldn’t
cut the ivy. He told me straight out that I had done this to myself
because I wanted so much to go play with Mike.
Who, me, Dad?
No, really, I want to finish my chores, but I can’t, was my retort.
Calmly, without a change in facial expression, he told me to go
in the house and tell Mom what had happened. I found Mom and
showed her my arms. She asked what had happened and I told her,
My arms broke out in a rash while I was cutting the ivy because I
want to go down to Mike’s house. Oops! I waited to see if she had
heard what I said.
She asked if my arms had ever done this before when I cut the
ivy. I answered,
No, never. She told me to wash up with soap and
water and go back outside. When I got back outside, Dad was
trimming back the ivy.
I said to him,
Dad, I’ll do that; it’s my chore.
He said gently,
Not today. Today you had better go see Mike. The ivy will grow back and you can trim it when it does. Today with Mike
will never come again. And with that bit of wisdom, he sent me
off to play. Dad was right. The ivy did grow back, and I trimmed it
many times after that one Saturday. I don’t remember what happened
to the rash on my arms, but the memory of this enlightened perspective of my father's still brings tears to my eyes even today.
As a child, what I took away from these last two family experiences was that you might go to a doctor to set a broken leg or repair an internal organ but healing—whatever that was—came from the realm of spirit, the responsibility of one’s true spiritual identity.
Another example of the normalcy of my upbringing took place on the first days of kindergarten. Mom made a point of showing me that parents brought kids to school and picked them up in cars that were different than ours. We had an Oldsmobile station wagon, circa mid-1950s. Mom told me that the Oldsmobile had a distinctive, exterior visor over the windshield. This was in the days before tinted glass. Her point was to make sure that I didn’t get into the wrong car.
I recall this car so distinctively because one day when Mom picked me up from kindergarten, she made a U-turn from the curb in front of the school. I went flying out of the door, propelled by the centrifugal force of the turning car. Cars didn’t have seat belts back then and the passenger side door had not closed properly. I remember looking desperately into Mom’s eyes as I flew out of the car. I somehow never hit the ground, though. I remained suspended in midair until Mom stopped the car, and I then gently floated back into my seat. She asked if I was okay and remarked that we should be more careful. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to question why I had not been hurt. And neither Mom nor I thought anything strange of my momentary suspended state.
Throughout her life, Mom would occasionally say,
always be taken care of. She never mentioned who would be doing
this, although today I think she must have been referring to my
true spiritual identity, my higher self so to speak. I suppose the kindergarten suspended-in-midair incident must be the earliest memory
I have of the validity of her prophetic reminder.
I remember that during my early childhood and teen years we always had boats. There were numerous activates and vacations all surrounding boating. My dad handmade nets, spliced rope, and even made two cabin cruisers. There was fishing, waterskiing, and charting an navigation. I remember an early rowboat actually named the
SKIPPER which explains somewhat my family nickname, Skipper or shortened to just Skip. The story behind this was that because the family was into boating, I became the Skipper during my toddler years as I seem to be the one in charge of everything. I needed my diapers changed. I needed to nurse, I needed to be fed, etc. So the nickname stuck with for all the following years. This boat named the SKIPPER was part of our family vacations on Balboa island at Newport Beach, California back in the 1940s.
As a teenager, I became more than just interested in cars. My first car, a 1940 Chevy coupe, was given to me on my sixteenth birthday. I eventually sold the Chevy coupe for seventy-five dollars and bought my Uncle Willie’s 1954 Ford sedan for one hundred dollars. Uncle Gene gave me an old 292-Thunderbird engine, and I went to work building a muscle car. I had the 292 punched out to three hundred cubic inches, installed new pistons, a three-quarters- race camshaft, dual four-barrel carburetors, dual exhaust, an aluminum flywheel, and a three-speed manual transmission with a heavy-duty clutch.
I was seriously ready for San Fernando Boulevard in 1964. Within two years, I went through twenty-seven transmissions by dumping the clutch. I could get used transmissions at the junkyard for about twenty dollars. It got to the point where I could change out the transmission in that car in less than thirty minutes, and I never missed a Saturday night. I eventually went to a Muncie four-speed with Hurst linkage, which resolved the transmission replacement problem.
The point here is that throughout all this I became aware that I had an uncanny ability with mechanical things. All I had to do was just think about or focus my attention on the car and I would be able to see inside it. The first time this happened was with the U-joint on the 1940 Chevy. I could see worn or broken parts, movement, oil flowing, etc. I began to believe that when people took their cars to a mechanic, the mechanic was skilled in doing what seemed to come natural to me. I soon learned this wasn’t true at all. Most mechanics did not have this ability.
Ten years hence, scientists would come to call this process remote viewing, a perceptual technique believed to be an innate human ability to mentally perceive and describe things separated or blocked by distance, shielding, or even time.
So, it seems to me that my childhood's family environment and experiences had a great deal to do with who I became. As a young adult I asked myself what spiritual forces had guided me to this point in time? Had this divine intercession been limited to my childhood or would it always be with me, hidden in the shadows of my everyday life?