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The most profound shift I have had in weeks: Reading the weekly email message from my friend Andrew. Fresh from a journey to Peru under the tutelage of his shaman Don Diego, his message to me this morning transmutated some part of his “beyond language” experience into a form I could breathe into and recognize from my own spiritual strivings.

I have had my moments when I have glimpsed these truths. Sometimes this sense of things comes to me during extreme experiences like trekking through a high pass in Bhutan, painting in an altered state of consciousness, or during a particularly intense sexual high. But for me the struggle is about how to keep this big screen image in focus, in vibrant color with full Dolby surround sound. Reconnecting with that feeling is my homing pulse, a longing that drives so much of what I do.

Here is an excerpt from A’s email. I’m including a particularly strong endorsement that he uncovered for blogging and expressive writing, something many of us have come to figure out all on our own:

The vine is incendiary, burning out the knots and stumps of ego, exaggerating, intensifying, ultimately undermining the compulsive grinding thoughts with which the mind relentlessly parses meaning, dissecting the whole into parts, then fractions of parts, ever further from understanding. Chuang-tzu said: “Tao is obscured when the eye fixes on little segments of existence only.” Tao translates as God or Providence or Meaning. To me it translates as Awareness.

I have misunderstood mystical union as the extinction of individual awareness, a death of self. But it is the opposite. Not a single memory is lost. Every particle of knowledge is held without emotion or volition in a translucent awareness. It is not about becoming one with God but instead a remembering that you are and always were God. The illusion of separation reflects a temporary partition of awareness. When that wall comes down, there is accretion of vast knowledge that before was veiled. No a shred of self is lost; the vastly greatest part of self is restored. Although such ideas as written seem abstract and fanciful, they are compelling as experienced. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience,” said Teilhard de Chardin; “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Although I left for Peru uncommitted to continuing the weekly e-mails, I read in Scientific American that the act of sending these carrier pigeons is therapeutic, just what the doctor ordered.

“Besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not. . . . Blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running, and looking at art.”