While most people have peak experiences at one time or another, there are two challenges: their rarity and their evanescence. Peak experiences may be rare and fleeting “highs” lost in the rush of events and the passage of time. But if we can integrate them as part of a spiritual practice, we can harness their power to inspire inner growth and outer change.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi used the expression, “hot-housing peak experiences,” to mean that we should not just wait for those moments to come to us a few times in a lifetime, but should consciously create environments that nurture them.
The same methods that could help us to incubate more peak experiences are the methods that can help us to bring their energy in our everyday life. We need the vessels that keep them and the disciplines that invoke them on a regular basis, as well as integrating them into our lives and inspiring us to right action. Some of the many ways that peak experiences can be nurtured and harnessed:
- Torah Study, relating our inner experiences to themes of our heritage
- Daily Practice of prayer/meditation
- Outdoor meditative walks, taking time for reflection
- Observance of Shabbat as a time for reflection
- Going on retreats
- Work with a Mashpia (Spiritual Director) to help guide one’s spiritual growth
- Using the energy and inspiration of peace experiences to love, to serve others, to heal and protest the planet
- Keeping a spiritual journal and reviewing the experiences you record
- Practicing gratitude to find the small miracles and wonders in every day
- Sharing experiences with other seekers, teaching them to others and to the next generation
My teacher Rabbi Moshe Aharon Krassen told me to treat a spiritual ascent or peak experience like a deposit in the spiritual bank account. Remember it, treasure it and draw on it in those times that you need to renew your inspiration.
My teacher Rabbi Shefa Gold, teaching a workshop on chant and ecstatic experience, taught us that she always asks herself how she is to learn from and use each experience.
Consider and Comment: How do you cultivate and integrate Peak Experiences into your life?
Featured Image: Texas Hill Country, Utopia, Texas