If you’ve ever heard a disembodied voice so clear, so present, and so real, speak directly to you, you are not alone.
Some may say you are experiencing an auditory verbal hallucination. Others argue there is a ‘mind behind the mind’: the seat of your consciousness, which is sending you verbal and non-verbal messages all the time.
Both explanations are valid.
Auditory verbal hallucinations are commonly experienced in those with psychosis, major neurological disorders, pathophysiology, or drugs, sleep deprivation, etc. These hallucinations do not always make sense, can be narrative, are often derogatory, they are usually gradual, and sinister.
They deceive, derange, or play tricks on the mind. They leave the experiencer in a delusional state, trying to make sense of a distorted reality.
The other explanation of disembodied voices is of a conscious mind existing beyond the scope of the physical body. This consciousness provides insight into verbal occurrences that are free from the characteristics of auditory verbal hallucinations.
Verbal messages resonating from energy or consciousness are often intuitive, related to an aspect of the individuals’ life, and grounded in reality. Those voices are meant to be heeded. They may be the disembodied voices of loved ones long passed, or of an unidentified voice.
In working with the several First Nations Tribes in British Columbia, Canada, I came to understand the importance of these two distinctions. Hearing voices is often a highly esteemed characteristic of a shaman, and should not be confused with illness. The First Nations I had the privilege to work with were very clear:
If the voices you are experiencing are grounded in the reality we all share, and they do not wish harm on anyone or anything, you are gifted, not ill.
If you, or someone you know, have experienced voices which meet the criteria of an auditory verbal hallucination and are not grounded in a shared reality, there are great resources and supports available in most developed countries. It is important to note, a delay in receiving support can do life long damage to the experiencer.
While getting help for auditory verbal hallucinations is paramount, understanding disembodied voices and messages can be both life-affirming and empowering. I’ve worked for a number of years in mental health, particularly in communities with lived experience of psychosis. I have also had the opportunity to experience communities with spiritually transformative experiences (STEs). I can tell you these two experiences are vastly different.
What should we do when we have experienced a disembodied voice?
Listen. Reflect. If appropriate, act on the positive, life-affirming and empowering message you’ve received and show gratitude. A divine energy is communicating directly with yours! Your spirit, soul or consciousness, whatever you want to call it, is your core self. Your spirit, soul or consciousness is the receiver of divine energy, divine communication.
Oftentimes, divine messages come unexpectedly. My second personally transformative experience at age 16 was one of those times. This occurrence, and the previous one at 13 years old were equally mystifying to me. In reflecting back, they were the early harbingers of awareness, a calling to be open to divine energy. Author Robert Kopecky would call this an invitation to plug into the inter-dimensional properties of divine technology. The divine technology being a “matrix of loving intelligence and miraculous infinite potential”.
I was floating, warm, and content. None of my human senses were in the way. Time was irrelevant. I was awash in bright light, but I wasn’t moving through it, I was part of it. Suddenly, a voice penetrated the euphoria, “Debbie, you have to breathe”. I ignored it.
The light was embracing me, I was weightless, nameless, part of something much bigger.
Louder came the voice: “Breathe! Go to the surface and breathe!”. The warm embrace began to fade, the floating sense whispering away, the voice came louder a third time, “Debbie, stand up and breathe!”. I listened.
I found myself floating toward rapids in the Oyster River, on Vancouver Island, BC. Moments earlier I had taken a shallow dive from rocks everyone else was diving from. Clearly, my dive wasn’t shallow enough. I knocked myself out on the deeper rip rap below the surface, and now I was struggling to breathe.
Fortunately, the rapids were tame, and I was able to find purchase among the slippery river rocks fairly quickly. When I stood I was gulping for air. Blood was flowing down my face, my body, my legs. I watched it float away in the water wondering what the heck just happened.
This was one of a number of interesting experiences I had in my youth, that I dare not tell anyone at the time for fear they thought I was some sort of alien being, always being reached by the “great beyond”.
These days I call for these beautiful connections, cultivate them, like a garden full of nourishment. I spend time meditating in the beauty and the wonder. Thanks to the first, shared near-death experience of my grandmother when I was 13, I have come to appreciate and value this timeless gift.
How can you encourage communication with spirit?
Develop awareness of your soul, nurture it, and you will reap benefits beyond imagination. Make time to practice awareness and communicate with your essential being. Be of service to your divine self by making it the most important part of your day. Plug into your spiritual “wi-fi”, as Kopecky suggests, through your spiritual apps (aka spiritual practices).
Five quick tips on putting your divine self first:
- Practice awareness. That may mean meditation, breathing deeply, praying, or engaging in some other activity that allows you to be outside the constant chatter of your brain.
- Hold your quiet space with intention. Before you engage in the practice, set your intention. That may mean holding someone in mind who you wish to send healing to. It may mean you want to open your heart for a passed love one to speak with you. It may mean asking for guidance on a particular subject. It may simply be a mantra you’ve adopted to help you live a spiritual life. (And know those answers will not be immediate).
- Be committed. Honour yourself by making time for the most important part of you: your essence. While you may not always have time to practice formally, you have time during your day to practice awareness. Wrap a minute or two of quiet reflection around a common activity. For example, before you turn on the tv or your music, take a minute to breath deeply, feel the energy in your body. How about before or after you brush your teeth or answer a text? Anytime is a good time.
- Slow your pace. Learn to slow down and expect less of your personal productivity. Swap time you usually set for other tasks. You are more important than answering that text at this moment. There is time for everything important in your life if you put yourself at the top of that list. Do you spend time personal grooming? Do you spend time exercising? Do you spend time preparing healthy meals? Then you have the time for your divine self, because that self is more important than any other daily activity.
- Experience gratitude. Whether you have spent 30 seconds or two hours nurturing your spirit, end with gratitude. Hug yourself. Picture yourself being surrounded by light. Show gratitude for yourself first. Experience gratitude for the love that guides you and is present every minute of every day, without exception. Let that love shine out to others through you, gaining gratitude ground.
As a transformational/integrative coach I have the privilege of helping clients process near death experiences, out-of-body experiences and other defining moments that challenge a person’s life view. These significant changes in perspective are explored in a safe space, where clients can make sense of their experiences and move forward with their lives.
And remember, when you hit your next rapids, be of service to your soul first: heed your inner voice when it tells you to breathe.
For further support:
Disembodied spiritual voices: https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/