Adjective: Feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement.
Noun: A person subject to mystical experiences.
Synonyms: rapturous – rapt
Last evening, a student in Ink & Ecstasy asked, ”What do you mean when you use the word “Ecstatic.”
What a great question!
I appreciate the above definitions, although my own experiences with the ecstatic are not limited to “happiness.” We can also enter the ecstatic through grief, love, loss, creativity, connection or number of emotional, spiritual or intellectual doorways. Ecstasy is reached when we allow ourselves to fully experience any given circumstance with our three fold nature (rational, wild, divine) fully engaged. Ecstasy is often perceived as being located “outside” the normal, day to day experiences; occurring in ritualized or other highly specialized settings. But, when I speak of the ecstatic, I am affirming that we can and should engage in ecstatic states often, blurring our distinctions between sacred and profane while leaving off the idea that only “good” feelings are ecstatic.
Ecstasy is an experience of deep and expansive connectivity: To our own emotional states. To others. To nature. To deity. To art. To the cosmos. To the task at hand. To the call of our own Soul’s purpose(s).
Athletes call this state, “Being in the zone.” Everything else but the current moment fades away and our attention is given over to tiny details: The breath coming in and out of the body, the foot meeting the ground, the power of the muscle and its movement, the sweat trickling down the brow, the movement of air over the fine hairs of the body. The ecstatic zone is available to us whenever we access connection, presence, focus with our rational, wild and divine nature engaged. When engaged with the ecstatic, time seems to slow, color brightens, sound heightens, emotions deepen, senses open.
When I speak of the Art of Ecstatic Living, I am pointing toward engaging with ecstasy in our day to day lives. The Great Mysteries are pressing up against our daily routines and mundane tasks all the time. They are there, at the edge of our consciousness. When we slow down, align our souls and give our attention fully, those Mysteries open to us like a bouquet of fragrant roses, leaving us to wonder how we never noticed them before. By bringing the whole of who and what we are to the whole of our lives, we transform the ways we live and move very subtly yet very powerfully. When we approach the whole of our lives from the perspective of an ecstatic, we are able to operate from our core of truth and connection. We are able to be more creative, connected and effective in our selves, relationships, goals and connections. The whole cloth of our lives is woven of the strands spun from the very best of our thoughtful, intuitive and divine nature, creating a glorious work of art.
I chose the image to the right because I often slip into ecstatic states in my sunlit kitchen. The scent of ripened fruit, the color of the juices bleeding across the cutting board, the tang of my salivary glands anticipating taste, pulpy slick texture in my hands. Connecting to the fruit and the plant it was picked from, the dirt it grew in, the sunlight it ripened under, the rain which drenched it, the stars blanketing it at night. When I eat this fruit, I am literally eating the sun and stars, the rain and earth, the tree and the years. I am connected–if I allow the Mystery bumping into me to blossom inside of me. From fresh fruit to the star studded expanse of space in a matter of focused moments. The Mysteries are that close.
What are your definitions of ecstasy? How often do you enter the realms of the ecstatic? What blocks you from crossing those thresholds?