When I teach my college classes on health and wellness, I usually introduce some meditation techniques to give students a taste of managing stress through mindfulness rather than distraction. A few weeks ago a student stopped to talk with me after class with a question about meditation. This student was an experienced meditator, and something she didn’t understand had begun to happen. I don’t understand it, either—I’m not sure anyone really does—but I assured her that it happens to other people, and that it happened to me when I first began to practice meditation regularly many years ago. She had begun to have psychic experiences.
In yoga, these effects are called the siddhis, the extraordinary powers. In most meditation practices, these aren’t so much a goal as a side effect of deeper and higher awareness, though in shamanic cultures they’re considered a gift.
My student wasn’t troubled by her “side effects” at first. Her boyfriend found it amusing when she could tell time precisely without looking at a clock, or knew when her phone was about to ring and who would be calling. But then she had a vision of a car crash, so vivid she could see the color and make of the car as well as the way it spun and flipped. The next day she was driving on a major highway and saw that car ahead of her—and it had the accident she’d foreseen. She found it both terrifying and bewildering, to be able to know something like that and yet be unable to do anything about it.
About ten years ago in a stress management class, I mentioned the tendency for shared dreams, foreknowledge, or other psi phenomena to occur as a side effect of meditation, and student who had initially thought this wasn’t possible later contacted me privately with a story that still moves and stuns me. She dreamed that her best friend got shot, and on the same night, he had the same dream. It was so vivid and frightening, they called each other and she went to his house. They spent hours together and shared how much they meant to each other. The next day, he was shot and killed.
Why one person foresaw a stranger’s car accident and another foresaw the last moment of a friend’s life—and he foresaw it, too—I don’t know. I’ve had precognitive dreams and visions of important events, and also of incredibly trivial but strange ones. I can’t explain it. Time reshapes itself. Sometimes our losses, loves and dangers reach out to us. At other times, we simply slip through for no known reason, foreseeing oddities that grab our attention the next day, as if to remind us that the mind or soul isn’t confined to the linear progress of time. It lives where everything is happening at once—the past, the future, the present, and the possible.