Friday, September 16, 2016

Have you ever left your body, encountered an extraordinary luminosity, or entered a heavenly realm, where you felt completely at home?

Did you experience the most indescribable feelings of wellness, rapture, or love?

Did you want to stay in this magical place forever?

When you returned to your body, and to regular life, did you feel overwhelmed by it all?

If you have answered yes to even one of my questions, you are not alone in what you have experienced – and you are definitely not crazy. You are perfectly sane. Lots of people have had these kinds of experiences or something like it.

There are many terms given to these experiences by different experts, however, there is one that really sums up the phenomenon and it is Spiritually Transformative Experience, or STE for short.



A Spiritually Transformative Experience is a natural, and often spontaneous occurrence of heightened consciousness by which a person experiences an ultra-reality that comparably makes their ordinary, material-based reality appear less real or illusory.

They can be catalysts for a major change in the life of the experiencer, affecting their daily life, family, community, and the world they live in.

STEs have been around for as long as there have been people walking the earth – that’s a long time!

However, with advancements in medical procedures – more people coming back from the brink of death, the added curiosity of Hollywood and the media, and bestsellers describing the phenomenon, there has been an increase in the reporting of STEs.


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Who has a Spiritually Transformative Experience?

The most important thing to know about a Spiritually Transformative Experience is that the phenomenon can happen to anyone – anywhere – at any age. This means it can happen to you, or your partner, child, or friend – if it hasn’t already. It is likely to happen to someone you know.

If you are an experiencer, it could happen to you again.  Some experiencers have had multiple experiences. You or a loved one could have one or more of these experiences at any time, and be transformed by them. Of course, death is the ultimate STE and we will all experience it, someday.


Causes of a Spiritually Transformative Experience

There is no known cause of a Spiritually Transformative Experience, though there are many theories. Being close to death in the physical, emotional, or psychological sense may contribute to its likelihood. Significantly, an STE occurs in diverse circumstances:

  • Trauma – or a series of traumatic events
  • Serious accident or injury
  • Illness, coma, cardiac arrest, dying
  • Childbirth
  • Grief, depression, despair
  • Wellness, happiness, peace, love-making
  • Meditation, yoga, fasting, chanting, contemplation
  • Sleeping, waking, walking, driving
  • Ordinary daily activities


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Features of a Spiritually Transformative Experience

There are many circumstances that can result in a person having a Spiritually Transformative Experience, however, the same trigger may not result in another person having an STE.

Some STEs like near-death experiences (NDEs), near-death-like experiences (NDLEs), out-of-body experiences (OBEs), awakenings, kundalini experiences, past life experiences, and after-death communications (and others) share similar features:

  • A sense of transcendence – of having partially or substantially vacated the body, and the material world – perhaps even having a vision of departing planet earth and being in outer space and beyond.
  • An extraordinarily bright, pure white or golden light, with consciousness and feeling, emanating intense love and acceptance.
  • A feeling of spiritual homecoming – bliss.
  • A melding in with universal power – having the feeling of oneness, wholeness, completion, perfection, eternity, God.
  • Expansion of wisdom – gaining an instantaneous knowing of spiritual truth – of being able to understand complex universal truths easily, naturally, intuitively.
  • A panoramic, holographic life review or preview.
  • Entering a heavenly, otherworldly, universal, or expansive state or realm – ultra-colourful environment; landscape; music, and scents.
  • Encountering a divine presence, angels, spirit beings, light beings, religious figures, or deceased loved ones – communicating with them telepathically.



Spiritually Transformative Experience account: ‘Julienne’

The following extract is from an interview I conducted with an Australian lady in her early 60s from Port Macquarie, New South Wales. Julienne had a Spiritually Transformative Experience when she was a young woman, aged seventeen:

“I had glandular fever. I was in the hospital and the doctor and nurses were concerned mainly because it appeared I had fitted and lost consciousness.

The nurses seemed to be reviving me – I was watching this from out of my body. I felt light. I could move easily – wherever I wanted. My senses were heightened and I was able to feel many different emotions simultaneously.

Suddenly, I was then looking down at the beautiful blue ball of earth. I was in space, looking back towards the earth. I felt a great love towards the earth, and was aware somehow, of all the emotions that exist here. It was overwhelming.

There was a silver thread of light connecting me to the earth. I was only dimly aware of this thread, which was like a thin silver thread-light similar to an umbilical cord. That was the only time I was aware of it.



There was a very bright light moving towards me from the right. I turned to face it, and moved towards it, as it felt so lovely. I wanted to walk into it.

A large human-like shape emerged from the light … I would have to say it was God. I was the being of light myself! I seemed to belong to the light as if we were the same substance.

I was aware of people sitting at a long table and that they were spirit beings who had lived on earth as humans. I recognised some and noticed a man, who I later found out was my mother’s uncle.

I felt they were a family group and that I belonged to them. They recognised me, spoke to me, and reassured me. I could see a place reserved at the table for my Grandma, aunty, and me, but it wasn’t our time yet.

After seeing this, I returned to the hospital. I was willing the doctor away from my body with my thoughts, so I could re-enter it. I didn’t realise I’d had a near-death experience until ten years later when I read a book about other people’s similar experiences.

Sometimes I wanted to be back there and knew that someday I would. I feel happier about dying now, but I never really minded the thought of death anyway, as I felt like I would be going to a good place.”

My book Where The Light Lives: A True Story about Death, Grief and Transformation is about my spiritually transformative experiences and healing from personal and intergenerational grief. My STEs arose from different circumstances and not from the dying experience.

The book Where The Light Lives


“Linda’s story is beautifully written and of great healing benefit. It will be a great source of comfort to many people … more people will realise that they are not alone in having spiritual experiences and it will encourage them to share their experiences. More importantly, it will inform people, who know little about spiritually transformative experiences, of the full range of complexities associated with them.”

-Penny Sartori

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I also recommend Yvonne Kason, M.D.’s book Farther Shores: Exploring How Death, Kundalini and Mystical Experiences Can Transform Ordinary Lives. If you want to find out more about STEs and how to integrate these or to assist an experiencer with the integration process, Yvonne’s book is valuable reading.

Have you ever had an STE, and if so, what was it like? Do you feel changed by it in some way? Did you encounter any difficulties in sharing your experience with your family or friends? I’d love to hear about it!

NEXT: After-effects of Spiritually Transformative Experiences >

Linda Cull is an artist and author, and blogger at Spirit my way® covering spirituality, inspired creativity, and transformative experiences. Read more…


  • Chris says February 7, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Death opens a portal to a different dimension and reminds us that we share a fleeting moment of serenity and clarity in eternity. When our ego collapses we become porous and able to enter expansive realms and tap into a divine intelligence or collective cosmic conscioisness that dwarfs our own. We are like tiny atoms floating in a loving womb being nurtured by soothing waves of love. Life and creative energy pulses beneath the surface of all that exists. Despite material change this energy vibrates from the beginning and end of time and forever waits as pure potential in space.

  • Linda Cull says February 9, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Beautifully said, Chris.

  • Tim Moon says May 19, 2020 at 5:01 am

    Hi Linda,
    My name is Tim Moon, and the website above is an online magazine I am writing for. I underwent an STE related to my recovery from alcoholism, and that is one of many things I write about it. I find it therapeutic.

    It was nice to hear you mention that STE’s are not limited to NDE’s. I also much appreciated your essay contrasting traditional and self-publishing. I have a desire to help other people to also benefit from the freedom that comes from an STE, so I am exploring different avenues to accomplish this.

    I am attaching one of the essays I have written regarding my recovery in case you would like to read it.

    Again, thank you for your thoughtful essays.




  • Linda Cull says May 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Hi Tim, wonderful writing. You have a talent there. A book perhaps? Email me if you have any questions about self-publishing, I’m happy to help. Yes, an NDE is an STE. There is a preoccupation upon NDEs in popular culture because the prospect of someone surviving death is rather exciting but there are more people going about their daily lives who have experienced the phenomenon without having been “near-death”. Fascinating stuff. And, of course, we can be transformed in all kinds of ways. Often people with a dependency issue are highly-sensitive intuitive souls who pick up on all the energy around them (and they get overloaded). It can be hard to deal with. There is so much healing to be had when we understand who we really are, our value, our gifts, and the power that supports us 24/7.