Q&A with Curran Galway Author of ORDINARY MYSTIC: Practicing the Presence

How much did your life change after having a mystical experience?

It turned my life upside down.  I was overwhelmed at first, but when I started meditating every day things became very clear to me. I began seeing things in a new way… I needed to make necessary changes in my life to prepare for a destiny. The first thing I did was to separate from the father of my children and I filed for a divorce. I fought  a brutal battle for the custody of my children in court and won. I accepted the responsibility of being a single parent. I began downloading important information and disciplined myself to write during naptime. I began the journey of personal transformation as I worked to integrate the extraordinary in the ordinary. I lived my life as a prayer.

Do you connect with people and deal with problems differently after having a mystical experience?

Yes. There is no duality in the mystical experience of union. I became an advocate for conflict resolution, teaching workshops about new options for relating. When I have a problem I always ask myself what is a new way of looking at this, one I can’t usually see unless I let go of what is. Wisdom gives me the insight I need to relate better with others and to solve problems.

Your book delves into your mystical experience.  Why did you decide to write it as a novel?

I think people learn faster by identifying with characters and reading a story. I wanted to weave the new spiritual ideas into a good story… My novel introduces the concept of personally experiencing God and I have tried to demonstrate what that looks like in ordinary life.  The spiritual ideas and experiences are true, but I expanded the plot and characters to create more of an exciting story.

When one has a mystical experience is it similar to what happens to born again Christians?

No. It is my understanding that a born again experience is about coming to Jesus. A mystical experience is about an expanded encounter with what Jesus calls the Father. It is a cosmic union and communion with God, self, and all creation.

Are people who are going through difficult periods in their life more likely to have a mystical experience? Is it because they may desperately be searching for something to get out of their current circumstances?

Usually there is a dark night before a mystical experience. This is a time when people are rendered powerless and often ready to let go of any obstacles preventing them from a deeper connection. Eckhart Tolle was very depressed in his circumstances and ready to commit suicide when he had an awakening experience. He became one of the great spiritual teachers of our century.

What is your definition of a mystical experience?

It is defined as an awakening, a direct encounter of union with God. Scientists call this a unified field experience where all is connected and one. Psychologists would call it a peak experience.

Do you think if a woman has a divine, life-altering mystical experience she is likely to have a physical relationship with a man of God?

I think that many spiritual women today are seeking relationships with men of God because they want to share the intimacy of God with a partner and this can lead to a serious long term relationship.

In your experience, and from what you have learned, are priests actively looking to have affairs or does that just happen by chance?

I think that some intimate relationships happen by chance, but I was told by a priest that the Church encourages them to have friendships with women to enrich their lives. This seems like playing with fire to me. The statistics show that many priests are looking for relationships, someone to share their passion and spirit with. Unfortunately, they are usually not free to commit.

How much does your book touch on priests and celibacy?

One of the underlying themes is about the need to change the celibacy mandate. After my encounter with God I thought I was going crazy. I needed to share my experience. The priest at the retreat center knew a lot about the mystics. He became a friend and helped me integrate my experience. Our friendship grew into a loving relationship. He was in the process of making a decision on whether to leave the priesthood or not.

Is there movement in the Catholic Church to allow priests to marry?

Unfortunately, progress is slow in traditional institutions, but I am hopeful that change could come in our lifetime.  According to The Economist, in the past 50 years, the number of Catholics associated with a parish has risen from 46 to 67 million.  Yet, the number of priests has decreased from 59,000 to 38,000.  Considering these statistics, the Church needs married priests.

As a spiritual coach and writer, do you believe that spirituality is essential to one’s life or can people live happy lives without it?

I think ordinary lives become more vital and fulfilled with spirituality. Everyday is seen as a gift and divine purpose becomes the reason for living.

Since your book is about spiritual ideas, what message do you want readers to take away?

There are many spiritual teachers sharing the principles of new spiritual ideas today (like Eckhart Tolle and Marianne Willamson).  Spirituality is no longer dependent on belief systems, dogmas and doctrines.  My novel introduces the concept of personally experiencing God.  It also is a reminder that everyone has the capacity to integrate the extraordinary into the ordinary thereby inspiring more joy and meaning in our lives.