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Another Mystery: "A Tingling In The Head" Guiding Your Life.

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on April 19, 2001 01:07:54 UTC

The related comments by Alexander, Aurino, and Dick about how the subconscious work were all helpful to me in explaining in a non-supernatural way why I survived the Jeep experience. Aurino outdid the others in my view by presenting a plausibly sounding explanation for the Argentine coin coincidence. I'm especially relieved that I'm not bound to consider my parents liars if they honestly tell me they didn't have anything to do with the coin.

You guys did so well with those two of my experiences, I'll give you a very different mystery (for me).

When I was about 18, near the age I began to seriously plan on going on a mission for the Mormon Church, I began to have curious tingling sensations primarily in the upper portions of my head. They would begin on one side of my forehead first and then sometimes progress to the other side and in rare circumstances pass all over my face. They felt like slight pressures on my skin maybe like blood vessels pressing extra hard. They felt curious, not painful at all (except in very rare circumstances). At the time I first began to feel them I wondered if these were what God gave me as a physical manifestation of the Holy Ghost.

In Mormon theology, God reveals His communications through perceptions called "a burning in the bosom", and "the still small voice", and incorrect notions are indicated by "a stupor of thought", and "feel nothing". I wondered if this upper head sensation was a different kind, sort of "a burning in the head". Those I spoke to about it considered it as just another manifestation of the Spirit.

If I had felt this kind of thing all my life, I would have thought it as a normal sensation, but it started at one point in my life and continues off an on even today (I'm feeling it right now).

I tried to notice how the sensation correlated with what I was doing at the time. I found in the early stages that I almost always felt the sensation only when I was doing something reflective, religious like reading the scriptures, praying, attending Church meetings, or quietly discussing things at home. I noticed that I didn't feel it when the discussion was heated, or I felt uncomfortable. This was some confirmation to me that it was God-related, not some mere physiological response.

I later noticed that I began to feel the sensation under non-religious situations like when I was driving the car (but not thinking about religious things). I wondered if this could be how God might direct me. God seemed to be telling me "Hey, something important is going to happen. Try to do what I want." As a Mormon Missionary I tried to use the occurence and strength of these sensations to help guide me what street we should pick to knock on doors and such questions. Although I had a better than average mission success, I didn't notice any dramatic benefits in my mission from obeying what I thought the sensation meant, but thought it might be the best God would do for me, and it was enough. At least it was some good physical evidence to me that He existed (beyond the Argentine coin in my pocket).

While at BYU, I took a beginning dance class and did very very well (partly because I had taken ballet as a young man). I joined the backup tour team at BYU and eventually made it on the touring team. I toured with the BYU Ballroom Dance Team to Blackpool, England one year(we were supposed to visit other North European countries, but that was cancelled because of concerns for our safety when a bomb blew up in a German disco where US soldiers often went) and another year to Asia (China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan).

While on the dance team as a graduate student in physics I met a dancer, named Susan, from Florida. She was a recent convert to Mormonism and was looking for a dance partner/husband. I seemed to be the one for her. Our relationship was one of the few for me up that point when we both liked each other a lot.

Early in our relationship, partly because she could see that other women sought me as a dance partner, she asked me to marry her. I was not ready for marriage, but decided to ask God for the answer. I prayed that very moment to know God's will. I felt the tingling sensation about as strong as I had ever done. I committed to marry her.

Years earlier when I brought an older-than-me divorced woman I was interested in marrying to meet my folks, I was disappointed with my mother's reaction. My mother said she had a "pug nose". I thought this was uncharacteristically small of her to say such a thing. The relationship fell apart not just for that, but I vowed to not let my parents screw things up the next time.

My parents and siblings did not get to meet Susan until the marriage day. Because of that, they were unable to adequately warn me of our incompatibilities. I thought I didn't need their advice because I had God's guidance.

As the marriage with Susan approached, She began to have reasonable doubts. Since I had none (God had spoken to me), I made it difficult for her to get me to listen to her concerns.

Our marriage did not work out for a number of reasons. One is that I assumed that God wanted us to get married so as long as I made what I considered a reasonable effort, that was enough. Also, since I was the long-term Mormon, I was the spiritual giant in the relationship. Her views were not so important. There were other problems.

When she divorced me, I was shattered. When, shortly afterward she lost her father and had a traffic accident that made it difficult for her to dance, I thought "Maybe that's God listening to my prayers of anguish and punishment to her for dumping me." When her widowed mother and she joined the Catholic church where the Bishop had always been their friends, my family considered it as proof that she was the one at fault. I agreed with them, for a while.

I didn't date for a year after the divorce. When I did begin to date I felt a strong desire to be married again. When it didn't work out for me, I thought God was abandoning me. Why would He tell me to marry someone I wasn't supposed to and then leave me to be single? My family tried to come up with reasons. "This was God giving Susan a chance to make it to heaven." I thought, "I wouldn't volunteer to be the martyr would I?"

As I became more and more inactive in church activities I felt more and more like a sinner. I considered suicide. I seldom had the head sensation. I saw it as a sign the Holy Ghost had abandoned me too. I concluded that my parents were more loving than God because they would try to stop me from killing myself if they could, but God would do nothing. I concluded that God never did do anything.

As time went on and I came to realize where I had failed in the marriage and Susan had been the much better wife than I had been husband, after reading books like "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus" my views on relationships changed dramatically. I came to realize that the scriptures were not a good source of knowledge about such things. I began to realize that non-religious sources of truth were superior to religious ones. Saul / Paul's advice was to be celebate and that women shouldn't speak. Yea, that's good advice!

As time passed and I began to be comfortable with my disbelief of Mormon ideas I noticed that I began to have the sensation again. Now, that's odd I thought, it must not have been the Mormon God at all.

I now feel the sensation at least as often, if not more, than when I did during my mission years. If I had become a non-Mormon Christian I probably would have considered it God helping me then and helping me to leave the Mormon Church to really find Jesus.

If I had begun a new religion, perhaps I would have taught the value of the "burning in the head" sensation as proof of God's love for us.

When I first began to have the sensations, I considered having it checked and explained by a medical expert. I worried that doing so might offend God, because it was His miracle, His pearl (to be hidden from unbelievers) for me. Alternatively, I was scared that experts could tell me nothing. "As far as we can tell, nothing is going on in your skin tissue. It's all in your brain, not your head" and I would feel obligated to consider myself either crazy or one with a great gift from God. I didn't want any of these possibilities. Now I wish I had gotten checked. I should now. Maybe I have a blood condition I should take medication for.

What do you smart guys think about all this? Any knowledgeable M.D.'s listening?

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