As many of you know by now, I am no stranger to the paranormal. I have always been a healthy skeptic when it comes to the realm of the unknown.

But all it takes is full body apparitions, disembodied voices on tape (and heard by everyone in the room), and crashing sounds (with no source)  just a foot from where you are standing to make a healthy skeptic into a firm believer.

There IS something beyond this world that we live and play and work in everyday. There just is. I used to get angry at skeptics who just refuse to believe, but more and more I just kind of feel sorry for them.

Sorry. Not trying to offend you if you are among this group. But I really do feel sorry for you. You are the ones who could have a full scale spaceship hover over San Francisco and suck everyone up into the Cosmos and still insist it's a special effect. The ghost of King Tut could walk right through you and into your fridge and you will insist it's a hologram.

That's why I always find it funny when people say to me "Where's your ghost pictures?? Where's the video evidence??" I laugh because even if I DID have such proof, they would discount it anyway!!

So I am ALMOST at the point where I try not to even prove it to the hardcore skeptics anymore. They won't believe because they don't WANT to believe. They are AFRAID to believe.

After all, coming to the reality that your mother's spirit really IS right in front of you and can even SPEAK to you in a recorded voice that everyone can hear is a frightening and sobering and life altering prospect. Believe me, this stuff has changed MY life and how I live it.

This past weekend, I took part in my first official private home investigation. I am a new member of a fantastic team of ghost hunters just outside of Sacramento.

I wish I could reveal more details but since it IS a private home we are dealing with, we must and should provide privacy for the family involved.

This isn't science fiction or a movie. These are real people with real concerns and hopes and they have to be treated with respect and dignity.

The case involved one particular family member having middle of the night encounters with shadowy figures hovering over their bed. This happened to them several times.

Their significant other reported seeing a shadow dart from one bedroom into this particular bedroom on many nights.

A dual pane window mysteriously shattered from the inside while no one but the family member was in the home. The bedroom happened to be connected to the same person (and was in their master bedroom).

So we got briefed on the case, a procedure they condense into 5 seconds on the ghost television shows to save time. Their is EXTENSIVE research that goes into an investigation before we even arrive.

Who lives in the house? Who is the activity happening to or around? Ages? Drugs involved? Alcohol? History of mental illness? ALL of these factors and MORE have to be taken into account.

Contrary to what many skeptics assume about ghost hunters, the first thing we TRY and WANT to do is DEBUNK the phenomenon at hand. And we did with some things in this case, but not others. For instance, the vacuum on a doorway wasn't all that secure. So we determined that the most likely explanation was one of the children or adults THINKING they had closed the door all the way. But in fact, leaving it open just enough for it to open later...seemingly by an unseen force.

We LIKE debunking things. We WANT to come up with logical explanations for these things.

But sometimes, we can't.

The excitement and intrigue on Saturday night focused on the master bedroom which has been the hot spot for most of the paranormal activity. Each team member rotated from room to room and spent time doing EVP work, among other things.

EVP stand for electronic voice phenomenon. This is something that dates back quite a long time. It is the phenomenon in which a voice or a sound not heard out loud is somehow imprinted and recorded on recording devices, most commonly a typical digital voice recorder used for recording lectures or dictation.

Trust me. It is very frightening and sobering the first time you hear a disembodied voice refer to you by name, recorded in a room NO ONE was in. No radio on. No open window. No hallway chatter. NO EXPLAINABLE SOURCE FOR THE VOICE OR SOUND. These voices can be captured just about anywhere, inside or outside.

The voice will just "pop" out of nowhere. Sometimes it will come as a result of an EVP "session" which is what you see on the ghost hunting shows when the investigator will run the recorder while conducting an interview to the otherworld.

"Is there anyone in this room with us right now? Do you wish to speak with us? Please make yourself known. Why are you here? Is there something you want to convey to the family who lives here?" That type of stuff. Generally it should last between 5-15 minutes at a time. I have heard that when spirits want to talk to you, they WILL. It is not unknown to get an EVP within seconds of recording, especially when questions are asked.

So I headed into the master bedroom, set one of my multiple digital voice recorders on the bed and took out my KII.

A KII is an EMF detector. You see this on shows like GHOST HUNTERS. It's the one that has a series of lights from left to right, going from green on the left to red on the right.

Although it is used primarily to detect EMF (electromagnetic fields) in a location to determine power sources, unsafe levels, etc. it is used by many ghost hunters because it is believed that a ghost affects the EMF in their surrounding area, especially when they manifest. This is why it is believed that ghosts can interfere with lights, making them blink, as well as wreak havoc on electronic devices, etc.

It is also believed that they drain energy from their surroundings, so all of this can affect EMF levels.

So, anyway, I put the KII on the bed.

Mind you, one of the first things we do is sweep every room for a "baseline reading" of EMF levels. In other words, we KNOW that the fridge or computer or television or microwave is setting the levels to the higher points BEFORE we investigate. We KNOW what is setting these detectors off and what is NOT.

I had swept the room prior to the following series of events, as had other investigators. EMF was NON-EXISTENT in this particular room. At least in measurable amounts.

Within moments of conducting the EVP session, the KII started going bananas. I mean REALLY lighting up. I had never seen such activity in my ghost hunting experience (which granted is limited thus far) and only one other investigator had seen such active response from it under these circumstances.

And what was most amazing was that it reacted to our questions and our presence. I would say "Could you show me it's really you doing this by lighting it up again?" or "How about making the yellow or orange level light up?"

And guess what? It DID respond. When I asked for yellow, I got yellow. When we pushed it to really light up, it did. It was simply ASTOUNDING.

The team and family members were amazed as well. This was the room where the bulk of activity was happening to this family member. And here she stood watching the meter going NUTS right on the bed she sleeps in every night.

The activity and responses finally faded and disappeared. Spirits use energy and eventually, they can get tired and worn out just like the living. That is our belief anyway.

What is also amazing about this session I conducted is that at one point I speak to the spirit that may be present and say something like "I need to double check something real quick...but keep lighting this up and make sounds if you like..."

I did NOT hear ANY sound following my request for a sound.

But in the evidence review for that session, I discovered a CLEAR and DEFINITE knocking. TWO KNOCKS, in fact. RIGHT AFTER I said please make sounds if you like.

That is an example of an EVP involving not a voice, but a sound. Typically a knock or series of knocks like we captured on not one, but TWO audio sources.

There are many other factors I cannot reveal here because of the sensitive nature of the privacy involved for this family. But all the pieces seemed to come together so nicely.

Here we had the master bedroom where the bulk of activity was taking place. We had shadow figures seen by the boyfriend darting into this room. We had the woman herself SEEING the shadow over her bed. We had the KII essentially having a spiritual conversation with us for several minutes ON THE SAME BED. The window had broken from the INSIDE just a few feet away in the master bathroom.

AND we captured the EVP of TWO KNOCKS that were not made by ANYONE in the house at the time. I was the only one in that part of the house. The other team members and family members were all the way on the other side of the house when I was doing the session.

PLUS the knocks were NOT heard out loud.

Taking ALL of this together? We are convinced we had spiritual activity and contact that night. No doubt about it.

In the end, we think we helped this family transition from a private tragedy that seemed to be the source of the paranormal activity to a sense of well being and peace and closure to some extent.

We will most likely go back for follow up investigations or merely to touch base and see how the family is doing.

After all, beyond the thrill of the hunt and the love and passion for the hobby/job, there is the REAL reason behind all of it.

To help people.

The living and the dead alike.