How Can I Feel Spiritual?

headerphoto1If we are to experience spirituality we need to employ more than the usual empirical, conceptual, and analytical mind. We need to be in tune with our imagination, intuition, and contemplative mind. We need to focus on the spiritual, the transcendent.

Metaphors of parables or poetic thought are often more effective, because metaphors suggest rather than direct. Take for example this poem by Rumi (Barks 1995, 36)

Out beyond ideas…there is a field. I’ll meet you there. 

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.

Spirituality in its purest form is an inner, subjective experience. Pure, non-verbal experience of being is the spiritual field within.

Most religions contain language and practices intended to facilitate experiences of pure being and connection. Individuals often have their own unique interpretations of the tenets of their religion. Each uses the parts that speak to them.  Religion can be a sociocultural program for developing spiritually and for bringing spiritual realizations into everyday life.

Outside of religious preaching, prayer, testimonies, hymns, scripture and rituals some people find spirituality in service, relationships, touch, books, movies, music, meditation, dreams, gardening, promptings, insight, stillness, yoga, hiking, sunsets, birds, mountains, trees, unity, families, children, elderly, feasting, fasting, animals, light, water, flowers, challenges, trials, sacrifice, knowing, hard work, candles, chanting, dancing, singing, clean living, etc.

When these activities are done with a focus on spiritual experience and a shift in transcendent consciousness we can have a mystical experience.

Mystical experiences can occur during intentional practices or intentional living that can be designed to create conditions conducive to transcendent experiences.

Williams James wrote:

One may say truly, I think, that personal religious experience has its roots and center in mystical states of consciousness… Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness we call it, is but one type, while all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.  (James [1905] 2005, 313)

  • Spirituality and Aging by Atchley
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How Can I Find My Stillness Within?

0814meditation04The practice of mindfulness helps us “be where we are.”  Anchoring the attention in present moment reality, acknowledging whatever we are experiencing and letting it be, helps us to let go of reliving stressful memories from the past and imagining stressful situations that may or may not become a reality in the future.   Mindfulness is the skill of “being where you are.”

Sylvia Boorstein defines mindfulness as “the aware, balanced acceptance of present experience . . . opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it”.   The body with its sensory experience is an excellent anchor for present moment awareness because it cannot exist in the past or in the future.  Thus, whenever we come back to the body, we come back to the present in which there is probably no problem.

–Adapted from Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven Hayes, PhD

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Create moments of stillness in the midst of activity. Stopped at a traffic light? Waiting in line? Riding the bus?

Value these times as an opportunity to close your eyes and go within or say a little prayer. “Wherever you go, in the midst of movement and activity, carry your stillness within you.”                                               — Deepak Chopra

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Expand the field of your awareness around your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression.  Follow the breath now as if your whole body is breathing – holding it all in this slightly softer, more spacious awareness.  Let go of the need to do anything about what you are experiencing and just allow yourself to be.

from Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, Segal, Williams, and Teasdale [2002]  

How Can I Recognize The Spirit?

rainbow2Miracles heal because they deny body-identification and affirm spirit-identification. By recognizing your spirit, your perception and perspective are corrected.

Spirit is at the center of life.

Miracles are God’s intercession through the Holy Spirit to your spirit or Christ within.

The Holy Spirit is the mechanism of miracles. It separates the light from the darkness.

Miracles honor you because you are lovable. They dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you. By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they restore your sanity.

Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others. Miracles are expressions of love.

A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking.

The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement.

Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with Christ for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations.

Spirit is in a state of grace forever.

Your reality is only spirit.

Therefore you are in a state of grace forever. 

You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive, so shall you behave.

You should look out from the perception of your own holiness to the holiness of others..

A Course in Miracles

 

 

Let Go And Rest In The Stillness

The-Kingdom-Of-God-IsBe still, become aware of Me and of our oneness, and in that oneness find perfect peace and understanding.
Feel yourself in My presence. Let the wonder of our oneness sink into your consciousness. Stay in this raised state in the present moment, not giving a thought to the past or future, but only the now.
Whenever you feel it slipping dwell on Me. I am your guide.
Your close relationship with Me is more important than anything else, for all stems from this relationship. Live in the ways of the Spirit. Every atom in your body will vibrate with life force.
Let nothing disturb you. Live from day to day seeking always that inner stillness which nothing can ruffle. Let my joy flow through you.
I AM always there. The key is to be in a state of permanent connectedness.
God Spoke to Me by Eileen Caddy

Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their own negative thoughts.

In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. It is your spiritual Being, or Christ within.

How easy it is for people to become trapped in their  conceptual prisons of interpretation and the illusion of control.

Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought. Rest in the stillness beyond thought.

Let stillness direct your words and actions.

Mastery of life is the opposite of control. Let go and let your inner stillness guide.

Stillness Speaks by Ekhart Tolle

 

 

Spiritual Awakening From Depression

depression

“It was depressing staring at my half-painted bedroom wall- another project still unfinished.

Deep, dark blue and throw-up yellow, just like me: Half the time I was dark and blue and the other half I felt like throwing-up with nausea and stomach pain.

How did I even get in this situation?

I was scarcely 19 with a tiny baby  and a husband who regularly used my body as a punching bag to release his pent up tension. How did I blunder into this life of violence with no phone and no car, cut off from my friends? I couldn’t eat  without pills to calm my stomach. I couldn’t sleep without pills to induce sleep. Roy Orbison’s haunting song voiced my feelings : “Only The Lonely”.

I lay in bed mindlessly, trying to put myself to sleep  with the drone of the T.V. Nuts! The shows were preempted by some crusade… this Billy Graham thing was even on the billboards. I left it on, too lazy to get up and change the channel. Man, there sure were a lot of people packed into that stadium. The men, looking well pressed in their suits and “Christian clean, ” paraded up to the microphone: one by one talking about God while the choir sang about God. Yeah, yeah God.

I had declared myself an agnostic. I would have liked to believe in God, but I wasn’t sure He even existed. It all sounded good on TV and in songs, but I figured talk was cheap  and it was all a bunch of hype. All of these thoughts swarmed in my head, yet I was compelled to keep watching and listening.

After awhile the big guy himself, Billy Graham, came to the microphone. His eyes looked clear and direct, rather intense in a “what you see is what you get” kind of way. I liked his strong chin that belied his soft southern drawl lilting into my bedroom. Something about him drew me in and I listened as he asked people to come forward and accept Jesus. I really didn’t get that part for myself because I wasn’t too sure about what I believed. The song “Just as I Am” blended into the background like wallpaper, setting the stage as Billy’s soothing words kept flowing like honey about how God loves me and accepts me just as I am. Billy even spoke to those of us watching TV and said we could accept Jesus and God in our hearts right then.

I had begun to ponder how that could possibly happen when tears began streaming down my face. I didn’t hear Billy Graham or the TV anymore. All of it was muted by the strong sense of presence right in my bedroom, a presence so all-pervasive I felt nothing but smoothness and peace where a moment ago there had been nothing but roughness and pain.

My whole body seemed to melt as if thawing  from an ice age. I felt alive and-can it be-actually hopeful for the first time since I could remember. A misty fog wafted into my bedroom, absorbing the dark blue and vomit yellow that was my bedroom that was coloring my world. In its place shone gold and violet. I felt love in every part of my being, and my tears kept pouring. So powerful was this feeling of gold and violet, of all that is sweet and calm, that I  felt totally wrapped in peace.

I sobbed from the depths of my being with relief and, surprisingly acceptance that God really does exist.

I was not lost and was definitely not alone.

The Presence, which I knew without a doubt to be God, was with me and in me. I felt this..  this loving mist, this color and smoothness in every part of me. Truly, nothing existed but me and the Presence, soft and strong and gentle all at once.  Time stopped as I experienced a profound communication that penetrated far beyond words or anything known to me. I received a deep understanding that I was loved and accepted no matter what I had done or what had been done to me.

From that instant I was changed….”

rainbow-connection-over-the-rainbow

  • David Paul Doyle interview of Adriane Romano in “When God Spoke To Me” 

 

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is a region of human experience.show 18

Without your own personal inner spiritual experiences of otherworldly wonder, awe, peace, comfort, compassion, clarity or love– talking about spirituality is akin to science fiction. One must have the experiences to truly understand.

Spiritual experiences could include an intense awareness of the present, transcendence of the personal self, a spiritual thought or feeling to do something or that something will happen, a still-small voice that seems independent of thoughts, a feeling of overwhelming loving connection with life or a united group, or with the universe or a supreme being.

People report spiritual experiences with and without the benefit of religion.
Many individuals see themselves on a “spiritual journey” – an intentional direction for spiritual development. They seek spiritual experiences to inform life choices and find meaning. This often includes the practice of “waiting” in connection with the sacred, along with commitment and discipline.

Some seekers find spiritual experiences in sacred spaces, such as awe-inspiring buildings. Others find it in informal Sunday-morning meetings in unused bars, in silent solitary journeys in nature, or simply at home. Many go where they feel inspired, such as a mountain top during sunset, or where they feel nurtured and nourished in the company of kindred spirits.

Spiritual practices could include meditation, prayer, rituals, music, service, inspirational reading, podcasts or talks, gardening, walking, yoga, tai chi, sacred dance, commitment to right action, or pondering and reflection on the sacred.

Sometimes spiritual experiences are transformational- forgiveness becomes possible, inner turmoil and pain is replaced by comfort, joy and love, a life of hate and bitterness is let go and a new life of love and compassion is born, patience is expanded, a solution is realized, a peaceful acceptance of a tragedy occurs, one feels infused with the courage to endure or to do what is needed to be done, wrong thinking is corrected, true priorities are realized, an understanding of one’s faults are brought to light, an overwhelming gratitude is experienced, an insight into how or who to help or befriend, a new found peace, thoughtfulness, kindness, goodness, discipline and gentleness is incorporated into one’s character.

Most major religions or faith groups are rooted in spiritual experiences espoused by their founders. Experiences that made it possible for each leader to bring forth a spiritual message that if followed could lead one on the true spiritual path to the ultimate.

Spiritual seekers today want a direct experience. They are looking to have this experience of spiritual direction for themselves. This seeking is often done in the context of traditional religious groups, in alternative groups, or alone, in an attempt to get in touch with their inner spirit, or being and its connection with Light.

Spirituality and Aging by Robert Atchley

fruit of the spirit.800w.tn

How Can I Find Spiritual Strength?

The moment we recognize our divine worth and the strength our spirit possesses when in tune with God’s love and power manifested through the Holy Spirit is the moment we recognize our true potential.

“If they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” – Ether 12:27

“As to my own strength I am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself.. For in His strength I can do all things.” – Alma 26:12

“By small means the Lord can bring about great things.” – Nephi 16:29

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” -Alma 37:6

The Book of Mormon