The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
~ Eden Phillpotts
Some people can quiet the chatter in their head quickly in order to look inward, tap into their intuition and receive guidance about major life decisions. Others pray and feel that their prayers have been heard and answered by signs from above. Some are able to chat with their own spirit guide seemingly on a whim. Other spiritually gifted people claim that they can talk to the angels. However, I, like many others, am not one of these people. My spirit guide doesn’t usually come when I call it. So, when I really need guidance about something, how do I create a better connection with Spirit?
First, we need to clear out the obstacles that block our connection to the divine. For instance, many of us may not consider ourselves spiritual because in the past, when we tried out spirituality or religion, our prayers did not seem to get answered. Or, perhaps our religious leaders’ explanation of how life was supposed to work did not resonate with us. We may have assumed long ago that anything religious or spiritual is just voodoo and therefore we have given up hoping that there are spiritual resources available for us. However, if we can first identify our underlying belief about spirituality – that we do not believe – then we have the opportunity to give the whole subject one more try, even though it would seem to be counter intuitive.
Some of us have an unconscious belief that God, the Universe or Spirit is a tyrannical authoritarian figure rather than an eternally loving presence. We may assume that any communication from Spirit will include messages that we did something wrong, that terrible things are going to befall us, that everything is our fault or that we are just not good enough to have the kind of life that we want. If we expect to hear such negative messages from Spirit, we certainly are not going to be motivated to develop a regular relationship with it.
The reality is that Spirit, God, the Universe or whatever we choose to call it, is a positive and supportive force. When in touch with Spirit we feel the unconditional loving presence of someone or something more powerful than ourselves. We feel a sense of peace, eternal happiness and luminous joy – even if it is just a glimpse of it.
Once we are open to the idea that we want to connect with our divine navigation system, how do we proceed? Creating space and time each day to keep a spiritual practice is probably a good start. The good news is, a spiritual practice does not mean we have to start going to church every Sunday, and isn’t that great news? Fortunately, a spiritual practice can be as simple and enjoyable as identifying what opens your heart and then carving out more space for it in our lives.
Think about what brings you back to center. For some people, listening to, singing or playing music gets their emotions flowing, leaving them feeling clear, cleansed and peaceful (whether they do it at Carnegie Hall or in the privacy of their own shower). This means that music is a spiritual practice for these people.
Art, in its many forms, can serve as a spiritual practice for many as well. A couple of years ago I was watching an acrobatic show at a performing arts camp for kids. When I first sat down in my seat I was overwhelmed by stress, to the point where my shoulders were slumped over and my arms felt weak. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the show. The music started and teenagers in brightly colored leotards started flying off a trapeze. The uplifting effect was immediate for me. Watching these energetic young people completely let go of their inhibitions and fly through the air to happy music resonated with my Spirit. I felt myself letting down my guard. My shoulders straightened, my arms strengthened and my eyes filled with tears of relief because I felt suddenly as if everything was going to be all right. Those feelings were brought about by my reconnecting with my Spirit – because I was finally able to tune in to it. Our reconnection to Spirit can happen in a moment, anywhere and through any avenue. Connecting with Spirit in our darkest times can flip on the light switch, enabling us to see clearly again. A spiritual practice can serve as the little push it takes to get us there.
Movement is another avenue that can resonate especially well with some. Dance, yoga, running, and exercise can all be spiritual practices. My friend Nikki begins her day with a run, regardless of the weather. “There are no distractions to keep me from hearing the wind in the trees, feeling the breeze on my skin, noticing the contours of the earth, appreciating the sun, clouds and green— it’s meditation in movement.” Nikki says. My partner, Rich, tries to exercise every day. “Pushing my body clears my head”, he says, “I feel that when I have accomplished my physical challenge I feel upbeat and more positive about myself.”
A spiritual practice can take the form of something more traditional, such as meditating or praying in the morning before we proceed with the rest of our day. Creating a physical space in our homes to be free of distractions can be as simple as designating a chair in your bedroom as a place to sit in silence each day. Writing can also be a good method for connecting with Spirit. It can help to work out the chatter in your head by sorting it out on paper. If you can write about something and be clearer and calmer about it when you are done, then writing is a spiritual practice for you.
Connecting to Spirit does not have to be something you do individually as millennia of religious gatherings have shown us. Group meditation or a religious ceremony with many gathered together in prayer or in silence, can provide a powerful collective energy that may not otherwise be experienced alone.
Perhaps a great conversation with a trusted friend helps you to get back to your center. Some close friends and I are open to divine concepts so I feel like we speak the same language. When I confide with a good friend the conversation helps me to settle into a spiritual frame of mind. We can help each other see the divine design in our everyday troubles and that reorients us to our Spirit.
For many, spending time in nature often feels like a spiritually connective place to be. My friend Reba says, “Nature provides me with unconditional love. When I step into the woods, I can be assured a sense of serenity as well as a perspective of my place in the universe. I feel deeply connected to the trees, streams and lakes, and the wildlife. It is both humbling and awe-inspiring.“
Identify what works to reconnect you with your Spirit and make a regular practice of it. If twisting your body into a pretzel at yoga class just does not do it for you, trying out some other methods eventually will. Do not be surprised if your spiritual practice turns out to be something that you have been doing all along but that you have never considered the clarity and connection that resulted as a spiritual event. The important part to remember is that a regular conscious practice of connecting with Spirit will make that connection easier and faster the more you practice. Who couldn’t use a very positive and powerful resource within easy access?
The wish to pray is a prayer in itself. — George Bernano