Spiritual Exercises

Spiritual ExercisesThroughout history, many forms of prayer and meditation have been used to help us better communicate with God. The spiritual exercises included here are the most effective ones that I have come across.

Active techniques in which we take steps to approach God are usually preferable to passive ones in which we wait for God to come to us. There are three main components to these techniques: light, sound, and imagination.

God speaks to us through light and sound. Together, light and sound make up the Holy Spirit or voice of God. A stream of love issues from the heart of God and flows out to all creation on a wave of light and sound. The light of God is frequently referred to in both Eastern and Western religions. The sound is also mentioned in many spiritual writings. Imagination, properly directed, is the doorway through which we step on our journey home to God. By experimenting with different combinations of light, sound, and imagination in our spiritual exercises, we will discover what works best for each of us.

Many people try to fit themselves to a particular religion or philosophy, but it makes more sense to fit a philosophy or religion to us – to take what we wish from it and leave the rest. So, please experiment with the following techniques in whatever way feels best.

If possible, try to do these exercises at the same time each day. This will build a powerful daily rhythm in your life. Many people prefer first thing in the morning or right before bedtime. If you have some quiet time in the middle of the day, that will work, too.

In this part of the world, we are not used to spending endless hours in meditation. For us, it is best to do the spiritual exercises for 15 to 20 minutes per day. For those who can’t manage this, five to ten minutes will do. It is always important to keep a balance in our lives. We must have time for work, leisure, families, friends, and community. In the West, most of us would become unbalanced if we spent long periods of time in prayer or meditation.

In order to begin an exercise, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Sitting is best if you think you might fall asleep. Focus your attention on the spiritual eye, the point between and slightly above your eyebrows.

The first technique focuses on the voice of God or the sound. There are hundreds of sounds on the various planes, including thunder, violins, buzzing of bees, running water, or a flute.

Begin the exercise by relaxing and taking a few deep breaths. Let go all thoughts of the day and focus your attention on the spiritual eye. Next, fill yourself with love and begin to softly sing the word HU (pronounced hue). It is sung on the outgoing breath as follows: HUUUUUU.

HU is an ancient love song to God. It has been used for thousands of years in many cultures throughout the world. It is perhaps the most uplifting of all sounds. If HU does not work for you, there are other words such as love or God that you might try.

After two or three minutes of singing HU, stop singing and listen for the sound inside you. If nothing happens after a few minutes, return to singing HU. Continue this process for 15 to 20 minutes. If you should hear one of the inner sounds, relax and go wherever it may take you. No harm will come your way, for you are resting in the arms of God.

If you do not experience concrete results immediately, don’t be discouraged. The technique will work in time, especially if practiced on a daily basis. In the meantime, the spiritual energy generated from this discipline will begin to have a healing effect on both your dreams and your daily life.

The second technique focuses on the light. Once again, sit or lie down in a comfortable position for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. Relax, take a few deep breaths, and focus your attention on the spiritual eye. Next, gaze obliquely at the inner screen of your mind, watching for the light, but never straining.

The light of God comes in many forms and colors. The more common colors are blue, white, or gold, but it may also come as orange, green, purple, or pink. It is usually the softer shades that are found in the higher planes of existence. The light may first appear in your inner vision as a tiny dot in the middle of a blank screen. Sometimes, it will grow into a brilliant world of illumination that almost blinds you with its beauty.

The third spiritual exercise is to work with the imagination. Once again, close your eyes and focus on the inner screen. Imagine yourself in the most beautiful surroundings you have ever known: a virgin forest, a sunlit meadow, a windswept ocean beach, a majestic mountain top, a desert at dawn, or a sky filled with brilliant stars. Take note of all the details: sensations of touch, taste, and smell as well as seeing and hearing. Explore the world that you have created. Have an adventure!

At first, you may feel that what you are experiencing is only imagination. Perhaps it is in the beginning, but imagination is the gateway to out-of-body and dream travel. Anything we can imagine already exists somewhere in the inner worlds. Imagination is a divine gift that God has given us. That which we hold in our imagination will be drawn into our lives, especially if there is a strong feeling accompanying it. Many people find that with practice, what begins as imagination suddenly becomes a completely real spiritual experience. This may take the form of a particularly lucid dream or even out-of-body travel.

A variation of this technique is to imagine traveling forward or backward through time in order to gain a better perspective of our lives in the present.

You can also imagine floating out of your physical body and hovering near the ceiling of the room. From there, you can explore the rest of the house or surrounding area. Pay attention to details and use as many of your five senses as possible.

If you are having difficulties with a particular situation, you may wish to try the Snowball Technique: Imagine standing on the banks of a broad, fast-flowing river that stretches to the horizon. The river is filled with warm, golden, light and sound. Now take your difficulties and imagine packing them into a snowball. Make sure that you have included all aspects of the situation. When this is done, throw the snowball into the river and watch it slowly dissolve as the current carries it away. When the last of the snowball has melted in the current, say “Thank you, God. I leave it all in your hands.” Repeat this technique as often as necessary when problems keep coming back to disturb you. Eventually, your troubles will disappear completely.

For those of you who are practical in nature, the following technique may be of interest: If you have a question about some aspect of your life, write it down on a piece of paper and place it in a drawer. Do this whenever you feel the need. Then, pay attention to anything in your dreams or daily life which seems to stand out or provide an answer to your questions. This could happen in words, images, or symbols. Check your drawer at regular intervals to see how your questions have been answered.

For a more immediate answer, you may choose a favorite book that deals with a spiritual subject. Hold the question in your mind, open the book at random, and read what it says. In many cases, the passage you read will provide clues which help to answer your question.

Daily life can also be a spiritual exercise if we look for ways to give divine love and service to others. These words or actions should be given freely with no thought of reward. If possible, don’t tell anyone what you have said or done – simply give for the joy of giving. This helps tremendously in keeping our hearts open to love.

A journal is a helpful addition to these techniques. Journals can be used to record thoughts and feelings from daily life, dreams, or spiritual exercises.

The exercises given here can be mixed and matched in an endless variety of ways. As we grow spiritually, we begin to discover which combination of elements suits us best and we discover that this changes as time goes by.

These techniques should never be used to change the lives of others. If you wish to help friends or family, visualize them in the arms of God or simply send them divine love, but never ask God for anything specific. After all, God knows better than we do what needs to be done!

Finally, spiritual guides play an important role in our lives whether or not we are aware of them. The section of this blog called Spiritual Guides explains the tremendous advantages and possible pitfalls of seeking guidance from others. Because these guides often work closely with us during spiritual exercises, this part of the blog is an essential companion to what I’ve written here.

 

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