A Guide to Spiritual Well-Being

Mike George |Discover Inner Peace

The movement of our spirit in the world is like a beautifully choreographed dance. The possibilities for finding new steps to match the changing tempo of the music are endless, but our spirit—the core of the self—remains changeless, whatever the mood or pace of the music.

Our bodies are incidental to our identity, which is why the modern cults of beauty and style should be treated with scepticism. Neither do the various roles we play in life, nor the chance circumstances that befall us, define our essence. We are, quite simply, spirit, and recognizing this will lead us to question certain basic misconceptions we might have about our relationship with other people, with time, with change, and with all the world’s phenomena as perceived by our senses. An understanding of spirit also brings us to call into question the faculty of reason, which in the Western world has been elevated by the scientific empirical tradition far above its proper status, and the validity of the emotions, which serve only the ego.

If we look inside ourselves, we will rediscover the reality of spirit, and if we take this self-understanding as our compass in life, we will learn to live more creatively, more lovingly, and more peacefully. We will have faith in our institutions and be able always to act confidently and with a clear conscience, in the knowledge of our accumulating spiritual wealth.

Here are three exercises to help you balance your self, world, and spirit.

Imagine a long beach with shells of about six different kinds strewn along it. The first shell will be a surprise to us—a gift offered by chance. Further along the beach, we might come across a second shell of a different type—another surprise. As we find more shells we realize that they are a characteristic of the beach. We find that there are six kinds, some more common than others. We become aware of a pattern inh what originally seemed to be a sequence of random encounters—we find meaning in apparent chaos. This narrative can be used as the basis for a meditative exercise.

the pattern of blessings

Look back at some of the blessings in your life—perhaps encounters with inspiring people, or moving experiences of the landscape. Trace the pattern these blessings have made, a pattern that continues as you progress on life’s journey. Visualize the next inspiring person you will meet: what will he or she be like? Or the next wonderful landscape: will it be wooded or treeless, gently rolling, or mountainous? Meditate on these imagined blessings for a few minutes. Close your session by thinking about the positive patterns that your life has revealed so far.

We live much of our lives by habit. When we walk along a familiar street, we no longer register its features: our perceptions lose their freshness. However, we can recreate the impression of newness. This may not bring us closer to spiritual realities, but it will help to prepare us for seeing things in unaccustomed ways—by breaking out of old habits, we are more susceptible to spiritual revelation.

revealing shapes

Take a familiar object such as a teapot or desklamp and try to see it as pure object, without any functional implications. Absorb yourself in its color and shape. What is it made of? Does it have any intrinsic beauty? How would it appear if you had no inkling of its use?

new perspectives

On a dry, sunny day, lie on your back in a park and view the world from this new perspective. Passers-by will be upside down, and nearby flowers will be seen from the side. Contemplate the idea that an adjustment of angle does not change the reality of what you see. You may, however, see things as you have never seen them before, and taking time to view things from a fresh perspective offeres you rare moments of wonder.

Perhaps the two most pervasive enemies of creativity are self-doubt and laziness. It is safer and easier to keep quiet and let ourselves be entertained than it is to speak up and work toward refining our own message. Here are some ways to help you create your own way of looking at the world.

thinking in images

Get into the habit of thinking visually, to stretch your imagination. For example, when thinking about a friend, ask yourself whether he or she has the qualities of a particular animal—perhaps a lion (majestic, self-possessed), a gazelle (fleet-footed, graceful) or a dolphin (playful, sociable). By thinking in visual terms, you will often be able to seize upon insights that reason and language are unable to articulate.

stream of consciousness

Tap into your creativity by keeping a daily “stream-of-consciousness” journal, beginning as soon as you wake up. Write things down exactly as they occur to you, without editing or censoring them. Write as quickly as you can, to shortcircuit your internal critic. What you write does not have to make sense. One day, as you reread what you have written, sense will surface.

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