Techniques for spiritual discovery: Listening to your spiritual voice
Teach yourself to control your states of consciousness and your brain activity in order to open up a clear channel to receive spiritual messages.
Call it intuition, call it messages from spirit guides or a higher power, or call it common sense, we all have a voice that comes from within that we should learn to listen to more often. What we can do to help ourselves is to become better at listening for that voice.
What confuses many people is that the voice doesn’t always reveal itself as an actual “voice”. Some of us are more inclined to auditory perceptions; these are the people that do hear the words coming somewhere unknown from the back of our mind, nagging us to listen to it despite any apparent reasons to ignore it. Some people, however, are more visually perceptive; for these people, images may arise, rather than the voice of reason they may be awaiting. Still others of us who are empathically inclined will be more likely to get what we often call “gut feelings” that give us a strong sense of what to do. Fewer of us might be inclined to get physical messages in the form of tingling, lightheadedness, or even physical illness (such as stomach or head aches), but this too can occur, especially when the spiritual “voice” is warning us about something and we repeatedly ignore the message.
The best way to begin opening yourself up to spiritual messages is to practice meditation. When we meditate, we alter our states of consciousness to those in which we are more receptive to these messages. Altered states of consciousness are nothing to fear; in fact our states of consciousness vary throughout the day as we go about our activities. Our state of consciousness is determined by brain waves per second. At the highest rate, we are in what is known as the BETA state, which is the state we are in during our normal waking hours when we are busy. The ALPHA state is the one in which we are very relaxed state of awareness. When people describe themselves as “zoning out”, such as when they are watching television, daydreaming, or letting their thoughts flow while performing boring, monotonous tasks, they are in the ALPHA state. The THETA state is the one we are in when under hypnosis, dreaming, or in a deep trance, and is a highly suggestive state. The DELTA state is the state in which our brain waves are at their slowest; it is in this state in which we are in a sound, dreamless sleep.
Meditation can help us consciously control our states of consciousness so that we can more easily put ourselves in that state in which we are more open to receiving messages from our inner voice. The best state in which to accomplish this is the ALPHA state. In order to learn to achieve the ALPHA state, go to a place with a minimum of outside stimuli; a dimly lit, quiet, private room is the best option, but outdoors in a shady, natural, serene area can also suffice. Make sure to turn off phones and tell anyone who might be with you that you should not be disturbed. Wear loose clothing that is comfortable, and keeps your body and a comfortable temperature. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, and begin to clear your mind by focusing on your breathing, which should be slow, deep and rhythmic. Alternately, you can focus on each individual part of your body, starting at your head and working your way down, ordering them to relax and release any tension that might be stored in them. See what thoughts come to you; don’t actually try to think about anything, just see what pops up, then acknowledge them and let them go. When you are done, record the images, thoughts and feelings that you experienced.
Try practicing this for at least 20 minutes each day to get in touch with your spiritual voice. At first you may find it difficult to quiet your mind, but as you persist it will become increasingly easier. After a while, you will have less trouble getting into altered states whenever you feel it is necessary, even in a crowded room or in the middle of a busy day, and you will be able to retain them longer.
Another way to open yourself up to messages from your spiritual voice is to do so through your dreams; if you have particular trouble meditating, try utilizing this method. Before you go to sleep at night, relax yourself and tell yourself that you are going to remember your dreams. If there is a particularly important issue that is plaguing you, keep it in mind as you drift off to sleep. Your subconscious will be able to pick up on these cues and you will find that answers to your problems may come to you in your sleep. Keep a tape recorder or notepad and pen by your bedside so that, if you wake up, you can record your dreams or images to analyze later, lest you risk going back to sleep and forgetting them by morning.
If you are an artistically inclined person, engaging in activities that awaken the right side of your brain, the domain of intuition and creative thinking, can open a clear channel through which the spiritual voice or messages can come. Engage in free writing, in which you simply begin to write anything that comes to mind– don’t worry about editing, structure, or even coherence at this point; this is not an English lesson, but simply a way to allow yourself to ride on a slipstream of consciousness. If you draw or paint, simply allow hand to move over the page and let whatever comes take form without thinking about it. If you play music, pick up your instrument and let the notes flow without effort. As you are allowing yourself to engage in right-brain activities, messages from your spiritual voice will begin to flow along with your artwork.