by Michael J. Santangelo, ND, PhD, LMT
An important part of healing is attention to the spiritual aspects of our beings. We are more than the physical, mental, and emotional – the traditional three spheres of behavior, thought, and feeling. The understanding that we are beings that also exist on a spiritual level helps to explain so much when it comes to the difficulties we experience in our lives.
Plenty has been written about this, especially all the information about how we create our own reality (including The Secret and similar New Age tomes), life contracts entered into before our births, karma, etc. All of these have merit, though they can be oversimplified or leaned upon too much, giving us an easy out in tough times (I haven’t been working enough on my prosperity affirmations; it must have be an agreement I made before I was born; well, it’s my karma, etc.). It is my belief that we are here to engage these challenges, since we grow and develop through them. Here’s is where consciousness exploration becomes vital. Unless we become familiar with the spiritual landscape, our own as well as that of the collective, we cannot truly move beyond old, outmoded ways of doing, being, feeling, or reacting.
The process starts with opening to the possibility that a spiritual self exists. For many of us, this began in childhood, with going to church or a religious school. Often, as children become teenagers and young adults, they leave all of that behind, and become fully involved in the things of the physical world. This may last the rest of one’s life, only thinking about the spiritual when times are tough. Then, spiritual things, like God, are front and center. Once the crisis has passed, however, it’s back to the daily grind and our ordinary ways of being.
What I’m advocating for here is keeping the spiritual in our lives on a daily basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to church or reading inspirational literature every day, though these paths works for some. Rather, it means going inward, observing our inner state, and allowing that awareness to become a part of who we are. Meditation is one means for accomplishing this, and it is a practice that takes many forms. However, the end is the same. Meditation practices can be quite simple, like observing the breath or reciting a mantra over and over. They can also be very complex, like the intricate visualizations of Tibetan Buddhism or Qabalah. Each of these practices can have quite specific purposes, which are beyond the scope of this post. Nevertheless, all are aimed at the examination and experience of consciousness. The result is an opening up of the Self, a freeing of energy from neuroses and stress, and even Enlightenment.
So, how to get started? There are plenty of meditation sites online, and plenty of teachers that have channels on YouTube. For those interested in simpler practices, Shamatha or similar approaches are a great place to start. Mantra meditations, such as Transcendental Meditation or Light and Sound Meditation, are quite effective at quieting an unruly mind (which each of us has, by the way). Let me make an important point here. Meditation does not take away one’s mind and its tendency to jabber on. Rather, it allows a person to bring the mind to heel, so that the mind, with its random fears and anxieties, is not in control.
Complicated meditation techniques probably should not be taken out of the context in which they were devised. To do so would be to rob them of their intrinsic power and purpose. Tibetan Buddhist practices that employ intense visualization include the Tantric path, for example. Western Qabalistic traditions, such as Hermeticism generally have the purpose of performing inner alchemy, and complex visualizations taken from Qabalah and Tarot are used.
Meditation teachers abound. A few of the good ones with YouTube channels include Rupert Spira, Jeff Carreira, and Pema Chodron. For a more general approach to meditation on YouTube, try here. Wherever you go to seek mediation instruction, either in person or online, feel free to try any method on to see if it’s a good fit for you. If one system doesn’t do it for you, there are always more to sample. The point is to try. The results are immeasurable.