No matter how much attention we bring to our spiritual practice, there can still be those times that have us feeling as though we are being squeezed by situations that are unworkable or unmovable. For instance, you could be experiencing a physical illness or disability. You might be feeling financially restricted. You may be experiencing a difficult relationship issue, or you could feel trapped in your job. Everyone has these kinds of difficult times and it is important to use your spiritual resources to buoy yourself—especially in times of trouble. Indeed, a spiritual practice doesn’t exempt any of us from the ups and downs of being human; instead it provides us with an emotional, psychological and physiological lifeboat to carry us over life’s rough seas.
There are simple steps that you can begin practicing right now that can help you if you are in a tough spot. And even if your life feels perfect now, practicing these steps will give you more resilience as your life’s circumstances bounce up and down. Indeed, creating spiritual and emotional spaciousness can help you ride over the bumps in life’s road with the suspension of a luxury vehicle instead of feeling like you’re a decrepit jalopy with bad shocks!
Steps to develop “spaciousness”
1. The very first step is to begin practicing gratitude about where you are right now on your path. Find something(s) in your current life experience for which you are grateful. Even if it feels as though everything has gone bad, look for those things and experiences you are having that are worth celebrating! Be grateful for your senses—the ability to see, or hear, or touch or taste the world. Allow yourself to experience feelings of gratitude for the two-legged and four-legged loved ones you have around you. Be grateful for being able to enjoy nature, even if it is through a window. Joyfully celebrate the sunrise or the moon in the sky. Appreciate the summer rain. Feel appreciation for cool water on a hot day and a cooling breeze. Be grateful that you are alive and able to feel.
It is critical to practice gratitude, “religiously.” This practice will keep you in balance, help to reduce the stress that you may be feeling about your current situation and will keep you in alignment with the universal flow. Remember that stress can create illness and interfere with your body’s functions. Giving your attention to being grateful actually provides an antidote to the effects of stress. The feelings of gratitude, love, compassion and appreciation provide us with spiritual and emotional buoyancy that provides physical healing from the effects of stress and also gives all the systems of the body a huge boost!
For those of you that already have a gratitude practice – make it something that you attend to even more often. Rather than only attaining a state of gratitude in the morning or during your prayers, make it a practice that you continually return to many times over the course of your day. This is especially important when your situation has you feeling panicky or trapped. You need to keep releasing the restrictions that you feel. Gratitude will help you to heal the damage that fear or anger creates in your body. You can think of gratitude as an emotional, spiritual and physical salve—a soothing balm for your being.
The resilience a gratitude practice provides can keep you from “sinking” into despair when you stumble, lose your way, become discouraged or become impatient. (If you need support for your gratitude practice, please use the guided imageries on Spirit Passages’ Becoming the New Human CD, http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Human-Evelyn%20Rysdyk%20Knowlton/dp/B00006UFP8)
2. While you are in the state of gratitude, you are able to access your full being and begin opening to possible solutions. From your baseline of gratitude, you can then use the shamanic journey or meditation to get a broader perspective about your situation than your mind or personality can grasp. Often times, we trap ourselves when we look at a situation from only the personality’s perspective. From this viewpoint, we can “shut down” possibilities before they’ve had a chance to be explored. Using an expansive method like shamanic journeying can help to open up new ideas and fresh perspectives. Getting the “spirit’s eye” view of what is happening can provide a larger context and help to support us to clarify what needs to happen in a new way. Expanding the consciousness gives the imagination a turbo boost and our divine imagination gives us the ability to experience undreamed possibilities. In journeys, dreams and visions, we are able to glimpse new possibilities for our selves and solutions for our situation.
3. While using your expansive method of journeying or meditation, ask for felt experiences of the new possibilities. When we feel a new possibility, we give our body mind and spirit a new “reality blueprint.” By feeling how we want our life to be, we initiate the process of dreaming it into reality. In essence, it helps you to embody changes that you desire. It also gives you a benchmark by which you’ll test out new opportunities! As your life unfolds and new possibilities present themselves, you can check whether they resonate with the feelings you experienced in your journey. Often, we get hung up on details of how we want this to be which can limit the spirit’s endless creativity! By being able to test new circumstances against feelings instead of preconceived ideas, we can make the choices that resonate with what we desire. Even when the presented choices don’t seem to “make sense,” this method can help steer us in a more fulfilling direction.
4. Once you have felt how the new you or a new circumstance can feel, begin doing feeling meditations or prayers to help move you toward your goal. These involve feeling the desired changes as if they have already happened! Feel yourself immersed in your new reality happening in the present moment. How does it feel, smell, look or taste to be in this new life? During these meditations or prayers, give yourself permission to surround yourself fully in the new reality. Doing this along with your gratitude practice can not only shift the perceptions you have about where you are—it can begin to shift the situation itself.
Remember there isn’t just one way to solve the problem. You desire to feel a certain way—feeling it already accomplished is what you bring to the meditation. This begins weaving the solutions that will bring those feelings into reality—perhaps in a form you can’t imagine now! The last thing you want to do is limit universal flow. By releasing any attachment that you have to how your changes have to happen, you allow better circumstances to manifest than you could have created in your mind!
5. Practice openness so that you’ll be able to see and feel opportunities as they arise. Remember, the solution you desire may not arrive in a package that you expect or imagine. You need to cultivate an openness that will allow you to be able to see possibilities. Open your heart, your eyes and your mind to even unusual solutions! If you aren’t sure how to do this, or if it feels like too much of a stretch, do a journey to your primary teacher or take this into a prayer/meditation to ask how you can best develop openness.
6. Make sure to follow up on opportunities. Your effort helps to support manifestation of a new situation—a new reality. Bringing feelings and thoughts into alignment is one part of the equation. The next step is to take action. If you don’t immediately succeed at a goal or purpose, continue to make the choice to realign and take action. As you do this, you will continue to progress forward. Remember, since all is sacred, the path toward your goal is equal to the goal itself.
7. Pay attention to what Nature provides for support. Our ancestors always sought the wisdom of nature and looked for signs and support from the Earth. For instance, pay more attention to the cycles of the moon, the seasons and the weather. Nature is always remaking herself. She flows in marvelous cycles and produces miracles at every turn. Celebrate the new beginnings that are always unfolding around you. Look for signs of new growth, notice shifts in color or changes in temperature and wind direction. If you are near the ocean, pay attention to the pattern of the tides. Notice the signs of movement and growth in the Earth. That growing energy is delightfully contagious and because you are a part of her body, growth is touching you in ways you might not realize!
8. Connect with supportive people. Human beings were designed for connection with others of our tribe. We thrive in relationship with like-minded spirits. To support your shifts, you may want to form an alliance with one friend for whom you can provide reciprocal support. Look around your life for those people who are also growing. Your goal is to gather persons around you who can both support you where you are now and encourage where you want to go!
9. Keep doing all of these steps. Do not give up! The universe is always moving pieces around on the playing board, so your job is to keep being prepared, being open and taking action as the opportunities arise!
Here is a meditative process that can help you to cultivate feelings of grateful spaciousness:
- Begin by finding a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Sit down in a comfortable chair that allows your back to be straight with your feet on the floor.
- With your hands folded gently in your lap, close your eyes and take a few moments to breathe. Allow your breaths to be both quiet and full–somewhat like the breaths of the deep sleep state.
- As you begin to more fully relax, notice that your breath originates in the center of your chest. Imagine a light there that grows brighter with every breath you take.
- Continue breathing and call the spirits that you trust around you.
- Let yourself feel their presence and their love for you.
- Breathe in with the awareness of being surrounded by loving support.
- You are enough. You are loved.
- Breathe out any tension-—any fear—any doubts.
- Notice the stillness between your breaths. In this stillness, you are whole. All is well and you are bathed in the light of your heart.
- You are a magnificent part of the splendid universe. Your light is a part of the fabric of light that underlies all matter. Breathe in this knowing.
- Feel this awareness entering every cell of your being. Know that you are able to hold onto this awareness of your light.
- Gently bring your awareness back your surroundings and thank your body, your mind and your connections to All That Is.
© 2012 Evelyn C. Rysdyk
Nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, and author of Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word—Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people’s hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives. In joint practice with Allie Knowlton as Spirit Passages, her web site is www.spiritpassages.com.
Spirit Passages’ Fifth Graduate Program in Advanced Shamanism and Dreamscaping the New Earth begins September 29 – October 2, 2011 and applications are being accepted now. The program is open to those that have graduated a thorough shamanic training such as the Spirit Passages Apprenticeship, FSS 3-year Program, Sandra Ingerman’s Teacher Training or comparable training. More information may be found at: http://www.spiritpassages.com/initiatorytrainingprograms.html