Spiritual practices are important along this Path. What is a practice? It is an activity that requires active will and intention. It can a have a regularity, but not necessarily. What is more important is that it requires an extra effort or extra amount of intentional energy. Also, it often transforms automatic activity. Automatic activity is what we do in a kind of habitual way. But practice is not like this. Practice is harder to do, or at least it requires an extra effort. If one simply decided to do whatever, without any examination or care, and doing whatever one feels like doing, without any attempt to make oneself a better person or reach a higher level of experience; then this is automatic behavior. It just happens automatically, without any directed intention. Yet practice requires intention and will. This doesn’t have to be heavy. It doesn’t have to be, like, I got to do this, or I got to struggle hard to do this. It could be easy and enjoyable.
An example is the practice of tuning into the Divine Energy and Vibration. This tuning-in requires intention and will, in order to get beyond our automatic patterns of mind and activity. In other words, our ordinary state or pattern might be to simply react in the world and allow everything around us to shift our experience here and there. So to do something different will require a special intention and effort. One has to make a special effort. But even before this, one has to wake up out of the automatic pattern, in order to make that special effort. This is what is meant by Practice. You will know the beginning of a practice, because you will be intending to do it. Practice is never merely automatic, subconscious, nor unintentional.
As well, practice has a purpose. This purpose may be indefinite in detail, but there is still purpose in it, however general. Much of the time the purpose is general and we don’t know exactly what we should be expecting from the practice. But we should have at least some general purpose or goal for doing any practice; otherwise why are we doing this practice? And since we have a purpose, we ought to be getting closer to it when doing our practice. If we are not getting anywhere, really, then we might as well give up that practice and move on. Experiment, try new practices or new versions. Be creative. But hold the purpose in mind, and make sure the practice fulfills this purpose. So, have a goal or at least know where the practice should be heading. At the same time, don’t get caught in expectation. If you know exactly where a practice will lead, then it doesn’t have enough exploration in it.
Every practice needs to be exploratory and a new experience; otherwise it can turn into a superficial routine. Make every practice a learning experience and an open discovery of what is revealed. This requires an attitude of openness and learning from what happens. This is without expectation, yet the practice can still have a general goal or direction. By analogy, one sails a boat or takes a trip in an intended direction, with a general idea of what one is hoping to achieve; yet the exact nature of the experience and what will be learned by this traveling is open-ended. If one already knew for sure what experiences would be revealed in the trip, then there wouldn’t be any exploration. And as any traveler knows, it is foolish to hold onto expectations. Let everything be an exploration, a learning experience, and an unfoldment.
So in all spiritual practices, there needs to be a receptive and exploratory attitude, simultaneous with an intentional attitude. This is a receptivity to what the practice reveals. Or, consider what God reveals to one, when doing the practice.
Too many people along spiritual paths are not really getting anywhere in their practices. Partly, this is because we are entering a new era, or a new cycle of time, where the past spiritual forms and rituals will fade away in importance. We have to discover the real purposes of these traditional practices so we can take the essence and re-create them into new forms for our new kind of world. The perennial nature of spiritual practices will carry on, but the exact forms will not.
Yet too many people are not getting anywhere, also because they are doing practices meant for some other time and place, or for some other type of person. The secret to all this is to experiment and discover for oneself what actually works. That is, what actually helps to bring one towards the purpose intended. First ask, why am I doing this practice? Then ask, is this practice getting me to my goal? Thus, find the best practice for you, considering what is most significant and considering what best leads you to your goal.
Kinds of meditation practice:
Formless and form meditation
Mystical and reflective
Structured and intuitive
Balance content with non-content; thought with open question, active with non-active meditation
Let us consider some key practices, each deserving better explanation than will be given at this time.
Resonate with Mother Earth. Resonate with the Life that we are in, with this Livingness we are in. Resonate with all of Life and with every living being on this planet. Yet resonate with love. The Mother gives us a vital energy for our soul and heart, as well as our physical bodies. She is the Great Giver. Sure, there are storms and earth challenges at times, but overall this planet is filled with abundance and beauty. The Mother gives and wants to give. So let in Her Love and Energy. Receive from the Mother. Also, make a connection with all others and the other species of this Ecology. Love all of Earth and everything here.
Surrender into the Divine Presence. Surrender into the Ocean of Universal Being. Surrender into the River of Love. This may seem abstract, but it is a true practice. Contemplate on these words of surrender. Meditate on them. Find the Divine Presence, the Universal Being, the River of Love. This is all the same. Be open and receptive to the Greater Being we are in. Be open, receptive, and surrender. Surrender means to surrender one’s thoughts and feelings. Give up your heart and mind to the Divine, to God. But then also listen and learn from what is given from this experience. So it is a surrender, but at the same time it is a receiving (or awakening to what this is). It is like dying, and then being openly receptive to what is revealed after this little self disappeared. So after the self surrenders itself, (after I surrender myself), the Reality-Truth-Being underneath this is all of a sudden revealed.
But if one needs a direction in this practice, (besides surrender), look for and find the River or Love, or maybe the Ocean of Universal Being, or discover how the Divine Presence presents Itself to you.
Meditate in the heart. This is where you can find yourself, your true and deep self, your real soul. This is where you can know yourself. Then, once we are here in the heart, the Light of the heart opens up, and the Divine is revealed. God is known in the heart. The highest spiritual experiences are in the heart center.
The final Practice is to simply be the Radiance of Love, which is the same as Radiance of Light. Love radiates like Light. So we can become channels for the Light of Love. And the way to do this is to first be receptive and open to Love, as it comes from the Divine. Then, let it flow through and into the waiting world. Finally, I am just Love Radiance. And then, after deepening in it, there is no I, but only Love Radiance. May Divine Love flow into the hearts of everyone, so that all men and women become lovers. And may I be a channel for this flow of Love.
Holding everyone in the space of love, or in the presence of love. This is a recognition that this person is already in the presence of love, the Presence of Divine Love. It is also a recognition that this person is actually an expression of the Divine, a unique expression. It often requires an extra effort to do this, because it isn’t part of our automatic norm. We also can make an extra effort to see what is especially positive about another person, that is, to do with a unique positive quality. Much of the time, our normal habit is to notice and hold in mind a fault about the other person. We tend to see negative qualities or faults. But really, everyone has a few faults. It’s more significant to recognize another person’s positive qualities. Recognizing faults is way to easy. So part of our transformational work, on ourselves, is to change the pattern of how we view others; thus, instead of repeating the pattern of viewing negatives and faults in everyone, try recognizing positive qualities, even divine qualities.
Now, the deeper practice of holding someone in the presence of Love is to do with healing. Everyone needs healing, especially spiritual and love healing. Remember that love heals. So put everyone in the light of Love, or in the presence of Love.
Receiving and sharing. This is the universal principle.
First we receive. First we have need and need to receive. Next we give. No one can give until they first receive, First receive from God. Receive love, wisdom and presence. God gives these qualities from a dimension beyond this world. First receive these; then later you can give them to others. We also need to receive from other people. Receive love from friends and family. To receive love from others is very special. But so often we are closed off from love, or we fear that others don’t really love us; so we don’t actually receive love – since we don’t yet recognize it coming our way. So recognize love from others and receive it into your heart. Finally we can receive from nature. One great quality we can receive from nature is beauty. Receive beauty from nature and you will be beautiful. You too will radiate beauty. We can also receive energy from nature, which is called life energy, vital energy, prana or chi. So there are these sources from which we can receive, though first we have to be open to this.
Then, after receiving the love, energy, beauty and wisdom that we need, we are inspired to share these qualities with others and the world. This is the giving, or the sharing. What happens is that we are inspired by God, others or nature; then we naturally give and share. For example, we naturally seek to create beauty in our world, after we have been inspired by the beauty of nature. The inspiration and receiving comes first; then the giving, sharing and creativity with what we now have and know.