Tools for Inner Work

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“Spiritual direction is rooted in the belief that God is always active in a person’s life, and everything in our lives is raw material for our spiritual formation.”

– Rev. Bill Shereos

Over the years, I have used each of the tools below to help me connect with my inner truth and the Divine. We will likely utilize some of them when we work together. Each one has its own special magic in helping us connect to the Divine, and expand our relationship with that Power greater than ourselves

  • Reading daily meditation books: For some of us who love to use our brains, reading meditation books in the morning can help us ground and get ready for prayer.
  • Journaling: Putting pen to paper is a powerful way of opening up interior doors. There is also a technique called Opposite Hand journaling, where you ask a question, writing it out with your dominant hand, and then, put the pen in your other hand and “answer”. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Try it. You will probably be very surprised. The experts say that this tool frees up our rational brain, and brings forth a different wisdom.
  • Meditation: Of course, meditation is one of they keys to connecting with the higher Self, or God, or the Divine. It is the the main technique in Buddhism, and its use is growing in Christianity due to Fr. Thomas Keating’s creation of the Centering Prayer movement.
  • Prayer: Some say that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is listening. Prayers do not have to be scriptural or even religious; sometimes a heartfelt “help” is enough. Some people feel connected by reciting set prayers, either those they’ve written or those pulled from traditional faith traditions. What matters most in prayer is that the supplicant is sincere.
  • Making a God Box: I’m not sure where this first was created, but it’s used quite a bit in 12-step programs as a way of “letting go and letting God.” The idea is that you take a box (shoe box, milk carton, whatever) and decorate it in a way that feels spiritual to you. You make an inch-long slit in the top. Then, you write your worries or requests on a small piece of paper, and stick it through the slot in in the box. You are literally “giving it over.” God’s got it, now. At the end of each year, I open mine and read all of past year’s entries; it’s amazing how many things just turned out to be nothing, but at the time, felt HUGE.
  • Exploring Our Inner Selves withSoulCollage™: I discovered this modality because I love to collage. I took my first class in Seattle some years ago, and was stunned to see the efficacy and depth of the technique for touching on and bringing up to the surface parts of myself I never knew existed. I was so moved by this work that I became a certified SoulCollage™ facilitator. You can learn much more about SoulCollage™ on the official website, http://www.soulcollage.com
  • Lectio Divina: This is a very old Benedictine practice of slowly and mindfully reading spiritual literature, savoring each word, thinking about its deeper meaning, letting the words drop down into your soul. I think of it as meditating with words. Doing this with scripture that speaks to you (the Bible, the Koran, the Talmud, the Dhammapada, even poetry by Rumi or other ecstatics) qualifies. I’ve very drawn to reading each morning a piece by Julian of Norwich, Theresa of Avila, or Catherine of Siena.
  • Joining or starting a women’s spirituality group: This can be a powerful way to keep yourself committed to your practice and your exploration; you can start a MeetUp group, or ask some of your friends from Church or your Sangha. In the Fall of 2017, I will be hosting a monthly circle in Bozeman. More to come on that.
  • Being in nature: For many people, the connection to the Divine is felt most readily and powerfully in nature. The Native American spiritual traditions are grounded in the belief that we are one with nature; we are to be respectful of the Earth’s abundance, and her animals. Beiing outside and sitting on a beautiful mountainside, or chanting while taking a run, or creating a ritual in your back yard are all ways to move out of the head and into the heart. There are many excellent groups which offer retreats in nature — I particularly love The School of Lost Borders and  Bill Plotkin’s work and a offerings. Doing a guided retreat with a group can be very, very powerful.
  • Contemplation: Daniel Symon offers this cogent definition: “Contemplation is personal, experiential knowledge of God’s love and presence.” One receives this grace from sitting in silence and “contemplating” God/Higher Power/Allah and is likely to receive a greater sense of connection to the Divine.Thankfully the spiritual path is not a “one-size-fits-all” journey. We each are called to uncover and sing the song of the soul, our soul. We each must find “the path with heart.” And we will then be able to call it our own.

I think the great Persian poet Rumi, says it best:  “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”