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Aligning Energies

Inner Journeys

Descriptions and Definitions

People have many reasons for pursuing a spiritual path or seeking some form of personal growth or empowerment.  The inner journey may be begun out of a sense of abundance and a need for greater personal meaning, or it can come from a desperate need to find resources to cope with immense challenges.  Here are descriptions and definitions for some of the ways that people discover or seek out a connection with spiritual reality.

Intuition is sometimes used as a general term for all forms of knowing that do not arrive by way of the five senses and logical analysis.  Information is picked up and worked through outside of one’s awareness before arriving into conscious awareness.  Intuition is a way of knowing without knowing how you know.

intuition

A narrower use of the term “intuition” refers to a brief, spontaneous, momentary and unbidden experience of knowing, primarily a “gut” feeling that serves as  a warning or premonition, a  validation or assurance, or some form of simple guidance (go this way, make this choice.)  We are talking about something that is primarily a feeling sense, but may also have imagery or words associated with it.   Intuition may provide information on something completely unexpected such as knowing that a distant family member has been hurt or remembering a long lost friend just before the phone rings with their call.  Intuitions may come through our dreams or while we are awake.

Intuition is a very common experience and does not require a spiritual orientation or set of beliefs.  Yet, intuition can provide evidence of non-ordinary reality, since it often demonstrates the interconnectedness of things beyond the usual limitations of time and space, cause and effect.  Powerful experiences with intuition can change a person’s beliefs about reality, strengthening one’s sense of spiritual connection.

divination

Divination is a general term for ways of deliberately seeking knowledge of things outside the reach of the five senses and ordinary reasoning. Divination is often used to refer to complex symbol systems like Tarot cards, the I Ching, Runes, numerology and astrology. These systems contain an ambiguous visual field, a situation where “chance” occurrences may be observed (1), and a belief frame where “chance” occurrences are expected to provide specific and meaningful answers.

Divinatory systems provide a set of meaningful correspondences connecting symbols and events with messages that can be applied to the circumstances and issues facing the seeker.

Prayer is a religious or spiritual practice which involves communication or communion with God or Spirit in some form. A prayer may serve to reaffirm an important belief, invoke spiritual forces, or humbly request spiritual intervention or assistance. Prayer can take many forms, including music-making, movement, artistic creation or the spoken word. When prayer involves asking questions and expecting and listening for an answer, it can be seen as a form of inner guidance.

imagery

Inner guidance is a spiritual practice that involves seeking helpful advice from Spirit or one’s higher Self. It involves a deliberate communication with a teacher, guide or source which is accessed through one’s own internal, subjective experience. The process is primarily verbal. The seeker asks questions, receives answers and responds to those answers. The process can be brief or lengthy.

Guided imagery and hypnosis are frequently used to develop one’s inner resources or spiritual connection. Both involve the creation of images in the mind and the recall of memories following verbal instructions or suggestions from a guide. The content is usually planned in advance and may or may not involve spiritual or religious imagery. The recipient depends on the guide to lead them into a relaxed and receptive state and provide or suggest the kind of imagery that will produce the desired results. Dialogue is not usually a part of these inner experiences as it is with inner guidance. The journeyer is more passive and dependent upon the guide.

ship

Many pictures arise in a person’s mind without their deliberately recalling or creating them. When these occur while we are asleep, we call them dreams. When they occur while we are awake, we may refer to them as spontaneous imagery. This imagery can be viewed as serving a variety of functions and coming from different places. It may address a need or answer a question. Depending upon the specific content, the situation where the imagery occurs and one’s beliefs, the pictures in one’s mind may be seen as arising from memory, the individual unconscious, or from Spiritual reality (2). Spontaneous imagery is an important component of many spiritual practices including inner guidance and shamanic journeying.

The skills of hypnotherapy, guided imagery and inner guidance may be used together to assist a person in working with imagery. In facilitated spontaneous imagery, the seeker is assisted in engaging in present time dialogue and interaction with symbols and characters that have arisen in their own mind. Dreamwork is a kind of facilitated spontaneous imagery.

shaman

Shamanic journeying is a powerful spiritual practice that involves elements from inner guidance and spontaneous imagery but goes much further. A shamanic journey involves traveling to non-ordinary reality to meet and work with allies and spirit guides to obtain healing, advice or power. Shamanic journeying is a practice originally employed by healers from tribal societies with strong nature-based spiritual traditions. Contemporary shamanic practice in our society reflects primarily the work of anthropologist Michael Harner, who studied the shamanic methods of many societies and identified those practices which were essential and common to different cultures.

shaman

Shamanism assumes a non-ordinary, spiritual reality that affects and is affected by actions in ordinary reality. The practitioner guides themself into the appropriate state, usually through listening to drumming, and then travels by way of inner awareness to upper, lower or middle world locations in order to accomplish specific objectives. In a shamanic journey, the practitioner usually develops long-term relationships with specific animal and plant allies and spirit guides and creates a mental map of where they have gone in non-ordinary reality and how they got there.


(1) Astrology, in terms of the actual alignment of planets, is not a matter of chance. Yet its use for obtaining guidance for decision-making strongly resembles Tarot and other systems using “chance.” Obviously, the key is in the interpretation.


(2) For those familiar with the work of Carl Jung, the use of Spiritual Reality here overlaps with his use of the term “collective unconscious.”


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