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Many new seekers wonder why they need to practice exercises for their spiritual development. The truth is that while it would be nice to just flip some switch and have all our abilities turn on functionally it doesn't quite work that way. Just as we physically exercise our bodies, we need to spiritually exercise our abilities...both build muscles. First of all spiritual abilities may or may not be known to the individual, may or may not be under control, may or may not open to them unless they know how to work with them. It is often haphazard experiences that trigger things and lead us into events we don't understand. Taking a positive approach helps the individual avoid wrong turns, pulled mental hamstrings, or worse. Understanding that exercises are designed to help you do things properly and gain control over your abilities (we all have them) it really is going to make a huge difference.
In order to open a channel to guidance, to connect with your Inner Spirit, to meditate, journey, open to clairsentient ability or weave energies it's vitally important to be able to concentrate. By concentrate I mean *all* your attention must be on accomplishing what you are setting out to do. That means a focused mind, use of the imagination to get you started and then going beyond that gradually to explore what you're capable of achieving. It means study and understanding of how your spiritual nature functions and learning to work with it. In order to concentrate and focus your mind you have to gain control of it and exercises help you do just that. Once you've achieved control meditation and guided visualization will help you begin to open channels to guidance, other dimensions, and spiritual growth as you develop yourself.
Doing this leads to self-empowerment and it leads to many exciting experiences that add to your growth through the knowledge they bring you. So starting out there's a lot of reading to do on spiritual topics and there's time that needs to be set aside for practicing spiritual matters. The time you devote to exercise need not be intense, in fact, it's always best to keep it short at first and build to longer periods. By short I mean that 15-20 minute sessions are enough-we should never push ourselves to the point of exhaustion or beyond comfortable limits so learn to set a reasonable pace from the start. It's also important to make it part of your daily routine...a convenient time set regularly each day is best. It establishes a routine that your Guides and Spirit Helpers can focus on to assist you from the Otherside too, at least at first. As time goes on they will pop in on you as needed. As you get more accomplished and that comfort level grows you can extend the sessions gradually until you're doing an hour or more if you like.
You will discover that in taking the approach of exercises that your awareness sharpens along with your ability to recall more of what you're learning. Your sensory impressions go right along with that and as they sharpen you start to expand your awareness with them like radar. Mental agility, efficiency in getting things done on a daily basis, responsiveness to energy signatures and shifts etc. will begin to show and you'll start feeling the control come into not only your spiritual development but it's very present in daily life too. Exercises assist you in training your mind to respond to your will and by that I mean your intentions. This is much better than it trying to control you with distractions. You're exploring what initially is an intangible reality and the mind likes tangibility so abstract thought takes concentration and understanding to accept. The mind is a creature of habit, it really doesn't favor abstractions so it functions based on logic. The mind's logic is based in the reality found as we experience things as well as what we're taught. Concentration on abstract theory requires experience to accept and that sort of concentration is a trained focus, a skill we can all develop. It begins by incorporating relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, and a disciplined routine.
If we don't discipline ourselves and take a haphazard approach we're not going to gain the control we want and so we don't get very far. In fact, we usually end up running in circles confusing ourselves more than ever. This is at first a decision someone needs to make and stay with if they want to develop their abilities. It does take dedication to open them up, and it takes practice to bring them under control, and then we are building muscle. If you are a serious student then exercises are going to be your best friend because once you master them they lead to everything else.
It's also important to follow foundational steps initially in learning to develop spiritually. You will find that while all traditions offer them, sticking with one (anyone of your choosing) initially is going to be less confusing. We all explore various teachings at first until we come to find something that makes sense to the point that we can relate and our interest is piqued then. There's nothing like the exhilaration that comes when passion arouses our interest is there? *Soft smile* Find your initial area of interest and follow it to where that leads you. You'll find the tradition that you can understand. Here at Spirit Lodge the Native tradition is what we focus on to get people started, it's nature-based and so the exercises in our libraries will be presented in that fashion.
Anyone working with an exercise should be willing to put in the effort for at least a few weeks to a month before looking for another one to try in a given area. It's perfectly okay to work on different areas at the same time too...exercises for say mind control and sentient abilities for example are great combinations. You should not be disappointed if you don't get immediate results, sometimes the door hinges are pretty rusty and they need some oil...repetition in our effort oils them and the doors to spiritual understanding, your abilities, and higher awareness will start to open for you. There is nothing like it when you make connection with your Inner Spirit and Guides and exercises help you do just that.
Exercises that help you quiet the mind are generally going to be all about repetition. The mind loves to chatter, it loves to be in control, and it loves to wander all over the place. If your mind thinks it is losing control it will jump from one thing to the next trying to get it back. We have to train it. When the mind starts to run amok all we have to do is bring it back to the point of focus, gently or firmly as the case may be, but without judgment or self-recrimination for a wandering mind, we do all have them and it doesn't matter how seasoned we are, there are times the mind just refuses to focus. As a side note, it is always recommended that if you are stressed or ill it is best not to exercise until you've regained your composure. In the case of stress, deep breathing helps restore stability and allows you to get centered properly so it is a release valve in that sense. You will find that most exercises involve breath control too.
Breathing exercises train the body to enter into a more relaxed state, they slow down the system and heart rate promoting vibratory rate changes to our energy levels calming them. While some exercises recommend inhaling and holding the breath for a certain count and exhaling for the same count. Pushing yourself to achieve that can just as easily create stress so if you are just starting out set your own pace to a comfortable level. If you can do a count of ten seconds inhaling, holding and then exhaling that's wonderful, but if your count is 5 then start there. It will begin to increase with practice. It's sort of like holding your breath under water, you don't wait until you're hurting to get to the surface, let it flow gently in, hold and then release it. If the body is not relaxed and the mind is not relaxed you have a wandering, fidgeting, fussy condition that hinders developmental processes by distracting you from what you need to focus on so training the mind and body are important...that means finding a comfortable position and environment where you will not be disturbed too.
Different exercises lead to different experiences and you may find yourself with several that you want to work with. Mind and breath exercises can often be found combined together and when they are you are essentially accomplishing two things at once while entering into more spiritual experiences at the same time. Different forms of meditation will bring you to different experiences too and as you develop your skills you will find that they open the door to shamanic journeys, deep inner journeys to your spirit, projections and out of body experiences, all sorts of things. It all begins with the exercises to achieve a balanced state of disciplined control and with that comes a growing sense of self-empowerment. Those experiences leading to journeys and projections all begin with the imagination as you work with guided visualization exercises and expand from there. By learning to work this way with energy we can see how to co-create with Spirit or interact with our Guides and Spirit Helpers. Sensory exercises develop your sensory awareness raising that into a conscious state and as we practice them they become a sort of second-nature...we hold them in our awareness and we are sensitizing ourselves to the triggers that set them off....learning that our radar picks up blips on the screen of life and assisting us as we move through it. Spiritual development enhances mundane life too, it's not restricted to the physical reality; however the physical reality can block spiritual development. Exercises help us overcome our fears and blockages or perceptive obstacles.
Daily exercises are important, the steadier you are with your practice sessions the faster you will achieve your goals. Daily exercise develops your sensory awareness as well as your conscious awareness and it brings the two into balance so that you're able to shift your perspectives as needed and walk between the worlds (between the physical and spiritual realities) functioning on a much higher level because of it. That's when the development really takes off. You will find that by studying the Seven Sacred Directions and the exercises, as well as advice in the articles in our library on them, that you will be taking steps in laying the foundations you need. Once those foundations are in place any tradition you want to explore is going to make more sense to you because you will have something of your own to relate those teachings to; that's when you see the universal truths are everywhere, just presented in a myriad of ways to meet all the different ways people grasp things. I hope in sharing these insights that you will find value in practice sessions and see that they are keys to so much more.
Heart to heart and spirit to spirit,
ॐ Namasté - Blessings!
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