Understanding Spirit Work vs Meditation
With many holistic practitioners offering meditation, it is important to understand exactly what you are participating in. Here is a quick explanation of the difference between meditation designed for overall well-being and meditation designed to connect with the spirit world.
Many people are seeking a quiet mind and strategies to combat fear and anxiety, and there are many types of meditation that will serve this purpose. The average person seeking this method for improved well-being may not wish to engage in any spiritual practices. In fact, the correlation between spirituality and meditation can keep those who are adverse to spiritual practices away from meditation, which is unnecessary if the difference is understood.
Meditation for relaxation typically involves breathwork, visualization techniques, and mantras or phrases to focus the mind. The goal is to achieve a quiet mind, relaxed body, and a sense of inner peace. It should be noted that benefits of meditation expand far beyond the above mentioned, but that is a good starting place.
Spirit-based meditation can also achieve similar benefits, but adds the element of connecting with the spirit world in some way. This may include connecting with angels and spirit guides or simply entering into non-ordinary reality. In shamanism, we typically journey to the other worlds known as the upper, middle, and lower world. Anytime a doorway or other threshold is used in meditation, this is a gateway to the spirit world. The participants are voluntarily entering into a place of unseen energies and spirits. When led by a highly trained teacher, these types of meditations become an invaluable tool for those seeking a spiritual path. Highly qualified teachers of spirit work are trained to keep students as safe as possible. However, it is my belief that no teacher can or should ever claim that safety is guaranteed. There is always an element of risk when working in the spirit world. As a shamanic practitioner, I see this over and over again with clients who have inadvertently become entangled with an unwanted energy. Sometimes this can be an unrested deceased person and sometimes it is something far more sinister. It is not my intention to fear-monger, but instead to be truthful and upfront. I respect the different teaching styles and belief systems of those who work professionally in this field. I am not challenging that, but sharing what I know from my own experience and training. To be blunt, the spirit world is not all love and light. Proper training is the key in helping to prevent unwanted experiences. Be sure the person who is leading the meditation is highly qualified and reputable.
What about chakra clearing meditations? I am a big advocate of energy clearing practices. However, it should be known that working with energy centers and "healing" energy of some kind is indeed a spiritual practice. While most of the time this is very safe, one should ask a few simple questions. If healing energy or light is being used in the meditation, where is it being sourced from? Is it one's own inner light? If not, then is it from the heavens, the stars, the earth? What is your relationship with this energy? In other words, know what you are inviting to enter your body!
If you are unsure about a meditation practice, education is the best insurance. Do your research. What type of meditation are you exploring? What are the qualifications of the teacher? What is the purpose of the meditation? Don't be afraid to ask the teacher questions prior to engaging in the practice.
I hope this is helpful to those of you exploring the world of meditation and spirit work. Be well and be safe.
May the blessing of light be on you,
The Evolution of Ego; the Unveiling of Soul
My intention was to call this blog The Evolution of Soul, when I realized it is not the soul that requires evolution. It is already evolved: pure, perfect, and divine. In fact, the word evolved in and of itself is such a human concept, steeped in ego. Upon reflecting on the massive transformation I have made this past year, I had the most interesting image of what occurred and what occurs when we do our personal work and look deep within our bellies at the things we don’t always want to see. The image is that of a painted window. The more willing we are to embrace our shadow, to make changes, to be hideously honest with ourselves; we begin to scratch the paint. The more we look, grow, and change our patterns, behaviors, and thoughts; the more the paint chips away. Just when we think we are done, the window tells us there is more scraping to do. The more we scrape, the light on the other side begins to reveal itself- patiently waiting to shine through the window. The light has always been there. Everyone’s light is the same divine perfection. The more we are willing to scrape, chip, and reveal the light; the brighter it will shine. It is our yearning, our searching, our deep reflection of humanness that reveals the soul within. Perhaps it is easier to go through life with a painted window, but in doing so we deny ourselves the very thing that we came here for. When does our window shine fully clear, no evidence of a once chipped-up surface? Personally, I do not believe that is attained or meant to be attained in this human life. For without it, we are no longer human. I do not expect to meet a living person free from shadow and if one claims this to be true, well the answer is right there. We are all a marvelous blend of soul and ego, and it is the places where they meet that make our hearts race with the anticipation of things we have yet to experience.
Some periods in our lives have more paint-scraping than others. This past year was certainly one for me. As a person who has been actively doing self-work for a decade, I did not expect such an upheaval. This, however, is a good reminder that we are never really done and that life is about how we navigate through it. Contrary to the belief that the path of “soul revealing” is filled with angels and butterflies; my experience definitely felt more like paint-scraping with Brillo-pads and razors. As uncomfortable, heartbreaking, painful, and difficult as it was; the universe did what it had to do to get me to listen. Well, truth be told, I had listened and opted not to take any action. So, I was forced to, and it wasn’t pretty. Apparently, dilly-dallying at one’s paint removal is frowned upon when the universe has been urging you to power wash. What seemed out of my control at the time, blasted a nice sheet of paint clean off my window. The more paint that was removed, the more I looked within and slowly began to see truths that had been hiding under the very things that were removed from my life. Things like security, old stories on repeat, denial, and self-worth. Things like allowing the words and actions of others to fester deep inside until they have no place to go and burst out into your spinal column. Things like owning that I allowed that to happen in the first place by choosing mutism when I should have yelled. Things like dulling my light to placate others who did not understand it. The processes that took place to reveal these truths and so many others, led to processes of healing. The processes of healing led to spiritual truths and experiences that span far beyond what my human brain can comprehend. My spiritual work for myself and others has deepened beyond my wildest imagination. The way I walk in this world is brand new. I will never be the same. Some people don’t recognize me, and this has sent them away. Another truth of shadow work. Others have welcomed me home, celebrating my safe return to who I have always been destined to be. Many people have told me that I even look different; that my eyes are different. I am a different person than I was almost exactly one year ago. But, my soul is the same. You can just see more of it now.
By Melanie Lynn
CHOOSING A SPIRITUAL PRACTITIONER IN AN UNREGULATED WORLD OF HEALING
Spirituality, spiritual practices, meditation, and energy medicine are becoming more and more commonplace in our modern society. While it is a wonderful thing that so many people are in a spiritual awakening of some sort, there seems to be some confusion over one’s own spiritual growth and becoming a spiritual practitioner, teacher, or business owner. Not everyone who is opening to a connection with spirit and energy is ready or called to do this for a living or offer services to the public. I have found that many clients who are just opening to spirit, meditation, or energy want to know when they can join the spiritual profession. Although it is exciting and life changing when we learn that we have spirit guides or that we can work with energy, getting business cards printed is not why we have spiritual awakenings. I do not know of any reputable practitioners or teachers who entered a spiritual path with the intention of creating some kind of business. In fact, it is almost always the opposite. The person’s own struggles, natural connections to spirit and energy, initiations (often unpleasant), and healing work for themselves will lead to years of training and spiritual development. Most reputable practitioners and certainly most teachers have spent years with multiple teachers, have fully immersed themselves in training and studying with mentors, have completed lengthy programs and continue to do so, and have volunteered services for long periods of time before ever accepting money. The universe will align and shift one’s world so the path of being in service cannot be denied if it is meant to be. However, in our modern American society, the spiritual arena can sometimes look like our fast food industry. People want things quickly, there is a sense of entitlement that leads to taking short cuts, a wantingness to hang a spiritual shingle; all of this at the expense of unknowing clients. I have heard this termed “spiritual selling” and I myself have often used the phrase “spiritual fast food.” What is wrong with following a spiritual path for our own development, growth, well-being, and to live a more fulfilled life? Where did being “spiritual” become mixed up with hanging a spiritual shingle and having a business card to prove it? Reiki is a great example of this. You can easily find reiki teachers who are willing to certify you through reiki master in just a matter of months. Reverence for the traditions of reiki have become secondary to certificates. This has led to everyone and their uncle being a “reiki master.” But what does that really mean? Unfortunately, in this society, it means almost nothing. Spiritual selling, watered down practices, cultural appropriation, and ego leave the public, those looking for healing and spiritual growth, in a messy situation. This is not to say that fast-tracked reiki practitioners, or other weekend certificate holders, don’t have good intentions. Many just want to help people, but it is wise to know the experience and background of someone who is putting their hands on you and potentially affecting your sacred energy. Who is the right practitioner or teacher for you? Who do you trust? Where do you go? How do you know you will be safe? Questions, ask lots of questions! You have the right to know the background and training of someone you put your trust into. Whether this is for healing work, spiritual guidance, a meditation group, or taking classes; you deserve to know the qualifications of the person you are working with. Would you go to a doctor who only took a few weekend workshops or read how to treat your illness online? Would you let someone practice dentistry on you because they have had their own teeth cleaned and think they can do it too? I tell my Usui reiki students that a reiki certificate is not a replacement for proper training in other spiritual practices and does not give one license to do readings, run groups, meditations, or do anything other than reiki, as it was taught. Period. The spiritual, holistic healing arena has almost no monitoring, no regulations. Anyone can call themselves anything. Even a “simple” meditation group should be facilitated by someone with advanced training, the ability to create sacred space, and to handle spiritual issues and experiences as they come up for attendees. So, what do you ask when you are looking for a teacher, a group, or a practitioner? Here are a few questions you not only have the right to ask, but you should be asking. After all, you are trusting someone with your spiritual and energetic well-being and safety. If you don’t like the answers, keep searching. Additionally, if a potential practitioner or teacher claims to have all of the answers, claims that nothing negative exists in the spirit world, or makes ego-driven claims such as being highly evolved; walk away. The last I checked, every person on this Earth is human and lives a human life of not knowing everything, having faults and emotions, and being both shadow and light. Finally, pay attention to self-given titles such as “shaman” or made up titles like “White Light Energy Worker.” Trust your intuition, ask questions, be selective. For as many fast food places that are out there, there are also many wonderful, highly trained and qualified people ready to serve you. I understand this blog may hit a nerve with many people who are feeling called to work professionally in the healing arts. The intention is not to discourage those from doing the work, but to encourage proper training and doing one’s due diligence in walking a spiritual path for themselves as priority. The focus here is to empower the general public. With practically no regulations or legal recourse for untrained services, at least asking the right questions will give seekers a leg-up when navigating the spiritual and healing arena.
Spiritual Practitioner/Facilitator/Teacher Interview Questions
What are your qualifications for offering this service? What are your certifications and what did the program/s entail (on-line, in-person, self-taught)?
How many years have you studied this content and with whom did you train? What are the qualifications of your teachers? How many teachers have you mentored and/or trained with and for how long?
How many years have you practiced this for yourself? How many years have you been practicing for others?
What is your spiritual background? (A teacher or practitioner should be willing to share his/her story of what led to where they are now.)
Don’t be afraid to ask any other questions that may aid your decision.
By Melanie Lynn