by Michael Maciel
Learning how to access our own wisdom is more important than learning someone else’s techniques and practices. Doesn’t it make sense that everything we need in order to grow spiritually is already right at our fingertips? Here are eight spiritual tools that we were born with:
Fill your body with light. Every cell in our body is filled with light and energy. When we allow ourselves to experience this directly, it enlivens our entire system. It also tunes us in to the divine intelligence that created us, and it reboots the original programming we were created with in the beginning. This light energy in our bodies, and the intelligence inherent within it, is the interface between us and God. When we put our attention on it, it grows stronger, and so does the interface. Our intuition gets better, events occur with greater synchronicity, and our thoughts manifest much more quickly. This is not a patented technique. We were all born with it.
Sit up straight and stand erect. This is a yoga exercise you can do all day long. In Buddhism, there is a concept called axis mundi. It means “center of the world.” It’s where Buddha sat when he came into enlightenment, and it’s represented in Christianity by Christ on the cross. It is the lifting up of the serpent by Moses in the wilderness, and it is the Central Mountain of the World of the Ogallala Sioux. When the ancient philosophers insisted that the Earth was the center of the universe, they were talking about axis mundi (philosophy and science had not yet separated). By sitting up straight and standing erect, we are telling the universe, with our bodies and our intention, that we are one with axis mundi.
Breathe. This is the first and last thing we do on Earth, and it is the most important tool in our spiritual tool bag. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “Stop Holding Your Breath.” My reaction was, “Who, me?” It’s fear (apprehension and stress) that makes us hold our breath. And if Saint Paul was right when he said that perfect love casts out all fear, then breath and love are directly related. The formula is simple: when we breathe properly, our heart chakra opens.
Be grateful. Don’t be grateful for what you are experiencing, be grateful regardless of what you’re experiencing. Gratitude is the reset button of spiritual energy work. No matter what’s happening or how you’re feeling, gratitude restores the flow of grace. Gratitude is the one virtue within everyone’s immediate grasp. Why is gratitude so important? Because it dissolves resistance. And resistance, according to Ohm’s Law, restricts the flow of energy.
Relax. When I was a teenager, I was into alpine ski racing. You wouldn’t believe how slippery snow can be when it turns into ice, especially when you’re skittering across a steep slope of it at sixty mph. Next to strong leg muscles, controlled relaxation is the most important acquired skill. If your upper body gets tense, it becomes impossible to maintain balance and control, regardless of how strong you are. Similarly, when you’re walking on icy pavement, relax your shoulders and let them drop. This lowers your center of gravity and keeps your weight over your feet, making you less likely to fall. Spiritually, it works the same way: When we try to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we tense up. Rapid changes can throw us. Also, the smooth muscles in our bodies, like the ones in our stomach and small intestine, react to stress in a way that we cannot immediately control. They have a mind of their own, and like a tortoise with its head pulled back into its shell, they won’t relax until the coast is clear. Just telling yourself to relax is not enough. The body has to be trained over time to relax, through practice and repetition.
Pay attention to your attention. If you’ve ever flown an airplane or sat next to a pilot in the cockpit, you know that the instruments inside the airplane are just as important as what’s going on outside. We have instruments, too, and they’re always reporting valuable information to us. But, if our attention is always on the externals of our life, those inner reports will go unnoticed. We’ll be flying blind in the dark. Remember, in life there is more to the unseen than there is to the seen. Learn how to read the unseen. Pay attention to your instruments!
Find a way to serve others. In water pumps, there is a component called a “check valve.” It’s a spring-loaded valve that lets the water flow in one direction only. We all need an activity in our lives that employs the spiritual equivalent of a check valve. This means giving one hundred percent without getting something back. The keywords here are giving and one hundred percent. Giving means giving something of value, such as your time or your money. (Compliments, promises, and pats on the back don’t count.) One hundred percent means that you give to everyone, not just those you like—no room for prejudice and bias here. Like the rain that falleth on the just and the unjust alike, you have to give freely without thought of return. Serving and gratitude go hand in hand. Whereas gratitude dissolves resistance, self-forgetting service brings that resistance right up to the surface and into the light where you can do something about it. So simple, so fast, and so elegant.
Change the past. Everyone has a story to tell, and the stories are usually loaded with drama. So and so did this; so and so did that. And now I’m a mess because of it. But these are just stories. The actual events are like the lines of the drawings in a child’s coloring book; we’re the ones who add the color, and sometimes it gets very messy. Unfortunately, the drama is too deeply embedded for us to do much about it. It’s like a bad computer program—only a skilled technician should attempt to change it. God is that technician. Ask God to change the story. The events will stay the same, but the story you tell yourself about them will work for you instead of against you.
We do not need exotic and complicated spiritual practices to cultivate our spiritual energies. Everything we need is already within us. By simplifying our approach and our understanding of spiritual principles, we can achieve greater health, a higher consciousness, and a clearer conscience. The oracles of Delphi had it right: “WoMan, know thyself.” After all, what good is a spiritual practice if you can’t live it every day?