Reading Spiritual Books is Not the Spiritual Practice

 Q: There are countless numbers of people who will agree with the basic spiritual ideas you talk about. They’ve read hundreds of books, they share those values, but they’ve never been able to make the changes required to really have their lives transformed. And you’re suggesting that part of what is happening in reading those books can actually be demotivating because they find it soothing and that helps them momentarily feel better, so the pressure to change is actually reduced. But I think there’s something more than that. 

There are a couple of factors at play. People will feel better and more soothed just by reading that material because taking in that information helps to decompress them. Everybody is looking not to feel totally wigged out, to feel more balanced and less overwhelmed. So, many people turn to spiritual stuff the way a Christian might turn to the Bible. It’s a soothing mechanism. “I like reading this stuff. It makes me feel better. Someday I’m going to do it.” 

But, too often, this someday never comes. The reason it never comes is because the first step is never taken to see that, in fact, what needs to be done is super easy. There is such a lack of understanding about how this all really works. 

Let’s take meditation for example. Super easy to do. The simplest form of meditation is just to follow your breath in and out as you breathe. On the in-breath, think “In” and on the outbreath, think “Out.” Or simply count, “one, two.” That’s it; that’s a meditation. 

People are inclined to complicate it or to misunderstand what must be done because they get caught up in measuring whether they’re doing it right. And most don’t usually see external results immediately, so there’s no reward in starting.  When you don’t get feedback, you don’t get that dopamine hit of “I got this right. I actually can do this. Without that reward, there’s often no continued motivation. 

I usually recommend a really easy, gentle way for people to start. In the beginning, all you need to do is start writing in a journal every night. Talk to yourself every night, write it down, and then just listen for what is being said back to you. As you’re writing, don’t guess, don’t worry–whatever that voice is saying just keep writing it down. 

This practice will become self-rewarding even if you don’t get any immediate answers. That’s because you’re allowing yourself to decompress on paper.  You’re beginning the process of allowing yourself to be more in touch with your emotions.  

Most people won’t let themselves actually feel what they’re feeling. Most people push aside if they feel sad or depressed or worried and just try to keep going and deny being overwhelmed. Journal writing gives them a chance to say “Yeah I don’t know, I feel overwhelmed, I feel sad. “ 

As with like physical tears cleansing our eyes, writing our feelings down on paper can act as our emotional/spiritual tears. Emotional tears are necessary as a cleansing release mechanism on an emotional/spiritual level. The energy body will start feeling stronger and clearer, and the emotions will begin to feel released in some way. That begins to create space for this Inner Knowing to be heard.  

The Inner Knowing is there from the moment you put pen to paper. But in order to hear it, we’ve got to be decompressed enough to get out of our own thoughts enough that we can hear these other thoughts coming into our brains. 99 times out of 100, it’s going to use your voice to talk to you but you’ll get a very different kind of information. It will be clearer. It will be compassionate. It will tell you when you’re full of doodoo. It will encourage and guide you. It will tell you things out of the blue that you have no way of knowing. This happens over time, and the value of writing is that now you have a record. 

While you may not think what was written today means anything, it usually becomes perfectly clear over time. The value of the Inner Knowing reveals itself over time. 

This process will go as slowly as you need it to go for you to build up the stamina to be able to receive the Inner Knowing. Then once you feel that trust has been built, there’s no more hesitation. There’s no wondering, “Is this me? Is this them?” Whether people decide it’s easy to do or not is on them, but the process is incredibly simple. 

Q: In going about all of this, what role does real self-knowledge play? One of the biggest problems many people have in trying to get to where they want to go spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically is that either they’re not being completely honest with themselves or other people have not been honest with them in helping them see who they really are or why they really behave the way they do, and what are the things that are standing in the way of them having a breakthrough. Can you address that? Can someone do what you’re talking about if they are deluding themselves with who they are and why they do what they do? 

Absolutely, because the Inner Knowing starts with where you are. If you’re deluded, it will speak in a language for where you are and what you can understand. It won’t be another delusion though. It will be a gentle “come this way.” 

It’s like a young child who’s trying to master a new skill. In the beginning, they have little to no ability yet, and you as the teacher know that they need encouragement. Even though their attempts are rudimentary, you say “good job.” You don’t overdo it and gush. You just say “good job.”  Then that person then starts feeling better about themselves, and then they do start developing confidence. As they develop more confidence and can handle more truth, the Inner Knowing will share the appropriate level of truth each person can handle at that moment. 

That’s the beauty of the Inner Knowing. This is different than if somebody goes to an astrologer or psychic, because those people don’t necessarily know how to regulate how much or what type of truth you can handle. Some can and do, the good ones do. But the average ones don’t know how to regulate what kind of information you can handle at that moment in time. They have one way of presenting that information to anyone who comes. It gets dumped on them, and that’s the way they share it. One person could walk out and feel 1000 times better. Another person in the same situation could feel totally devastated by that information. So, the beauty of the Inner Knowing is that it doesn’t do an unconscious dump like that. 

Q: I would think, similarly, if we want to grow and change, we have to set up, for lack of a better word, a lifestyle or way of living or way of being that is more conducive to what you’re talking about. For example, one of the ones that jumps to mind for me is who we hang around with. What kind of stuff we listen to, etc.  What do you think are the ways of being that are maybe not necessary but certainly help in this process you’re talking about? 

I think that’s what scares people away from this. Thinking that you must be a righteous person. You must only be good and think good thoughts. You must eat only good food. You must only hang out with good people.  

In an ideal world, that’s what you want to do. But for somebody who’s so far away from that and they just want to take the first step, that’s too much. They don’t want to commit to anything other than “I’ll give this a try. I don’t have to change my friend group, I don’t have to give up smoking pot, I don’t need to go to a therapist and get on antidepressants.” They just want to take one step. This lets them take one step with essentially zero risk. 

 It just lets them connect to something greater that can become a source of guidance and spiritual teaching for them. 

They don’t need to share it with their friends. They don’t need to let anybody read their journal. In fact, they shouldn’t. And they shouldn’t tell their friends because they shouldn’t hear anybody say, “Oh, that’s a bunch of baloney” or “That’s the work of the devil,” or any of the other biases, prejudices, or ignorances that people have around this kind of practice.  

This type of spiritual work is compatible with all religions. There’s nothing about it that is going to suddenly turn you into somebody you’re not. But it does have the potential over time to turn you into your best self. 

 Could somebody hurt themselves with this? Could they think they’re possessed or something like that? Schizophrenics or anyone who has difficulty determining what’s real, should only do this under the guidance of a trained person. But for the general population, that possibility is extremely remote. For the vast majority of people, it would be no more harmful than if they decided to remember their dreams and keep a dream journal, because the Inner Knowing can also talk to us through our dreams. 

 If you write your dreams down long enough, you’ll start seeing a pattern. When you start seeing what your dreams are trying to tell you, they can show you where your stresses are, where you’re not handling things well, what you’re worried about, and where your anxiety is. 

Dreams can give you an outlet that will encourage you to talk about them with somebody, “I had this funny dream. I wonder what it means.” In the process of talking about it again, it can act again as a version of physical tears. It’s a releasing out of the mouth what are essentially sound tears.  

Again, all of this is about releasing and decompressing, and getting to a more centered place of feeling peaceful. Connecting with the Inner Knowing helps us develop the desire to be in touch with some greater consciousness that can act as a spiritual source of wisdom. It’s that simple. 

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