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Tools and Practices for Spiritual Connection

As tangible beings, humans often seek tangible elements in their lives to access their spiritual nature and internal inspiration. Across various traditions, ceremonies, rituals, objects, books, and practices hold significance. While some meanings are literal, many practices are symbolic, serving as reminders of aspects of our spiritual nature and our connection to the universal oneness.

Terms like Oneness symbolize how we perceive our universal connection. Visitors to my space, seeking healing, may refer to the practice as Reiki, QiGong Healing, Spiritual Healing, or hands-on prayer. I emphasize that the naming is flexible, allowing individuals to find comfort in the terminology of their choice. Personally, what matters most to me is the connection to Spirit and alignment with its essence. The names—Energy, God, Divinity, Divine Mind, Allah, Jesus, Great Spirit, the Tao, the Ancestors, the Force, and Divine Matrix—are labels we assign based on our individual perspectives at different points in our lives.

During one visit, two ladies inquired about the prayers and the labels I used for myself. When I explained the diverse perspectives and names people choose, they insisted there was only one word for God and then left.

Perspectives shape our understanding. Regardless of debates or attempts to agree or disagree, it all boils down to the breadth and depth of perspective one is willing to embrace at any given moment.

This brings us to the focus of this discussion: Spiritual Tools and Practices. Each person resonates with different items, rituals, and practices that foster a sense of connection. Tibetan Buddhist Monks engage in incense burning, instrument playing, chanting, and creating sand mandalas as part of their ceremonies. These activities create an atmosphere for healing, understanding impermanence, and embracing oneness. The ceremony itself, along with these practices, serves as a foundation to guide our human nature into the flow of prayer.

In the Unity tradition, a burning bowl ceremony marks the end or beginning of a new year. Participants meditate on the past 12 months, identify areas for improvement, write them on paper, and burn the paper in fire. The symbolism of fire for cleansing and smoke for transformation is powerful. The actions alone do not bring about healing or transformation; it is the feelings and realizations invoked by the ritual that align us with healing and our divine essence.

Numerous tools can be part of one's spiritual toolkit, some enduring and others explored briefly before finding a more suitable fit. Tools provide focus and a tangible connection. Commonplace items like pencils and paper for inspired writing and journaling, eagle wings, prayer beads, crystals, candles, photos, cushions, tapestries, oracle cards, tarot decks, yoga, QiGong, silence, verbal prayer, and incense are just a few examples.

Hindu traditions incorporate statues of deities, a young community member has an amazing talent for interpreting astrology in a way that empowers people to make their own choices for a healthy life, while the Unity tradition uses candles and energy points on the body to tap into innate powers and talents. Spiritualism recognizes the connection of our soul and spirit to the broader spirit realm, known as mediumship—an exploration of the space where our humanity meets the non-physical aspects of the universe.

With each practice, interpretation is directly tied to the perspective one holds at any given time.

Perspectives pose a complex challenge, intertwining our past experiences, interpretations, upbringing, cultural surroundings, education, perceived truths from both the human and mystical realms, our personal healing journeys, and our openness to expanding awareness to a more integrated way of living and understanding.

Our initial worldview is inherently limited. In early stages, we rely on the belief that our parents possess almost limitless capabilities, and we are entirely reliant on the kindness and care of others. Our understanding of the world is shaped by our experiences, and our cognitive and emotional maturity at any given moment influences how we interpret events around us.

Consider this childhood memory: Approaching my fifth birthday, I requested to invite my kindergarten class over for a celebration, only to be denied. In that moment, I internalized the notion that my birthday was unworthy of celebration, fostering feelings of inadequacy. Years later, during introspective work on my shadow self, I revisited this memory. The lesson learned from a perspective of growth and healing was that I could not definitively know why my parents said no at the time. Perhaps logistical issues or financial constraints were at play. The past is consigned to linear history, but today, armed with new insights and a commitment to personal growth, I can reframe my perspective into a more authentic truth for the present.

Moving beyond personal anecdotes, let's explore the application of perspectives to spiritual practices, using mediumship as an example. The definition of mediumship varies depending on individual perspectives. Initially seeking validation that my connection to the unseen was not unique or crazy, my early studies portrayed spirit as external, necessitating an understanding of signals from the outside world. As I matured in my understanding, I encountered perspectives that viewed mediumship as an internal guidance system, akin to other paths' innate power and intuition. My interpretations of experiences with the unseen world, the world of Spirit, of God continually evolved based on my willingness to study, practice, and Sit with Spirit (Be in the Silence). Including what teachings and experiences came before, healing and siting with them and then upgrading and integrating and by acknowledging my human nature and how my body processes information, I discern when it translates information from my Divinity. Mediumship, then, becomes the bridge connecting Human awareness to the Divine Matrix and the perpetual healing and love of the Universe. Interpretation of this connection is contingent on the prevailing perceptions and truths in the moment.

The term "mediumship" itself is a tool, a word that elicits varying levels of comfort depending on one's understanding and definition. Similarly, "metaphysics" sparks extensive debates. It encompasses the study of life, perspectives, and the realization that our definitions and interpretations are shaped by our understanding and available information. Everyone uniquely perceives the world through their lived experiences, making their perspective distinct in reception and comprehension.

Lastly, considering spiritual tools and their interpretations, understanding someone else's perception necessitates stepping into their shoes and viewing the conversation through their eyes. Only when we embrace another's feelings and interpretations of our words, and further step back to observe the conversation from a different perspective, can we approach a comprehensive understanding. Until we adopt this multi-dimensional viewpoint, akin to Creation's perspective in each interaction, we risk dismissing others' tools for connection as unnecessary, holding onto what feels most comfortable to us.

-Rev. Jenn Shepherd

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