How do we experience spirit? Direct experience comes through recognizing that we are more than our physical body. Recognizing this comes through our desire to do so. The desire to know this and experience it is built into us, in our hearts. Our deep connection to our soul/spirit resides in our hearts. When we connect with this inner spark, we sense something more than just the physical. When serendipitous events occur, our minds often make the connection that there is a stream of experience that seems to have intelligence beyond us and our individual plans. Our mind may begin to toy with the idea that perhaps something more is happening than meets the eye. We think these things when we have thoughts that seem to come out of the blue, sensing some physical reality in the outer world before it occurs. This is an example of how our mind can begin to wonder about cause and effect, about intention and thought, about what is really happening here. If we are in touch with our hearts, we often have an overall sensation coming from the heart area that resonates with the idea that something is happening beyond the mental plane. Our mind may consider the possibility that indeed life seems inexplicable at times, beyond our reason.
Beyond our reason, this can be a tough concept for many. Beyond our reason means there is some aspect of what we are considering that is beyond what we can assimilate fully through our mental process. In this culture today, we have invested enormous credence to the importance of the mental process, and the value we place on it is extreme. With this propensity for understanding life in a mental way, gathering knowledge and intellectualizing life, we continually get drawn into our mental world as the way to process our existence and reason out life. Once we have reasoned things out, we feel satisfied, secure in the knowledge that we understand "completely" and this provides us with a feeling of control and mastery over life. I like to call it the illusion of control.
The illusion of control provides us with a false sense of safety in the world. It's as if the mind says, well as long as I understand this, then it is acceptable. I can then make judgments about it - it's good or bad or right or wrong or this or that and then I can put that into my mind closet that's organized in a particular fashion for security purposes. I can go in there anytime and see where everything belongs. When something feels out-of-order, I can think about it some more, make a judgment and put it in its place once more. Ah, settled, I am in control once again.
Experiencing spirit means we enter territory that can be apparently inexplicable. Inexplicable in that perhaps we will not have an answer about why we sensed something that we did. It may mean we no longer see life in the categories we once had our world ordered into. It may mean that things seem to be happening out-of-order, not in a way that makes sense through our reasoning capacities. We may have to set aside our reasoning capacities, for a time, and just allow the experience to be present in our consciousness without explanation for a time. We might have to accept the experience at face value, look at it as an experience, nothing more, nothing less. This is great practice for cultivating a new perspective to life that is less rigid, less in need of secure answers for life's lessons and happenings. It requires that we loosen up and allow. It begs of us not to judge, but rather to observe. It encourages us to search for hopes and dreams that rest in our actions, not in those of others, for their fulfillment.
What experiencing spirit teaches most of all is that our connection with our heart is of the utmost importance. Without a vital connection - a listening for the wisdom that comes through the heart, and an understanding of how the heart speaks to us, we limit our ability to use one of our greatest assets we hold in our possession to engage in life, to experience the wonder of possibility and to feel the joy and bliss of fulfilling union with others as well as our own higher power. It is through our heart that we come to know ourselves and others intimately, what our passions are, how compassionate we are and what love and life are really all about. On the mental plane we might think we are making sense of life, but what makes sense about preferring vanilla to chocolate or daisies to roses? This is how are heart speaks and makes sense of the world in an intuitive and individualistic way.
So how do we cultivate experiencing spirit? By paying attention to our hearts. By learning to be less rigid in our thinking. By learning to sit in stillness. By connecting more with nature. By looking beyond the surface of everything, especially others. By developing a compassionate nature and mind through practicing acceptance. By listening to others attentively without judgment. By learning to connect with others through offering good attention and our honesty. By learning to direct our minds in healthy and creative ways, not succumbing to cultural habits that numb our consciousness like television and any other screen time activities that are so absorbing of our attention these days. By challenging our beliefs that are based in judgments of others. By reconsidering what are the cultural norms and habits, not blindly following them but rather listening to our inner voice of wisdom and desire that wants more than the superficial. By remembering to feel gratitude daily for the many things in life we often take for granted like the sunshine that gives life just by existing. And by letting our minds wonder about the mystery of life and love, about the moon and the stars and the universe we are supported by each day. These are a sampling of the practices that connect us to a sense of a higher order and lead us toward directly experiencing spirit.