Category Archives: spiritual journey

Searching For Your Spiritual Path? You’re Already On It.

In my last post, I wrote that spirituality is about our personal relationship with the energy of the Universe, whether you call it God, the Tao, Great Spirit, Physics, Law of Attraction, or Source. Trips to foreign lands or to a guru are not necessarily required to explore this relationship (unless that is supremely appealing to you).  Spirituality begins with us, where we are, in the moment. And it’s up to us to nurture this relationship in ways that encourage and promote our well-being and growth.  Of course, there are many ways to do this; it’s a matter of finding what resonates with you.

As we awaken to our spiritual nature, life takes on new meaning and things begin to happen in inexplicable, mysterious, even miraculous ways.  We begin to see things differently as our awareness expands beyond the trappings of our ego.  We come to “know” things that can not be quantified or fully explained.  There is a surety to this inner knowing that can not be shaken.  It’s the kind of surety that made martyrs out of some of Jesus’ followers.

Years ago when I traveled to Israel, I was baptized in the Jordan River, the same river in which Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. No dove descended from the heavens. No voice announced, “This is Penny, in whom I am well-pleased.” I felt…nothing — even though others cried with happiness, raised their arms in praise, or were “slain in the spirit” as they convulsed on the ground. This experience didn’t resonate spiritually with me.

What did resonate with me was realizing that whatever spiritual path I was to follow, it wasn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s, and that was okay. I found immediate comfort, freedom, and relief in that realization.  I knew there was more, whatever that more was, and something deep inside was driving me to explore it.

The spiritual path, while accessible to all of us, is different for everyone. But, searching for you particular spiritual path is irrelevant because you are already walking it, being the spiritual being that you are. It may not seem spiritual to some, but that is because they may have a skewed perception of what spirituality is and what the path entails. Every action you take moves you forward on your particular path, even when it feels like you are going backwards.

What can you expect on the path? Each experience is unique to the individual. The lessons you learn on your path may not be the lessons I learn on mine, though we may share similar experiences.

There is no “normal” when it comes to spirituality; we have the freedom to believe and practice whatever we choose. As we awaken (return) to our natural state of spirituality, we release the need to judge other wisdom traditions and religions that exist today.  We realize that all are on the same journey; we’re just taking different roads to get there. There is no “right” or “wrong” way, and Spirit will call you to what is best for you. Spirit expresses Itself in unique and different ways, and you just happen to be one of those expressions. Trust the path that you are on because it is leading you to the highest expression of yourself.

Dreams As Spiritual Messages

A friend of mine likes to share her nightly dreams with me in an effort to better understand her spiritual journey.

In last night’s dream, she (I’ll call her K) saw white crosses that transformed into beautiful white doves. In this transformation, she said she felt an immense and immediate release.

In the course of our discussion, I expressed to her that her dream was about moving beyond the confines of religion into the freedom of spirituality, to which K replied, “That’s so strange! That’s been on my mind.”

Our nightly dreams are one way we receive spiritual messages.

Ever since I was a child, dreams have held special significance for me. At the time, I didn’t understand why, but I inherently knew they were trying to tell me something, so I started keeping dream diaries where I detailed each dream, as well as my thoughts and feelings surrounding the images that made that made themselves known.

While many of my dreams proved prophetic, others spoke through the language of metaphor and symbol, and I learned to decipher their meanings for my life. Some I take as guidance, while others are warnings. Some offer me new knowledge and insights, while others present solutions to issues I may be facing. I look forward to learning from my dreams and I trust their messages.

For most ancient cultures, dreams and visions were often considered direct communication from the gods. People traveled far and wide to special temples for the privilege of consulting with a priest or oracle about their dreams. In the Bible, we see numerous references to dreams and visions (over 700 of them).

In the Old Testament, stories of Jacob and Joseph revolved around the messages of dreams. Jacob dreamed of a ladder connecting Earth and Heaven, with angels climbing and descending it. Joseph, after having been sold into slavery by his brothers, interpreted dreams for Pharaoh.

In the New Testament, Joseph is informed in a dream that Mary is pregnant with Jesus. He had another dream in which he received instruction to leave Egypt with Mary and Jesus to escape Herod’s butcherous decree.

But dreams fell into disfavor with the Church when the mistranslation of ancient texts confused dreams with divination and the black arts (witchcraft).  And as cultures developed, significance in dreams waned, until it was revived by psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Dreamwork takes patience and discipline, but it doesn’t require years of study, extreme fasting, or any kind of deprivation. Instead, it starts with intention.

Pay attention to patterns. Begin keeping a dream diary or journal. Any notebook will do. Keep it by your bedside. The moment you awake from a dream, record what you saw and felt. Keep track of certain symbols and objects that appear, and ask yourself what they represent to you. Some will lend themselves to obvious interpretation, while others may take some work. Notice patterns that begin to emerge. Make note of what is happening in your life at the time of your dreams. Make connections.

Pay attention to dreams that produce strong emotional feelings. Note the things that stand out the most in your dreams and your emotions surrounding those images or symbols. These will be key to figuring out the message. Emotions that we may repress during the day will shake loose in our dreams and can come across as very intense. Check these emotions against what is happening (or not happening) in your life.

Pay attention to dreams that “haunt” you during the day. This kind of dream nags at you until you examine it, or certain images from your dreams may randomly pop into your mind (without any prompting from you) throughout the day. This means it really wants your attention. It could be issuing you a warning or some other important knowledge that will not go ignored.

Pay attention to recurring dreams. This can mean two things. Sometimes dreams occur more than once to make sure we are getting the message. This can happen over a couple of nights, or you can dream the same dream (or a similar one) weeks apart. Examine what is happening in your life when these kinds of dreams occur. Sometimes recurring dreams occur because there is an unresolved issue in our lives. This may take some soul work on your part to resolve the issue. More often than not, once the issue is resolved, the recurring dreams stop.

(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

In K’s case, her dream is one that is laden with transformation. She experienced bliss and a “strange but beautiful feeling,” as she described it. After discussing it, she realizes it as a confirmation of the path she has chosen for herself, one that initially caused some reservations within her because of her traditional religious upbringing and the guilt associated with moving away from a path that was clearly not serving her spiritual advancement.  

Dreams are part of the universal human experience, yet they are uniquely tailored to each of us. They will reveal their messages when we open ourselves up to them and request their guidance. Understanding our dreams is like learning a new language with its own set of personal symbols, but as we become aware, they will guide us in our interpretations on the spiritual journey.

How have your nightly dreams helped you in your life?  

Discover Your Personal Power Symbol

I was reading through the news feed today and couldn’t help but notice all the images of dragonflies. This caught my eye because the dragonfly is my personal power symbol.

A personal power symbol is any object of your choosing that will manifest itself in any form. It can show up in a piece of writing, in a photo, in a piece of jewelry or a tattoo. You may overhear a conversation about it between two people or someone else may bring up the topic to you. It can show up in art, in a movie, on an article of clothing, or in my case, today’s news feed.

Power symbols are not uncommon to use for spiritual development. In fact, a power symbol serves as a reminder of your spiritual walk.Whenever I see a dragonfly, it’s my message to stop and honor Spirit with a prayer of gratitude. I call it my Winged Comforter because it reaffirms that I am moving in the right direction in my life. I also use the dragonfly as a meditation tool to help me visualize positive outcomes. I imagine myself flying freely and quickly over a body of water, skittering to the perfect outcome, my mind at peace.

Choosing a personal power symbol (or symbols) means that you are acknowledging the power of Spirit in your life. It means you are actively involved in your spiritual development. When you choose one, you want one that is obviously meaningful to you. For me, the dragonfly symbolizes peace, strength, prosperity, transformation, and the ability to see things from different angles.

There are a few ways to discover your power symbol(s). If you haven’t made a conscious choice, you can ask yourself what things you are drawn to the most. Is it a certain animal? Is it a certain color? Is it a specific word or phrase? Is it particular sound? Besides the dragonfly, I find the sound of a train in the distance to have a certain sacramental quality to it, and so whenever I hear one, I am reminded of the power of the present moment.

Another way to discover your power symbol is through meditation, prayer, or some other type of contemplative exercise in which you give gratitude for the symbol making itself known to you. Spirit will reveal it to you in a meaningful way.

You may also use the technique of auto-suggestion just before falling to sleep at night. A simple repeated phrase such as, “My power symbol reveals itself to me in my dreams,” or any other wording of your choice. You can repeat this mentally or verbally as you prepare to slip away into dreamland. When you awake, make note of any symbols that appeared in your dreams.

Once you have chosen your symbol, or once it chooses you through any of the techniques described above, become aware of it and notice when it appears. Power symbols seem to manifest at just the right time.  There’s no need to go around actively looking for it or forcing yourself to see it. As you go about your day-to-day activities, Spirit will send you little reminders of Presence via your personal symbol, and as they do, allow them to guide you on your journey.

Symbols are very much a part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. A symbol is a concentrated form of communication and energy that speaks to us through its image more quickly, and almost immediately, than through language. They affect us on deeper levels because they have the power to engage our emotions and to stir within us the will to action. Symbols are life-affirming because they have the power to inspire, to encourage, to enlighten, to transform, and to heal.

What will you choose for your symbol, and why? Or, if you have a symbol, how has it helped you in your journey?  I welcome your comments below.