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Tag Archives: spiritual development

20 Ways Meditating Connects You to Your Higher Self

Benefits to Meditating

Just as we look to food and exercise for physical nourishment, we should look to mediation and prayer to nourish our spiritual selves.  In fact, meditation is spiritual exercise. It’s a daily workout that develops attitudinal muscles and keeps them strong. If left unattended, weak spiritual muscles bring up thoughts like anger, judgement and fear.

As “A Course in Miracles” says, “We are much too tolerant of mind-wandering. Miracles and miraculous shifts happen in meditation. It ignites our spirit. Deep inner peace, forgiveness and love all arise in a meditative mind. The busy mind can not create these circumstances.”

While it offers many physical health benefits, the spiritual health returns are undeniable.  Consider a 15-minute meditation your spiritual vitamin for the day.

Here are 20 reasons you might want to get up a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

Spiritual benefits:

1- It ignites our spirit.

2- Guides your internal compass and creates inner-directedness.

3- Increased self-actualization.

4- Increased compassion for yourself and others.

5- Grows wisdom.

6- Deepens understanding of yourself and others.

7- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony.

8- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation.

9- Increased acceptance of oneself.

10-Helps uncover forgiveness.

11- Changes attitudes toward life and provides peace of mind, happiness

12- Creates a deeper relationship with your God.

13- It’s the best path to enlightenment.

14- Helps us discover our purpose.

15- Helps us live in the present moment.

16- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love.

17- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego.

18- Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness.”

19- Experience a sense of “Oneness.”

20- Increases the synchronicity in your life.


21- Miracles and miraculous shifts happen in meditation.

But one of the best things about Meditation is that it’s completely free. If you need a guide, there are plenty of free meditations on YouTube. It requires no special equipment, and is not complicated to learn. It can be practiced anywhere, at any given moment, and it is not time consuming (15-20 min. per day is good). Best of all, meditation has NO negative side effects. Bottom line, there is nothing but positive to be gained from it. With such a huge list of benefits, the question you should ask yourself is, “why am I not meditating yet?”

If you need a point to start from, you should try a simple guide to meditation for beginners. This can provide you with a good foundation from which to begin your meditation practice.

We also love this heart chakra music meditation. 

It’s pretty simple -make sure you meditate.  There are quite simply too many positives to just ignore it.


How do you get centered?  A class, favorite YouTube meditation clip, CD collection?  Share your zen with us: 

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Animal Spirit Guides in Your Life

We are all familiar with the phrase “One love”.  If you simmer on the phrase long enough and apply it to enough circumstances, you will come to a place where all the different relationships in your life that embody love come to a common intersection.  All love, regardless of the point of affection is rooted in the recognition of yourself in another.  The love for your best friend and their unwavering devotion also celebrates your own dedication.  The love you have for your partner embodies the esteem you share when you, too, become compassionate and vulnerable in a mental, spiritual, and physical way with another.  Even the love for our multi-dynamic family shows the appreciation we have for our own layers.  All love routes back to how it teaches us to love ourselves.

One of love’s special teachers is the animal kingdom.  It has been said that we are not “pet owners,” we simply rent time with those we love (be they in a human or animal form). Scientific evidence proves our animal companions offer health benefits, longer and happier lives, and even serve as natural antidepressants.  But perhaps the most significant benefit of opening your life to an animal companion is a soul awakening.

Do we choose each other on some level? Many spiritual teachers say we likely have shared a past life together with our pets and arranged this reunion of our souls for spiritual evolution reasons.  We learn certain virtues, heal, and grow spiritually through our new Earthly relationship.

Animals offer themselves as simplistic spiritual guides and soul companions.  They embody a focus and balance with the natural flow of life that brings us back to center. Animals know how to accept and show love. They never ask whether they are worthy of it, but simply accept and bask in it. And they in turn give us an opportunity to experience their own unconditional love, thus see how love radiates out and joins an ever-widening circle. Their loyalty, endless forgiveness, constant presence, and ability to believe in us even when we doubt ourselves are other traits animals purely exemplify and deposit into our conscious living.

Our furry counterparts were born equipped to resonate with us on a deeper level than other humans can offer. This is largely due to the fact that animals do not have an ego. They don’t have “stuff” in the way of their love and their connection with the Divine. They love unconditionally and are constantly doing service for us in ways we often do not recognize. We may feed them, groom them, take them to the vet for shots, and in return they soothe our souls in a subtle, but perceptible way.  The more we are open to the spiritual gifts our pets bring to us, the more they can share those gifts.

Pets also connect us by demonstrating the things we long for in our relationships with others–acceptance, faithfulness, unrestricted love and companionship, to name just a few. Just ask the inmates who work with shelter dogs to train them and make them adoptable for another family. Ask the troubled adolescents working with untamed young horses. When there is mutual trust, we can love animals in return, knowing we will never be rejected for how we look, what we say or for our imperfections. Even in our spiritually attuned community of healers, animals offer great blessings.  Healers love their talents and the joy those talents bring to others, yet they often feel drained by a lack of reciprocal energy. They give so much away and don’t receive as much back. Animals, by their nature, transmute the disharmonious energy of stress, mopping up the spills the emotional turmoil of the day leaves behind.

Remember that God is in all.  If you are a metaphysically oriented person, you can trust that your pet’s soul has been drawn to you in order to benefit from your level of consciousness.  You are supporting that animal in preparing for its next transition. In return, your pet is serving you tirelessly on a subconscious level. There is wonderful natural and harmonious balance that exists between you both. 
Connect with creation and the creatures in your life. Embracing the beauty of nature in all its forms gives us the opportunity to be in awe of the complex and wondrous world in which we live.

How have special bonds with the animals in your life changed you? 

If you dug this article, you will appreciate this one, too:A Dog’s Purpose (From a 6-Year-Old)

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“What am I?”

“Who am I?” or “What am I?” are questions that have perplexed humanity since the beginning of modern times. From the great philosophers, to the ancient sages and the common person, mankind has invested limitless time pondering these questions.   And yet, one challenge to finding the answers this is the mind itself – it’s our human nature to be inquisitive, and the mind can often override our ability to “let it be”.  While we are hesitant to put the brakes on our spinning wheels and relinquish mental control, the very answer to this age-old contemplation may lie in allowing the questions to dissolve rather than be solved. In other words, be courteous and get out of your own way.

What a beautiful, rewarding process personal transformation can be if we surrender our conditioned beliefs and open the door to attuning our many spiritual layers. It takes work, but it can be the most rewarding work you can do. was enlightened by the message of Dr. Ravi Ravindra in recognizing and transforming these layers, and hope it influences your thinking patterns likewise:

Aligning to the Divinity Within

By:  Dr. Ravi Ravindra

All great teachers have said that human beings do not live the way they should, and the way they could.  In a Christian context we would find suggestions that in general human beings live in sin, but that they could live in the grace of God; in a Buddhist context the suggestion is that we live as if asleep, but we could wake up.  This is what the Buddha did. In fact the very word ‘buddha’ means ‘one who is awake.’

Similarly, in other traditions there are ways of indicating the gap between the way we live and the way we could. To live rightly needs education, teriqua, transformation; this in turn needs a discipline, a spiritual path, a yoga.  Science is interested in discovering the way it is; spiritual traditions can hardly ignore the way it is, but they are more interested in assisting an aspirant to discover the way it could be. This requires a radical transformation of a person’s entire being—mind, body and heart.

Why is transformation needed? When we look at ourselves without self‑pity and self‑justification, we find ourselves conflicted, doing things which we do not want to do, and saying what we do not want to say. Why do we do wrong, even against our own better judgment?  Simply because we are self-centered and self-occupied.  Being full of ourselves, we don’t let Truth or God or Reality guide or run our life.  There is a simple Hasidic saying, “There is no room in him for a God who is full of himself.”

If we become aware of the strong forces which keep us away from the Real, a deep-seated part in us, a particle of Divinity, wishes to be free of these constricting forces. Within each human being there is an element oriented to the Truth, to God or to Brahman. There is a force of attraction resulting from a vision of something sublime or an experience of true love, beauty or harmony. We begin to sense the truth of the universal testimony of all the sages in the history of humanity that the entire space is permeated with subtle and conscious energies—variously called the Holy Spirit, Allah, Brahman, the Buddha Mind, or simply the One or That—and we wish to be in touch with that all pervading Reality.  We can be more and more convinced that transformation is needed in order to realize what the sages have attested from their experience as the Truth. Practice is needed in order to prepare one’s whole being—body, mind and heart—so that one can be in contact with the Holy Spirit.

We cannot create this subtle Reality, but we can become receptive to it.  This demands a lot of preparation and sacrificing of what one is attached to and ultimately of me-me-me.  And it is important to note that all spiritual disciplines aim at freedom not for myself but from myself. This freedom from oneself is sometimes described in stronger terms of “dying to oneself” in the ancient texts.

There are many obstacles (kleshas) to transformation.  The most important one being ignorance (avidyÅ), primarily of our true nature and of our relationship with the cosmos. It is because of this deep-seated ignorance that we take the transient parts of ourselves—such as the body and the mind—for what is said by all the sages to be eternal, namely the spirit. If we begin to see more and more subtly, we begin to realize that human beings are the organs of perception of the cosmos. As is remembered in the Islamic tradition that “Allah said,  ‘I was a hidden treasure and wished to be known.  Therefore, I created man.’”

Human beings have a special calling.  They can be not only organs of perception in the cosmos but also instruments of right action. With more and more spiritual development, they can invoke the help of higher levels within themselves as well as outside—the devas, angels, God—and fulfill their proper role, remembering that without God it cannot be done; without human beings it will not be done.

It is important for us not to fix an image of God, as is sometimes necessitated for the purposes of culture and of visual arts—as we can see in the painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, ironically in the citadel of a tradition committed to struggle against making graven images of God.  It is, of course, easier to be against other peoples’ images than our own.  This is why a continual turning to an impartial self-knowledge is the sine qua non of any serious spiritual discipline. As Christ said, “The Kingdom is inside you, and it is outside you. ” (Gospel of Thomas II,2:3).

Ultimately we return again and again to the Great Mystery ‘What am I?’ Ko’ham? Unlike scientific mysteries, real spiritual mysteries cannot be solved even in principle, but by a steady practice of contemplation the mind and the heart can soar to another level of insight and love where the mystery is dissolved.  Then one does not deny it or reject it and is not frightened by it. One celebrates the Mystery in song or dance or poetry or philosophy or physics. However, the person has been transformed by the mystery, somewhat freed from oneself, and born of the Spirit.

Only thirteen days before his death, the celebrated poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote a short poem in Bengali, his native language, which in an English translation would read:

In the beginning of my life,

With the first rays of the rising sun,

I asked, ‘Who am I?’

Now at the end of my life,

With the last rays of the setting sun,

I ask, ‘Who am I?’

Dr. Ravindra’s spiritual search has led him to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, G. I. Gurdjieff, Zen, Yoga, and a deep immersion in the mystical teachings of the Indian and Christian classical traditions. He is the author of several books on religion, science, mysticism, and spirituality.

See some of Dr. Ravindra’s Retreats listed in our Retreats calendar.

[Editors Note: This article was originally featured on – a featured retreat destination!]:

Get deep.  How do you prepare yourself for personal transformation? (Share the great books you have read or practices you’ve adopted!) 


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Create Magic, Reveal Your Inner Priestess

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “feminism rising,”  but there may be an even more sacred link to our feminine or Goddess self, another path to the divine feminine, to uncovering the spiritual power of women:  Within each of us lies a spiritual goddess known as an Urban Priestess.

The Priestess is an essential role of women, one in which we help create and maintain the psychic, energetic, and emotional landscape of society.   The Priestess was much revered in ancient times, and even still today in the spiritually dominated world of the East.  But her presence, this magical part of the Divine Feminine, has been hidden in our age of spiritual materialism – an age from which we are beginning to awaken.

I attended the most honest, love-filled, and joyful wedding I had ever been a part of in Santa Fe this summer.  It felt very much like seeing the true meaning of a wedding ceremony for the first time, and it was officiated by Urban Priestess Ashley Turner. is honored to share these inspiring words from Ashley on how to tap into and grow your inner Priestess:

Magic.  Mysticism.  Merlins.  Myth.  A Modern Day Priestess.

by Ashley Turner

Ten years ago, I read the epic novel Mists of Avalon, a retelling of the Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of the women of Avalon.  This was my first encounter with the term priestess.  Deep inside, my Presbyterian bones began to quake.  Intuitively,  I knew what a priestess was.  I understood her role in the world and knew it was mine as well.

Empowering the feminine always stirred my soul.  I studied feminism and geopolitical socioeconomic theory at University of Southern California in hopes of bringing more equality to the world.  I happily devoured Simone de Beauvoir while living in Paris in the mid ’90s.

After reading Mists of Avalon, I longed to attend a Mystery School.  How did these secret teachings relate to our modern world?  How could I translate them?

Luckily, someone passed me a booklet, and all the missing pieces fell into place.  A Guidebook for the Modern Priestess was written by my teacher, Ariel Spilsbury.

Upon reading the manual, I eagerly completed Ariel’s 13 Moon Priestess Training, an amalgamation of feminine spirituality, Jungian psychology, Tantra, mythology, sacred geometry, Celtic mysteries, and quantum physics.

To this day, people ask me more about my priestess work than anything else that I do.  The word holds a mysterious charge but is really quite simple:  By aligning with elemental forces, nature, and our intuition, we have more direct access to truth and love.

Here are some simple steps, carefully distilled from Ariel’s voluminous work, to help you on your path to becoming an Urban Priestess.

SLOWDOWN & BEGIN A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE.  The mantra of the priestess archetype is:  I amplify stillness.  True power comes from within.  Spend time each day in stillness ad silence.  Answers arise.  Intuition strengthens.

WORSHIP YOUR BODY.  A priestess knows her worth and chooses foods, relationships, and activities that support her highest good.  Eat well.  Exercise daily.  Practice radical self-care.  Pamper yourself.

START A MOON CIRCLE.  Honor the natural rhythms of life by cresting monthly rituals.  Gather a small group of trusted friends around the New Moon to sit in a circle, confidentially share, and create rituals to honor the seasons.

SET INTENTIONS.  Take an hour each week to meditate on and write out your deepest desires.  A priestess understands her power to manifest.  Journal to keep track of miracles and recognize synchronicity as it occurs.

PRESENCE BEAUTY.  Pay special attention to how you adorn yourself.  In each encounter, offer beauty- by how you dress, decorate your home, move, speak, and listen.

ESTABLISH RESONANCE.  For magic to occur, a resonant, coherent field is required.  Keep rooms and relationships orderly.  Use candles, flowers, sound, and lighting to establish resonance.  Listen athletically to align with another.  Instead of listening passively, listen with your whole body, your whole attention.  Notice sensations and subtle, unspoken cues to accurately meet another where they are.


Ashley Turner brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern day psychotherapy intern with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit.

See some of Ashley’s Retreats listed in our Retreats calendar.

-Ashley also offers her Urban Priestess one day events all across the US – she has upcoming events in Chicago, Charlotte and Nashville, learn more about those classes and her other practices here.

[Editors Note: This article was originally featured in Origin Magazine - one pub we LOVE!]:

Fill us in!  How do you practice evolving into an Urban Priestess?


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