When you think about the concept of all of us having spirits or souls, do you wonder how yours fits into this physical/material world? Often we divide up our lives into “spiritual” and “non-spiritual.” We will meditate, go to religious meetings or ceremonies, practice mindfulness or other ways to connect with our spiritual selves. Then we will go grocery shopping, work, clean house, balance our checkbooks and other things often considered “non-spiritual.” Yet if we are embodied spirits, that part of us is with us no matter what we are doing.
We often have a third category for fun, play, and relaxation as though that is also separate from our spiritual selves.
What would it be like if we were all integrated? Not in terms of being a blended whole, but what if all of our parts worked efficiently and respectfully together? We don’t only have spiritual and physical aspects. Being in a human body means we have our mental/rational mind, our physical bodies, and our emotions. We also have relationships, since we live in a physical world with other physical beings. It can get complex and confusing.
I try to let the different aspects of myself be the wisest voice in their own specialty. I have found my emotions are not very expert at balancing financial records or keeping track of email contacts. My mind is much more skilled with those tasks. But when my mind takes control of my emotions, demanding that I “don’t cry, don’t laugh too loud, don’t be angry” my body reacts and I get an upset stomach. I’ve discovered my feelings are very capable of knowing the perfect balance and appropriate emotion for the occasion. And the poor body often gets ganged up on by both the mind and emotions telling it what to eat and when to sleep and how to move. And then there’s the spirit that often must wait patiently for its turn.
What would it be like to integrate and respect all our parts and live consciously in this physical reality while being aware of being a non-material spirit being?
Here’s an Exercise to Explore the Different Parts of Yourself and Their Unique Wisdom
Pick an issue you are exploring now. It can be a decision you need to make, a change in your life you are contemplating, or simply what do I want to do right now. It’s helpful to have a journal or some way to write down notes for yourself to be able to compare and reflect on your answers.
Once you have the issue, you’re going to ask each of the different parts of yourself their opinion on the topic. Remember each part of you “speaks” a different language. Be careful if the mind starts to dominate and tries to rationalize and impose words and thoughts onto the other parts.
In western culture we are taught to value the mind so I will start there. Since it often wants to give its opinion first.
MIND: What are your thoughts about the issue? What is the response from the mind? What opinions and ideas does your mind have? Make notes, and thank the mind for its opinion. Take a few breaths or follow any meditation technique you use for clearing your mind.
PHYSICAL: Focusing on the same issue, make a gesture or movement that reflects how your body feels about it. Notice what sensations are in your body. Are you tense anywhere? Are you smiling or frowning when you think of this issue? Make notes, thank your body, and you can shake it to clear it.
EMOTIONS: Be aware of the issue and focus within. What emotions arise? (Note: “I feel like …” is usually a thought not a feeling. Feelings are mad/sad/glad, etc…) Breathe and see what emotions relate to the issue. Give yourself several minutes to allow feelings to change. There are usually more than one and often a dozen feelings related any topic. Make notes, thank your emotions, and return to slow breathing or use a meditation technique to clear your space.
RELATIONSHIPS/ THE WORLD: Holding the same issue, explore how it fits in your larger world. How are others reacting to it or may react to it? Are there specific people or things in your material world related to this issue? Make notes and send gratitude to your larger world for its input.
SPIRITUAL: To start moving into the spiritual you can use your breath, or meditation, or hold your hands in a way that helps you. You may want to call in any beings, or use any spiritual practices you find helpful. You can ask your higher self to be present or whatever helps you be in touch with your wise, spiritual self. Center on the topic again and hold an opening for a response. If it helps, be receptive to images, sensations, and experiences. Give yourself time to allow your spiritual side to communicate. Make notes, and thank your spirit.
Remember this is an experience and it will change every time you do it. If you didn’t get a clear answer from every part or it seemed that all the responses were the same, you can try this again with other issues. Notice what parts of you were easier to listen to than others and which ones interfered with you listening to other parts of you?
Look at the different responses you obtained. Imagine the different parts of you coming together like a group of good friends, each with their different perspective and experience. Listen to their unique desires, fears, concerns, and expertise. Help them all share and respectfully listen to each other. Be open to what wisdom might come up for you from this “group.”
This practice helps guide me in my life and reminds me that I am an embodied spirit living in a complex, amazing material world.
If you want to explore these ideas in more depth, I am offering two workshops this fall at the IONS EarthRise campus:
Psychological Shamanism: An Invitation to Living Consciously as an Embodied Spirit on Saturday, September 15, 2018
Psychological Shamanism Core Practices: Love Fountain, Following your Path and Creating Healthy Connections with the Spirit Realm on Saturday, November 3, 2018
Creating Healthy Relationships with Spirits and Natural Energies on Saturday, January 26, 2019
Registration is now open for the Sept. 15th workshop – Register Today!
Jan Ögren, MA, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist, international author and “resident shaman” at EarthRise. She has apprenticed with Native American teachers for over thirty years, learning to walk in both the “normal” world and in the mystical realms. She’s an approved continuing education provider for psychotherapy professionals in the field of Psychological Shamanism. For videos, books and workshops go to: www.JanOgren.net