Before we delve too deeply into specific practices from various spiritual systems, let me answer the question that everyone asks. “Do I have to believe in something?” What if I don’t believe in reincarnation, Buddhas, angels, spirit guides, shamans, Magick, God, the Tooth Fairy. Well, I’m not saying that you need to believe anything. Just try. See what happens. Tap into the mystery a little bit. Practice with an open heart. Then watch carefully for signs and symbols. I learned to do this over thirty years ago from writers like Emmet Fox. I later trained as a Research Scientist, so the scientific method is second nature to me.
The way to practice is based on trial and error. Set up a hypothesis. Will prayer change the way my life works in terms of..love, money, weight loss..fill in the blank. Be specific about how you want to feel, but be open to the specific outcomes being different than you may expect. Be specific about the practice that you’re going to do. I’ll give guidelines throughout the book and blog.
Here’s an example. We know that if we truly love ourselves, we wouldn’t be smoking, drinking, gambling or whatever the addiction/attachments are. We want to apply a practice on self-love. But will it work? Should we even try it?
We will know if it works if we work it and track the results. Should we try it? Well, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. The Buddha suggested that if we want a different result, can can try a different action. So, as we used to say in recovery, try it. Give it a set time frame, such as 30 days. If you don’t get the results you want, we’ll gladly refund your misery!
Here’s the practice.
- Write down how you feel about yourself. Just a few lines is fine. Anything is a good start. It will change. Don’t stress over it. Make a small beginning. Write down your hypothesis: if I do practice A, will I get result B? Fine tune those for your specifics. For example, If I do the self-love hand to heart practice daily for thirty days, will I feel less self-recrimination? You can work with your Ommie (recovery accountability partner) or whomever you trust. Maybe pair up and try the methods together.
- Put your hand on your chest. Think about the way you love a puppy, or someone/something else. Imagine that you are directing that warmth and affection to your innermost heart. Have a nice, deep inhale. Imagine that care and compassion fills your heart space. Exhale and let go of loneliness, fear and regret (modify those at your discretion).
- Write down how you feel now.
- Do this at least three times a day for your desired time period. It can be seven days, twenty-one or whatever you like. I recommend at least thirty days.
At the end of your thirty days, sit and reflect on all of the stuff that you wrote down. Take a look at your original hypothesis. Does that journal data support or reject that hypothesis? If it supports it, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, you’re open to try something else.
That’s how we apply the process of scientific inquiry. Try it before you buy it. It doesn’t require belief in anything. Just a little work and an open mind.