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  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

Spirit and Soul

(This post was originally published on January 21, 2018)

I have recently begun to appreciate the difference between spirit and soul in relation to ego. As I am understanding it when we begin to identify with spirit, we are brought up and out. The goal is to transcend our identification with ego - a separate sense of self that wants desperately to be in charge - and join the One, the All. We get a felt-sense of this when doing classical meditation or centering prayer. Before we sit and close our eyes, we choose a mantra as a focus of our attention. When our mind wanders, we return to that focus. The practice is one of going off into thoughts of the private mind and then gently returning back to the focus. We go off and then return, over and over again. This ancient process trains the mind to return to a sacred space that is collectively shared, rather than that habitually preferred individual space that is self absorbed and self directed. The goal of spiritual practice is to help us transcend the separate self. It is the road to inner peace. We get there through mind training. This is a masculine process.

          Getting in touch with the soul also takes us out of identification with the ego, but it takes us down and in. It takes us past the ego to the immanent self within -- the one we were born to be. This aspect of the self is a unique expression of the Divine that is waiting to be discovered. It is connected to one’s life purpose. I like to think of it as each person’s unique set of notes to be played as a part of the harmony of the whole. Each of us is the only one who can play our set of notes. No one can take them from us, but if we don’t play them, the harmony will be missing our vital part. The discovery of the soul’s mission comes through experience and by paying close attention. It is not a function of the mind but of the heart and intuition. It’s like a treasure hunt. Our job is to follow the clues seen and heard in nature or serendipity or intuitive hunches, dreams or guided imagery. We know we are in tune with the soul when we feel a deep sense of satisfaction -- that place where giving and receiving become the same thing or when we feel that A-Ha experience, when something just rings true. We know it, not think it -- but know it from something deep inside, a place of recognition. And here’s the added bonus: Living out our gifts is the greatest gift we can give to the whole. Moving into the Divine through felt-experience is a feminine process.

          When we participate in both mind-training and experiential knowing, we are our most loving, balanced, authentic self -- the self the Creative Force breathed into existence. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to have come here and have missed it. xoxo

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