Into the Dark Night: When There Seems No Response to Prayer and Intention

spiritual dark nights

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Much has been said on this website, in my classes and in other places how it is possible to intend or ask for a dream or specific piece of intuitive information to help heal or resolve an issue. All that is possible but I would be very remiss if I did not say that there are times or a long period of time when all the praying or intending seems to produce no immediate or apparent result, no matter how often one prays and intends. This can be a very difficult experience if one has become accustomed to receiving answers in dreams or meditation. Often, it is enough to make one lose heart and give up on the practice.

What to Keep in Mind

This period of darkness has had many names in spiritual practice. A common one that has held over the centuries is The Dark Night of Soul. It has also been described as a dry period when there is no productivity or creativity. A sense of being lost and or a profound feeling of emptiness are yet other descriptive characteristics. Here are some pointers to keep in mind if you are experiencing this phenomenon:

  • It often comes after one has achieved a certain degree of maturity or achievement in one’s spiritual practice, and it often itself is an indicator of progress made—which is something to keep in mind and consider as a source of encouragement to keep going.
  • It may last for a while but usually it is temporary.  One can go through many “dark nights” or a very long one in one’s life.
  • It is a very important part of the spiritual growth process because it is like a test, challenging your resolve, patience and capacity to seek more insight in difficult situations.
  • It makes one realize that getting what one wants through positive thinking and intentionality isn’t as easy as some of the New Age proponents would like you to believe. It’s not all a rose garden.
  • If undergone with fortitude, faith and patience, just as day follows the night, it often heralds a new beginning, a breakthrough or a transformation—making all the confusion, frustration and isolation and lostness all worthwhile!

I have found these dark times to be reflected in dreams with images of the full moon in a dark sky, of being lost in a foreign city, or the lack of dreams and insight altogether—even when I pray or intend them. For me these kinds of dreams or lack of dreams are clues telling I am going through a Dark Night period. It happens to all of us on the spiritual journey. But remember, answers come when they are meant to come, and when we truly need them. So keep intending and praying for the dreams and inspiration you need. Guidance will come!

Is Your Meditation Working for You?

There are all sorts of meditations out there that can be used for a variety of purposes. Each teacher of meditation seems to have one that he or she prefers, usually because that form of meditation has worked well for that person and a number or his or her students.

However, if you have tried to learn a form of meditation and have become frustrated because, after due practice, you feel it isn’t doing anything for you, don’t give up on meditation. Just try other forms of meditation!

Ask Yourself What You Want from Meditation

Are you looking to relax, lower blood pressure, or are you looking for insight or deeper spiritual experience? Some forms of meditation can do all of the above but usually each meditation is particularly good at bringing a specific outcome, especially if practiced with due diligence. Here are some meditations I use which work for me for the purposes indicated.

  1. To relax and perhaps lower blood pressure and heart rate: On a quick deep inhalation from the solar plexus, count three and on the exhalation count seven, letting the breath out slowly. Or you may trying counting two on the inhalation and four on the exhalation—just make sure the exhalation is at least twice as long as the inhalation. This will quickly give you feeling of becoming more relaxed. After a minute of doing it, you may fall asleep! This is a good practice to do for about a minute before doing another form of mediation that is better suited for something else.
  2. To gain intuitive insight: After doing a relaxing meditation such as the one above, tell yourself that you would like to receive insight about a specific and genuine concern you have , either for yourself or someone else. Follow an inspirational meditation such as the Inspired Heart™ Meditation developed by Henry Reed, Ph.D., which includes the following:
    a. Initially just observing the breath, the inflows and the outflows.
    b. Then give thanks on the inflow for the breath that is coming to you like a gift, an inspiration!
    c. After a few moments, imagine letting go of any negative energy on the outflow.
    d. For a few minutes sit observing the breath, saying thanks on the inhalation and letting go on the exhalation.
    e. Then watch of any form of insight to come: images, thoughts, sounds, impressions, feelings, physical sensations. These will be pertinent and provide inspiration to helping with the concern brought to the meditation.
  3. For a deeper experience of God: Try doing a form of centering meditation. Basically this involves sitting comfortably while meditating on a meaningful word such as Spirit or Jesus. One repeats the word when one finds one’s thoughts are wondering. What may result is something like this: you “see” your thoughts passing by like boats on a river. And below you sense something like an ocean of profound peace.

Opening a Path to the Personal Experience of God in Christianity

Image via Amy Alexander

Traditionally, and very generally speaking, one of the major differences between Asian and Western religions is that Asian religions emphasized inner development as the way to spiritual growth and the Western religions emphasized the need for social action such as giving to and standing on the side of the poor. That is not to say the opposite wasn’t true; but in the West you usually would have to go to a monastery or nunnery to get real guidance on the interior path and in the East there were socially minded activists but they tended to be revolutionaries rather than religious leaders.

The lack of an interior path to spirituality that was readily available to the average person and didn’t include going into a highly structured monastic environment, was one reason why many Westerners stopped going to church and were drawn to the New Age Movement which is open to a variety of spiritual paths emphasizing personal inner development through the Asian methods of meditation, yoga and healthy eating practices. It is ironic that one of the persons who helped sparked the New Age Movement was Edgar Cayce who emphasized that each person had to find his own way. A devout Christian himself, he said that Christ was the model for all human kind and that each soul in its own way was seeking this ideal. But he also said that all religions would lead people to this end and that certain practices would greatly facilitate the process. Among these practices he advocated were the importance of:

  1. Being in a small spiritual reflection group where all were equals and that each person could support each other in an environment of respect. In such a group people could help each other to find their own unique paths. A religious leader would not be there to impose a doctrine or a set way, as is usually the case in Bible classes. Individuals would arrive at their own conclusions from materials read and discussed.
  2. Consistent and on-going dreamwork and intuitive meditation to understand the nature of one’s soul and its expression.
  3. Exercise and healthy food in the right combinations and portions as the best medicine.

I personally think that mainline Christian religions would be wise to incorporate these practices into their religious education classes, appropriately modified for the age group of the persons involved. What is sorely needed is an approach that entails the development of an interior spiritual life that anybody can do. These methods work; and they bring a personal experience of God at the profoundest levels. Unfortunately, and as a result of how religious instruction is done emphasizing textual knowledge and an intellectual understanding of the bible, many Christians have to face a personal crisis that knocks them off their horse before they have this kind of personal experience of the divine.

Building Self-Respect through Dreamwork and Intuitive Meditation

What do I rely on to get respect?

Where Does Self-Respect Come From?

5 Signs You’re Not Respecting Yourself by Vironika Tugaleva  is a good article about the negative behaviors that can pull us down, indicating that our self-esteem is plummeting. If these behaviors become habitual patterns they can be very self-destructive and undermine our relationships with other people.

Usually these behaviors manifest because, for any number of reasons, we are not in touch with our true self, and so don’t respect who we are.  Dreamwork and accessing intuitive insight are great tools that can counteract any tendency to disrespect ourselves because the on-going practice of these exercises can lead to a healthy awareness of who we truly and uniquely are at the deepest emotional and spiritual levels. These exercises tap us into the root of our being and nourish us with information that gives the bigger picture, the grander vision and the substance of things. They can also give us specific answers to problems and concerns we may have. Instead of being buffeted around by the questionable and often enslaving pressures and opinions of those around us, we are fed by healing truths that are custom made for each of us in a way that meets the problem at hand while preserving our innate goodness and integrity.  The end result is that we can behave in a manner that is worthy of respect, both from others and from ourselves!

Example: When I start to feel jealous of someone’s life, thinking it is better than mine, I can ask for a dream will give me guidance on how I can get more out of my own life, being very specific in the questioning to indicate what makes me jealous of someone else and what I might need to fulfill my own life. Asking for a dream to help resolve an issue is called incubating a dream (Ask and You Shall Receive: Incubating a Dream), and it can become one way to work through an issue.

The same can be done by an intuitive meditation such as the Inspired Heart™ Meditation. Prior to doing the meditation I can ask for insight to come. During the meditation I observe the breath and quiet the mind. I then make a heart connection, and receive the insight that comes.

No matter if I work with a dream or in a meditation, the occasion may become a turning point in my life that encourages me to face my feelings, and work towards resolving my issues based on information I have received from a profound inner source and not someone’s opinion or outside pressure. With regular practice I will find that such empowerment will lead to a healthy self-respect. I will come to experience that I am a Child of God, fed and cared for by divine sources, and placed on this earth for an important purpose that only I can serve.  What better basis for self-respect can there be?

The Human Body: An Energy Field Connected to Other Energy Fields

Body as transmitter of information and energy

A Connection of Energy Fields

From Asian cultures we learn that the body is essentially an energy field connected directly or indirectly to all other energy fields in the universe. Because all fields are interconnected, they are capable of transferring information and energy. That means we have access to an infinite amount of information. We are all aware of how we receive and send information through the five senses of taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing.  But what about the so-called sixth sense?

Receiving and Sending Intuitive Information and Energy

Many of us are not so aware how we can send and receive information and energy through intuition in the form meditation and dreams. The intuitive images, sounds, feelings, and sensations that we pick up spontaneously or receive in dreams and meditation are identifying symbols for unique, relevant information and energy within and without us that can be used to help ourselves and others. Any of the senses can be a vehicle for an intuitive message because our bodies are wonderfully designed to transmit information through the five senses as well as the sixth sense of intuition. Just as we pick up data through touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste coming from outside us, we can register intuitive data coming from within us through those same senses.

Sending intuitive information and loving energy is very much like using our senses to send and receive information about what we see or hear except we do it in an intuitive, altered state of awareness such as meditation, deep prayer or dreams. In these states we intend to receive or to transmit information or energy, and it happens! We can intend to have dreams that will help someone else by giving deeper understanding, clues to resolution or a diagnosis of the issue. While in meditation or prayer, we can send healing energy and even information to someone through the imagination and intention.

When you think of the body as a bundle of energy in addition to it’s amazing physical capabilities, it is truly amazing.

To learn more about dreams, visit my website: http://www.healingdreamgarden.com.

The Trusting Intuitive Heart as the Center for Healing

lotus2According to energy healing practices, healing is said to originate in the “heart” as opposed to the head. This is the heart chakra located in the chest, the energy node responsible for sending and receiving loving energy. According to Hindu tradition, it is also the meeting place for the transcendent energies coming from the higher chakras of the throat and head which mix with the lower energies coming from the base of the spine, pelvic area and solar plexus. Some consider it the place “where heaven and earth meet” as in the expression in the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Only when human beings connect with each other from this open, expanding and loving region of the heart center which holds all these energies together can a divine, healing and “making whole” experience, like heaven, be recreated in the human realm.

What I Learned in a Dream

An appearance of my own inner healer, portrayed in one of my revelatory dreams as a towering, well-built gray-haired male physician practicing in New York, told me that when he heals he heals from a space just above and to the left of the physical heart. While I did not understand at the time why I was given this dream, I understood it was conveying important information to me. I made sure to write it down. Not long after, when I was studying intuition under Dr. Henry Reed of the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies, I learned that the “heart space” is the receptor and sender of intuitive information which can help heal. I realized my dream had confirmed for me that the heart chakra, the locus for loving energy, was also the location for sending and receiving healing energy either to me or to others.

Practical Application in Healing

After prayerfully requesting or intending a healing for myself or someone else, I use a simple meditation that will get me into the relaxed, open and trusting heart space like that of the intuitive small child. While I feel the expansion of the positive energy which occurs in this state, I imagine healing energy coming from an infinite source above my head, and allow it to enter through the top of my head. I visualize it flowing down to the heart and then mixing with the expanding energy of the heart chakra where it can ride on the wave of expanding energy. Then I release it, by either imagining it going where it needs to go or letting it go where greater wisdom determines.

Expect a Response

At this point, I may expect a response, knowing that it will come in any number of ways. The answer may come in the way of an event totally outside the body such as a serendipitous phone call or an accidental meeting. When the response comes through intuition it can come through sensations in the body, memories, thoughts, insights, an inner voice, or a dream.

Intuition Helps Us Plumb the Depths of Spiritual Paradox

Both/and Instead of Either Or

Intuition Brings Light to a Limiting Either/Or Situation

Many of the great spiritual truths are couched in a paradoxical conundrum. They are like Zen koans which can drive us crazy if we resort to rational thinking alone to understand them. For example there is the great question, “Are we saved by faith or by good works?” Is it God alone who saves us or do we have to do our share? This debate has gone on for centuries and most people view this as an either/or choice of rational thinking rather than the both/and perspective of intuitive insight.

To Take Either Side is to Miss the Mark

If we take the view that God alone saves and our part doesn’t mean much, we miss the point of the Deuteronomy 18:13 which enjoins, “You shall be perfect with the LORD your God,” and Matthew 5:48 which commands “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We open ourselves up to childish, narcissist thinking which entails the rules don’t apply to me so I don’t have to follow them. God becomes the big all-powerful parent who we can blame when things go wrong instead of owning the blame and power that rightly belongs to each of us as children of God made in the image of God. We humans have a tendency to blame God or the devil when we refuse to acknowledge our own power or responsibility to fix things. We need to grow up.

If we take the view that it is by our good works we are saved, as many good church-going people of all creeds do, then we open ourselves up to “do-goodism” that only has selfish benefits, we become prey to scrupulous thinking that doesn’t allow for spontaneous and genuine decision-making, and we begin to think we are better than other people because we do good. We need to be reborn as innocent children who don’t know the rules of right and wrong, who can’t read the sign that says “Don’t Walk on the Grass” and who really don’t care, knowing only they are loved by devoted and protecting parents.

The Center Point Holds the Power and the Tension

Real power lies at the center point of this continuum. I must act as if it all depends on me with the goal of not being perfect—because that is impossible and who is to say what perfection is—but with the goal of trying most perfectly to meet the needs of that person or situation as a responsible adult would do. It is a 100% effort full of humility and sincerity, with no game playing that seeks to “win,” unless it is a “win/win” for all. On the other hand, I must 100% let go of my attachments to my efforts. I must leave it all to God, trusting that it all depends on divine power. This is no easy task. It is a test to live so faithfully in paradoxical mystery; however, to act any less demeans our human dignity.

Lao Tzu: The Old Child

Intuition tells us these two truths must be held together. We have to be old and young at the same time like the ancient sage of China, Lao Tzu whose name means Old Child. It takes a lifetime of growing up and growing down to reach this level of understanding.

The Body as a Receptor and Communicator of Healing Energy

Dreams as Symbols of Energy

An Energy Symbol

As I discovered in my kundalini experience, and as Asian medicine teaches, the human body is a great receptor and communicator of energy. According to Asian medicine, the total body’s energy field connects and communicates with all its parts to keep itself healthy. It seems to hold within it the overseeing intelligence that tells the pancreas to produce insulin, or lets us know to drink fluids when we are thirsty. What is implied is that each of the organs has an intelligence of its own that can communicate with other organs and parts of the body, and that there is a manager handling all this information.

Dream Images Give Us Pictures of our Energy

Intuitive healing basically uses the body’s capacity to receive and transfer energy through its energy field. The body’s five senses, memory, imagination and the so-called sixth sense, intuition, both hold and convey the energy in messages concerning the body, mind or spirit. Content presented in any of these ways through dream, prayer and intuitive meditation can be viewed as representing or symbolizing a piece of energy or information present in the body’s energy field. Thus, we can get a handle on what the body‘s energy field is telling us about our current health status, a possible diagnosis for an issue, or a potential healing treatment. For example, dream images may be symbols of healing energy in the body, or may symbolize the ailment itself. The same can be said about information coming directly or through symbols in intuitive meditation. This means that the body and its organs and all its parts can communicate with us on an energy level if we have the means to listen and be receptive! Being so interconnected means we can proactively request information and get a response on healing issues through dreams and intuitive insight. This truth has been known since ancient times and was used for hundreds of years in aesclepions, the dream healing centers of Greece.

Our Task is to Learn from the Body and Its Energy Field

However, to connect with our intuitive healing capabilities, it helps to know a something about: 1) how this information gets expressed in dreams and intuitive meditation and 2) how energy works in the body. Our task becomes, then, essentially learning from the body and its energy field to teach us how to heal and stay healthy. In a sense, all of us are already doing this when we listen to the needs of our body such as getting some sleep when we feel tired. This self-care can be done on a much more effective and systematic level by doing ongoing dreamwork. Dreamwork focusing on health is about intentionally learning to tune into the needs of our body, emotions and spirit through energy that gets expressed and symbolized in a variety of ways in dreams, intuitive insight and prayer.

8 Steps to Invoke Intuitive Healing

St. Michael, 13th Century

St. Michael, a Healing Angel in the Christian Tradition (13th Century Icon in St. Catherine’s Monastery)

Whether one chooses to use prayers, dreams or intuitive methods as a practice to invoke the power of intuitive healing, there are eight steps the person seeking healing may do to shape his or her attitude and ability in a way that encourages receptivity to healing. The first five steps prepare and bring the practitioner to the necessary trusting, child-like intuitive heart space which is the healing center, no matter if the healing is done for oneself or for another person. The last three steps help accomplish and follow through with the mission. This means relaxing, getting out of the head and seeing with the “eyes” of the heart. Only then is one open to receive the intuitive healing information that may come in many forms such images, sounds, voices, sensations, smells, or memories.

  1. Acknowledging the need for healing. Before all else, this awareness is pre-requisite. It often implies a humble acceptance that one cannot alter the condition without help, usually after many attempts have been made to heal on one’s own or through commonly accepted medical practices. This is a challenge for those of us who are used to being “in control,” and may require a relinquishing or putting aside that mindset.
  2. Believing I can be healed. This step is perhaps the most difficult for those of us who haven’t developed a strong faith in things that cannot be measured or predicted. It is, however, the most important step. If I cannot believe in my healing, then I should pray or intend that I may grow in my capacity to believe it.
  3. Tuning into my Ideal. This step may be done in a variety of ways. After quieting the mind and relaxing, I can imagine or “summon’ my ideal to make its presence fully felt in my mind and heart. I may see the face of a divine healer or imagine the power of healing energy. I can take this imagery work further by imagining this divine being holding me in a comforting or healing embrace or see a warm wave of energy enveloping me. The quality of my ideal will play a big part in determining the type of healing I draw to myself.
  4. Initiating and intending a healing. This may be a prayer or simple intention, imagining the results as already happened. Be as specific as possible in the prayer or intention.
  5. Confidently expecting a response. Know that healing in some way, shape or form, has already begun.
  6. Tuning myself into the communication coming to me. Healing may take many forms, along with a message to you what is happening. I can expect anything like imagery, sounds, sensations, thoughts, smells or a memory to convey something. The trick is to be very “tuned in” as these immediate responses which are often very illusory. Sometimes it might be just a subtle feeling of peace.
  7. Reflecting on and learning from the communication. I may need to ask myself what is the meaning of the information I have received. For example, if the image of an Oriental doctor doing acupuncture came, I might ask myself if I need to try acupuncture. Usually, the first association holds the clue. You can then amplify on this by asking more questions to clarify and get more information.
  8. Acting on it. If you get a specific insight to take action, such as cutting down on your salt, do so.

For more information, and consulting sessions and user manual on intentional dreaming and intuitive meditation, please see my website at:  www.healingdreamgarden.com.