Q: What are spiritual exercises?
Spiritual exercises are one of the primary ways that we learn to attune to and focus on God in MSIA. Spiritual exercises (s.e.'s) are an active technique of bypassing the mind and emotions by using a spiritual tone or vibration to connect to the energy that flows from God through all existence. S.e.'s assist a person to transcend illusions and limitations and move into the awareness of Soul.
A recommended chant for spiritual exercises is the "HU," which is pronounced like the name Hugh or which can be said by pronouncing the sounds of the individual letters "H" and "U." The HU tone is an ancient name of God and is a wonderful way of attuning to the higher vibrations of Spirit.
The ANI-HU is a variation of the HU chant. Pronounced (AN-EYE-HU), the ANI-HU is also an invocation to God, but it has an added dimension that brings in the quality of empathy and oneness with others. As you chant this tone, you will find that quality of empathy and connection with others is increased. For this reason, it is a beautiful chant to do in a group situation, as a continuous, rolling sound.
Q: How are spiritual exercises different from other types of meditation?
Most meditative techniques, as taught by other teachers and groups, are a passive process wherein you sit still and empty your mind and your consciousness of all thought and feeling. This approach seems to work to a point. Within MSIA we teach another dimension to the meditative process, which changes it from a passive technique of "emptying the mind" to an active technique of directing the mind and emotions. This is called "spiritual exercises," which suggests the activity of exercises combined with the spiritual focus and thrust.
Q: What is the value of doing spiritual exercises?
One of the values of doing spiritual exercises (s.e.'s) is that they give you a chance to attune yourself to the Spirit inside of you and become aware, once again, of the loving that is extended to you through Christ. All you have to do is follow the loving back into the heart of God, your home in Spirit.
One of the things that most of us do s.e.'s for is a greater sense of emotional, mental, and physical balance out here in the world, so that we can look at our spouse or boss or children or neighbors and say, "Hello, how are you?" and have a sense of caring in that question. Very often, the value of doing spiritual exercises is not found at the time you are doing them. It works much like when you run for exercise: you get the benefits after the running is over.
Do you get the idea that spiritual exercises also have a lot of joy and fun and upliftment to them? Their premise is uplifting. The end result here is upliftment, joy, expansion. The end result is at-one-ment with God.
Q: What can I do to get results from doing spiritual exercises?
Perhaps the easiest way to do s.e.'s is simply to be open to receive whatever is there for you at the time. You can call in the Light and ask to become attuned to the Traveler within you, and then chant the HU or ANI-HU with an attitude of "Lord, I am open to receive from you." For more on s.e.'s, we highly recommend John-Roger's book called Walking with the Lord or the CD set of the same name. They both have useful information on the details of doing s.e.'s, as well as inspiration for the inner journey.
Q: How can I learn to hold the spiritual energy that comes in when I do spiritual exercises?
The way you learn to hold spiritual energy is just to keep doing it and doing it and doing it. In the beginning, it may seem like you can't hold the energy for very long, and that's to be expected. As you continue doing spiritual exercises, you'll be able to hold a little longer and a little longer. And as you can hold the energy for a longer period, more energy will come in. Then there will be another shift as you learn to handle more. It's a continuous process--continuous growth. And being able to hold the spiritual energies is really a great, great blessing.
Q: How can I do spiritual exercises when I am in a disturbing environment?
The only wrong way to do s.e.'s is not to do them, so any time you spend doing s.e.'s is beneficial. You may also find ways to get around a disturbing environment. Some suggestions are to do s.e.'s in the middle of the night when it is quieter, train yourself to sit through noise and disturbance, or go to a quiet place to do s.e.'s.
It's also important to remember that the attitude with which you do s.e.'s is very important. As John-Roger has said, "One HU in devotion is worth three hundred on a tape. One moment of chanting your tone with devotion is worth one hundred done mechanically."