A major aspect of life, and certainly of managing a chronic illness, is developing spiritually. Most people, even those claiming to be “atheists” believe that humans are composed of mind, body, and spirit. There is a sense of inherent knowing in most people that there is much more to life than can be known by the 5 senses, alone. I love the quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” It reminds me that my concepts of how things are in the world are really small and limited compared to the infinite possibilities in life; and I believe that God can show me more of those infinite possibilities.
In meeting our spiritual needs, which help in meeting our physical and emotional needs, it is essential to have close communication with God (some people prefer other terms such as Higher Power, or Life Force, or even Energy). One of the traits associated with people who manage chronic illness is a stronger realization of the need for communication with God. Our communication needs to be nurtured and enhanced in order to experience and fulfill our purpose in life, and in order to manage the challenges that can interfere with our true purpose.
I conducted some informal research recently to see how people experience God . . . how they nurture their communication with God, and how they know that they are indeed hearing from God, rather than being influenced by intellect, emotion, society, or other prevailing outside influences. Some of the people I interviewed were more traditionally Christian, some were influenced by Buddhism, and some by New Thought religions. The following are some thoughts people shared with me.
God is experienced in many different ways by each person. There was no single path to hearing from God. All reported that silence and meditation was one path. Some form of prayer was also practiced. For some, the prayer was simply a request to hear from God. Others reported hearing from God during exercise, experiencing the beauty and grandeur of nature, interacting with animals, reading scripture or some other writings, hearing music, and through sharing laughter. Relationships with people are a universal means of experiencing God. The love for friends and family can develop a unique experience of God; but also the love and compassion one feels for those whom you meet in passing, and for those who require an extra effort to love can create a very unique experience of the love and power of God. Practicing forgiveness is also a powerful way to experience God.
Distinguishing an experience of God from among all the other influences in our lives can be challenging and we need to pay close attention in order to distinguish that difference; but everyone reported having a sense of knowing within themselves when a thought or experience was from a higher source, rather than from their own biases or from outside influences. One person said that the impression of God within him was congruent with self. All reported a sense of peace when experiencing God. A sense of fear never accompanied a message from God, even though the messages were occasionally a warning to avoid something.
There are also those times when people are drawn toward something. They feel compelled to take a certain action, or go a certain direction, not knowing why, but doing it anyway.
Synchronicity was also reported as a means of knowing that God had led a certain action, such as thinking of an old friend whom you had not seen nor thought of in many years, and suddenly you see him/her on the street, or the phone rings and it is him/her.
Many of these experiences of God have led people to physical and emotional healing, exciting new job opportunities, beautiful and fulfilling relationships, helped in making important decisions, and more.
There are many ways to experience God. Start by taking some time each day to sit in silence, focusing on gratitude, and seeking peace. Often you will receive an impression that you recognise as being from a higher source. Other times, there will be no immediate impression, but something is changing on a deeper level of your consciousness or your body that can change your life for the better.
May you be aware of the presence of God in your life, today; and the infinite possibilities for your fulfillment.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D. September 7, 2016