SOULSEARCHING, DISCOVERING THE TRUTH
This is the method by which many people discover themselves and who they are. This exercise is recommended for anyone, wether they think they are 'normal' or not. It is always good to be in tune with yourself and know who you are.
The idea of soul searching takes a lot of time and patience, you simply can't spend a few minutes sitting there and repeating to yourself that you are (insert creature). It doesn't work and infuriates those of us who have actually been through it. Granted, soul searching is a different experience for each individual, but to do it right you need to spend time with YOURSELF. That means, leaving the net completely for a few days, weeks or even months rather than going on a mad search of every resource you can find. It is much easier to concentrate on yourself when you don't have the outside influences tempting you to just say "oh I'm like that person there."
For example, someone who is in the middle of their school years will absolutely not be able to accomplish soul searching if they spend every spare minute of their time online, and only try for 3 days. Between 8 hours of school and most of the time spent online chatting etc, 3 days is just not enough time to allow for a sufficient attempt at finding the inner you, and in the end you will just be fooling yourself and miss out. That goes for older people who have steady work as well. Finding a large chunk of free time, or spending what free time you have with yourself, away from other activities for a while, can make the difference.
Exercises such as meditation and relaxation techniques may be helpful, and might include questioning of the spirit guide if indeed you have one. You might come out of all this and find you simply are not anything other than a regular human being, but you will be more enlightened into who you are, more in tune with your body, spirit and mind, and most likely have more of an edge in your life than one who did not try.
Allow yourself time to sort out precisely what being aware of yourself means to you and give yourself a chance to become more 'comfortable' with yourself as you are. It may not seem like a major thing, but many an unprepared newbie has been psychologically crushed when they too-rapidly adopted someone else's view only to have the person that they looked to as their 'guru' exposed as an RPer, Poser, or outright liar.
Figure out what you are on your own and don't let anyone bully or push you into adopting a 'label' that doesn't feel right. It may take some time, but there's no shame in saying "I don't know yet." Also remember that just because the 'label' may exist, does NOT mean you have to adopt it to describe yourself. For example, if you feel a connection to an animal in the manner of therianthropy, but do not feel comfortable with using that term for yourself, don't be afraid to simply refer to yourself as simply 'you'.
Understand, however, that there IS NO MAGIC FORMULA to make you anything other than what you are now. There is only time and experience. Listen to those that have been around a while, but think for yourself. Remember that these people have also been where you are, but that their experiences are their own and won't necessarily be what you will go through or experience exactly. Ask questions, but be ready for answers you don't like. Observe and learn, but don't blindly accept everything you're told or shown.
Always remember: If you can not be happy with who you are, you will never be happy as something or someone else. Don't go into your search actively looking for something you expect to find, because you will always find what you look for, even if it isn't really there.
The best mind-set to go into soul searching is silence, emptiness and openness. Attempt to keep all expectations and distracting thoughts out of the mind. Usually a quiet, undisturbed place is best for this. The exact method for gaining incite into the inner self is different for each person. Generally, visualizations form a very helpful part in gaining 'entrance' into your soul.
One method is to visualize your soul as a ball of glowing pure light, growing larger and larger until you are sitting inside it, engulfed completely. What you 'see' next depends on the individual. Keep yourself open to what your inner self is trying to show you or tell you, but remember not to expect anything. You may not get anything more than a few shadows or soft whispers the first few times, but patience is a virtue, and you will gradually find it easier to distinguish shapes and phrases, depending on the individual. Continue this for as long as you think is enough, until you feel comfortable that you've gained some/enough insight into who you are.
Other people find that 'asking' their spirit guide for guidance can be helpful. This would still involve the usual beginning of peace, silence and meditation to reach the state fit for speaking to a guide of that nature.
Still others do not follow meditation at all. The basic idea of soul searching is to seek the answers inside yourself, for that is where they will always be. After all, it IS your mind, soul and body. No one else can tell what it's made of (metaphorically speaking) or what's inside.
The dictionary describes meditation as: A devotional exercise of or leading to contemplation, and/or a contemplative discourse, usually on a religious or philosophical subject. The act of meditating; close or continued thought; the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind; serious contemplation; reflection; musing. A calm lengthy intent consideration.
In other words, meditation is simply a fancy word for seriously contemplating a subject, whilst in a state of full relaxation. In that way one can induce a near-sleep state, which should free the mind from the distractions of the physical world and allow for uninterrupted contemplation of the matter you're meditating on.
During the process of soul searching, meditation is used to bring the mind to the 'near-sleep' state of relaxation, so you're free to anything your body and soul may be trying to convey to you. There are several ways of meditating, depending on which the individual person chooses to practise.
A simple method of meditating would be to find a quite spot, where you could be sure of not being interrupted for a long time, and get comfortable. Either sitting in a comfortable position, or laying down. As long as you're comfortable, and know you can sit/lay like that for several hours if need be, and not suffer. Some people like to have outside stimuli for the relaxation during meditating, such as scented candles or oils burning, or soft music. Anything used in this manner should be kept slight and subtle, so it won't interfere with your soul searching during the meditation. Strong scents and loud music will only interrupt the process.
Next would be to slowly relax every part of your body, beginning from your head down (or toes up, whichever you like). Flex every muscle tightly and let them relax again, one at a time. During this stage, some people like to add visualization, by imagining a soft light surrounding their body, purging it of everything negative. A soft golden glow, traveling down the body, and as it leaves each piece, you feel relaxed completely. (the color isn't important, use whatever color makes you feel relaxed and calm or well feeling). The visualization is optional though, the main goal is to reach complete relaxation. If you complete you're entire body, and find you still have some stress or tightness, go back to that part and continue down again from there until you're whole body is free of stress and completely relaxed. Some people may find this is so complete, that they cannot feel their physical body at all.
Once you've reached relaxation of the body, it's time to do the same for the mind. With a slight difference. You want your mind to be completely calm, relaxed and empty of expectations, random thoughts and distractions. However, you still want to remain aware and 'listening'. This is the hardest part during meditation, as clearing one's mind is tougher than it sounds. Once you reach this state, you're home free. Congratulations, you've accomplished meditation. From here you can go ahead with the rest of your soul search, be it simply listening to your body, or asking a question.
Now you might not be able to achieve everything written here on your first try, but don't be discouraged. Proper meditation can't be rushed. Like the rest of the soul searching techniques, you need to have patience and take your time. Practise makes perfect.
DREAMS AND PAST LIFE MEMORIES
This is a very dicey issue. There are many people out there that strongly believe every dream holds a special meaning to the dreamer, and an equal amount of people who hold the opposite view. There are also all those in between. Dreams may sometimes hold a deep meaning, but more often than not they are pure fantasy conjured up by the mind's recapping of the day's thoughts and activities. A sort of winding down period for the mind, as the body rests.
There are people who can control their dreams and shape them into whatever they wish. Still others who 'dream walk' - i.e. moving their astral self across different dream planes. In this situation one can communicate with other beings or entities from different planes, such as during meditation. However, in the dream state, fantasy often plays a very big part, rather than in meditation which is a state before deep sleep and REM (which induces the dream state).
On the whole, it's a very loose credibility to base anything on a single, or even multiple dreams without something else to go along side. If you have a dream you consider to have a special meaning, perhaps you should try meditating on that dream and see what evolves from there.
Past life memories are similar to dreams, in that it is very very difficult to distinguish what could very well be pure fantasy and day dreams or wishful thinking, from a real past life memory. Again, strong meditation and reflection over a long period of time is suggested before accepting any of these things as a reality.
Research on the resulting 'memory' would also be very helpful, as you may discover it actually happened. However this too is dicey, as there have been many cases of people claiming to have been Napoleon, or Hitler in a past life. And we do know, not ALL of them could have been that same person at once. Otherwise it'd stand to reason that each and every one of them would share a type of bond in THIS life and have some kind of connection and knowledge of the others. This is proven to be not so.
In the instance of claiming to have been from another plane of existence and/or world in a past life. If you cannot back up this theory with anything more than a bunch of band wagoners who agree without thinking themselves, it is suggested you seriously start looking into the fantasy aspect, and doing further research.
Remember that soul searching is not a one time exercise. You are always growing, and your inner self and soul changes and grows as you do with each new experience and lesson learned through life. Finally, Take your time. There's no rush here. 'The community' was there before you, and it'll still be there tomorrow.
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