Did I just feel what I think I felt?

That is a question we have asked ourselves through the ages. Even those in Dickens' era had difficulty differentiating between a prompting and ... well, their dinner.

After a visit from his former partner, who was dead, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge decided his vision was a result of something he may have eaten, mumbling:

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

No, Sir, Mr. Scrooge. It was a visitation - still and small as such visitations tend to be. It was a manifestation of a spiritual nature.

Later in the story, Ebenezer opens himself to communication with the spirits and learns what needs to be done to change himself into a decent human all because he listened to promptings of the spirit.

Deciphering promptings of a spiritual nature presents itself in differing ways to different individuals. You may ask yourself how you could receive an extra boost from such an exhortation even though you may not understand its inner workings. There is much we don't generally perceive. But acting in the following ways will help you get a few answers on your own.

Create a peaceful environment

I'm not speaking of waterfalls and rainbows. And no one is suggesting we eliminate noise, music or cheering for our teams. However, there is a place in our hectic lives for sensitivity, spirituality and slowing down.

This is often achieved in short increments by prayer (whatever this looks like to you). You may consider prayer to be milling over of the day or an acknowledgement of positives and negatives. You may find that conversing with a higher power opens channels of inspiration and guidance. Praying, in its many forms, will help you focus, prioritize and recognize the essential.

Act on spiritual impressions

Be aware you are influenced every day by feelings inside you that encourage you to do good for others. The spirit acts. It is not passive. It will not regularly inspire you to sit and do nothing. Does your feeling impel you to get up and do something good? Of course it does. The spirit anticipates your needs and the needs of others. He heads the problem off at the pass. (This is also a good sign of the feeling's origin.)

Worship privately and regularly

Set up a schedule for yourself. Don't let thoughtful contemplation be happenstance. Many find that church attendance helps them to regularly worship or contemplate. Find time to deliberate over and to meditate on. Whether you worship in a church building, a field or your dining room, make this spiritual time frequent and meaningful.

Be respectful of others' beliefs

Religious/spiritual beliefs are usually based on very personal experiences. Those around you will have sincere, honest heartfelt feelings just as you may have. Discontinue marginalizing others' beliefs as "less-than," and your propensity to understand promptings will increase.

Talk to people

Step outside of yourself and you will find that opportunities and impressions will quickly escalate. Be cheerful. Believe you are good enough to receive positive experiences, and act accordingly. You won't have to wait long. Go ahead and say what you are feeling.

Don't get caught up in details

"Go see a neighbor," your feeling says. When? Why? What do I say? Do I need to bring a treat? Does the treat need to be sugar- or gluten-free?

No, no. Don't worry. Just get on your feet, and make it happen. You will be strengthened simply by acting, and things will work out just as simply.

Associate with people of a similar mind

Those who are looking for the same thing you are looking for will grab you by the shoulders and steer you along. We tend to find people that think like we do. So think better.

Forgive others quickly and readily

It's mortifying to suddenly see ourselves from another vantage and have our inadequacies made painfully apparent. Of course we would want others to be kind and forgive us of our faults and our outright errors in judgement. Remember that. Forgive others before they even ask, and move on. Acknowledge when you are wrong, and be quick to apologize.

Be open to new things

Obviously, we don't know everything. In many ways we are simply puny earthlings. There is much we can't grasp. On top of that, we fail to sense what we are missing. What a waste it would be to put up our fences, close our shutters and ignore new inspiration and information simply because we think we already know it all.

Practice being the kind of person you want to be

Success may not come as quickly as you would like, but it will come. Listen to your heart. Your heart will be in tune with the spirit, or the universe, or whatever the kids are calling him these days.

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