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The Inner Core — Creating Practices

The Inner Core front cover

The Inner Core

Robert L. Marshall

Chapter 6 — Creating Practices

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Taking a covered wagon West in the American pioneer days was quite a feat. Common people became adventurers. They would follow the roads over bridges and through all manner of landscapes. They would occasionally come upon a river where they had to pay the ferryman to transport them to the other side.

Then, finally, the roads would end. The prairies stretched out in front of them. Weeks from nowhere, they would come upon a river with no bridge or ferry. They would search up-and downstream for a shallow crossing. When there was no crossing to be found, they had to get creative.

In many cases, they would design a raft. They would fell the trees and anchor them together. Then they would pole across to the other side or secure a rope and pull across. Some lashed logs directly to the sides of the wagon, enabling it to float half-submerged. It was done a number of different ways, but each pioneer designed his or her own medium for getting to the other side.

Spiritual pioneering works much the same way. When the road ends and you come to a formidable river to cross, you first look for a bridge or a ferry—some spiritual practice that is designed to move you across the river to the higher experience. When none is to be found, you build your own raft. You create a practice with which you can work in order to get results.

There are all kinds of ways to design a practice. You may remodel something that worked in another area. You may think up an approach you’ve never tried before. The key to success is having the courage to be creative.

Every spiritual journey starts with basics. Often though, we require very specific application of the energies we stir up with these basics in order to harness them and weave them into our consciousness. Each quest presents its own set of parameters.

Success requires us to figure out how to use the insight our basic tools expose. This usage may be unique to this particular spiritual experience. Practice in this usage brings the experience out of the rare and unusual into a normal and automatic expression of life.

Just as the pioneer abandons the raft when the wagon rests solidly on the far shore, we will drop practices when we have worked the higher light into our everyday consciousness. The spiritual experience then continues with us automatically. It is part of who we are.

The practices are not sacred—only the higher energy they are designed to touch. Thus practices can be altered, added together, or simply created out of our imagination. They are a means to an end. Anything that works qualifies.

As an initiate in a certain mystical order, I learned a whole array of spiritual practices. I worked with them as taught until I understood what they accomplished. However, some employed foreign languages and others antiquated traditions that seemed unnecessary.

As a spiritual teacher in my own right, I learned to share with others what I had learned by salvaging the most important aspects of the practices and substituting common language or shortened, modern approaches. Soon I discovered that the adapted practice was quite effective at accomplishing the purpose for which I had created it.

My teachers within the order would have been horrified, but the updated practices worked beautifully for people who wouldn’t have touched the traditional version.

As I headed out solo into the spiritual frontier, my hobby of altering practices to serve the need at hand became a real asset. When I hit a wall on a spiritual search, I’d remodel an old practice, apply it directly to the task at hand, and chip away at the wall.

Finally, I became confident enough to create my own practices, tailored to the specific consciousness jump I was attempting. Sometimes they worked. Other times they didn’t. But slowly I got the hang of it. I came to realize that it’s really quite easy to create your own medium for making the jump.

It took me years to learn to trust myself in this area, but you can skip all that. I’ll share with you some of the basic patterns you can fall back on when you are stumped. Beyond that, the instructions read, “Be creative and trust yourself!” The key ingredient to designing your own practice is accepting that you can. You must have the courage to tap creativity and know your product will not be inferior.


The first and most often-used approach to creating your perfect spiritual practice is called “Remodeling.” Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply bolt it to a new cart?

Everyone interested in spiritual exploration has reached this point by way of different spiritual practices that have gotten results. There have been meditation techniques, ways to pray, imagery techniques, things to do, and all manner of other special techniques that captured our imagination along the way. They are fun. They have a specific format. There is mystique in the intricate instructions that accompany them.

Look over your gathering of techniques: journaling, writing a letter to God, treasure mapping, listing goals on index cards and going over them each night, repeating affirmations a certain way, taking a specific imaginary journey in meditation, concentrating on the seven chakras in a certain way prior to meditation, taking an affirmation while you breathe in and another while you breathe out, centering on a thought in meditation and then letting go, seeing energy radiating out of your hands, and so on. You may want to write down everything you’ve done over the years. This is your erector set. You can tear them apart, change them, and put them together in whatever way serves your present purposes.

Treasure mapping is a basic-level prosperity technique in which the spiritual student makes a poster on which he or she places pictures of all the goals to be achieved. The poster is hung on the wall where it can be seen each day. This technique generally emphasizes concrete, easy-to-picture objectives. One might throw in a few spiritual words to cover the intangible desires.

A friend of mine adapted this basic technique to her journey into the frontiers. She created a scrapbook that was combination spiritual journal, treasure map, and list of affirmations. She would create pictures that represented abstract qualities she aspired to uncover. Each page had an affirmation that she used along with the picture to bring the spiritual energy into focus. Pages were then devoted to carefully thought-out affirmations that represented her prayer requests for herself and others. She wrote them around angel pictures by her favorite spiritual artists.

Each evening she would enter a reverie by quietly leafing through the pages of the pictorial and verbal representation of her spiritual journey. There’s nothing earth-shattering or unusual in any of this, but it was a remodeled combination of a lot of simple things she had done in the past. It worked for my friend, and her spiritual progress is enviable.

When you are trying to get from hither to yon and need a vehicle for creating a breakthrough, examine techniques you’ve used for other spiritual demonstrations. If it worked once, it can probably be redesigned to serve another purpose. Plug in different words or new pictures. Change the activity, but keep the same general purpose of the practice. Take things you like from several practices and put them together. Cut and paste to your heart’s content, but create an activity that enables you to focus on the spiritual experience you are pursuing.

Creating an Original Practice

Adapting a past practice can be a wonderful approach, but we are not restricted to altering known territory. A second approach is to create something entirely original. You might engineer a meditation pattern that should lead to a certain higher energy. Create your own rituals that will express the sought-after experience. Design a pattern to follow with open-ended areas where each meditation time can become unique. Along the way, you will hone and redefine your pattern in order to emphasize what works.

However, the easiest way to create an original spiritual practice is to harness a normal life activity to your specified spiritual purpose. Ask yourself: “What gut-level life experience will be affected by the development of this divine energy? What can I do to prove to myself that this energy is flowing through my outer life?”

As an example, a number of years ago I set out to conquer a certain fear. For much of my life, I had traveled under the fear of rejection by the opposite sex. The more attracted I was to a woman, the more intense the fear became.

This fear had affected my behavior patterns for years and was now standing in the way of spiritual progress.

In meditation, I realized I could no longer put off confrontation with this personality flaw. I made the commitment to face my fear until it was gone, no matter whether it took two months or ten years.

The next question was “How?” In meditation, I adapted a technique of following the feeling back through memories to try to find its source. I affirmed and imaged this fear removed. I remembered times in which I had reacted out of this fear and tried to release the hold its energy had on me.

Thinking like a coach, I decided to create training sessions in which I would face the fear and grapple with it. I set up my training in normal life situations.

The first training exercise came from the realization that I naturally encountered this fear (even if it didn’t show) quite regularly throughout a week. I determined to recognize the negative energy every time it came up and to attempt to release it.

Deciding this first practice wasn’t intense enough, I devised a second level of training. On a regular basis, I set myself up to ask out women who I knew would not accept the invitation. Often I selected someone who would not know me well enough to logically accept. I always chose a woman to whom I was attracted in order to lift my fear level. Most of these individuals played their role perfectly.

I often looked like a fool, but each time I went through my exercise, I gained a little more control over my fear level. I treated each experience as an experiment in which I was striving for a comfort level while facing fear of rejection directly. Thus success was not actually getting a date. Success was feeling comfortable within myself, no matter what was said during the exchange.

It took a year for the knot in my stomach to release. I remember the day when the energy of all of those past experiences left me. My training sessions in everyday life played a strong role in that final success. This all may seem strange to some, but for me it was a spiritual practice created to serve a very specific purpose. And it worked.

Another example of creating a practice from outer life comes from my work on developing intuition. One day while searching for a new training tool in the area of intuition, my most recent hobby caught my attention. I had become interested in watching the stock market and decided to turn this into a spiritual experiment. For a spiritual practice, I started consulting my intuition each day about whether or not a certain stock or mutual fund would go up or down. It was the perfect vehicle for measuring intuitive knowing. I could read the results in the newspaper the next day.

I could have just as easily devised a practice of guessing who was on the phone each time that it rang, but this worked for me. It was something that I enjoyed.

Shortly I decided to intensify the practice by actually investing my little bit of savings according to the guidance I received. Putting my money where my mouth was took the experiment out of the nonthreatening abstract and added the stress of real life.

Success was tied to learning about intuition, not to making money. During the year I used this practice, I carried my awareness of divine intuition to new depths. I learned to touch the quiet knowing of real guidance and to identify the energies of fear, personal desire, and logic that parade as guidance.

I made 30 percent on my investment in spite of some strong losses while I was learning to identify the false voices within. Yet the real gain of that year was my increased ability to receive and trust guidance. This practice, created out of mundane material life, accomplished its spiritual mission admirably.

Whatever your spiritual aspiration, no matter how abstract, there is probably some activity in your outer life that can be used to create a practice which will carry you there. Change the objective of the activity to relate to your spiritual goal. Then devise a program that will turn the whole thing into a training session for developing the higher energy.

Jesus was born in a stable. Likewise, the outer material life can be used as a vehicle for birth of the higher Christ energies.

Inner practices are created around patterns. If you understand the pattern, it can be applied to almost any spiritual goal. In a moment of inspiration, you may conceive of a meditation pattern that will carry you to a breakthrough. When this inspiration grabs you, put it to work. Any new pattern is a valuable commodity.

On the other hand, I have worked with several tried-and-true meditation patterns that are versatile enough to be applied to almost anything. I fall back on them constantly and believe you’ll find them useful.

One of them centers around reducing your goal to one word. I call this practice “Developing a Christ Quality,” and it begins with an exercise in focusing.

Developing a Christ Quality

Spiritual goals are often abstract. We know the general area that calls to us but are vague about what this particular experience will actually be like. Even when we know what we are seeking, we are often wordy in our attempt to define it.

As your first step in quiet meditation, attempt to reduce your objective to one word. Make it as specific a word as you can find. Sunlight brought to pinpoint focus with a magnifying lens generates a lot of heat. Spiritual aspiration brought to pinpoint focus as one word carries a lot of power. Contemplate what one word best embodies the spiritual experience you seek. Try each one. With your feeling nature, weigh which word is where you want to go. In the end, a word will feel right. Choose it, and focus on it.

The focusing process is aided by taking a certain perspective. I have come to the conclusion that everything we desire in life ultimately can be broken down into different spiritual energies, or Christ qualities.

For example, we think we want someone to love us. In actuality, we yearn for that feeling of love we get inside when we believe someone loves us. We think we want healing. In reality, we want to feel ourselves immersed in that divine energy of eternal, unstoppable life from which healing flows. We are convinced we want a new car, a nice house, and a flush bank account. In the end, we want the ecstasy, the security, and the comfort that we think wealth will provide. We want the energy state of abundance.

Every objective in life can be broken down into the inner energy state that underlies it. In your focusing process, use this realization to come up with your word.

You are after an energy. Life, love, wealth, joy, freedom, beauty, release, oneness, silence, confidence, purpose, and so on—all can be viewed as spiritual energies out of which very specific desires and activities flow. The energy is what you feel at the deepest level while you successfully enter the activity or state of circumstances you contemplate. Learn to generate the energy and everything else flows.

Once you have completed the focusing step by naming the energy you pursue, your second step is to begin concentrating upon this Christ quality. Repeat the word over and over, attempting to feel the energy it represents. Eventually, you want to be able to isolate this particular inner state and generate the feeling of it simply by calling the word.

You take the pattern a third step by carrying the word into contemplation. Image the activities that this energy will flow through. Contemplate how it could be channeled into outer life.

The fourth step comes when you are able to immerse yourself in the energy and simply experience it in a timeless, wordless inner state.

Once you can generate the inner feeling even a little, its time to harness it. The fifth step is to awaken the spiritual energy and apply it to life by doing things while in this state. Eventually, you will become conversant enough in this Christ quality to weave it (to some degree) into your everyday consciousness.

These five steps have worked for me over and over. They are versatile enough to be applied to almost any spiritual quest.

Jump Starting

The third practice I fall back on could be called “Jump Starting.” One can start an automobile that has a dead battery by “jumping” from the battery of a car which is already running. Sometimes you can get the impetus you need to break through a barrier to spiritual progress by “jump starting” from the memory of a strong, life-changing experience you’ve already had.

This process is quite simple. In meditation, remember your highest, most dramatic spiritual experience. Go over each detail with particular attention to the feelings, the realizations, and the elevated perceptions that you experienced. Relive the awe, the knowing, the overwhelming emotions, and the unfathomable part of your experience. In this way, you should be able shortly to transport yourself (at least partially) to that high state of consciousness in which the original event took place.

When memory brings back the elevated energy state, immediately switch your focus to the quest before you now. Continue with whatever practices you are employing or listen for insight into a new approach. Repeat the jump start whenever you lose momentum.

Breath, Light, or Sound

Another standby for creating practices is to employ “Breath, Light, or Sound.” All three seem to intensify the power of any concentration. You still have to come up with some means of using these ingredients. However, sometimes when you know what you are going to put into it, any suitable container will do. Look over whatever tool you are already using (like affirmation, imagery, prayer, or a particular meditation approach) and determine how you could expand them to include work with breath, light, or sound.

Breath might be included by silently taking one affirmation as you breathe in and another as you breathe out. Or you could attempt to breathe in the divine quality you are concentrating on and then radiate it into the world as you breathe out. You could use your breath as an instrument, striving to tune your rate and type of breath to the spiritual experience for which you are reaching.

A slow, deep breath might be used to carry you to depths where outer life is far behind and spiritual experience close at hand. Alternately, a dynamic “holotropic” breath (rapid breathing combined with music or sound) could be employed to charge your system with energy for reaching new heights. If you are aware of the different energies produced by different styles of breathing, you may wish to attune the appropriate type of breath to your present objectives. In any case, the attempt to coordinate the spiritual rheostat of breath to your practices generally encourages results.

Light is even easier to incorporate. After all, everything connected with God can be imaged as light. A healing can be experienced as light descending through the body, a glow awakening in every cell. Guidance can seem like light infusing your mind. Prayer can be described as a pathway of light.

You could use light to behold an awakened heart, a divine energy entering your being, or a glowing state of living in the kingdom. You can rise into the higher realms of Light to experience oneness with God, see your higher Christ Self as a Being of Light, or use the consciousness of Light as a background in order to ascend to realization of a Christ quality. You can radiate a certain quality to others on a beam of light. Any concentration on light should lift your awareness to higher levels where your spiritual aspirations seem more accessible.

Sound makes the heaviest outer impression on your being. Speak your focus word or your affirmation aloud and listen to the way it physically moves the energies of the room. Feel the texture the sounds produce. Try to feel the spiritual energy you desire in your consciousness and practice pouring that energy into your voice. Sing your affirmations and allow the tune to change as your understanding of them deepens.

Music can be used to draw you toward the state you desire or to tear away at the barriers you feel inside. A single ringing note can pierce the being, ripping away the walls of normal consciousness and carrying you into an altered state where you have less resistance to a higher experience. Sound is like a hammer. We revert to it when faced with the truly stubborn obstacles.

Energy Work

A fifth member of our spiritual-practice erector set is “Energy Work.” Here we exercise the atrophied muscles of our spiritual body. This type of practice can be more like creating a game with a purpose. If you are studying healing, you may want to play at radiating the realization of healing to everyone you pass. If opening your heart, reach out and see if you can surround with love someone across the room or at a great distance. You may try to bring peace to a roomful of people by holding yourself firmly in a peaceful consciousness while you reside in that room.

I am sure you get the idea. Create a game out of moving a spiritual energy into the world around you. If you get no results at first, don’t worry. The mere act of playing the game can often awaken a higher experience.

A more serious side to this area of spiritual work is to coordinate actual concentration on the major energy centers and subcenters of your spiritual body (see Fillmore’s The Twelve Powers) with the spiritual experience you seek. Certain spiritual energies are given body locations to aid focus when trying to awaken them. If you concentrate on one or several of these centers in your practice, you can expect to see increased results.

You may wish to see each center glowing in light to build your energy level prior to setting course for your current destination.

If you can connect your present goal to a particular center, concentrate on it as a part of the awakening. For example, if you are developing divine love, concentrate on the heart. If you want to “see clearly,” affirm it as you focus yourself in your third eye center. Rise through your crown center at the top of your head in order to rise above your human limitations and merge with God. If you have done work with your spiritual energy centers, you can incorporate their energies into your practices.

If spiritual body and energy centers are an undeveloped area, you might consider milking a journey into this territory and doing some exploring. Once they are exercised a little, these energy centers are very useful on many inward expeditions.


My final suggestion for creating spiritual practices is a process I’ll call “Role-Playing.” Mundane as it sounds, this area includes some of the most sacred practices I have used. These techniques are based on the principle of imitating a height until you can actually scale it.

To begin, imagine that you have already achieved your aspiration. Then try the role. Examine what it feels like to function within this higher state of illumination. What kind of activities will this higher state stimulate? When an activity occurs to you, do it just as you would if you were truly in that state. You can, at least, live it out in your mind. It helps if you can add a physical aspect to your exercise such as walking down the street or looking into people’s eyes.

If your aspiration were to reduce the barriers between yourself and others, merging with them in an instant and knowing what each was thinking, you would role-play this state. In your mind, quietly go through life looking into each face and knowing each person’s hopes and sorrows. Experience the responsibility this awareness places on you and the integrity it requires of you. Cope with decisions of when and how to act on the knowledge you have with the restraint that wisdom would require. Experience the total acceptance necessary of someone who views people’s selfish, cruel, or violent thinking without passing heavy judgment upon them.

A further step in the role-playing is to actually take a walk among people while acting out this scenario in your mind. Thus real people play parts in your fictitious process (though they don’t know it). This makes the feelings seem more real for you. You must walk and move as someone who lives in this higher consciousness. During the role-playing exercise you will often gain significant insight or feel you have actually touched the energy you have been imitating.

Many years ago I decided to try to view the world as God sees it. Everything was my beloved creation; every person was my dearest child. It was a long stretch, but I figured it would be worth the effort. Shortly I determined to expand the exercise by going outside and walking down the street. Everything I looked at, I cherished and loved as mine. Everyone I passed was my deeply loved child. I attempted to feel what it must be like to be loving Father to all life.

It took all the concentration I could muster and, of course, I fell short. Even as imperfect as it was, I could keep the role-playing up for only a couple of blocks. Yet this exercise had a dramatic effect upon my perceptions. I experienced an energy state I cannot really explain, but it has haunted me ever since. Those short moments provided one of those memories I can use in the jump-start process described earlier.

The Walks of the Masters

There is a classic mystic practice used throughout the ages that specifically employs the role-playing process. It is called “The Walks of the Masters.”

The way you walk conveys a lot about the state of consciousness you are expressing. When you are feeling confident and peaceful with the knowledge that nothing can shake you, you will walk with a certain gait and flow to your movement. When you are feeling rushed, insecure, and overwhelmed by life, your walk will take on a different gait and flow. The body moves according to the energies that are expressed through it.

For “The Walks,” disciples imagine they are one of the great masters. Once they begin to feel what it is like to be this illumined being, they begin to walk (possibly in a circle). As they move, they attempt to feel the particular attributes or consciousness of the master they contemplate, directing the flow of the body. Thus there is continual feedback between body sensation and inner imitation of consciousness. The aspirant can become conversant in certain higher energies of consciousness in this way.

The Christian disciple would attempt to imitate Jesus Christ, hopefully discovering a little of what it feels like to be a Christ being. He or she could study the patriarchs of the Old Testament and attempt to walk in the consciousness they must have lived in or study Jesus’ twelve disciples and walk in the consciousness of each. The feminine aspects are available by embracing the consciousness and purity of Jesus’ mother, Mary, or studying and role-playing the consciousness of other significant women in the Bible. Each disciple should role-play both male and female archetypes in order to touch a balance of Christ qualities.

I have gained a lot from adapting this technique. One approach that worked for me is to role-play Jesus’ thoughts. I gathered what I call Jesus’ “power statements.” For example: “I am the light of the world,” “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (RSV), or “The Father and I are one” (NRSV).

I imagine myself as Jesus Christ and try to feel what it must be like to live in an expanded consciousness in which I could speak these statements with absolute sincerity. I would repeat one of Jesus’ statements thousands of times. In each instance, I would stretch to feel more of the consciousness that could say this. This type of practice has been powerful in lifting my consciousness over a hump.

The process of role-playing or imitating Christ consciousness is extremely adaptable. You can probably find a way to incorporate it into your training program.

I have presented a number of patterns for creating your own practices. These are just for backup. There are an infinite number of approaches, and you will discover your own favorites.

It takes only one good spiritual practice to ferry you from hither to yon. As you can see, there are always at least a dozen sitting right in front of you. Brainstorm all manner of spiritual vehicles. Try them and choose one or several that feel promising. Then stick with them until you get results or evolve to further practices.

There is no magic formula for achieving a spiritual breakthrough. Simply trust yourself. You are a child of God. Within yourself you will find everything you need to express your divine heritage.

© 2001, Robert L. Marshall
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.