There are two general categories of people who want to learn about interfacing the spirit: those who are already open to it, and those who want to be more open to it. Each category has its challenges and benefits; and the two states can call for somewhat different approaches.

Those Already Open to Spirit

Benefits:

  • Not needing to develop openness to the spirit world. This sounds like stating the obvious but it is a benefit that can be overlooked. It can take time and effort for people to develop openness to the spirit world; so there is a benefit to having this already in place.
  • As the spirit world is already an impactful part of their lives, there is much less cultural conditioning in the form of doubt and skepticism to overcome.
  • They can already be receiving the benefit of relationships to spirit guides.

Challenges:

  • People in this position often do not have the infrastructure needed to beneficially integrate and manage spiritual experiences over time. Many modern cultures do not acknowledge the existence of the spirit world, creating a dearth of support for people having these experiences.
  • There is often a lack of control when entering and leaving altered states of consciousness. A goal is to develop the ability to choose when, how, and for how long they are in an altered state.
  • Without strong boundaries, these people can be harassed by threatening spirits. They are also at risk of being manipulated by spirits with agendas.
  • Being open to spirit without sufficient boundaries can be hard on the emotional, mental, and physical bodies. These people can feel inundated with outside input including non-self emotions and intrusive thought patterns. Their bodies can be impacted by the presence of spirits (even those with benign intentions) which leads to physical problems and in some cases significant illness.
  • A pitfall for this group is there can be a reluctance to rein in the spiritual experiences. However, the overall goal is not to limit spiritual experiences but to make them sustainable and mutually beneficial. Sometimes this means not having the “out there” experiences for a time while learning how to be with spirit in a more structured and sustainable way.
  • People in this group can lose touch with the physical reality to the extent that it makes day-to-day functioning difficult.

Their primary task:

To learn how to establish boundaries and maintain sovereignty within their own energy bodies.

What I typically recommend for people in this position:

  • Learn and implement spiritual discernment and boundary practices. (More on this below.)
  • Do daily practices that develop presence in the physical reality – embodiment practices. People in this state have no problem “going out” and don’t need to develop those skills. For this state, the emphasis is on “coming back” and integrating the spiritual with the physical. It’s about decreasing and filtering input, not getting more.
  • Do regular self-clearing and care and see trained practitioners for deeper work when needed.

Those Who Want to Be More Open to Spirit

Those who don’t feel open to the spirit world typically need to develop a different but overlapping set of skills.

Benefits:

  • They benefit from, yes, not being open to the spirit world. It is a natural boundary state that confers a certain amount of protection.
  • They have the opportunity to open to the spirit world in moderate ways that preserve their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Challenges:

  • People in this group tend to initially doubt their experiences and abilities and can form opinions too early in the process. It is very common for people starting out to question what they are experiencing. It’s a good question as discernment is a very important part of interfacing with the spirit world. However it can become an impediment to the learning process when taken to an extreme.
  • People in this group need patience and tenacity to develop the skill of communicating with spirit in a safe and sustainable fashion. Most people are already open to the spirit world to some extent. It’s more a matter of getting over cultural biases and learning how to trust and discern types of input.
  • There’s a tendency at the beginning for people in this group to over-apply intuitive perceptions. Intuition is one type of information that does not replace other types of information. It also does not replace the work of communicating directly with people. Clear intuition relies on a clear and grounded energy system. Being able to distinguish between pure intuition and noise from the internal and external environments takes practice.

The path:

  • To learn how to open to the spirit world in (reasonably) safe and sustainable ways.
  • To learn how to get clear intuitive perceptions.

What I typically recommend for people in this position:

  • Learn and implement spiritual discernment and boundary practices. (More on this below.)
  • Practice methods of altering states of consciousness. I recommend ones that are gentle and include structure and containment (see avoiding spiritual blow-out below). Meditation practices, the use of drums and other forms of sound to journey, developing your relationship to dreaming, are all ways of “opening up” in a structured way. For the use of psychadelics I strongly urge people to only do those within supported ceremonial frameworks.
  • Replace the question “what is real?” with “what is useful and beneficial?”
  • Tend to personal healing work to strengthen, clarify, and integrate.

For Both Groups: Cautions and Techniques

Avoid inducing spiritual-blow-out whenever possible.

If you are not already open to spirit, take it slow and steady. It may be tempting to seek out strong experiences sooner, but spiritual blow-out is hard on your body and has the potential to cause major disruptions to your life. This includes the potential for significant health issues including mental health instability. Taking it slow and steady, and tending to your personal healing work in the process, is a way to open in a more positive and sustainable way. Another way of looking at this is for every unit of expansion you do, you have to do at least one unit of integration/healing. It’s not all about feeling good and high; it’s also about strengthening your core self, developing your roots, and grounding the energy of spirit in the physical world. Highs are often followed by lows as part of the integration process. It’s work that can take psychological mettle.

Ditch any quick-fix, easy-results, short-term perspectives.

Spiritual awakening is not a short-term, easy process. It’s a life-long commitment. Avoid approaching it from a quick-fix, easy results, short-term perspective. It takes time to develop spiritual immunity. It takes time to strengthen your core. It takes time to open up in a healthy sustainable way. It takes time to do your personal work. The trajectory is long-term.

Maintain Personal Sovereignty

Ultimately, the only consciousness that should be in your space is your own. “Non-self” energy, whether inherently benign or not, is not a natural part of your energy system. It’s analogous to allergens. Pollen, when outside your body, is just pollen. When inside your body it can cause a problematic immune response. Spirits, when inside your energy field, will cause disruption over time whether they intend to or not. Even benevolent spirits like angelic beings can be problematic when in your energy field for too long; this is because your body is not used to running their particular frequency of energy. It’s like trying to run 1000 watts in a system that is designed for 60 watts. People who have experienced spiritual blow-out often have physical health problems; one cause is that their physical body is not able to run on the frequencies it is being exposed to; another is that there is too much non-self energy in the field causing blocks and disruption.

Spiritual practitioners have ways of mitigating these issues. One is that they develop, over time, spiritual immunity. That is the ability to keep your energy field clear of non-self energy. The second is that they recognize a need for regular clearing and self-care. For anyone relating to spirit it is the same. The best protection you can have is a solid and healthy core self.

There are all types of spirits. Some of them are neutral in their affect on us, some are beneficial, and some are unhealthy and at times even lethal. Like I said above, even spirits that mean well can be problematic when they are located in your energy field. Follow the guidelines below to prevent problems when dealing with spirits.

Don’t Judge a Spirit by its Appearance – Always Vet

Spirits can be tricky. They can play on our egos and temptations. And, in the spirit world, not everything is what it seems. Spirits are non-corporeal; they can appear in different forms. Some spirits that look friendly and have “high” energy vibes are detrimental; some that look threatening are benevolent.

  • Never go on appearances alone.
  • Don’t get caught up in curiosity as it can be an invitation to connect – when in doubt just do not engage.

Keep in mind the following ways you can be enticed into a less-than-healthy relationship with a spirit:

  • The spirit says you need them for something. This is sometimes true in a short-term sense. Some spirits, for example, protect children for a time. But this kind of relationship will at some point run its course and start to become problematic. When this situation arises it is important to have ways of determining what is actually true.
  • The spirit is giving you experiences that are exciting and you don’t want to give them up.
  • The spirit says it needs your help and only you can help it. The second part of his assertion is never true.

Essentially, notice when a spirit is encouraging a state of dependency and/or is playing on ego desires. This can be tricky because they may play on ego desires that you think are good qualities to have, like the desire to be helpful and compassionate. But without proper training, trying to help a spirit is a risky venture. I highly recommend that if you feel called to help spirits, get proper training.

The results, over time, of engaging non-benevolent spirits is typically a degradation in physical health, emotional well-being, and mental capacity. I personally don’t think it’s worth it but I’ve known people who do. It’s a choice about what you want to experience in your life.

How to vet spirits:

  • Ask the spirit “Are you ONLY for the highest good?” three times. If there is anything but a firm yes every time then do not engage. If you have known, and vetted, spirit guides you can also ask them “Is this spirit ONLY for the highest good?” Also three times. For some reason, the truth comes out when asked.
  • Benevolent spirits are never negative. They will not be mean or derogatory in any way.
  • Benevolent spirits do not impinge upon your free will. They will not try to make you do anything. They will not require that you do anything. They will respect your boundaries and leave your energy field when you ask.
  • At the beginning of every meeting with a spirit, take a moment to vet even if you think you recognize the spirit. Sometimes it’s more of a matter of filtering certain energy frequencies rather than interacting with a whole new spirit. In general, you want the highest, most compassionate version of any spirit you are interacting with: “Are you the most compassionate form of this spirit?”
  • If you get a vague answer or a no, just reset your intention to connect with only the most compassionate aspect of that spirit or disengage entirely.

What do you do if you have negative-impact spirits in your field?

  • Go to a trained practitioner. I particularly recommend Betsy Bergstrom’s compassionate depossession process. She has a list of referrals on her website.
  • Develop your psychic immunity. This involves doing your personal healing work. A strong core self is the best protection you can have. In the meantime, find the forms of psychic protection that work for you. I also recommend doing ancestral lineage healing as that will amplify the ability of your ancestors to protect you (and it may be unwell dead relatives causing the disruption in the first place).

Relationship to spirits can be entirely mutually beneficial, healthy, and sustainable. It is normal and healthy to be connected to a sense of the greater consciousness of all living things seen and unseen. Being connected to the spirit world can be a great blessing and is, I believe, the natural human condition. It is important that we re-learn the ways of engaging spirits safely and create support systems to help people in that journey.