One of the biggest leaps for me in deepening understanding of myself and spirituality which every so often I'm reminded of is trusting myself. Trust the process. And for anyone who questions themselves on, how do I know this is real? or, how do I know this or that is true? the best I can offer is, have faith and practice. Nothing you do is wrong as long as you have the best intentions in mind (coupled, of course, with wisdom).
For me, my experiences in meditation, healing, and spiritual practices are the basis of my core beliefs and understandings about myself and the world around me. Even if I read and take in outside information, I always reflect on it and meditate on it, and eventually have experiences in day-to-day life that validate or refine the information.
I first started exploring meditation in my adolescence. For a person naturally quiet and more inward, this was easy for me. I explored lots of books on psychics and delved into stories and worlds that seemed so fantastical and yet so full of magic, wonder, and beauty, that I was willing to put aside any rational-mind chatter and disbelief to entertain the possibility of angels, spirit guides, the Other Side, and a beautiful, benevolent world. I also became fascinated with Tarot and began to explore it. I became frustrated with myself for not knowing the answers; I wanted to know so badly which were the best choices to make!
One of the biggest things stopping me at this time, though, was trusting myself. How did all of these psychics and spiritual gurus know that the information and guidance they were receiving was really real, and not their imagination? How did they seem to move forward so confidently in life and their decisions?
Somehow, I accepted the false belief that because I wasn't born psychic or with outstanding extrasensory abilities that I was automatically limited in connecting to this other realm filled with light, spirit beings, unconditional love and guidance, and all-knowing. I thought that because psychics could see the future and know things instantly that this made them masters of a sort. And I was not among them.
This all changed one summer.
The summer after my Freshman year of high school, my mom, brother and I took a road trip out west to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. While I've always had a strong connection to nature, and while my understandings of the inner landscape already were becoming stronger gradually with maturity, there was something especially powerful with this trip. I'm pretty sure I've had past lives as a Native American, and I felt a strong connection while travelling throughout this landscape (every time I travel here, I've felt this way). Yet even without this aspect, something was different and changing significantly within me. The nature surrounding me definitely aided this change.
Everywhere we went, I felt like spirits were communicating with me. I did not know if they were higher spirit beings like guides, or nature spirits, or if I was just interpreting vibrations and making them into separate entities in my imagination -- but I didn't care. I let it happen. I let the experiences unfold and rest in my consciousness. I felt my spirit expand and felt immense peace wherever we went. Hour after hour of driving through pristine landscape, I let my mind wander and go quiet. While hiking trails, I would connect to the earth with each step, and lose myself in the beauty of nature. I began to ask questions in my mind. I would let thoughts, prayers, requests, float away ... and then I started to receive answers. I would see signs and experience coincidences -- far too many to occur by chance alone. What's more, I began to sense within me different levels of understanding, or knowing of truth, by what I felt inside. To me, it is a vibration; it either feels good, smooth, harmonious, high frequency, or not. If you play an instrument, you know the varying degrees of being out of tune. It's exactly the same. It's an experience of resonance or dissonance. And when you hit a note exactly right, without any extra effort, that note rings louder and clearer.
This is how I began to differentiate between imagination and true inner knowledge and guidance. It takes practice, but this is where it began.
There are so many details I could go into ... but I won't here. I have a longer narrative piece describing this vacation further that I will share.
After this summer vacation, I had no doubts. I always trusted in my experience and knew that I was always guided and protected. I came to know God as within myself and everything around me. I finally understood what had been written in all of those psychic and spiritual books; if you know, you know!
And for whatever you don't know, it's okay! It's okay to say you don't know. Work within your skill set and understandings to the best of your ability, with the best intentions. This is the whole point. Ask for help and guidance and be open to receive. Trust the process, trust in the universe, and trust in yourself. You will receive what you are seeking to the extent that you trust.