Back in 1995, New Year’s Day was on a Sunday, and since the worship services are held only once a month on the first Sunday of the month at the Temple of ECK in Chanhassen, Minnesota, I decided to ring in the new year at the ECK Worship Service. That particular worship service turned out to be very special, because Harold Klemp, the Spiritual Leader of Eckankar, spoke at that service. At that time, he made it a practice to speak only once or twice a year at the Temple; now he doesn’t speak there at all, but only gives talks at seminars twice a year.
During his talk, he gave us a spiritual exercise for those who were working on New Year resolutions. Briefly, a spiritual exercise is like a guided meditation, except that you guide yourself. You can decide in advance where you want to go, whom you want to meet, what questions you’d like to ask, or what quality you’d like to work on.
Harold got the idea for this exercise from a letter that an ECKist had written to him about a dream he’d had. In the dream, the man was a prince in his own castle, and he was living in one particular room in the castle. Harold commented that it was this fellow’s “State Room,” which represented his state of consciousness. The new exercise was called “A Larger Room.” To do this exercise, imagine that you are a prince (or king or queen or princess) in your own castle. Each room in the castle represents a different quality, such as self-discipline. If you feel that you need more self-discipline in your life, then imagine yourself in the Room of Self-Discipline. Now leave this room, go down the hall, and enter a larger room. This is your new Room of Self-Discipline. Notice the details of the room. Notice how much more space there is. Get comfortable with the new room, and go to it in contemplation as often as you can remember to do so.
The way a spiritual exercise like this works is that you are feeding input into our subconscious mind, which thinks in pictures. This is a very powerful way to program the subconscious, because our subconscious mind treats the images like a computer code to execute a program. When we picture an outcome like this, it is not only a directive to our subconscious mind, but also a prayer to Holy Spirit. Working in harmony with Holy Spirit, the subconscious mind directs us to do those things which are appropriate responses to the changes that Holy Spirit brings into our lives in answer to our prayer. It seems to take approximately 21 days, or 3 weeks, for the new program to cement itself in the subconscious mind, so it’s a good idea to do your spiritual exercise for at least 21 days.
What does it mean to live in a Larger Room of Self-Discipline? A Larger Room of Tolerance? Love? Humility? Contentment? If you suppose that everything will be rosy, you will very likely be disappointed, because that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to get us to grow spiritually, and growth is often accomplished by having to solve larger and more complex problems. If you decide to go to the Larger Room of Self-Discipline, for example, expect the Holy Spirit to put situations in your path that will provide opportunities for you to express self-discipline in all sorts of areas. You may be given an opportunity to eat too much, drink to excess, spend too much time on idle games, go on a date with your boss, or buy an expensive item that you really, really want but can’t really afford.
A lot of people pray to God to give them various qualities, such as patience, courage, or inner strength, but they seem to think that God will just hand these qualities to them on a silver platter and voilà, they will suddenly have that quality without working for it. Sorry, folks, that’s not how it works. You do have to work for it. The gift is not the quality, itself, but the opportunities to hone that quality. This means that you will have to face a few more problems in your life. The good news is that with each victory, you will become stronger and more self-disciplined, or loving, or patient – whatever quality you asked for. That’s how God rolls. 🙂