The Second Prescription
Find a Nurturing Spiritual Path
by Judith Orloff, M.D.
Imagine an unlimited supply of energy at your
fingertips. A powerhouse that never wanes. Itís an
experience I want you to get used to having. A spiritual
practice makes it real in an ingeniously simple way.
How? You tap into love, the most irrepressible source of
positive energy in the universe. Untainted by guilt,
conditions, or fear itís pure power we can wield as
individuals and collectively. Even the biggest baddest
demons within or without ultimately shrivel in the face
of it. Love is our destination. It is waiting just for
Many paths lead to the heart--the antithesis of
extremist "spiritual" ideologies based on
hate. A wise Sufi teacher once said, "Love is the
religion, the universe is the book." The type of
practice is a matter of choice. It can be traditionally
religious: church, synagogue, or mosque. Or like me, you
may be more private, prefer meditation or communing with
nature. (One patientís Christmas mass is spent at
midnight stretched in a God-lit meadow overlooking the
Pacific.) For some it may be nameless, the silent place
within. Mary Oliver, a poet whoís a beacon for me,
sanctifies the details of our humanness. In one poem she
Bless the fingers,
for they are darting as fire...
Bless the eyes
for they are the gifts of the angels,
for they tell the truth.
Guidelines To Discovering Your Own Sense Of Spirit.
1. Questioning is healthy.
Feel free to question everything youíve ever
learned about spirituality, and continue to do so. No
one to satisfy but yourself. As I do, sniff out
hypocrisy or the inauthentic. If something sounds good,
but falls flat, itís not for you. People can talk
until the cows come home about how spiritual they are,
but if you canít feel their heart, all that rhetoric
2. Permit yourself the freedom to explore what moves
This is not necessarily what your friends and family
follow or condone. You may link Spirit with God,
Goddess, Allah, the Universe, or the wildness of a
wind-blown sea. To begin exploring, get your hands on
books from William Jamesí classic "The Variety of
Religious Experience" to the Dalai Lamaís
"The Art of Happiness." See what descriptions
of spirit intuitively resonate and scrap the rest. A
part of you will feel curious, wake up, or affirm
"Yes!" If, however, youíre bored, untouched,
or offended keep on exploring.
In the same way, gauge your intuitive reactions when
trying out different types of services. For instance, Iím
consistently stirred by the low-key, non-dressy Jewish
High Holiday services at the Los Angeles Zen Center. (I
attend these in addition to my Taoist path.) Thereís
no pretense: we all sit on wobbly white plastic chairs
in an outdoor garden. The rabbi is also a Zen roshi--and
as it happens, an old college boyfriend! At the Passover
dinner, celebrating emancipation from Egyptian slavery,
I just melt watching a glowing monk punctuating the
traditional "Four Questions" by striking a
gong. Why is this night different than other nights?
GONG. Why do we eat only Matzoh? GONG. Whoíd believe
it? We canít not giggle. And so it goes. Weíre a
quirky conglomeration, and that suits me fine.
Similarly, youíll find an open-minded environment
where you can connect.
3. What a Spiritual Connection Feels Like
Donít convince yourself of anything. Go for where
the energy is. How? Youíll sense this connection in
your body, whether itís slight or an epiphany. Expect
to feel warm, comforted, uplifted. Intuitively, it feels
like a "coming to" a clearing. While
meditating, I sometimes get shivers, goosebumps, or be
moved to tears. Two specific subtle energy centers (chakras)
drive this experience. The crown or "halo," at
the top of your head, and the heart in the mid-chest.
You might feel a growing heat in these areas, an
opening, or sense a cap lifted from the crown. As you
experiment with different practices notice: Is something
in you stirred? Do you feel more centered?
Compassionate? It may be an instantly positive
reaction--as Tennessee Williams writes, "Sometimes
there is God so quickly." Whereas other practices
may just feel wrong. With some though, you may intuit a
vague affinity, so stick with it a few weeks; see if the
energy grows. There are also cycles of connection, times
when we feel spiritual energy more or less. This is
natural. Donít expect the peak moments to be
sustained. Even if you never have one, donít worry.
Bottom line, with a successful practice youíll feel
more energy and love.
4. What a Spiritual Connection Doesnít Feel Like
There isnít a mystery to this. Lack of spiritual
connection is evidenced either by no energetic response
(what I call spiritual flat-lining) or an off-putting
one. Your mind--or your mother!--may be trying to
convince you of the merits of some path, but nada is
happening. A positive energetic bond never needs to be
coerced, nor does it make you feel worse about yourself.
Guilt, judgment, and condemnation are all man-made--not
a byproduct of a compassionate intelligence.
5. Flush Out Your Resistance
Opening to spirituality requires vulnerability, which
can make you resistant or afraid, particularly if youíve
been disappointed by this topic. Itís important to
articulate resistance and fears so they donít
stonewall your energy. I want my patients to express the
whole diatribe to me--an energetic purge thatís
necessary to find their own way. Common fears include
that spirituality is elitist, dogmatic, repressive,
abusive, saccharine, wishful thinking, not
scientifically based, confined to conventional
religions, or too "fire and brimstone."
Whatever your fear, I honor it, but urge you to not get
For years, one of my resistances was attaching myself
to any spiritual tradition. I feared loosing freedom,
perhaps because of being raised by conservative
physicians who very much wanted me to conform to the
mainstream. Iíll never forget one night as a teenager
when my father, furious at me for sneaking off with
hippie friends, chased me down our street like a madman
literally waving a yardstick! (How a yardstick was in
his possession at that moment Iíll never know!)
Understandably, to this day, I loathe anything that
smacks of measuring me.
Be honest with your resistances. List them in your
journal, and read them to someone you trust. Get ready
to revamp or eliminate dated notions. A common theme for
our age seems to be transcending what didnít click
spiritually in childhood, and reinventing a new way that
works. Spirituality can make massive energy available if
weíre willing to remove obstacles that stunt our
© Copyright 2004 Judith Orloff, M.D.
All RIghts Reserved. (Excerpted from Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and Love by
Judith Orloff, M.D.)
Judith Orloff, M.D. author of the new book Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength, and
Love. She is also author of the bestsellers Guide to Intuitive Healing and
Second Sight. She is a psychiatrist, a practicing intuitive, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, has a
private practice in Los Angeles, and is an international workshop leader on the interrelationship of intuition, energy, and medicine.. She is giving a special intensive workshop on "The
Healing Power of Intuition and Positive Energy" at Esalen Institute in Big Sur August 20-22. For more information visit www.esalen.org or