Ayni and Spirit
In the Quechua language, there is a word, ayni, which means reciprocity. Having ayni with Spirit, the creative force that expresses love to us means two-way communication and a mutual partnership.
Do you know what you want from Spirit, and what Spirit wants from you? How do you communicate to Spirit? And how does Spirit speak to you?
You might talk to Spirit through prayer yet find those prayers may be answered in a way you do not expect or like. I pray, and when I don’t get what I ask for, I very often find I receive what I need: a difficult but important truth that helps me to break out of an old pattern, for example. I trust that this great Source of wisdom and love has better, broader insights than I do.
Perhaps you experience a response from Spirit through something other than getting your requests through prayer fulfilled. You might feel an inner knowing about what you need to do. Perhaps you recognize this wisdom comes from someplace other than your analytical mind. You might recognize that you are making the wrong decision for you because you experience a sensation of constriction whenever you think about what you have chosen to do. Could this sensation be Spirit’s way of protecting you?
Communication with Spirit through spiritual practices can create in you a sense of your energy shifting. You might experience an awareness that you are interwoven with a larger energy, and that Spirit is the wise and loving consciousness present in that field of energy. If you have felt this connection, what caused you to feel it? Did you perform a ritual, pray, or meditate? Did you simply quiet your mind as you observed some natural phenomenon and remained fully present in the experience of watching the sun rise or the birth of a child?
What qualities do you experience when you connect with Spirit? Maybe the qualities are different when you make that connection through works as opposed to through faith, or belief. If you wanted to hear from Spirit, and feel a sense of calm, motivation, or interconnectedness, what would you do? How could you experience ayni?
My spiritual practices include healing work as a shamanic practitioner, shamanic journeying, dream work, ritual, and ceremony. When performing the latter, I begin with opening sacred space and end with closing sacred space, prayer, and qi gong, a form of moving Taoist meditation. All reconnect me with Spirit, who resides both within me and outside of me. I also open myself to messages from this loving and wise force that might come to me through synchronicities. Then too, I find my connection to Spirit through works that include giving to others in service. I feel Spirit’s presence when I engage in these practices.
It’s hard to think your way into a relationship with Spirit, however. Certainly, after you experience the feeling of being connected with Spirit, you may want to find words to describe the experience. Words describing someone else’s experience of this loving, wise force might inspire you but not cause you to feel Spirit’s presence. Perhaps experiencing pleasure in and gratitude for loving Spirit’s manifestations all around you helps you to feel your connection. Perhaps a shift in consciousness achieved through ritual, ceremony, or meditation works for you.
Getting to know Spirit and feel your connection means recognizing that your conversations are not one-sided, even if you have not yet learned how to observe Spirit’s response to your call. Practice ayni through reciprocal relationships with others, with the earth, and with all the aspects of yourself that you find lovable as well as the ones you find not so lovable. Doing so may help you to change your relationship to Spirit. It may allow you to feel heard, seen, known, and loved. Practice ayni in your everyday life, and you may well find that ayni with Spirit is available to you, and able to help you change your story.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.