Excerpts from a presentation about how to feel the Spirit.
Originally titled “Tuning In”, given Especially For Youth 2014 in San Antonio, TX and Provo, UT.
Have you ever used a tuning fork? Musicians and doctors use them to help figure out whether an instrument, musician, or physical body is truly ‘in tune’…meaning whether it is able to both generate and receive the proper vibrations, music, or tones.
A few insights about tuning forks may be helpful in understanding how to interact with the Holy Ghost.
4 Facts About Tuning Forks
1. They have a narrow resonant zone,
so you must be within their range in order to hear them.
How do you stay within range? If you’ve gone out of range of hearing, how can you get yourself back? If you’re not hearing it, maybe you need to change something.
Notice the pattern shared in 1 Nephi 17:7 of how Nephi would get ‘within range’ when God was trying to teach him. Why the mountains? Why not within his own tent? Perhaps it’s because it required effort to get there, there was less noise at the top, and there was no pollution up there? Perhaps only there would Nephi get that higher perspective, and in order to get there he had to cast off any useless baggage?
And notice that Nephi didn’t go there just once…he returned often. (1 Nephi 18:3)
If you want to hear the Spirit, you need to get to a place where it won’t have to compete for your attention.
2. Bodies are natural amplifiers,
so you have to keep them in tune.
What does this mean to you? How does your body amplify how you interact with the Spirit? And what does it mean to keep them in tune?
The Spirit usually won’t override fatigue, exhaustion, or sickness. If you’re not properly rested, free from addictions, and well-nourished, you may have a hard time feeling and responding to Spiritual promptings. Just like a piano coated in tar wouldn’t be able to make music, so too will a human body be unable to respond to the Spiritual harmonics if filled with spiritual tar.
Perhaps ‘honoring the Sabbath’ includes getting enough rest the night before, so one CAN honor the Sabbath. And perhaps is this why so many of the rules, commandments, and advice given to youth are focused on physical bodies and how to respect them?
Why do we close our eyes to pray, to cry, to kiss, or to dream? Perhaps it’s because the deepest truths we’ll ever known are felt rather than seen.
3. Tuning forks are quiet by design, so you are required to focus on the signal and tune out the noise.
How do you tune in to the signal when the noise is so loud? How do you shut down the ‘background apps’ that are draining resources so you can focus on the one primary app right there in front?
God won’t force us to do anything we don’t want to do. He’ll often repeat Himself if we need to get a message, and in His infinite patience He’ll give us the message until we need to hear, as long as we’re making efforts to understand.
Notice the story in 3 Nephi 11:1-8 of when Jesus Christ appeared to the Nephites. When God first announced His Son, they couldn’t understand what He was saying. But look carefully at the actions they took to focus on the signal…and once they did that, THEN they understood and were able to see the Son.
If you worry that you’re not feeling the Spirit in your life, perhaps it has been talking to you all the time, but you weren’t quiet enough to hear it.
4. Pings will always fade away, so you have to play on your own and tune in again frequently.
Why don’t the pings stay longer? How are we supposed to play in tune if the tuning fades? How can we come back and ‘tune in’ again more frequently, to make sure we’re playing properly? Why doesn’t the ‘spiritual high’ stay with us longer?
Just like every kid learning to ride a bike will eventually need to take off the training wheels and wobble on their own, so too must every believing person learn how to move forward in faith when the Spirit diminishes. Sometimes it may fade due to unrighteous choices we make. But frequently it fades due to the nature of our human world, and the absolute celestial mandate that we learn how to survive and make choices of our own free will.
The space between the pings is what gives us time to grow. We become master musicians when we step away from the tuning fork and strive to make beautiful melodies on our own, relying on the training we’ve received.
Final thought on how spiritual feelings can be manifested. Sometimes they are very physical / emotional manifestations…but they don’t have to be that way. So don’t feel that something is wrong if you’re not the type who cries when bearing testimony or who feels ‘goosebumps’ or chills when hearing inspiring words.
“Let me offer a word of caution. . . . I think if we are not careful . . . , we may begin to try to counterfeit the true influence of the Spirit of the Lord by unworthy and manipulative means. I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, 184, emphasis added).