Communicating with the spiritual dimensions requires the sometimes-difficult ability to listen, because any worthwhile conversation must go both ways. Setting our intentions, praying, and asking for blessings are worthy endeavors, but are we able to recognize the results? Even when we are sufficiently focused and able to take in the information, how often do we edit it? Communicating with spirit requires quieting the conscious mind and attuning our awareness to more subtle vibrations. All forms of meditation are valuable in this regard.

I’ve often struggled with listening to my inner guidance, because my mind is so darn busy and noisy. Human thought patterns are strongly affected by outside factors, especially when we are young. As children, we believe what we are told by adults, and this forms the basis of our worldview and perception of ourselves. For a long time, my “self talk” tended to be negative, which can really block out subtle vibrations. Only after years of meditation have I become able to receive communications and energy from the spirit world and respond appropriately.

When I was working as a legal secretary in Walnut Creek, California, I was often exhausted and bored, and I had a tendency to indulge in negative thinking along the lines of: “Life sucks, my life sucks, I’m worthless, and nobody likes me.” You get the idea.

One day, I was walking in the parking garage basement. I wasn’t paying much attention to my surroundings because my head was filled with one particular thought: “Nothing good ever happens to me.”

At that moment, I happened to look down, and there lying at my feet was a $20 bill! This ironic communication from God was difficult to ignore—and no active listening was involved on my part. The message was blatant. From this, I learned that the Universe always provides exactly what we need when we need it, no matter what our interior dialogue might tell us.

Sometimes the message comes through other people, sometimes repeatedly, until we begin paying attention. Once I was stranded in New York City in a cheap hotel on the upper west side, but I wanted to live in a popular hotel on Broadway that was filled with artists and writers and actors. I must have called the rental agent 100 times on the phone and made numerous visits, all to no avail. Finally I got it. “Someone” was trying to tell me that moving there was not for my highest good, and that my next step involved something I hadn’t yet thought of. From this, I learned the best path in life is to go through the open door, not keep knocking endlessly on the closed one.

While still in that same miserable hotel, I was lying in bed one night consumed by the thought: “No one loves me; no one will ever love me.” Just then the phone rang. It was a former boyfriend I hadn’t heard from in several years. I’d known him when he was quite young and confused about how to express his feelings.

“I’m calling to tell you I love you,” he said. Nothing more. I imagined God whispering in his ear, encouraging him to call when I most needed to hear these words.

Around the same time, I attended a folk music concert in the basement of a church. The singer was a rather chubby fellow with a big smile. He seemed so friendly and approachable. After the performance, I went up to him and told him how much I enjoyed his show.

“You don’t remember me, do you, Jessie?”

Indeed, I did not recognize him, and even after he said we had spent time together 13 years earlier at a folk music club in another city, my memory of him was vague. The outcome of this chance encounter was that he gave me an old car, a very old car with a big hole in the passenger side floor that let water splash in when it rained. I was the third person to receive the car as a gift, and it provided the means to get out of New York City and on to the next stage in my life. This type of synchronicity could easily be called “The Cosmic Dating Service.”

Sometimes God speaks to us through objects. In the late 1970s, I was living in Austin, Texas, playing music in the clubs and selling handmade clothing and other items at the crafts market. One year after Christmas, I had 50 little stuffed dolls left over, so in February I went to New Orleans to sell them on the street during Marti Gras.

The first day, I went into an Indian imported clothing store and fell in love with a beautiful blue shirt. Oh, how I wanted that shirt, but I didn’t have any money. I decided that after I had sold a few dolls and had bus fare home, I’d come back and buy it.

While strolling around the French Quarter later that night—and not selling any dolls because everyone thought they were Voodoo dolls! —I walked by the store. It was closed, but much to my surprise the blue shirt I desired so much was sitting neatly folded on the front step just waiting for me to pick it up. For many years, I believed this to be some sort magical occurrence, but I’ve since realized the shop owner must have been moved by the intensity of my desire and left it for me to find. Perhaps this experience comes under the category of “manifesting,” although I didn’t know the term back then.

A few years ago, I went through a phase in which I questioned my spiritual path. Was I was doing the right thing with my life? Did I need to make a change? After meditating on this for several weeks, a greeting card arrived in the mail from a woman I had done a clairvoyant reading for months earlier.

The card showed a beautiful lithograph of an owl holding a lantern with the word “Hope” on it. Inside the woman had written: “This card reminded me of you…a wise, beautiful being, carrying a lantern of hope.” These are lofty words, for sure, and I am constantly endeavoring to remember and be worthy of them.

In December 2012, I had a strong desire to visit the Philippines but couldn’t afford it. I prayed and prayed, and a few weeks later I got a phone call from a friend in California who was sick and wanted to see the faith healers. He asked me to be his personal travel guide to the Philippines and offered to pay my expenses, essentially proving that spirit is always listening, whether we are aware of it or not.

So I make a regular habit of reaching out to the spiritual dimensions with my questions, and then practice the art of listening for answers. If there is something I want to bring into my life, I visualize it in the center of my head, put bright sparkling light around it, and then wait. Sometimes my wishes come true, but when they don’t I work on accepting what is and renew my efforts.