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Practical Applications and Tools for Inner Work

What "inner work" really means:
The little willingness needed to identify,
face, and dissolve past physical, emotional,
mental, and spiritual wounds
at a causal level,
to welcome the rewiring of our neurology,
to learn from our life experiences, and to
align our personal soul with the Divine.

~ Susan S. Trout, PhD

The Institute offers a number of practices, or healing modalities and tools, that provide the opportunity to turn inward and begin the journey of actualizing the soul’s destiny. Our classes and trainings in inner work (also referred to as “shadow work”), heart and will practices, meditation, centering and witnessing, energy work, self-care, Medicine Poetry, and Qigong, have been used by many people since the Institute’s founding in 1980.  These modalities are an integral part of our philosophy, which is based on two principles of personal development:

  • The participation in one’s own healing process (self-transformation), and
  • The willingness to extend unconditionally that healing to others (service).

By continually doing
my inner work,
I engender compassion for myself and others.
~ Susan S. Trout, PhD, Universal Tribute 4,
Tenet 1


A prerequisite to inner work is centering the body.  Centering practices expand our psychological space and enable us to connect with our inner strength.  You experience a sense of psychological spaciousness and stability when you bring your attention to the center of your body.

Try This Centering Practice:



All courses, conducted by phone and video conferencing, integrate healing modalities and practices.  Visit our courses page for a full list and descriptions of courses we offer by clicking HERE.

Adding Light to the World: An Urgent Call

We had forgotten who we are
And why we had come
A clarion blast
Awakens us to our injured world
Together we answer an urgent call
To add Light to the world

~ Susan S. Trout ~

A crisis of epidemic proportions blankets the world. Devastating natural disasters, wars between nations, financial uncertainty, misused technology, political disturbances, terrorism, and threats of global destruction shatter our reality. As the chaos of our world intensifies, we search for ways to help and bring love, care, and compassion into the world, wondering:

The greatest need in today’s world is that it needs
more Light.

What is the greatest need in our world today? How do we connect with our inner strength? What is the highest service we can extend to humanity?  The answer to these questions is clear:

  • The greatest need in today’s world is that it needs more Light.
  • We experience inner strength when we connect to the Sacred Within and trust our willingness and ability to be a Force of Light.
  • Our highest service to humanity is to breathe Light into the world.

The Gift of the Hamsa Mantra

The Hamsa mantra is a balance between the outbreath and inbreath of God.  Our inbreath is from God; our outbreath (from God) adds to the Light of the world. We thereby extend God’s Life Force into the world, serving the highest good of humanity and the planet. This is true for every breath we take.

Hamsa means I am That – That I am.  “I” is individual self-awareness. “That” is the unlimited consciousness of the Universal Self, also referred to as the I AM Presence, Divine Source, God Within, Father-Mother God, Unknowable Absolute, and Life Force. The Hamsa mantra affirms our connection with the Divine and thereby supports our remembering that we are not alone.

The Hamsa mantra (also called the natural or prana mantra) goes on continually in all living creatures. It is due to the Hamsa mantra pulsation that we are alive. In a human being, the breath comes in and goes out 21,600 times a day, and each time it repeats this mantra. This process goes on continuously day and night in a living being – Ham on the inbreath, sa on the outbreath – again and again: Ham-sa... Ham-sa…

In real time, we add to the Light of the world and thereby reflect back to God our gift of life. By adjusting our awareness about every breath we take, no matter where we are or what we are doing, thinking, or feeling, we add Light to the world. With our outbreath, we ask that every thought, feeling, and deed be consecrated with Divine Love for the purpose of adding to the Light of the world every minute of every day. In this process, we become Lightbearers, those who show another way – a way to learn, grow, and serve with love and compassion.

Hamsa Mantra Meditation Practice

Acknowledge trust in your ability to be a Force of Light by affirming from your heart:  “I breathe in the Light of God.  I breathe out God’s Light to the World.”

Hamsa mantra meditation is a simple technique of quietly watching the breath come in and go out, without doing anything else. As the breath comes in, it makes the sound Ham (pronounced as h-ah-m), meaning I breathe in the Light of God. As the breath goes out, it makes the sound sa (pronounced s-ah), meaning I breathe out God’s Light to the World.

Sit upright with your feet on the floor or in a cross-legged position on the floor or in a chair. Join the index finger and thumb of each hand and rest your hands on your knees. Keep your spine straight and comfortable.

Close your eyes. Breathe naturally.

Repeat the mantra silently: Ham on the in-breath, sa on the out-breath.

Concentrate on the mantra. Become absorbed in it. Move into meditation, bringing your attention back to the mantra when you are distracted by thoughts, feelings, or noises.

Meditate for 20 minutes or for a period of time that is comfortable for you.

Note: The secret of the Hamsa was first revealed in 
the great Kashmir Shaivism treatise,
the Vijnana Bhairava

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Journal thoughts and feelings that arise as you contemplate this teaching: Our highest service to humanity is to breathe Light into the world.


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That Was Then ~ This Is NOW

Take the hand of tomorrow
for the yesterday is no more.

~ Susan S. Trout, The Clarion Call ~

In my early 30’s, I experienced a crisis in my life that stemmed from accumulated regrets and neglect of my physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.  In desperation, I decided to share my regrets with a spiritual teacher whose teachings I had grown to trust.  I wrote her a letter that described my many regrets and asked for forgiveness.  She answered my letter with two sentences: “There is nothing to forgive.  Use what you have learned from your life to help others.”

We serve when we willingly share, in some way, the wisdom we have gleaned from our life experiences.

The power of her words dramatically refocused my life.  I understood that my teacher’s words meant “that was then ~ this is now.” “That was then” represented choices I had made in reaction to childhood trauma.  These choices were not always helpful for me or for others. I acknowledged my emotional pain and  subsequently embarked on many years of personal healing combined with an ongoing search for the true meaning of service.

I sensed that my spiritual teacher’s words, “this is now,” reflected my deep desire to have a heart-centered life and a personal destiny of true service. I recognized that life, with its achievements and challenges, with its joys and sorrows, gifts us with many opportunities to learn, grow, and serve.  We serve when we willingly share, in some way, the wisdom we have gleaned from our life experiences. The spirit of our life is thereby made visible in the spirit of our giving and receiving.

What is urgently needed in the “this is NOW” of our world?

Many of us are asking ourselves this question. It is essential that we focus our energies in a meaningful, sacred way if we are to help people grow and evolve psychologically and spiritually during this present dangerous and frightening time in our world.  There is no time to waste.

Andrew Harvey, Founder and Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism, writes:

the large-scale practice of Sacred Activism can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants … we need to invite concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective, and practical agents of institutional and systemic change.  Sacred Activism … is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise, radical action in the world.

Three premises support our decision to live and serve in the spirit of the sacred NOW:

  • Service pervades all of life. The spirit of service exists in all activities of life, whether we cook meals, teach school, paint pictures, tend gardens, sweep streets, build buildings, head an organization, or visit someone who is ill.  It is present in our varied communications with family, colleagues, friends, and strangers. As we evolve spiritually, service is less about doing and more about being.  More and more, we focus on the quality of our heart and mind while living and working in the outer world.

  • The quality of our motivations determines the quality of our service.  We are all servers and we are all being served.  Our purest service occurs when we offer others more energy to heal and make helpful choices.  To attain this, we

    1. give the right amount of the right thing for the right reason and at the right time,
    2. show another way to others through the example of our lives and our interactions,
    3. broaden our service to include the wellbeing of Earth and its inhabitants, and
    4. extend Light into the world through prayer and meditation.

  • We serve when we willingly share, in some way, the wisdom we have gleaned from our life experiences. A three-stage Life Experience Inventory can help us identify our unique gifts of service in the NOW. The following inventory focuses on using what we have learned from our lives to genuinely help others and to willingly participate in Sacred Activism.

The chart below illustrates the Life Experiences Inventory using four examples from my life. This blog essay's Reflection invites you to complete the Life Experiences Inventory using examples from your own life.


* Click HERE for a printable copy of this chart, including a blank
to fill in with your own life experiences.


As we heal personally, we have more energy and can become a clearer instrument of healing for others and for the planet – NOW.  When we are willing to share the lessons we have learned, we serve in our unique way – NOW.  We hold a space for others to be healed of conditions which we have healed or are healing within ourselves – NOW.   When we serve in this way, our unique manner of service broadens throughout our lifetime to include Earth and its inhabitants – NOW. We choose to serve by participating in some form of Sacred Activism – NOW.



Susan Trout. Born to Serve: The Evolution of the Soul Through Service. Alexandria, VA: Three Roses Press, 1997.

Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker. Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe.  Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2017.


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