How To Communicate With Spirits, According to a Medium

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I was in the middle of a phone conversation with spiritual medium Erika Gabriel, talking about how to communicate with spirits, when she suddenly told me she was getting a message from my grandmother (who had passed away a couple of years ago). "Your grandmother wants to say something to you," she says, as I'm taken off guard. "She's telling me to ask you why you aren't married yet—she really wants to see you married and settled down with a family."

Let me tell you—I was shook. And I'm not alone. As we lose loved ones, some of us are interested in communicating with their spirits within the spirit world, and Gabriel's job is to act as a guide. While not everyone believes in the existence of a spirit world, however, for those who do, there are a few things to get straight before diving into how to communicate with spirits—like what spirits are, in the first place, and, perhaps more notably, what they're not. Below, Gabriel walks us through the basics.

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First things first: What are spirits?

"There are such things as ghosts," says Gabriel. "I'm going to start there. Ghosts or those types of spirits are usually the first things that people bump into because they're stuck here on the Earth plane." She explains that the "bumping into" feeling is essentially that energy you feel when you visit a historic place, or when you're in a place with undeniably strange vibes.

Hear her out on this, though: She says you should never, ever be afraid of ghosts (AKA spirits). That negative reputation that's constantly being reinforced in scary movies is reflective of a super rare occurrence, according to Gabriel. "Spirits cannot hurt you or harm you," she says. "They can make you feel weird, but that's it. You can get weird vibes and weird feelings from them, but they're harmless." So that's good.

The thing with spirits is that they don't "cross to the other side" after they die, so they're operating in the Earth element, which is why you can communicate with them. "Our spirit lives on when we die, but we do see instances where people have something that's really tethering them down to the Earth, and so they get stuck here and can't move on," says Gabriel.

Why would you want to communicate with spirits?

The spirit world is filled with guides that can actually help you if you hear their messages, according to the medium. "There's so much more to the spirit world than just ghosts, and if you move through that fear, it's very beautiful," says Gabriel. "If you can elevate and quiet the mind, you start to connect with the higher vibration spirit world—you can focus on that vibration and connect with loved ones. And that is where you get this amazing connection and beautiful energy that can assist you in your life and help you in healing."

In fact, your lost loved ones may be carrying specific messages for you, adds Gabriel. "And there's not just one way to connect with them," she says. "Everyone I've ever read for is already connected to the spirit world without me—so, I always tell people, your loved ones are with you, not me." You can think of accessing them as turning on and tuning into an old radio. "It's about raising your vibration up as the spirits slow theirs down, and you meet in the middle so you can hear them." Below, she shares her best advice for doing just that.

How to actually communicate with spirits:

1. Avoid using tools

"Don't use tools like an Ouija board or a pendulum if you aren't trained to do so," warns Gabriel, who stresses that training is required for using either of these powerful platforms correctly. "What it's like is basically opening up a channel to spirits so that any spirit can come wandering through," she says, "and the problem is that you could easily pick up a lot of ghosts and stuck energy."

2. Stay focused

Gabriel says the secret lies in being intentional. "It's a very focused, specific station when you want to reach for someone," she explains. "Opening up to the whole spirit world is too much. Working with energy is about focusing on your intention and who you want to connect with."

3. Follow your gut

"If your spirit guides are trying to get you to hear something, they are meeting you in your gut," Gabriel says. "It's like when you meet someone and think they're not good for you, or that you feel you should take a chance on a job. Your spirit guide is prompting you, so it's all about quieting your mind so that you can hear what your gut is saying." Of course, just how to do this may be different for everyone. "You might try walking in nature, putting your phone away, and practicing deep-breathing," says Gabriel.

4. Listen to your dreams

You may also receive some communication from your spirits while you're asleep. "People who have crossed over come through in dream states, especially in the beginning of their passing," says Gabriel. "They're usually just trying to show the person that they're okay." Case in point: My dreams about my grandmother.

5. Try a writing practice

Gabriel dubs spirit-focused writing meditations as "automatic writing." Light a white candle, sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath, she instructs. "Say that you'd like to work with the highest vibrational guides available to you," she says, "and then you can ask them a question, take a deep breath, and relax your hand. Let it be loose, and then write up what they're saying. They'll start talking really fast."

If you're having trouble connecting despite your best intentions, Gabriel says not to stress—it's a process and a practice. "It can be very frustrating at first because you want to connect with them immediately, but it doesn't work like that," she says. "I'm still learning new things and practicing myself after reading for 11 years."

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