I’m curious. How is your spiritual health these days? Is your spirit in good shape? Are you peaceful and at ease? Openhearted and loving? Grateful and kind?
The state of our spirit, perhaps even more than our state of body and mind, can influence the quality of our days. As busy women today, we know we are supposed to take good care of our physical health, our emotional health, too. But we don’t read or hear much about how important it is to tend our spirit.
Yet, in my own life, especially during the childbearing years, when days felt chaotic or overwhelming, taking time to nurture my spirit could change everything. Stress walked out the door; inner ease took up residence, and I could breathe again. Life felt very different when I remembered to make my spiritual health a priority.
So, how can a busy woman tend to her spirit? Here are seven ways that are sure to please—and restore health and harmony.
Give yourself permission to sit down. Lie down. Put your feet up and do absolutely nothing.
Rest is vitally important to our well-being and, yet, according to studies today, most women say they are exhausted. In the name of busyness and productivity, we do not stop. We move through our days like the Eveready Bunny. We just keep going and going and going …
M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, was once asked how he accomplished so much in a day. He replied, “Because I spend two hours a day doing absolutely nothing.” To Peck, rest was sacred. It is. Giving ourselves permission to “be” instead of “do,” to get off the fast track and honor the quieter places within ourself, actually creates space for productivity.
Really breathe. Take time each day to simply sit—anywhere, in your car, at your desk—and focus on your breath. Bring your attention to the “in” breath and the “out” breath; breathing in for eight counts, out for ten.
Consciously breathing in this way eases the body. It creates new pathways in the mind, releases emotions, and opens the heart. It connects us with our innate peace, a virtue of the spirit. Did you know that the words “breath” and “spirit” come from the same Latin word, spiritus? This implies that breathing is, indeed, a sacred act.
Seek Silence and Solitude
Give yourself a time-out—time to sit in the quiet and be alone with yourself. Turn off the television, the radio, and put away the newspaper. Halt the input so you can get in touch with a gentler place inside of you.
In a world of noise and commotion, silence and alone time are vital to well-being. Overstimulation of our senses and constant input can make us anxious or depressed. Within each of us is an oasis of calm, but it is not one that will seek us out. We must drop down inside ourselves to find it if we wish to rest beneath its sheltering palms and drink of its cooling waters. Everyone deserves an oasis in the busyness of life. Not to mention that you deserve the pleasure of your own company, now and then!
Even in the midst of a busy day, you can step outside, look up at the sky, feel your feet upon the earth, and hone in on the beauty found in nature. Connecting with the natural world is an effortless way to reconnect with your spirit.
We can turn our senses up to high and really notice the brilliance that is all around us; see the colors, hear the sounds, smell the freshness of Mother Nature. By doing so, we are able to get in touch with the uniqueness, the majesty, of what is here, right now, right in front of us. Awe is restored and our spirit is “naturally,” uplifted. The many features and forms of nature remind us that life is good, full of beauty and hope.
Utilize daily practices that nurture your spirit; activities that bring you peace of body, mind, and heart. You may already have some of your own: prayer, meditation, yoga, walking, chanting, singing, dancing, tai chi, gardening, devotional reading, journaling, and more. Or, you might like to explore new ones if yours are feeling a bit stale. There are as many spiritual practices as there are people. The key is to find those that bring you joy.
In as little as twenty minutes a day, we can move away from thoughts and feelings of anxiousness, depression, or frustration, and return to our natural state of equanimity. Spiritual practices work, as long as we put them to work for us. Time and faithfulness are key.
Consider the fact that if you are experiencing more negative emotions than positive ones, you may be overly focused on yourself. A “What about me?” attitude is a surefire way to stay disconnected from your spirit.
Focusing on others—“What can I give? How can I help?”—can shift our perspective. We see there are others who are less fortunate than ourselves. Giving and being of service to others opens our heart to the plights of others; it fosters feelings of loving kindness. We may even begin to feel that we are finding or fulfilling our life purpose. By applying the virtue of generosity, we are making a difference in the world—and that is spirit enhancing!
Finally, say “thank you” often. Say it out loud to people. Write your feelings of gratitude in a daily journal. Offer a prayer of gratitude to a higher power for all that you have been given, for the gift of life itself.
An attitude of gratitude may be the most powerful virtue of the spirit. Why? Because walking around with gratitude in our heart enables us to see life through lenses of appreciation. It grows a habit of honing in on what is right, instead of what is wrong or lacking. When we are able to perceive our day full of blessings or little joys, our lightheartedness washes over others making them feel good, too, and in an ailing world, we can certainly use more of that. The mystic writer, Meister Eckhart, may have said it best: “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Take good care of your spirit and it will take good care of you. Breathe on!