“As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.”
Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy the Laundry
The journey home is exactly what I am experiencing since I went through a series of difficult events―and strong reactions to them―last year. This includes a concussion and being on a watchlist for greater breast cancer risk. With this breaking news came the search for solutions, sustainable ones, because the short lived ones, I did try.
I knew I was burning the candle by both ends. I knew I needed to slow down, maybe even stop certains activities in some cases. I pushed through a little too long. I should have know better not to. But I did. The gift that came with it is the spiritual quest I am going through. I have found that from everything, what I crave the most (no, exercise even though needed, is not the one) is spiritual self-care. The search for meaning and a sense of purpose and contribution to the world has been haunting me. I toned it down because I had let my mind take over for far too long. As my coach of the time said to me: ‘’Let the heart lead and the head will follow’’. Now I am ready to quiet the mind chatter and listen to the whispers of my heart.
I looked many places for a spiritual self-care assessment and finally came up with the following list:
- Ability to spend reflective time alone
- Being able to find meanings of events in life
- Spending time in nature
- Finding a spiritual connection or community
- Being open to inspiration
- Cherishing optimism and hope
- Being aware of non-material aspects of life
- Trying at times not to be in charge or the expert
- Being open to not knowing
- Identifying what is meaningful and noticing its place in my life
- Meditating and/or Praying
- Having experiences of awe
- Being able to practice forgiveness and compassion in life
- Contributing to causes in which we believe
- Reading inspirational literature or listening to inspirational talks, music
- Developing a purpose in life
I am attempting all of this and some days are quite better than others. We may not be thinking about spiritual self-care at first, but what I realized is even though everything else would fall into place, if there is no peace inside, it is hard to feel joy and lightness of the heart. Let me explain briefly. You have done your morning exercise, ate healthy food all day long, slept well the night before and had good sex on top of that. Still you are not able to let go of what was said about you from a superior at work. This is not the first time you have to deal with a situation like this. You are getting exhausted mentally and emotionally.
These words have really hurt your feelings and you cannot get them out of your head. ‘’What am I doing wrong?’’ you think. You wonder how to resolve the issue, ask for advice, mumble the words to make sure it will be clear and not offending when voiced. Now, after all this, you even wonder if you should bring up the subject in the first place or try to make peace with it on your own!
Obstacles on our path have a greater meaning. I am sure this is not a new concept to you. There is a teaching that is aching to be learned. If not learned this time, the message will just get stronger. This could take the shape of a greater roadblock or a more intense physical sign. The digestive upset maybe now transmutes itself into stomach ulcer. The event is just too hard to digest!
When we do care for our spiritual self, we take and make the time to inner reflect and find tools to help us address the greater meaning of each and every event. We may learn detachment, forgiveness, or speaking up for ourselves. As we open up our heart to the spiritual growth, we become closer to our divine self and better equipped to fulfill our life’s mission.
This is why spiritual self-care is essential to be happy and by default, healthy. We all care to a degree or the other about our contribution to the world, whether it is by being a loving parent, an excellent contributor to our work or ending suffering at a large level on this planet. Microcosm and macrocosm, it is all the same. All work is important. It is hard to live thinking that we do do not matter. We all need to feel our life has a purpose. When our emotions take over, we need to quiet the mind and let out spirit soar to make some magic happen. The need to let go is definitely there.
I invite you to take inventory of your current obstacles and note how you address them in a way that nurtures and nourishes you. It is important to not just get rid of the issues asap but to be in the moment and to feel the pain, cry the tears. As we bring more spirituality into our care it is easier to see life as it is and bring more contentment and gratitude on a daily basis. As we know, there is light, it might be just crowded momentarily with the shadow of our thoughts.
I am curious to know what works for you? Share your comment below so we can all learn from each other!