It’s 1976, and my mom and dad are sitting quietly with their eyes closed, hands resting upward—thumb and index finger touching—while my younger siblings crawl on their backs and shoulders. My older two brothers and I sit nearby, holding our own meditation poses, bored, rolling our eyes and counting the minutes until this ritual will end.
At least once a week or whenever things got stressful, my parents would pull all five of their children—ranging in age from ten to one—into our library/family meditation room. As much as I complained, a part of me yearned for this spiritual practice.
Spiritual renewal is essential to our emotional well-being. It helps us nurture our essence, feel centered, build inner strength, live in integrity, and trust life. It allows us to experience a connection to a higher power, feel a sense of purpose, and experience meaning in our lives. Lately when I teach people the art and science of self-care and share the various ways we can nurture ourselves–physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually–it’s the latter that most want to focus on.
There are many different ways we explore and nurture our spiritual lives. For some this includes spending time in nature, yoga, prayer and meditation, or musical or artistic expression. Some practical ways you can nourish yourself spiritually may include:
We all crave sacredness and ritual in our everyday lives—not just around birthdays and weddings. Rituals can be both carefully planned events and casual but regular remembrances, such as voicing gratitude before a meal or creating dedicated space in your day for contemplation. When we mark important transitions or milestones in our lives—whether it’s your daughter’s first period or your son starting kindergarten—we connect to the sacredness of everyday life. We remember that life is mysterious and we’re more than our to-do lists! Read more.
Stillness, whether experienced through prayer, meditation, or reflection, is our time to be alone and connect to our inner wisdom or our higher power. We’re moving so fast right now, it’s essential for all of us to carve out time for quiet reflection each and every day. One of the biggest gifts I’ve received from a daily meditation practice is the ability to live more comfortably with what is—whether that’s my husband’s recent layoff or a car accident. Meditation has helped anchor me, so that despite this impermanence and turmoil, I’ve learned how to be still and find my center in the face of it all.
Practicing Service to Others Mother Teresa said it best: “The fruit of love is service, which is compassion in action.”
We are all interconnected. The more we reach out and are present to one anothers pain and suffering, the stronger we become and the easier it is to embrace the esoteric idea that we’re all one. I believe huge shifts in consciousness can occur when we reach out and help one another navigate this sometimes scary, often isolating and perplexing, but beautiful world. Sometime that might look like serving soup at your local homeless shelter and other times, it’s trimming your elderly neighbor’s trees.
Living in the Present
Many great spiritual teachers believe the answer to everything is to just “be here now,” and that our suffering and emotional distress would end if we simply stopped resisting the present moment. One weekend as I sat on the couch with a full-body cold: a splitting headache, body chills and a nonstop runny nose, I thought about this principle. And, as I watched the things I was missing fly out the window—my friend’s birthday party, my son’s piano recital—I connected to my breath and felt myself arrive in the present moment. I sensed my resistance begin to dissipate and a feeling of peace slowly settled over me. I temporarily suspended my desire for things to be different and I embraced that on the couch, with a cold, was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Three of my immediate family members died unexpectedly between my twenty-sixth and thirty-fourth birthdays. For years I let those losses dictate how much and how often I could experience joy. Anytime I started to feel light, free, or happy, the old feeling of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” would creep in. Can you only be happy if things are going your way and all the stars are aligned in your favor? I believe we’re born with the innate capacity to experience emotional well-being and joy; it’s our birthright to feel good. Happiness comes from within; we’re wired for it. We just have to remember to choose this moment to moment.
It’s easy to forget who we really are. To lose sight of what really matters. To fall asleep and not remember how interconnected we all are and that we’re fully human and, at the same time, divine.
A regular spiritual practice—whether that’s a daily gratitude practice, being in a spiritual community, or singing—serves to anchor us. It grounds us and helps us navigate the challenges we face from just being human. It helps us stay awake so ultimately, we can begin to let go, trust the rhythm and flow of life and relax into the beauty of our true nature.
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Want to help you your employees, organization or conference members rock their game by learning the art and science of self-care? Schedule me to present a custom work-life balance/resiliency presentation or workshop in 2022-23. I travel and speak around the globe at conferences, leadership retreats and employee events; one of my most popular topics is Finding Balance in a 24/7 World: The Art & Science of Self-Renewal. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of three books on life balance and living intentionally including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.