The spiritual side of self-care
The term self-care has found its way into our everyday language. There are recommendations for many ways of self-care such as massages, exercising, and taking a long bath. But is there a spiritual side of self-care? Yes, we do need to care for our spirit as we do with so many other aspects of our lives. There are many ways to provide self-care for our spirit. I thought I would share a few of my own spiritual self-care activities.
I find it is super easy to get sucked into the busyness of life. We might go through the overbooked day and not even think about it for a moment. What if we paused each day to read something meaningful or inspirational? I was in a very difficult place in my life and a friend recommended a daily inspirational email that arrives each morning. This was 10 years ago and it is still part of my morning routine. The themes from this past week have been wonder, peace, celebrate, and joy, which have provided me with a morning quiet time to decide how I might view my day. How could I walk through today with a celebration and wonder within my life?
Meditation and Prayer
Our spirit longs for time to pause and reflect. This can be as simple as box breathing meditation where you inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts. When we pause and slow down our breathing, we have time to connect to our spirit and reflect on what is happening in the moment. There are many traditions of meditation and prayer that one can easily learn through phone apps, too.
My personal favorite form of self-care walking is a photo walk. I take a simple walk around the block. I look for what is beautiful or interesting and take a photo. I stay in the moment to really appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and can look back at the photo later. This process helps me stay present in the moment and increase my awareness of my surroundings. It is a way to appreciate nearby surroundings that are often missed in a life of hurry. By the way, I do place my phone on airplane mode when I take photo walks to ensure I will not be distracted.
When I was training to become a Reiki teaching master, we had many tasks to complete to help us process the spiritual journey of the training. One of the tasks was to not watch or read any news for 30 days! Initially, I thought this would be difficult. Yet, I could tell within a few days of ignoring the news; my spirit was lighter and happier. I was no longer caught up in the fears and emotions that can be stirred up from watching the news.
Scientific studies now show that listing 3 things you are grateful for each day for 21 days will increase your level of happiness. Keeping a daily gratitude list or jar can remind you of the gifts you encounter each day of your life and can be another activity for spiritual self-care. A few years back on January 1, I created a gratitude jar. I found a large jar, tied a ribbon it, and named it my gratitude jar. I kept a pen and small sheets of paper nearby. When I saw good or felt grateful, I wrote it down and placed it in the jar. When I needed a spiritual pick me up, I reached into the jar and read what I wrote.
On a much deeper level of spiritual self-care, I find forgiveness is such a powerful practice. The forgiveness can be toward others, organizations, groups, and even yourself. I was in a book group that decided to read a book on forgiveness. The book was from a leading researcher on the best practices for forgiveness. One of the best techniques to free up my spirit through forgiveness was through letter writing. You can pause and reflect on what needs to be forgiven in your life. Choose one of those thoughts and start writing. You write first about the situation and the feelings. Then you write about what you have learned from the unresolved forgiveness. You finish the letter by stating that you now release this situation through forgiveness, and you find a place to burn the letter. You do not ever send the letter but you burn the letter and let it go. This is a very powerful spiritual self-care technique.
Now that you have a few ideas to get started on your own spiritual self-care journey, what next step will you take? I recommend you start small. Begin with watching a sunrise or a sunset to appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature. Then, take the next step and try a technique to see if it resonates with your spiritual side. The goal of all self-care is to renew and re-energize yourself and not to add another task to your daily To-Do List. Some people find it beneficial to share these techniques with others when they first get started. You could go on a photo walk with others or gather a few sisters to create gratitude jars. I have found all of these techniques to be so helpful to my spiritual self. I have been able to feel greater joy, happiness, and meaning in life. Each of the ideas above are ways to restore and energize your life. They help you become more present and mindful in the moment vs. rushing through life. The most important aspect of spiritual self-care is to start in a small way to care for yourself and your spirit. You deserve the investment in yourself. As the days continue, it is my hope you will find the tremendous benefit of spiritual self-care.