by Lisette Cifaldi, LMSW owner of Eating Sanity, eatingsanity.com
When we talk about finding balance in life or striving for optimal health, we are usually referring to enhancing the health of our collective mind, body, and spirit. It’s a lofty quest, but achieving just a moment of that elusive balance provides us a sweet, welcomed serenity.
Within that mind, body, spirit trilogy, our spiritual wellness is often the most neglected. The general reasons for that spiritual inattention are that most people don’t have the first clue how to connect spiritually, or even know what their spiritual beliefs are for that matter. Yet, when cultivated daily, spiritual nourishment has the power to transform our lives in a profoundly positive way.
Spirituality doesn’t have to be an explicit construct, and connecting spiritually doesn’t require an elaborate ritual. You don’t have to light incense, chant and wear a flowing robe to have a spiritual experience. Spirituality is merely tapping into a loving frequency – one that you can feel as both part of you, and as part of the infinite. It is an understanding that we are part of something greater than ourselves coupled with a joyful feeling when we plug into that source. How we define and articulate that source doesn’t even matter. Feeling it is where the richness lies.
Below are some simple ways to define, build and nurture your spirituality.
Gratitude is the language of the spirit. When we cultivate gratitude, we begin to see the world through a different filter – one that recognizes beauty, abundance, love, and blessings everywhere. The key word in that last sentence is cultivate. Becoming fluent in the spiritual language of gratitude requires a daily discipline of purposely seeking out and recognizing the blessings around us.
One of the first steps toward cultivating gratitude is doing an inventory of the everyday blessings presently in your life. That means observing the gifts you likely take for granted. For instance, have you ever stopped to remind yourself what a godsend air-conditioning is on a hot day or how welcoming a comfortable bed is at the end of a long day? Once you’ve started your blessings inventory, then you can move on to creating a gratitude journal. Write down five things that you’re grateful for each day in your journal. Make sure to switch it up from day-to-day to challenge yourself to look beyond the obvious.
Get Out In Nature
There is something about the beauty of nature that can make even the crankiest of individuals feel spiritually connected. When we witness the majesty of nature, a part of us that is awe-inspired by its beauty also recognizes on some level that we are not separate from it. We are part of nature’s magnificent creation, and when we spend time hiking, walking on the beach, and wandering in the forest, we feel that connection. Purposely spending time in nature can be a spiritual refueling, so getting outdoors is a great way to nourish your soul.
Be of Service
Spiritual connection is a lot easier to achieve when we engage in ego disconnection. That means we have to move from the “I” to the “We.” Helping others in a service capacity is one of the best ways to detach from our sense of self-importance while tapping into our bond to overall humanity. When we feel that sense of one with humanity, we feel our spirit because, once again, we acknowledge the understanding that we are part of something greater than ourselves on a meaningful level.
Being of service doesn’t mean you have to build a church in a third-world country. It simply means doing something nice to help an individual or group in need. Perhaps you have an elderly neighbor that could use some company from time to time or an injured friend that would be so grateful to have groceries delivered. You might volunteer for The Humane Society or Habitat for Humanity from time to time. Look for a need, fill it, and your spirit expands.
Define Your Higher-Power
Many people have trouble with the concept of a higher-power because they link the idea to a religious paradigm. The truth is, you can define your own higher-power. Your higher-power can be devoid of all religious affiliation; it can be a fusion of religious concepts; it can be nature, or even a deceased loved one. The construct you use to define your higher-power is just a tool that acts as a conduit to your spirit.
Perhaps the best place to start when defining your higher-power is to list the qualities you would want it to have. For instance, would you like your higher-power to be unconditionally loving, fair, unjudging, and compassionate? Would you like it to be a source of guidance and strength? Your higher-power can be a combination of any qualities that resonate with you.
If you’re seeking balance and serenity in your life, start by cultivating spiritual connection. Trade in any biases and negative religious experiences for the development of your own rituals, understanding, and practices.