So, how can we take care of our spirit, while living in the physical sense? Below, I have outlined (and would suggest), the following information to assist with cleansing and re-energizing your spirit. These simple tools can make a difference in your life, and help to guide you along a path of a more fulfilled and positive sense of self, and spirit. These steps will also aid in ridding negativity, as well as can help to curb negative behaviors.
Part I: The Basics
Eat Healthy – One of the best ways to cleanse your spirit is to develop healthy, or healthier (for sake of small steps), eating habits. The American Dietetic Association, or ADA, is a great reference tool for nutrition. I would also suggest bookmarking a calorie-counting site on your computer.
Food journals are also beneficial when you are trying to make healthy dietary changes. This tool works wonderfully to help you establish your eating patterns.
The most important thing to remember: Never approach healthy eating as a temporary diet plan, but a life style change. Replace junk food with healthy snacks, drink plenty of water, and eat well-balanced meals. Try not to skip meals and do not eat past 7:00 PM.
A healthy body, leads to a healthier and more energized spirit!
Schedule a Physical – Do yourself a big favor and schedule at least one physical with your family doctor, per calendar year. The older that a person gets, the more concerns they should have. It is recommended that you review family history of illness and disease, as well as any personal health concerns that you may have.
Simple blood tests are critical and can determine if you need to be more vigilant about your health. Your doctor can order blood work to test for High Cholesterol, Blood Glucose (Diabetes), Iron (Anemia), as well as a CMP that will survey your overall chemistry to ensure that your ranges are within normal limits. Potassium, Calcium and other indicators from the CMP are important, as they are critical in regulating and supporting proper cardiac function.
Women should schedule annual appointments with their GYN doctor, as well as have a routine, or baseline mammogram conducted at the age of 40, and repeated every 1 to 2 years. Once a woman reaches the age of 50, it is recommended that they have an annual mammogram, unless directed otherwise by their physician.
Colonoscopy: Colon cancer is often a silent killer. Unless you are having problems before the age of 50, it is recommended that men and women have a routine (baseline) colonoscopy at age 50, and then a follow-up test once every 5 to 10 years. Again, this is dependent upon your current condition, and whether or not you have a family history. Your physician may schedule one sooner, should you be experiencing any concerning symptoms.
Sleep – One of the biggest favors you could do for yourself begins with getting enough sleep. The body becomes practically useless in function with inadequate sleep. Sure, there may come a time when you have to stay up well past your typical bedtime, or get up super early to conduct business, but you must compensate for that lost sleep. Going to bed at a regular time, and getting at least 6 hours sleep, will do your body and mind wonders.
Rest – Just as much as sleep is important, so is the need to rest, especially if you are experiencing high, or unusual levels of stress. Even after a long day at the office, or running around town doing errands, sometimes it is very beneficial to just sit and rest for 30 minutes. You don’t have to sleep, but just take some time to desensitize yourself.
As a parent, (and when much children were young), I would often come home from work and read to the kids on the couch for a half hour, or talk about the day. It’s a great way to communicate with family and give your self a break at the same time! Don’t rush to make dinner, as that will just lead to more unnecessary stress. Instead, you should try eating, or offering a small, but healthy snack during this ‘un-wind time’. Doing so will help stave-off the urgency to make dinner and make the transition home, more positive.
Part II: Adaptations
New Beginnings – Embrace each new day! One of the first things that I do when I wake up is say “Thank you, Lord, for granting me this day and for watching over my family and I while we slept”. Every day is a new beginning that you have been given to enjoy life.
The blessing that you have been given to be able to start a new day in itself, is invaluable. You have this opportunity to make wanted changes, finish business, and follow your dreams. Whether you see it as a time to practice self-improvement, or to help family or others in need, or to simply go to work and appreciate your job, celebrate this time. There is not guarantee that you will have a tomorrow, so make the most out of today!
Establish Realistic Goals
Time Management – Although this may take some getting use to, it is perfectly achievable if you are willing to do it – and do it right. Time management involves two critical elements: Learning to prioritize and the willingness to say ‘no’.
Some may say that people may toss out comments such as ‘you’re anal’, or ‘too uptight’, but in a world filled with so much to do, but too little time, time management skills will help alleviate unnecessary stress, as well as keep you on task.
Establishing these skills can definitely help with juggling family and a career. One of the most important bits of advice that my mother has ever given, was to tell me (while pregnant for my first son), “Jill, develop a schedule and stick to it, even if it means saying ‘no’ to people.” Boy – she could not have hit the nail on the head with more precision.
You must prioritize your tasks and access your timetables and stick to it! Sure, you may want to go out after work and catch the latest, greatest feature at the movie theater with your, but you have to consider what will go to the wayside if you do? If it is going to interfere with another task, just say ‘no’. If you explain the predicament, most people will understand your decision. If they try to tempt you, be strong and stick to your guns.
You must learn to schedule ‘wants’ for open time slots and do not fool yourself into thinking that you can move things around to compensate for what you ‘need’ to be doing. You can certainly have fun, providing you are not finding yourself caught in a cycle of want-need juggling.
Tools such as daily planners, notepads, homemade calendars, and smart-phones are efficient ways to develop and stay on schedule. Once you get the hang of it, you can help others who may need some time reinforcement. It’s OK to be a time stickler; it is professional and again, will help avoid unnecessary stress.
Practice Patience – Considering that the former topic is Time Management, there is no irony that patience follows. Even when you are organized or utilizing your time management tools, it is always beneficial to be patient. As for daily tasks, time management will afford ample time for setbacks or mishaps. Rushing and acting in haste only leads to higher stress levels, which equate to more negative, than positive energy.
In situations where you believe that your patience is being tested – well – it more than likely is. I tend to go by what I refer to as ‘fair patience’. Fair patience is a term that I use to determine when I need to stop being patient and either; just let it go, or become more aggressive (AKA: patience has worn out and something needs to give).
Practicing patience, more than aggression, is optimal for good health and promoting positive energy. Practicing fair patience allows for time to be both a buffer, and a way to re-evaluate the situation. There are many times that through patience, or time, knowledge is learned, which can grossly affect the outcome of the situation.
Patience also is conducive for a cool down period and affords more clarity to circumstance. By practicing fair patience, you are not being taken advantage of, nor are making decisions in haste. Establish limits and keep communication lines open when practicing fair patience. This method shows respect, yet creates limitations and boundaries. Use patience to foster positive problem-solving skills and beneficial, meaningful outcomes. This is also a great way to develop and enhance parent/child communication.
Of course there may be situations, which warrant immediate attention. In such cases there may be no room for patience, but just keep in mind that it is best to exercise it, whenever possible. Practicing patience will again, lead to less stress, clarity, and opportunity to obtain and gather pertinent information. In turn, patience will create positive energy. Things will work out just they way there were meant to, and your ability to embrace this, rather than fight it, will help you on your life journey.
Kick The Habit – Admission is the first step. Kicking a bad habit (or two), will work wonders for your body, mind and soul. The key is to assess what those habits are, and tackle them one at a time. Whether the habit is alcohol, drugs, caffeine, soda, over-eating, too much television, shopping, etc., ridding yourself of this nasty baggage will re-energize your spirit and lend to a more productive and overall healthy, life.
Prioritize your habits from ‘terrible’ to ‘not so much’. Pick the top ‘terrible’ habit and write down some strategies that you think would help you overcome the problem. Look at support groups as a positive means of dealing with it, especially if it is an addiction. Also try researching the topic to see which tools are available to you. The next step should be to develop a plan to begin ridding yourself of that habit.
I love coffee! There is nothing more enticing or invigorating than a delicious, hot cup of java in the morning. I’ve learned that as much as I may want to drink an entire pot by noon, it is so not healthy therefore I limit myself to one steaming cup per day. On rare occasions, there may come a day that warrants that second mug. I refer to this as a ‘two-cupper coffee kind of day’, and will indulge for an extra round however I have made a promise to myself and do not drink any more than two within a 24-hour period of time.
Again, set realistic goals and actually tell yourself that YOU CAN – AND WILL – SUCCEED! Do not put yourself down. Stay positive and focused, and surround your self with positive, supportive people who will help you.
If you find that your habit is actually a serious addiction, please seek proper, professional help. I have incorporated a list below that may get you going in the right direction:
Develop or Enhance A Creative Outlet or Hobby – Believe it or not, a hobby is very valuable for your spirit. Sports, creative venues such as art, music and dance, reading, collections, are all wonderful ways to enhance your spirituality.
Dedicate time each week, even for just 30 minutes time, to develop or enhance a hobby or creative endeavor. It will both restore and boost your positive energy, and is an excellent way to communicate your personal feelings. Hobbies are also useful for deterring and helping to stop bad habits.
Hobbies and activities tend to relax the body and mind, which in turn, are nurturing to the soul. Whether you are doing the activity alone, or in a group, the benefits will outweigh any issues that you may have scheduling the activity itself.
Children can also benefit from developing a talent or hobby. Encourage them by including them in your own activities, and then help them explore their own unique potential. This will help them develop a sense of self, and also assist them with their skills, education and socialization.
Part III: Emotional Enrichment
Purge The Past – Accept your past as part of life learning. Acknowledge your failures, appreciate your success – move on. Dealing with the past can be painful, but is part of spiritual growth.
Think about the experiences in which you were a teacher, and other times when you were the student. Incorporate those lessons into the future without dwelling on the past to the point that you stagnate yourself or stunt progress. With time comes change, and part of dealing with change involves letting go of what went before.
Embrace the future with excitement and do not let mistakes or old habits, burden you. Purging the past will allow for you to travel the road of life with a much lighter mind and soul, ultimately making for a much more positive journey.
Live Without Regret – Part of spiritual cleansing involves accepting regret and learning to let it go. Although you cannot change the past, you must ‘own’ it. Everyone makes mistakes but you have to come to terms with remorse and move on. You will never be able to make progress if you continue to dwell on misfortune and regret, be it due to something you have done, or something that was done to you. Think of the experiences as an opportunity to grow and become a better, wiser, more spiritually healthy individual.
Do Something Good For Someone In Need – As discussed in prior posts, nothing can be more gratifying than helping someone in need. By volunteering within your community, offering to assist a neighbor, or helping family members in need, you are sharing positive energy with others, as well as enhancing your spirituality. You would be surprised how much your actions mean. Lending a hand is an exquisite healing tool that will revitalize your sense of purpose and energize your soul.
Here is a site that may give you a starting point as to donating your time and energy to a cause:
Think Positive & Be Hopeful Minded – Positive, realistic thinking and remaining hopeful can be put through quite a test. So many life experiences are always trying even the most positive thinking individuals, and has the ability to extinguish an innate sense of hope.
Positive, realistic thinking is something that most anyone can do with effort. Once you become acquainted with positive thinking and positive living, it will come as a natural response to the trials and tribulations that life may toss into your path. The realistic aspect of positive thinking means having the ability to use your reasoning skills in a practical and/or realistic sense relative to the experiences and situations in your life.
Positive, realistic thinking means paying careful attention to not fool yourself about these experiences and/or situations and understanding limitations. One must take into consideration that positive, unrealistic thinking can actually lead to denial and in turn, be counter-productive and self-destructive. Denial can lead to a negative thought pattern which only sabotages your progress and loads down the self (physically, mentally and emotionally).
Hope will also help promote a more positive mindset. Draw upon hope when you begin to feel stressed from the force of negativity. Do your best and cherish what you have; think of hope as an eternal spring that feeds the soul and helps to deflect impurities, or negative energy that enters life. Although hope can be diminished, it finds ways to replenish the spiritual self, even in times of extreme pain and desperation. Hope evolves, and teaches not only on a personal level, but globally.
Let Yourself Love and Be Loved: You Are Worthy – In order to love, and to be loved, you must love your self. As cliché as this may sound, it is without a doubt, one of the most significant concepts needed to live a life filled with purpose and joy. After all, love is one of the most basic human needs, and you are worthy!
Every individual on this planet has imperfection and weakness; some seen, and others unseen. You must learn to understand and embrace this powerful concept as a foundation of your Being, from which your spirituality will grow.
Once you have come to understand this notion, it is important to work on individual strengths, or positive attributes, in addition to working on any weaknesses, or negative attributes. Honesty is crucial. With true self-evaluation, you will be able to identify poignant barriers which may be deterring you, or blocking you from enjoying love on some, or all relationship levels. Upon this identification, you can break down these internal/external barriers, and begin to enjoy life more fully.
Slowly, with time and through accepting and dealing with painful internal conflict, you will learn to rebuild your spiritual foundation. This will help you launch healthier relationships, and develop a greater sense of purpose and love of Self.
Seek Goodness – This is a virtue by which your day and your life journey, should be guided. By holding firm to this way of living, you are going to surround your self with more positive people, and create more optimism. It will also create a more accurate sense of intuition, which can assist in problem solving, and in dealing with many of life’s hardships.
Helping others, ‘righting’ a wrong, creating win-win solutions and doing the right thing, are just a few examples of seeking goodness in life. This mindset will assist in deflecting and managing negativity. Staying mindful of who you are in respect to your family, friends, the community, the Universe and your Creator will powerfully impact your actions/reactions to life experience.
Reaping good will sow good. If you practice this with intent, you will find that your environment, and your Being, will be more harmonious, in turn creating a higher level of spiritual contentment. Let good be the guide, and pay attention to your intuition. If you sense you are not doing the right thing, chances are, you are not. Try to find a more positive solution, or situation that will benefit not only you, but also the world around you.
Reminisce – Memories can be very influential relative to the healing process. Reminisce about times that lent great joy and peace in your life. Allow your self to feel and re-experience the vast emotions that are associated with those special times: the laughter, the love – the nostalgia. This can be a valuable tool when you are facing times of stress and despair. These flickering remembrances of love and happiness truly have the power to recharge the spirit and restore your faith.
Get In Touch With Your Inner Child – Just as much as reminiscing can be beneficial, so can channeling your Inner Child. The innocence, laughter, joy, and sense of discovery that occurs in childhood can promote healing, and create a healthier life. Part take in activities with your friends, family, even your own children, that lend a sense of silliness and abandon. Listening, singing and dancing to music, playing games, watching television shows and movies, can help you merrily regress. Allocate time to experience the sensations and emotions of your younger years; it will rejuvenate your soul. Bit of advice: Of course you should practice responsibility when channeling your Inner Child, as well as avoid doing so too frequently. Remember, it’s all about balance and after all, you are an adult!
Part IV: Spiritual Enrichment
Reflect Upon Life & Death – Reflecting upon life and death is something that helps to evaluate and also guide you along your life journey. Discussions, research and support groups are a valuable resource to help fill in the gaps as you draw life experience. Acknowledging that death is a part of life, can help you make defining decisions as to how you want to live, as well as prepare you for death. When you reflect upon life and death, dig deep into your own thoughts and feelings and incorporate those of family and close friends. Through these actions, you will better be able to enjoy life NOW, and again, live with more peace and purpose.
Appreciate Nature – Nature is such a personal experience. Spending time outdoors, or even looking through a window into nature, is relaxing, peaceful and inspiring. The sights, sounds and emotions can feed your soul as you quietly watch the natural cycle of life.
Consider a long walk in a natural setting, or just sit and absorb its beauty and wonderment. I highly recommend meditating in an undisturbed location by the sea, in a field, in the woods, on a rock next to a tranquil stream, or outdoors underneath the night sky, or any other comfortable, quiet location. Absorb the smells, the sounds and feel the air against your body as you let go of stress and recharge your spirit.
Not only does nature help you heal, observation can generate a deeper awareness of the life and death cycle. A great exercise in this even through gardening. Think about planting a small herb garden or selective vegetable garden, should you not have adequate space or the environment for a large outdoor garden. From planting, to harvest, the experience can be very fulfilling, and enriches the soul!
Acknowledge Your Creator – Being thankful for your blessings, understanding that you are loved in the eyes of your Creator, and having awareness that you are one human being in a world of many, will bring strength and renew your spirit. Whether you make the time to go to church, commune with nature, or sit and quietly reflect upon the Universe and your Creator, this connection will help you when it comes time to make life altering choices, or in facing setback or sorrow. Additionally, your bond with your Creator will enhance your happiness and is a fortifying experience when celebrating your life journey.
Let Go & Let God: Of Any Internal struggling whether it is in your family life, personal relationships, or career, there often comes a time when one must accept that they need to ‘let go and let God’. Even after a most commendable attempt at problem solving, or even when ‘fair patience’ has been utilized and stretched to its limits, you must hand over the issue and give it to God.
The maternal side of my family has always practiced this and it was not until I reached my mid-twenties, that I was able to fully realize the power of this advice. I recall quite a few times whereas I would be at wit’s end about a matter and enveloped in worry. My grandmother, aunt and mother would always tell me to ask God to lift the trouble from shoulders and to put my trust in Him to help direct me. Admittedly feeling a bit strange when initially doing so, I came to realize that this was a way to restore my strength and alleviate worry about pressing matters.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, indecisive, or are in need of direction, let go of the problem(s) and ask God, or your Creator, to take over. Releasing the burdens that weigh heavy upon your shoulders will make you feel lighter physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually. Simply ask for direction and strength – and accept that His will, be done. In due time, you will have a restored sense of energy and be able to more clearly deal future issues.
Prayer – One of the most wonderful things about prayer is that you can do it wherever you want, whenever you want. There have been many times that I have sat at work, at a family event, and countless other places, and have discretely bowed my head and quietly prayed.
Prayer releases, and attracts positive energy. Prayer is also part of the defining traits of hope. It heals, it cleanses, it revitalizes, it emanates through time and space. Regardless of ‘religion’, prayer is a way of communicating with your Creator, as well as the Universe. It reinforces the bond between the physical aspects of life, as well as the spiritual.
I cannot count the number of times that I have had prayer answered, as well as have sat for days – even years – wondering if God was listening, but I have never given up, or ceased doing so. Prayer is a form of love and compassion that knows no boundaries and will heal, regardless of the results. Understanding the prior (letting go, and letting God), will help you appreciate the fact that what will be, will be and at times, although we may want one outcome, the lesson will come from another, less desirable.
Embracing this communication and exchanging positive energy will nourish the body, mind and soul. Do not feel as though that your only outlet for prayer is in your house of worship, but recognize that you can talk to God, or your Creator, wherever and whenever you want to, for whomever you would like to help – including your self.
Think Globally – Times are without a doubt, most troubling in this day and age. From issues involving the economy, health care, and other issues, it is often difficult to see the ‘bigger picture’ when thinking about life.
The fact is that millions of people around the world face similar, sometimes far worse conditions and situations than the average person does. Consider thinking about your personal impact on society and how you can better conditions not only for your self, but also for those in your community, your country, and the entire world.
Instead of breeding contempt in the world, and harboring negative energy, make it a point to be positive and share compassion. Even small gestures can have a huge impact. Whether you choose to help someone privately, or on a community level, that act of kindness will double and touch the lives on many.
Practicing tolerance and educating your self on issues that have become a sore spot in society will help to create awareness of differences. Instead of choosing sides ‘just because’ you are this, or that, instead of truly evaluating the issue or problem, is only going to cause more friction and spread negative energy. Make it a point to seek resolve, peace or understanding, rather than anger, hatred or discontent. By thinking globally, you will better recognize how the energies of the world will benefit from even one considerate action, and in turn, will energize your spirit and create a more positive, tolerant environment.
Take care of your self; take care of your spirit. Today is a gift that will unfold a thousand treasures. Open this precious gift and learn to take steps that provide nourishment for a better body, mind – and soul.