While you are taking care of your mind and body, are you also paying attention to your spiritual self-care?
Receiving a medical diagnosis, and moving forward with treatment and life management, can lead to a spiritual awakening. And having spiritual support for the road ahead can make all the difference in terms of coping with the challenges that spring up along the way, as well as maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude.
One of my clients told me that, after he received his diagnosis, he went home, turned on the stereo, and played his favorite music. He felt like he had never before heard it in the same way, that somehow he was able to hear it in a new way.
Another told me that coping with a chronic condition has made her appreciate all of the simple things in her life, especially the moments she spends taking care of her children. Watching them smile.
Another client returned to religious practices of his childhood, with a new appreciation for what they bring to his life, as well as for his parents’ spiritual values.
With spiritual self-care, one size does not have to fit all. Nor do the benefits. Taking care of your spiritual side can mean being more connected to the present moment, aware of what is important and what is not so important in life, connected to other people in a meaningful way, being guided by God, or a Higher Power. Basically, being connected to a greater meaning and purpose in life.
Here are some approaches to building more spiritual self-care into your life:
Meditation, contemplation, mindfulness. You might find it helpful to develop a regular meditation routine every day, or practice using mindfulness to stay aware of the present moment, spending some time in a quiet place to think about the meaning of your life, or to focus your mind on a positive idea or image.
Reading for inspiration. There are a lot of inspirational books available, not to mention Internet resources. Spend some time reading, even just a page or two, to give you a hand in maintaining an optimistic attitude. Build in a few minutes first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day (or better yet, both).
Enjoying what you most enjoy. It’s easy to fall into letting life happen around us, and forgetting to take time to honor ourselves by doing the things that we most enjoy. A medical condition can be a wake-up call to add more balance, including recreation and, yes, fun!
Prayer. Most religions encourage some form of prayer, as a way of communicating with a Higher Power, expressing appreciation, seeking guidance, and asking for help for ourselves and others. Prayer can make a big difference in your life. Have you given it a try?
Belonging to a spiritual community. Wherever two or more are gathered… Joining a church, synagogue, temple, or other spiritual community brings you into contact with people who share your spiritual values, who can help you to deepen your day-to-day experience of spirituality and provide emotional support.
Enjoying nature. The natural world around us is a constant reminder that we are a part of something larger than our daily experiences. When the weather cooperates, take quiet walks, sit outside and enjoy the sun, the breeze, the sounds of birds chirping and children playing in the park.
Embracing compassion. Accept yourself for who you are, celebrate your personal strengths as well as all the evidence that you are human and not superhuman. And then do the same for the other people in your life. Replace judgment with acceptance. Remind yourself: we are all in this world together.
Sharing, caring, volunteering. Put your compassion to work by doing something for someone in need. Help out a friend or family member, or a stranger in need, offer a few words of encouragement. Lend someone a listening ear. Put in an hour or two helping out with a cause that’s important to you.
Taking care of someone else? Caregiving is a spiritual experience in so many ways. It forces us to look at our basic beliefs about life, to face the reality of life on life’s terms that had up until this moment had been abstract, to experience what it means to put love into action. Caregiving can be a time of spiritual awakening.
The joys – but also the disappointments and sorrows – are all part of life. It’s an ongoing process of experiencing, learning, giving, receiving. Having a strong spiritual connection helps to provide you with a foundation to live life at its fullest.
Mind, body, spirit…
How are you taking care of your spirit? Any ideas to share?