Soul Care for Difficult Times
Even if you are not directly impacted by the economic turbulence, political unrest, or unsettling climate change, we are all affected by the fear and uncertainty that is in the air. Life keeps showing us that there are no guarantees and that answers can't be found 'out there.' Where can we find peace of mind? The soul, our deepest essence, is a wonderful place to turn to for security and fulfillment. I think our souls may be smiling these days because more and more of us are turning in that direction. The ego's losses are often the soul's greatest gain. Here are some tools and ideas for soul care in these challenging times.
Acknowledge your fear, hurt or sadness. We often think that giving attention to painful feelings means we'll become consumed by them. It's actually the resistance to feelings that keeps us stuck and has us acting out in self-sabotaging ways. For example, instead of acknowledging the fear that's a result of watching the value of your 401K decrease substantially, do you turn to the cookie jar, computer, or 'Law and Order' reruns to escape your discomfort? A good question to ask yourself is "How do I distract myself from feeling?"
Feeling leads to healing. When we let ourselves experience the natural expressions of anger or sorrow that accompany loss or other disruptions in our lives, we become more connected. We feel our humanness. We become available to all of ourselves. Journaling is a wonderful way to express and process emotions. You can let your anger spill onto the page until, at that sitting, you've 'said it all.' Then you can use your journal to write about what you are learning from the experience that activated your feelings and consider changes you can make that will move you in a positive direction.
Create a 'Soul Nourishment Toolkit.' If you feed your soul what it deeply needs, it will nourish you with joy, fulfillment and peace of mind. Make a list of soul friends, sacred places and life-affirming activities. Who makes your heart sing? Who believes in you? Write the names of people you trust and those who have your best interests at heart. Think about who supports you in being true to yourself. These are your soul friends. Consider where you feel alive and centered. Think about the places both in and outside of your home that nourish your soul. If a certain corner of your bedroom or the open space nearby are like sanctuaries for you, go there often. What activities contribute to your well-being? In addition to the activities you're already aware of, like baking, running or playing the guitar, list other activities that you sense could be fun or nurturing, e.g. going to the museum, the beach, or spending a couple of hours at a used bookstore. Remember: what you feed, grows!
Let intuition guide you. As the voice of your soul, intuition, like spirit, is available at all times. Your inner wisdom can guide you in everything from finding parking places to knowing what job is truly right for you. It can assist you in discovering your life's meaning and purpose. Your inner knowing can help you spot opportunities, make informed decisions and avoid potential mistakes in all areas of your life.
As you go through the day, pause for a few minutes and check in with your soul. Become quiet, let your attention shift inside and ask your intuition, What is 'right action' in this situation? What's the best way to overcome this obstacle? How can I have a positive impact on myself and others at work today?
Balance self care with care for others. As Emily Dickinson said, "If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live my life in vain." Caring for others can take many forms: offering reassuring words to someone who is going through a separation or divorce, comforting a crying child, volunteering at the humane society or a battered women's shelter, or helping with voter registration. One of the reasons that twelve step programs are so effective in the healing of addictions is that an integral part of twelve step recovery work is helping others. A recovery maxim is 'in order to keep it, you need to give it away.' Every act of kindness helps to heal our own hearts and brings us one step closer to the world of peace and cooperation that we all long for.