Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spiritual Renewal...

Most people believe that we have a spiritual nature as well as a physical, mental and emotional one. In living through compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow, we can become spiritually spent and we need - and often yearn for - spiritual renewal as well as physical exercise and emotional support.

But how do we go about enriching our spiritual lives? Frankly, there are as many ways as there are people. The spiritual path is a highly individual one, without a rule book or standard curriculum that fits all. That said, there are some practices that have emerged through the years and across faiths, that can lead to a richer spiritual life:

1. Set aside time every week to nurture your spirit. (Eventually, you may find this time so nourishing that you want to set time aside every day.) During this established time, you might want to:

* Spend time in silence or prayer with Whom/Whatever you believe in that is greater than   yourself - God, Love, Nature, Truth, Beauty,The Universe.
* Visit different places of worship, paying attention to the music, the architecture, the difference in the sermons or teachings. Or, conversely, visit at a time when the place of worship is empty to pray or meditate alone. There is a wonderful peace to be found in sitting in a sanctuary where others have prayed before you.
 * Read inspirational writings and reflect on them. They needn't be "holy" writings, rather, anything that inspires you, be it poetry, a novel, autobiography or spiritual writings of your own or another faith.
* Write a poem or story for or about your Spirit.
* Write a prayer that celebrates your relationship to your Spirit or Higher Power.
 * Write a spiritual autobiography, noting times of spiritual insight through nature, relationships, and events. What are the stages through which your spiritual growth has progressed? Has your faith been helpful to you in times of strain and stress? Are there beliefs that frighten you or seem nonsensical and need reconsideration?
* Study an aesthetic discipline.
* Attend a meditation or prayer group.
* Begin a "Seeker's Group" to discuss spiritual issues.
* Attend a retreat.
* Spend time in contemplation of beauty, kindness, compassion, nature.
* Listen to uplifting music - dance to it.
* Create a spiritual journal for quotations, reflections, recording the spiritual happenings of your life.

2. Practice peace and reconciliation. The irritability and unmet needs that accompany both CF and CS easily lead to situations where forgiveness and/or reconciliation are needed. The topics deserve more space than I have today. Watch for more next week.

3. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a form of meditation but, more, it is a way of life. A way of be-ing. It is a way of becoming intentionally aware of the present, in this moment and this moment and this moment... A way of living life deeply and fully.

4. Practice gratitude. Open your awareness to the gifts of this world - large and small. Becoming consciously grateful for the fact that you step on to a carpeted floor when you get out of bed, that you drink clean water, that you have someone to love, that you're surrounded by the beauty of nature, that you have eyes to see and ears to hear, can do a lot to balance the pain of compassion fatigue and chronic sorrow.

I could say much more here but this is a good start. Think about your spiritual wellness this week. If it could use a tune up, perhaps try one of these ideas - or one of your own - to begin a process of spiritual renewal.

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