If your soul had a voice, what would it say? ~Iyanla Vanzant
This is one of the quotes from yesterday. I’m repeating it today because this one struck a chord with me. Thinking about what I want in terms of how my soul would answer that question helps me tune out the suggestions that well-meaning friends, family, and others have given me over the years.
I know the people who care about me want Life’s finest for me and they are trying their very best to help me get it. But their idea of what Life’s finest is and my idea aren’t always the same, especially when it comes to living a soul-prospering life.
The best way to hear your soul–the best way to quiet the loop of what your friends and family have told you that’s continually chattering in your mind–is in quiet contemplation. This rumination doesn’t have to be done in a prayerful or meditative state and it doesn’t have to be done in any particular pose or any certain place or time. You can be engaged in an activity you enjoy–gardening, woodworking, cooking, tinkering in your workshop. Lightly listen as you’re enjoying yourself; notice your feelings and gently figure out exactly what activity–and what particular part of the activity–is giving you pleasure and bringing you joy.
This is your soul speaking!
Find a way to bring this–what your soul is telling you–into your dealings every day and you’ll be firmly on your path to crafting a soul-prospering life for yourself!
Sometimes it’s a little difficult to determine if any facet of our life is soul-prospering. We know what we mean by that phrase but yet we have trouble identifying it, perhaps because we can’t seem to articulate what we mean.
Here are a few words that can help you describe for yourself what you mean by the phrase ‘crafting a soul-prospering life’:
~Passion, obsession, unwavering interest;
~Purpose, mission, destiny;
~Deeply meaningful to you–tapping into that which is at the core of you;
~Making a difference – impactful;
~Doing and giving without any thought of “what’s in it for me”.
Here are a few emotions that can also help you define what ‘crafting a soul-prospering life’ means to you:
~Feeling a level of ecstasy–the actual emotion, not the drug!–when you’re engaged in your purpose/mission/destiny;
~Being so grateful that you’re lucky enough to follow your passion/deep interest, with the icing on the cake being that you are making a difference in others’ lives;
~It matters — your life matters and makes a difference to you and to others, and what you are doing matters and makes a difference in your life and the lives of others;
~You keep coming back to it and, even though the object of your interest or passion may change, the essence of it is still the same;
~If you’ve tried to ignore or squelch or run away from it, it won’t go away; it won’t leave you alone;
~The object of your passion/interest/obsession and your purpose/mission/destiny regarding it is bigger than yourself and the needs of your ego; it has the potential to touch hundreds or thousands, and perhaps millions, of lives;
~It isn’t about the money or the fame or the social standing or prestige–although those may be a by-product. It’s about righting a wrong, standing against injustice, helping those who are hurting. In essence, it’s about making the world a better place, as clichéd and hackneyed as that sounds.
You may be thinking that all these posts this week have been fine and dandy but what if you have no idea what your “talk” is so there’s no way you can do any walking of it and forget about doing the work!
Here are a few techniques to help you get going:
Sit in Silence – I know, I know. You’re rolling your eyes at this one because I ALWAYS recommend this technique. The benefits of regularly sitting in silence and checking in with yourself, including the Divine within, are soooo worth it that it’s my first go-to recommendation. If you aren’t regularly doing this, I urge you to set up a practice NOW, today. It doesn’t have to be long—starting out with 5 minutes each day is a great start. It’s the consistency of showing up for that 5 minutes every day that will give you the payoff.
Sitting in silence is a great place to start for hearing and understanding your “talk” and then thinking of the ways you can walk it. Not only does the silence help you get in touch with the Divine within and give you the quiet to hear the Still Small Voice within, but the silence gives you the breathing space and elbow room away from the pushing and pulling, poking and prodding of the world.
That in itself is worth it!
Playlists – music is a great way to inspire yourself and keep you motivated. Also, it’s helpful to listen to Audio books and Youtube speeches to encourage you and fortify yourself.
Because you’ve been regularly sitting in silence *ahem*…*wink*, you’ll know which emotions and feelings are your habit. For instance, perhaps you are easily frustrated or annoyed, or maybe you worry and fret. You may find that your go-to emotions are discouragement and thinking you can’t do it.
Devise playlists for each of these emotions and feelings. When you’re feeling any of these, you can play the songs, speeches, bits of wisdom and pull yourself out of these and into a more productive frame of mind. You can stop yourself from a full-on pity party or sinking into despair or getting stuck and wallowing in it.
Socialize with people who celebrate you – Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Beuttner found that the happiest most well-adjusted people spend 3 – 6 hours a day socializing.
No, they aren’t at bars downing brews and jello shots, and no, this doesn’t give you permission to gossip or fritter away your time with useless activities.
Spending 3 – 6 hours daily socializing can take the form of working with your colleagues at work completing your assignments with excellence; it may mean working with others in volunteer and civic organizations on projects you’re passionate about. Daily socializing can include taking classes as well as sharing your interests, hobbies, and favorite activities with other like-minded people. And, it can also mean reaching out a helping hand to your neighbor.
Of course socializing also means sharing meals with friends and family, going to cultural activities with those you love, and enjoying an afternoon of golf with your buddies or kayaking with your girlfriends.
Get involved and stay involved with others. Even if you’re an introvert or very shy, you can find a level that’s comfortable for you.
It’s through socializing—spending time with others talking, laughing, exchanging ideas—that you can get a better handle on what’s important and meaningful to you. From this you can then determine your purpose and your passion.
Give these a try and let me know how they work out for you. Thanks!
Perhaps you find yourself in circumstances that don’t allow you to go anywhere for a pilgrimage.
No worries! You can enjoy one from the comfort of your cozy armchair!
Your library or favorite bookstore is loaded with memoirs with the theme of “A Year of…” These are a few that I’ve enjoyed:
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock, 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik Thrive by Arianna Huffington Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower by Tom Krattenmaker Holy Rover by Lori Erickson
The Internet is filled with images of Holy Sites, Shrines, as well as photos and videos of the wonders of the natural world. Here are a few websites to check out:
Why make a pilgrimage either secular, religious, or spiritual?
Because of the following reasons:
You Have No Idea Why…
The motivations are as varied, as individual, and as unique as you. There is no right or wrong explanation just as there is no right or wrong way to “do” or to “have” a pilgrimage. What ever, where ever, and how ever is meaningful–even sacred–to YOU is all that matters.
What are intentions for a pilgrimage that appeal to you? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!
When we say or hear the word pilgrimage we think of some sort of religious or spiritual journey. We may think of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or the medieval practice of visiting Camino de Santiago de Compostela and other Holy Shrines, or we may have images of people of today crawling on their knees up steep hills and along sheer cliffs as they follow in the footsteps of their prophets, sages, and holy people. Also, the word pilgrimage may conjure images of travel to Israel, India, Asia, or other distant lands.
As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, going on a pilgrimage does not have to be religious and you don’t have to travel anywhere, either domestically or to foreign lands. Your pilgrimage can take place in the midst of your every day life. In fact, there are websites dedicated to digital pilgrimages.
I also think that you don’t have to prepare for your pilgrimage–there is no elaborate practice or ceremony or blessing required.
To me, a pilgrimage–whether you stay where you are or if you travel to a far-flung place or if you visit a Holy Site–is all about the inner journey and how it opens your mind, spirit, heart, and soul to discovering and connecting with and honoring the Divine within. And, in so doing, you discover, connect with, and honor the Divine within all creation.
In other words, you can start right here, right now, right where you are. I encourage you to do this now.
Think of the act of self caring as making a pilgrimage to feed and nurture that part of you–those parts of you–that gets dismissed and trampled by every day Life.
The pilgrimage doesn’t have to be traveling to a Holy Site, a basilica in a far-off country complete with a centuries-dead saint’s relics; the pilgrimage only has to be holy to you. This is what elevates self-indulgence to an act of self-care.
A pilgrimage of self-care is a form of honoring, connecting with, and even consecrating the place within you that is deep, rich, and eternal.
Sometimes I need to sit on my deck at night or in the early morning and gaze at the stars in astonished wonder at the exquisite magnificence of the heavens. Other times I need the camaraderie of my family or my very good friends. At another time, I may need the nurturing comfort of a bowl of soup that I’ve made from scratch or the sustenance of a freshly baked batch of cookies made from a recipe handed down from my mother.
Then there are times when all I need is to take a breather by gazing out my window and daydreaming, or pulling out my bottle of bubbles and filling the air with shimmering, iridescent bubbles.
My pilgrimage of self-care morphs and shifts to what I need in the moment. It’s all good!
For instance, my pilgrimage today is reading. I’m reading a book about an autistic person’s experience and fascination with language, and another book on a person’s spiritual journey.
Of course there are those who would say that nothing good will come of this reading: these aren’t books to choose if you’re looking for entertainment; they aren’t books that I can somehow use to further my career by making my skills and knowledge more marketable.
But they’re feeding me and nurturing that part of me that’s feeling pushed to the side and overlooked.
They make me see the world from another’s point of view. My mind considers ideas I wouldn’t have had on my own. As I go about my other tasks today, I ponder a sentence, a phrase, or a whole thought from each of the books. I know I’ll continue to do this in the weeks and months to come. I know this pondering and considering will lead to insights that will smooth some of the rough spots on my path or show me beauty and goodness I would have otherwise been blind to.
So, if eating gourmet chocolate while sipping a fine wine is an activity that restores calm, peace, and balance in your life; if it fills you with hope and reinforces your belief that beauty, love, and goodness in all forms out-weigh the negative in the world, then I say you’re on the right track.
What self-care pilgrimage are you currently on? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!