Tools for Cultivating Spirituality
These things take us out of ourselves. What takes you in to yourself? How do you connect with your spirit?
We each have an internal voice, but sometimes the world is so loud that we don’t hear it. To tune into your deepest self, it’s important to carve out quiet time to breathe. Below are some suggestions for finding a way to connect with your deepest self:
- Meditation: Research has shown that people who meditate have increased activity in the “feel good” area of the brain. It has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. There are several different types of meditation; find one that works for you and make it a daily practice. (For more information, see The How-to’s of Meditation.)
- Spend time in nature: Nature is a soothing environment. Whether you choose to take a walk in the woods or simply sit by a river or lake, spending time in the natural environment is a proven way to alleviate stress and connect with your inner self. Smell the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and feel the calm wash over you.
- Join a religious organization: Some people find that the structure and rituals of organized religion help them to cultivate a deep sense of spirituality. The commitment to a weekly service can provide regularity as well as social community.
- Keep a journal: A daily practice of journaling provides an excellent outlet for emotions and also helps us to develop an inner dialogue and uncover our true feelings, desires, and fears.
- Practice breathing: Most of us take breathing for granted. We take 15,000 to 20,000 breaths per day without giving it much thought. Unfortunately, we have become a society of shallow breathers, taking small breaths that only reach our chest instead of our diaphragms. Breathing deeply into the diaphragm triggers the relaxation response, allowing the heart rate to slow and blood pressure to drop. Spend a few moments each day focused on your breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly and fully, and feel yourself slip into a calm, centered state.
- Embrace creativity: Creative expression is an outlet for our sorrow and joy. Paint, sing, sculpt, draw, write, or find some avenue of expressing what is inside you. Delight in your unique self-expression.
- Give: Volunteer your time, money, or commit random acts of kindness. When we give to others, we feel a boost. Share a meal, a smile, a kind word or any act of service and feel your spirits lift.
- Pray: You don’t need to be a member of any religion to reap the benefits of prayer. There is no right or wrong way to pray. Simply get quiet and allow yourself to make a connection with something larger than yourself. Some people refer to prayer as “meditation with words.”
- Sweat: Get out and move. Ride a bike, take a hike, or swim across a lake. Movement is an excellent way to find your center and allow energy to move through you.
- Practice gratitude: Keep a daily gratitude journal; each day list five things for which you are grateful. By counting our blessings we become aware of how truly blessed we are.
- Garden: Digging in the dirt is a surefire way to feel connected to the earth and yourself. Weeding the garden provides a powerful metaphor for our lives—we pull weeds to allow for new growth.
- Study: Seek solace in a spiritual text such as the Bible or any number of other inspirational tools for growth.