[Spiritual] community care is the new self care

What often gets overlooked in self care is the importance of a spiritual community.

We were meant to bond with each other. Not to commiserate, dump or distract, but to humbly share the hard stuff and celebrate the good stuff, and to serve and be served, as a regular part of our lives; to be in the discomfort and in the silence with each other as well as to laugh. This is the healing space.

This is a lot to put on just one person. It takes a community of highly intentioned and courageous people desirous of elevating and supporting each other’s spiritual development, which is to align with one’s essential nature that they may feel deeply comfortable in their own skin. Comfortable enough to be alone and also to be together without the mask.

We need this now. Depression and feelings of isolation and loneliness have become an epidemic. Famous people who are successful in their work and who are surrounded by friends have not been immune.

If you are prone to depression, strongly consider cultivating the habit of regularly connecting with a spiritual community before it hits, because once it does, the tendency to isolate activates like a light switch. Within an active community, those tendencies lower tremendously, because serving each other, and being served, fulfills the soul,.. and a fulfilled soul is a complete soul.

Your #1 ally

…is your breath. And it’s the easiest thing to make your daily practice because you don’t necessarily need to set aside extra time or money for it.

Taking full breaths stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which supports relaxation and digestion, and it also connects you to the important tools and wisdom you already have. Without the breath, the access point feels bolted shut.

With the breath, we gain a broader perspective, we have a better chance at remembering the impermanence of things, we are better equipped to remember who we are, and we can access the depth and courage we need to live life better.

Without it, we can get lost in despair or anger, enroll others in our drama, isolate and disparage ourselves and others, or run people over, hide, or come out sideways (passive aggressive).

With conscious breath, we gain greater command over our mental and emotional bodies, and we can begin to discern and act accordingly. Without it, we rely on sheer will to win the internal tug-of-war.

Habitualizing checking in with your breath throughout the day can massively and positively impact quality of life.

If you are aware that you forget to breathe during the day, start here:

Upon waking up, and before getting out of bed, lie on your back, place one hand on your solar plexus and breathe into it slowly and deeply, expanding your belly. At the top of your inhale, exhale out slowly and completely, bringing the navel center down towards your spine. Make your breath long and deep, focusing your attention on your breath and nothing else. You might want to count, inhaling for 4 to 8 counts, then exhaling for 4 to 8 counts, making your inhale and exhale equal counts. Continue this for 5 minutes.

You might add a gratitude and say “thank you for my life,” before going about your day. ūüėá

Do this again at the end of the day upon laying down for bed; a better alternative to turning on social media…

For bonus points, practice conscious breathing while you are cooking, folding laundry, or when you feel uncomfortable in your body (inhale love into that space, exhale out the pain), and so on. There are many opportunities to bring breath into your day.

To all you spiritual wannabes

Not knowing whether something’s coming from fear or truth might be a prompt…
to ask yourself what you are really about and what you stand for.

Obstacles may not be a sign that something wasn’t meant to be…
Instead, it could be a test of your resolve.

Inhaling in the emotions in an effort to transcend what’s bugging you may not really be going with the flow
It may be an opportunity to see if you are willing to stop, listen, and make yourself vulnerable.

Saying you need to “meditate on it”…
…may not serve as an accurate representation of what meditation really is. Meditation cultivates presence, clarity, the conquering of time, and spontaneous access to truth. It may better serve everyone to just say “I need to think about it.”

To say that “{this person} can really use this practice” to mean anything else but “I can really use this practice…”
…is a distraction.

With spiritual practice comes ownership (aka responsibility). Don’t give it up to “it wasn’t meant to be,” “going with the flow,” and concepts like “Mercury in Retrograde.”

By surrendering to your own self authority and discipline, you own every part of you. The light and shadow side. The Universe isn’t limited by concepts, and it works its power through you. It doesn’t give it away. Only the ego does, paradoxically, in its fierce efforts to feel in control. In order to continue to feel that way, it will convince you that you are flowing when you may be disempowering yourself, and it will tell you that the momentarily easier path is self-care.

Fear exposes the duality of the mind and it is up to you to conquer it. Truth and spirituality has a backbone. It has discernment. It makes decisions. And it stands for something.

#pokeprovokeconfrontelevate

None of it is ours.

I was reading a blog by Seth Godin who was talking about tribes, and it reminded me of the lens I chose to look through as I was raising my kids: that they are not¬†mine. I don’t own them. I was simply lucky enough to have been given stewardship over them.¬†

Stewardship is a powerful word that can offer a greater sense of responsibility, giftedness, and impermanence, and in that, something you cannot take for granted. 

We are stewards in our relationships with all things in our lives, and where we are truly thriving, most likely, we were careful stewards in those areas of our lives.

Sat Nam

“I’m not into spirituality.”

What do you think people mean when they say that? If they had to replace the word spirituality to complete the sentence, “I’m not into______,” how would they finish it? 

“I am not into religion”: While religion is steeped in spirituality, spirituality isn’t religion. Additionally, if the practice is devoid of questions, critical thinking and discernment, and if it is filled with judgment, then spirituality is not being practiced. Nor is religion being practiced. Dogma is (and both are vulnerable to it). But spirituality is not religion.¬†

“I focus on the more practical and relevant things in life, like what’s going on in my work, my household and in my government.”

Spirituality is to know yourself. Therefore, being into spirituality means being into understanding yourself better. 

I can’t think of anything more practical and relevant that informs how you go about your day, how you take things in (especially when your buttons are pushed), and how you make decisions, than knowing yourself. Those moments of quiet space and conscious awareness, which is spiritual practice, is what connects and aligns us with who were are. They are the magic threads that make the difference between experiencing conflict in our lives and experiencing liberation.

“But the conflict is out¬†there, and I need to fight against it. I don’t have time for philosophy.”¬†(Yes, I’ve heard this before. I won’t go into this except to say¬†philosophy is different from spirituality.) That very language energetically contributes towards more conflict. Say that sentence out loud and watch what your body does in response to it. It’s not open to effective communication and understanding. In history, factions that meant well who use the same level of consciousness that they are fighting against end up becoming just as tyrannical in the end. The effective leaders that history ultimately treats well didn’t “fight against others.” They understood themselves first. They understood the human condition first. When you bring yourself to believe that you and they are different, then they have won because, like them, your reactions were based from the same differences.¬†

Spirituality gives way to this understanding and offers a more effective and sustainable way of being. When you feel heard and understood, then you are more open to the other person. You won’t get defensive and ugly. You have an open conversation. Others respond in the same way. This gives rise to commonalities, the deeper fears get uncovered, and we have something real to work with: each other.  

It takes a lot of courage to soften the defensive posture, to understand that the other is you, and to speak from compassion, because this means that you will first need to look at yourself honestly in order to act authentically (effectively) with anyone else. It’s easier to try to fix others thinking that what’s going on inside of you has nothing to do with it. 

Being into spirituality means committing to get in the know about yourself, both the light and shadow side of you. And when you know yourself, you will realize how much better you understand others. The better you know yourself and others, the better you can affect your world. 

Sat Nam.