When life gets tough, how do you keep your spirit alive? Joan Borysenko, PhD in her book Fire in the Soul- A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism speaks of loss and the difficult questions that arise when we face our fears and suffering. Her chapter on spirit survival tips can provide a path towards peace and understanding. These tips are:
1. Pay close attention to your physical needs. Proper breathing, exercise, eating and sleeping habits are central to both your mind and body. Know how to slow down your breath with diaphragmatic breathing, get some form of exercise and at least some stretching in each day. Good nutrition is even more important when under stress.
2. Make time each day to be alone with yourself. Turn off the external noise and move inward. Sit outside, walk mindfully, meditate- just try to create inner space to let the silence be a partner in your healing.
3. Seek support for yourself- Whether it is a support group, group or individual therapy, find others who can help you move from feeling like a victim to finding your personal power.
4. Put the serenity prayer into action-
“ God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Focus on what you can change. Worrying about things beyond your control causes fear and anxiety. Move towards the center of your spirit by taking time to be silent and try to empty your mind of its chatter through meditation and mindfulness.
5. Angeles Arrien’s Four Rules of Living are some of my favorite-
Show Up Pay Attention Tell the Truth Don’t Be Attached to the Results
Letting go of the results is certainly the most difficult. Doing the best you can is all you can do and is good enough.
6. Take time each day to remind yourself that it is good to be alive. Remember an incident that brought you peace and feel what it is like to be alive. Try saying out loud to yourself some affirmation- a positive self statement that feels right for you.
7. Practice Loving Kindness- Start with respect and love for yourself and then send these thoughts to others. The prayer is
“May I be at peace, May my heart remain open, May I know the beauty of my own true nature, May I be healed.”
8. Remember that you have the right to be happy. Although you may not easily feel joy right now, practice by just trying to smile.
9. When you need help, you have to ask. You must do your share to bring about positive change.
10. When you don’t get what you are seeking, you may have to find the strength and courage to accept what is and endure the difficult journey. Finding the courage and strength may be part of the healing journey.
When life gets tough, just try to pick even one of these tips to move your spirit forward on your healing journey.