Caring for your Soul
1 November 2010 1,682 views No Comment
[caption id="attachment_1769" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Photo by Bianca Meyer geb. Bollmeirer"][/caption]By Laura Grace The soul looketh steadily forward creating a new world before her, leaving worlds behind her. –Emerson As I sit down to write this article, I am still reflecting on a walk I took less than an hour ago. It was a soulful journey along the Pacific shoreline. These walks have become a time for caring for my soul because it is on these walks that I feel most connected to what is most important, to cultivating depth and sacredness in my life. Not an easy thing to do when, like many women, I feel responsible for taking care of others, sometimes at the expense of my own needs. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that soul doesn’t automatically flow into our life, it entails attention and skill. Some of the symptoms we may experience when we’re living a less than soulful life include: yearning for personal fulfillment, hunger for spirituality, loss of values, emptiness, depression, and disillusionment about work/marriage/family/relationship. As much as our egos tend to yearn for material things, sexual fulfillment, excitement, recognition, a feeling of importance, financial security, our soul appreciates depth, heart, connection, and personal substance. In the book Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, he states: “Soul is nothing like ego. Soul is closely connected to fate, and the turns of fate almost always go counter to the expectations and often to the desires of the ego.” Currently, I am experiencing a “soul-shift.” I’ve been through this a few times before and have learned to recognize the signs that precede the shift: a subtle yet consistent “nagging” feeling that it’s time to expand beyond my comfort zones. Feelings of vulnerability, excitement, then fear inevitably surface, signals that I am “on my way.” Where I’m going is not always clear. I just know I’m on the precipice of experiencing yet another dimension of my soul’s wondrous destiny and that there’s no guarantee where it is leading me. I experienced a soul-shift when I left my ex-husband, when I resigned from the corporate world and committed my life to service, when I moved across the country from the Midwest to California, and now as I write this article. A few weeks ago, as the Spiritual Leader of the Circle of Spiritual Enlightenment, I conducted my final service. Arriving at the decision to release this role, after experiencing so much love from countless people, was challenging on many levels. And on the surface, my decision was confusing to many, but I am reminded that the human soul is not meant to be understood. It is meant to be authentic, to ask the hard questions and be willing to be true to ourselves despite pressure and expectation from others. In 1890, writer Elizabeth Cady Stanton expressed, “Your soul longs for you to journey deep within to find the compelling answers to these questions. The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us…the divine floods of light and life no longer flows into our souls.” And now, in the spirit of calling forth more soul into my life, I am taking a three month sabbatical to feed my soul, something I’ve never given myself permission to do before. Culinary classes, artwork, spiritual retreats, international travel, and writing are part of my three month plan, but I’m aware that I don’t have to go anywhere to experience more soulfulness. For me, capturing the song of my soul includes listening to music that awakens deep feeling, digging and planting in the dirt, driving down country roads with the top of my car down, and deeply inhaling the salty ocean air as I walk along the beach all nurture my soul. What are some ways that you could bring more soul into your life today? Slowing down? Reflecting? Walking barefoot in Nature? Sipping a cup of tea while reading a good memoir? Treating yourself to a movie that has heart and soul? Sending a friend your favorite poem or spiritual quote? As we care for our own souls, may we remember what Emily Dickinson meant when she once wrote: “The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” Laura Grace is the Spiritual Leader for the Circle of Spiritual Enlightenment in San Luis Obispo (www.spiritualcircle.org), an interfaith spiritual community. Laura is also a teacher and spiritual director, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. A syndicated columnist for more than twenty publications, Laura has penned 200 articles on spiritual growth and is the author of the books Gifts of the Soul and The Intimate Soul.