I’d like to start this month’s post with stating a basic premise: we all have a spirit. We know we all have a heart, we all have a brain, we all have thoughts and emotions, but often the spirit is somewhat mystical. The spirit cannot be measured or recorded. It has an incredible effect on all systems of the body, but cannot be removed or viewed. In my work, I see people who put great intent on connecting to their spirit and people who have lost connection to their spirit. Our spirit does not leave us; it is always there and ready for us to connect.
I invite you to close your eyes for a moment as you think about a particular memory when you were with someone or engaged in an activity and you felt pure bliss. You did not worry about the time, your phone was shut off and you were able to just be in this experience fully. Allow yourself to sit in this memory and connect to the feelings you had during this experience. Now recall what it was like to leave this experience. Perhaps you may say your heart felt full, you felt at peace, or you felt gratitude. This can be viewed as connecting to and nurturing your spirit. Your spirit connects to all systems in your body. It sends messages to the brain to release positive mood endorphins which can feel like a warm blanket wrapped around you on a cool day, holding you close, and giving you a loving squeeze. When we connect to our spirit, our outlook on life improves. We have more positive thoughts, and therefore, we feel more positive emotions about ourselves and the world around us. We choose to surround ourselves with others who are connected to their spirit as we develop deeper spiritual connections (which can be equated with soul mates). Conversely, when people do not connect to their spirit, they often experience a lack of positive emotions (apathy) or experience more negative emotions (depression). By not connecting to their own spirit, they often struggle to make deep connections with others, leading to more loneliness and less life satisfaction.
One core belief I hold is that every human being would like to experience a happy and fulfilling life. So what stops people from connecting to their spirit if it brings more connection, more positive emotions and a more fulfilling life? The biggest barrier I see to connecting to spirit can be summed up in two words: awareness and intention. Often people are not aware of the importance of connecting to their spirit and/or do not realize they are not connecting to their spirit. Once they become aware of this, it requires bringing intention to the ways they may be connecting to their spirit (and not even realizing it) as well as opportunities to seek out ways to connect to their spirit.
For example, take two people who attend church on a regular basis. If you ask them both why they attend church, their reasons may vary. Person A may say it is a part of their routine, perhaps it is the dogma of their particular religion, perhaps it is a part of their belief system, perhaps it is where they connect with God or their Higher Power, perhaps it is a sense of community. Person B may also state some of the above reasons but may also identify that in addition to these reasons, this is where they connect to their spirit, where their spirit is nurtured or filled. The difference between Person A and Person B is awareness and intention. I will leave this sensitive topic with a disclaimer: not everyone who attends church connects to their spirit, and it does not require being in a church to connect to their spirit. There is a huge difference between religion and spirituality, which could be a series of blog posts itself! But for the purpose of this post, being aware of what you are doing and bringing intention to how it connects you to spirit is key.
Music is another great example. Most people agree they listen to or enjoy music. There are many sentiments such as ‘music fills the soul’ or ‘music lifts my spirits’. But for folks like me, music absolutely connects to spirit when I put intention around it. If I am listening to the radio or a random playlist, I may enjoy it but not feel a spiritual connection. However, if I am listening to one of the specific playlists that I have created, I connect to and nurture my spirit in different ways. My playlists are lyrics and harmonies intentionally put in a collection that take me away and fill my spirit when I turn them on. I have even created playlists as gifts, offering a part of my spirit through music to connect with the spirit I see in others. Awareness and Intention.
What kinds of things do you do to connect to your spirit? How much intention do you put into creating these experiences? Someone may say they connect to spirit in nature. My follow up question to that is ‘how do you make that happen on a regular basis?’ or in other words, ‘how do you put intention around it?’. Perhaps it is a yoga practice that fills your spirit. The next time you hit your matt, I encourage you to bring intention to connecting to your spirit. Maybe getting together with people whom you feel love for, feel safe with and who you genuinely enjoy fills your spirit. The invitation here is to be intentional about connecting with these people and recognizing this is nurturing your spirit which is as important as nurturing your body or brain. And speaking of nurturing your body, food can also nurture your spirit when awareness and intention are sprinkled in. Mindfully sitting down with a particular cup of tea or preparing a particular food that has meaning to you can connect you to your spirit and fill your soul (hence the term soul food).
As we wrap up this blog post, I encourage you to spend the next several minutes reflecting on the following questions and writing down your thoughts:
What experiences do I have that leave me with a sense of fulfilled spirit? Where I lose track of time? Where I feel satisfied, peaceful, encouraged?
How often am I engaging in these experiences?
What experiences would I like to try that may fill my spirit?
How can I put intention around creating time and space to try these new experiences?
With a little awareness, a little intention and a little time, you will create a practice that continually nurtures your spirit, leading to a deeper more fulfilled authentic life.