Spiritual wellness is a uniquely personal journey for each of us. As we awaken each day, we get to choose how we will view world events, our country, our local community, and the life experiences we are experiencing in this moment. We get to choose peaceful thoughts or worrying thoughts, loving thoughts or fearful ones. I don’t know about you, but lately, prayer and meditation have been more valuable than ever in sustaining my spiritual wellness. This prompted me to share an excerpt from my Wellness Wisdom book. May you enjoy it with a sense of sacred peace.
Chapter 7: Pray and Meditate
However you choose to pray, you will deepen the communication between you and the Divine. I view praying as a reverent act of deeply communing with or talking to God. The message goes out as if we were talking to someone on the phone. I view meditation as listening to God via a heavenly phone—to recognize that voice we must be quiet so we might hear.
Declarative prayer is one of the many ways of communicating with God. With declarative prayer, you state that you accept the quality or thing you want in your life right now. An example would be, “I accept radiant health and wholeness.” Until a few years ago, I had always prayed using the “Please God” begging method. Now I assume divine help and support. Everyone prays differently and I certainly believe God listens to us however we pray; but I really like this positive, trusting, affirming method and it has been extremely powerful in my life. I’m learning to give up a time line, to trust divine guidance. I’m also learning to give up being right about many things. And there are times when I still get down on my knees, sometimes weeping with a “Please God” at the beginning (and the end) of my prayer. God listens.
Some people love reading the Bible, the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, The Course in Miracles, or from the Vedic texts. Others enjoy poetry or philosophical readings to connect them to Spirit. You may find the prayers of your childhood to be soothing. Find what works best for you.
There’s a beautiful meditation that I have found to be simple yet profound. It’s from an ancient Hawaiian practice known as Ho’oponopono (meaning “to make right.”) The words are simple and powerful: “I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, I thank you.” What’s your favorite prayer?
In the early nineties, I had the honor of meeting monthly with my sangha “sisters” to enjoy dinner together, to listen to “what’s up” for us, and to pray. (Sangha is a Sanskrit word that means “community.”) We then shared our prayer requests for the month and agreed to pray for each other in between our meetings. Would a gathering of your own prayer community support your spiritual wellness?
I don’t think God minds whether we declare what we most desire or simply ask for it. God is ever-present and knows you well, so praying the way that feels best for you will keep this part of your spiritual wellness sacred. The ritual of praying the rosary or reciting the Hebrew words that hold a place in your heart may be the way you connect and become closer with the Divine. If you are one of many seekers who yearn to heal wounds created by old religious beliefs, you may enjoy reading Joan Borysenko’s A Woman’s Journey to God. She offers inspiration to women and men who want to create new ways of prayer and connection to Spirit.
I’ve heard it said that prayer changes us, not God. It can be an empowering way of shifting so we know what the next best steps might be. Have you heard the saying, “Pray and move your feet”?
Meditation, a very ancient practice, is growing in popularity in our fast-paced western society filled to overflowing with cell phones, text messaging, Facebook and BlackBerry technology. How interesting that meditation needs no expensive electronic equipment, just a quiet mind. Not too many years ago, if you lived in North America and told someone you were meditating they may have looked at you a little funny. Today, many people join meditation groups or classes and are aware that it is a practice done daily by many people worldwide.
Swiss-born psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, author of the ground-breaking book On Death and Dying said, “Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.” It may seem intriguing to think we might need to get in touch with silence—it seems like such a simple act. Yet, for many of us, our mental chatter is in high gear during most of our waking hours. Taking the time to sit in silence opens up an avenue of peace that adds richness and deep wisdom to a spiritual practice. Take some time to listen, observe, and not judge the thoughts that pass through your head. Like clouds in the sky, thoughts pass by us and are replaced by new ones. Your gentle breath can guide you as you breathe in and breathe out.
As with prayer, many styles of meditating are available. Some individuals prefer to listen to their iPod or to CDs that provide guided meditations full of soothing words and images. You might enjoy listening to Karen Drucker’s tender song Morning Prayer at the start of your day—it’s one of my favorites. Other people meditate by sitting still or lying still in complete silence, quieting the mind of all thoughts. When a thought enters the mind, the idea is to notice it, observe it and let it pass. You can say, “That’s a thought,” and watch it melt away. Eventually, the noisy mind becomes still and you have access to divine wisdom. That wisdom is always there, I believe, but it has a tough time getting through our constant, sometimes flood-like stream of thoughts.
How would your day be different if you started it with just five minutes of silence? Ten minutes? How would your day be different if you added one of the above suggestions to your spiritual practices? If you’re interested in experiencing the simplicity of silence, you can try taking a walk alone or planning an hour to move in silence with no TV, computer, music, or cell phone.
Like prayer, meditation is a gift you give yourself. Talking to God, listening to God—what a high and holy conversation. I can just hear God saying, “Can you hear me now?”
What practices do you have in place that sooth your soul? As I have strengthened the spiritual dimension of my own wellness path, these seven spiritual activities and resources have added blessings to my spiritual wellness. Everyone defines “spiritual wellness” in their own way and I want to note that the following resources are not affiliated with any religion. I encourage you to explore which activities feel right (if any) for you to add to your own practices of spiritual wellness.
Seven Practices to Enhance Your Spiritual Wellness
- Start your day with five minutes of inspirational reading, music, or meditation. I often begin my day with Karen Drucker’s beautiful song, “Morning Prayer.” (From her latest CD Songs of the Spirit IIII.)
- End your day with your own thank-you prayers or by mentally listing ten things you were grateful for that day.
- Consider learning about the powerful Hawaiian practice called Ho’oponopono. It has simple, peaceful, and poignant lines: Dear God (Or whatever you call the Divine) I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. And I thank you. You may want to Google “Ho’oponopono” to explore resources that appeal to you.
- Listen to healing music that sooths your soul. My favorite is the music to support the “healing stream” practice created by Bruno Groening (www.bruno-groening.org). This free music is available by clicking on “download” and then “music.” My personal favorite is an instrumental entitled, “II Gitarre 2.”
- Subscribe to a daily message that uplifts your spirit. Abraham-Hicks Publications (www.abraham-hicks.com) has a daily quote I read at the start of my day. The top corner of their banner says, “You are loved. All is well.” If I read nothing else, it’s a great reminder that makes me smile each morning.
- Create or discover a daily affirmation or short prayer that inspires and directs your day. Gay Hendricks shares what he calls the “Ultimate Success Mantra” in his empowering book, The Big Leap. “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.” I love this affirmation since it includes others too.
- Find ways to access the healing power of love. If it calls to you, check out Robert G. Fritchie’s work through the World Service Institute (www.worldserviceinstitute.org). This organization teaches people how to apply Divine Love as a healing energy to amplify spiritual wellness.
Excerpt from Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit, 2nd ed (2011) by Susan Tate
Do you have practices that support your spiritual wellness? I’d love to hear about it here or over on my Susan Tate Community Facebook page.