Mondays in my house are chaotic. Like many mums, its starts Sunday night- Uniforms ironed, school bags filled and left by the door, slow cooker prepped. Monday mornings are rushed, up early, breakfast and lunches sorted, kids to school, me to college. We all learn on Mondays. After pick up from my childcare we have 20 minute turn around to change, eat and get out the door again. Three kids, three clubs, two locations… home for 8.30, showers, snacks, kids to bed, mum to bed. Breathe…
This is my Monday, how I’m setting the tone for my week and starting as I mean to continue. To an observer I struggle to find time to breathe. Why would I be thinking about fitting anything further, like spirituality, into my day?
There seems to be a buzz around spirituality at the moment. Social Media and Advertising seem to be advocating this as something we should pursue but are often very unclear about what it entails practically.
Spirituality is defined as ‘being concerned with the human spirit or soul.’ Traditionally this was something people turned to religion for guidance about. Many still have a deep and living faith within their creed. Others feel its something they turn to in difficult times for comfort and answers. Alternatively still more find when trouble hits they feel confused, abandoned and lost with nowhere to turn.
Increasingly more of us are exploring others meanings around spirituality and ways to help fulfil this aspect of ourselves. Travel, internet, exposure to differing beliefs, cultures and practices mean we are offered more diversity than ever.
So how do we begin to approach spirituality? What can it mean for our daily lives?
I work as an Integrative Life Coach and Well-being Therapist. This means taking a ‘holistic’ approach or looking at a persons life as a whole. Key to my work is the concept ‘Mind, Body, Spirit’ are all aspects of ourselves that need to be honoured to have truly satisfying lives.
We all know and are aware we need to look after ourselves physically- feed ourselves, sleep, move more, heal if we are sick, keep our body well maintained with treatments etc. Investing in our bodies means our quality of life improves, we are less sick, we stay healthier later into life and we enjoy life more. Most of us implement certain practices in our lives to ensure we look after ourselves- an exercise routine, healthy eating, proper rest, stress management, all help ensure we have a measure of health.
Tending our Mind- there is much focus on the importance of mental and emotional health. The need for stimulation, rest, strategies to cope with anxiety and worries, good connection and communication with those we love, continued learning- all keep our mind alive and healthy. If we feel we are struggling we can reach out for support and ask for help. Stigma of past generations and gender stereotypes are being challenged allowing for greater support and openness around the impact and importance of looking after ourselves and looking out for others.
What about our Spirit/Soul? How many of us take time for our spirit, our soul? Where do we start? How do we know we need to feed our soul?
I like the illustration of a holiday- before we go away we are often exhausted, drained and empty. We come back feeling rested, recharged and ourselves again. This aspect of ourselves, the aliveness and fun, is our spirit, our soul that has been revived. How can we honour this aspect of ourselves when living our ordinary life?.
Our souls thrive on those activities we often forget, like creativity, imagination, fun, laughter, prayer, religion, gratitude, acts of service. LOVE. These activities and states of being are easily abandoned when life gets busy. They are often seen as ‘less important’ because the results yielded from engaging in these are not as visible to us or onlookers.
Spirituality starts with within. Unlike diet or mental health where we can confer with a professional and get steps to take to get results, spirituality flows from the inside of us out into the world. It comes from the quality time we spend with ourselves engaging in activities that light us up. Only we know what these are, so even if we work with a spiritual teacher or coach for guidance, only we really know what will truly work for us.
As we begin to make room in our lives for activity that nourish and feed our spirit, make them a priority that cannot be set aside when the noise of living takes over, we find small corners of our life fill with joy and a feeling of space.
How do we do this? How do we find time to bring more activity into our already filled life? Some methods I use in my work include rituals, creativity, and gratitude- This works in a two fold way by firstly making sure we have inbuilt time slots for self spirituality, soul care, secondly it creates an atmosphere in our life that allows this awareness to infiltrate other activities in our day.
Rituals do not have to be big, time consuming events. They are often small gestures that have meaning and value to us because of the awareness we being to them. They help us slow down and be more mindful and present. They refocus attention from the external environment to the internal landscape of our soul. Examples would be having a cup of tea or coffee before anyone else gets up and taking a minute to breathe before the day begins, ten minutes of yoga before a shower, affirmation writing for 3 minutes, prayer- are all ways to deliberately start the day slowly and deliberately. We can also finish the day in a similar deliberate fashion- body brushing, showering, taking off our make up, gratitude lists, meditation all help us slow down and connect with our inner self.
Creativity is another form of true soul nourishment- it provides pleasure. Art, music, performance, design, making things with our hands are all activities that ignite a satisfaction in us. As we look closer at our life we realise everything we do is a form of creation- creating a meal to share with family can be an expression of art. Making our bed, cleaning the bathroom, tidying toys or the garden are ways to make the space around us more beautiful. Choosing our clothes for the day, getting our nails or eyebrows done, are also ways we can express our true self and find pleasure to honour this part of our being.
Gratitude/Prayer allows us to take our mind away from difficulty and focus on the positive in our life. Simply saying thank you is the most profound prayer we can have. Consistently finding things to say thank you for in our day allows us to recognise how blessed we really are and how much we have. We can all enjoy a cold drink, a cosy bed, a beautiful view if we take a few seconds to delight in them.
Self Reflective Practices scheduled into our day allow us to take stock of where we are, how we are dealing with situations and what we need to change to live more fully.
Consciously finding joy while engaging in any activity is key. This means instead of thinking about what we have to do later or something that happened earlier we take a moment to think about what we are doing and stop to fully enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if we are reading a book or getting our hair done, we are only doing that one thing. This is what it means to be present, mindful, to bring consciousness into what we do. This is what feeds our spirit.
‘Souls have complexions too. What suits one will not suit another’ -George Eliot
We are all unique in our needs and wants, when we nourish our soul we thrive in life. We become more of who we really are and find enjoyment in all we do in recognising our spiritual need or the needs of our spirit and honouring them with our time, attention and love.
So how do I bring spirituality into my Chaotic Monday? By wearing something I love, that feels good on my skin, by drinking a tea that I love and pausing to enjoy it, Admiring the view when Im stuck in traffic, chatting to my boys about the best thing in their day as we drive to football, a 5 minute mediation in bed before I sleep. All these things keep a lightness around the rush which means when the bickering starts on the journey home or a shoe goes missing or everyone is grumpy and wants to stay in bed the day can still be a success. If Monday is a success we’ve set the tone for a great week!