In the women’s spirituality group I help facilitate, we’re doing what I guess you could call a series on spiritual tools for the journey. These are a few things that, along the way, I have found to be beneficial to me for hearing the inner longings of my soul.
- Journaling Of course, I am a writer by nature, so this one comes easily to me. But I don’t take this journaling gig lightly. I have a dream journal, which is written in first before those slippery
dreams from the subconscious slip away again. I always date the dreams
and try to mark when it’s a full moon (because the dreams are usually
particularly vivid and significant then for me). After documenting the dreams, I pull out the Gratitude Journal (idea from Sarah ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance). I list at least five things for which I’m grateful, and these range from people to things to ideas to states of being. Lastly, there’s the “morning pages” (term coined by Julia Cameron in her Artist’s Way books) where I vent/muse/list/write for a while. The goal is three pages, but sometimes three short paragraphs is all I have time for. Some days the whole process takes about 15 minutes. I’ve been known to take two hours.
- Collage This is another process inspired by Cameron’s Artist’s Way. My partner in spiritual direction and I use this tool frequently to either find where we are in the present stage in our lives or to help visualize what it is we want or need. Collages can be done given a prompt, given a time frame or given nothing but freedom of expression. Most recently, I collaged a manila folder, and it will store items in it particular to this phase of my life.
- Movement When our mind and spirit are expressed through the movement of our body, when the energy is released, I anticipate great things happening. This is an area that I hope to explore more in the future. I hope to learn t’ai chi. I have another woman leading this session this week, and I can’t wait to see what we do, how it feels. Honoring my body, caring for it well, is something I have to work on, but if our body is not well, we are not available to others, let alone to ourselves. Maintaining a balance and allowing the energy to flow freely improves our overall well-being.
- Meditation I was first introduced to sitting meditation (zazen) through a Buddhism class in college. For this, I am ever grateful. I went back many times to the Monday night “Journey into Silence.” I met wonderful people there, though the truth is we didn’t talk all that much. 25 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes walking, 15 minutes of sitting was the schedule, if I recall correctly. Truly, there are many forms of meditation, and I won’t list technique here. The point is silence. Prayerful listening. Stillness. Quiet mind. As busy people, sometimes we don’t have hours to sit in prayer to receive guidance, to experience the presence of God, but we can bring a mindfulness into our present task. We can do things with a full-bodied awareness that embodies stillness and with prayerful listening be able to hear the still, small voice of Spirit or to experience the joy and gladness of doing the right thing at the right time.
These are just a few of the tools that I use, some more regularly than others, of course. I encourage you to find what you use to express yourself creatively, what helps you hear the inner voice, what helps guide and assure you in your journey, and make it a regular practice. You are only too busy if it is not a priority.
If finding what you are supposed to be doing is a priority to you or if you want clarity on anything, you have to be still and honest with yourself long enough to glimpse the truth of the matter. This isn’t easy, but the rewards are great.