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Posted: February 18, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

12 Ways to Nourish Your Soul

(Editor?s Note: The editors of Spirituality & Health periodically ask readers what they do to center, connect, and find spiritual refreshment in the midst of life. We?re always blessed and enlightened by their answers. Here are a dozen of our favorites.)

1. Breathe!

Relaxation breathing can calm, de-stress, focus, and relax me in several breaths. It?s free and the results are immediate. No planning or equipment is required. It is such a simple thing that provides big benefits and rewards.

? Vicki L. Dury, Massachusetts

2. Light a family candle

Last year for the holidays, my wife and I packed a box with special foods, one gift for each person, a tape of our favorite holiday music, and a candle with a cranberry-orange-cinnamon scent. We sent the box to my family in Florida, with instructions to light the candle as they enjoyed the contents. We lit a similar candle as we opened their gifts to us. Each day now at mealtimes, we light the family candle and include our family in our prayers.

? Chuck Goodman, California

3. Live in the middle

I carry two little strips of paper, one in my left pocket and one in my right. My rabbi gave them to me around the time of Yom Kippur. On one is written, ?For my sake was the universe created,? on the other, ?I am but dust.? Somehow I manage to stay in the middle.

?Gale Maleskey

4. Go treasure hunting

When my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, I was devastated. My morning walks became a litany of self-pity and fear. One morning I discovered a small blue flower peeking up from behind a rock. It was simple in its beauty. I found myself smiling. Now every morning, I go ?treasure hunting.? I always find something to inspire me: a puffy cloud, a smiling face, the color of the trees, a scurrying squirrel. Nothing out of the ordinary, yet God?s handiwork. Miraculously, amid pain one can find some modicum of peace.

? Celia L. Marszal, New York

5. Pray for someone else

Whenever I feel discouraged and think nothing could be right in my life, I try to find a quiet place to sit and write down a prayer for someone I know who needs a loving thought. Composing the words of the prayer helps align my soul with the loving Presence I need at the moment and reminds me that I am not alone in the universe, that no matter how I feel, I am truly loved and blessed.

? Elizabeth Simons, Missouri

6. Let spirit rock you to sleep

Since I?ve passed 50, I often wake up in the middle of the night. Instead of tossing about while chewing guilty thoughts or solving other people?s problems, I now get up and move to the living room, where I read and reflect on one or two pages of a spiritual reading. This replaces the daytime meditation I?ve never been able to do and sends me back to sleep with a peaceful mind. Our cat usually joins me.

? Richard Lalonde, Canada

7. Connect

Whenever I feel the need to remember that I am a child of God, I call friends or acquaintances and ask how they are. This simple act reminds me that a word or deed ? however inconsequential ? sends the powerful message that God is all Love, and each time we share that Love with another person with a word or smile, we create a powerful force in the world that combats fear and loneliness.

? Elizabeth Simons, Missouri

8. Look into your eyes

When I awake every morning I look in the mirror before washing my face. Tenderly looking into my own eyes, I cross my hands over my heart and say to the familiar face, ?How can I remember to be more loving, juicy, and joyful with you today?? It sets the intention for the hours ahead and keeps me focused on what is truly important.

? Sylvia Cohen, New York

9. Relish the moment

As a full-time working mother of two children under five, my soul-nourishing moments are captured in quick-as-sound-bite opportunities. I make it a practice to stop and absorb the beauty God provides in such abundance: the crisp air of a new fall day, a band of swans twittering as they swarm above the trees, warm sun embracing cool skin, squirrels bickering over a corn-cob, the stars and planets on a clear, bright night.

? Laura Erickson, North Dakota

10. Welcome the day

Each morning before I dive into the hectic activities at work, I stop at a particularly beautiful place high up on the red rocks surrounding my town. I breathe in and out deliberately and consciously, aware of my connection to Great Spirit, the true reality in all life, and within me. Sometimes I say a more formal prayer. Sometimes I shout joyously for a new day of life, like no other day before it or to come. I do what feels right for me that day. Then I come down from the mountain and go to work.

? Jerome Thailing, Arizona

11. Sense the love that surrounds you

When I awake in the early morning to the scent of my wife, the sounds of the birds, and the hush of the leaves in the trees, I am reminded how love from within me and from outside me guides me to a place of peace.

? Ben Fowler, Maine

12. Appreciate loved ones

Whenever I hear my daughter sing or my son laugh, I stop and thank God for my children, their safety, and God?s guidance to me and their father for raising them. I remember that soon I?ll be looking back on these days, perhaps with longing, and that I must treat my children as dear guests who are about to leave.

? Ellen M. Cosgrove, Maryland


This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, www.SpiritualityHealth.com. For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see www.SpiritualityHealth.com/subs. Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at www.caregivershome.com. Contact staff directly via email at ASKspirituality@spiritualityhealth.com.

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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