Listening to this episode today on creating a daily spiritual practice couldn’t have come at a better time.
I’m continuing with my blog post series sharing my four-years-later take on my Season 1 episodes. Today, I’m reflecting on Episode 7. Let's go.
In this episode, I mentioned that I did three things as part of my daily spiritual practice back then: setting intentions, checking in with my happiness list, and giving gratitude.
I haven’t kept up with all these things to the same degree since then. But at this point, my spiritual practice has become more about cultivating a broad range of practices and tools that I can pull from in any given situation, depending on what I need at the moment.
What I need might be to be more present or in alignment with my authentic self, which I mentioned were my main purposes for doing a daily spiritual practice back then. But it could also be that I need to get grounded when I'm in an activated state. Or I need to just be with challenging feelings that need to be felt.
Journaling has definitely remained an important, ongoing practice for me. As I said in the episode, this practice can really help us reflect on how we want to move forward from an unclear situation. Journaling gives us the opportunity to learn what we want (or don’t want) in our life and what triggers us.
Journaling can also bring to light ongoing patterns that need examining. In my end-of-2021 review of the year, I skimmed all of my 2021 journal entries and took down notes on what was happening with my various relationships throughout the year.
Seeing the patterns was like getting smacked in the face. I was still playing out my ongoing pattern of being in insecurely attached relationships. They might not have looked or felt as obvious and painful as other situations in the past, but I was still reinforcing that well-worn track.
Moving forward from that reflection, I am going into 2022 with a strengthened resolve to make some hard but necessary decisions that will pave the way to more securely attached relationships.
Also, I've had a lot of spiraling thoughts before bed the past few days, so I’ve been bringing my small physical journal to bed with me (I usually type in a Google Doc). I’ll write whatever feelings or emotions are coming up for me, then identify why.
From there, I quickly get into figuring out action steps for what I need to do next to get more grounded and aligned with my authentic self. I’ve become way faster at deciding on the right actions to take as I have worked a lot on tapping into my intuition and really understanding where my various triggers come from, what my boundaries are, and what my current capacity is.
I’ve also been practicing meditation a lot more in the recent past, so I’ll bring in that practice to calm my mind so I can get to sleep. Sometimes it “works,” and other times it’s still a struggle to shut off the mental chatter.
But all of these practices are an ongoing work in progress. Sometimes we try an approach and it doesn’t work for us in that situation, but it does in another. None of this ever looks perfect, but it does get easier over time and with, well, practice.
* * *
A couple of days ago, I woke up knowing I was going to have a tough day. I was going up to the farm that morning, where I’d be packing up all my things in the tiny cabin, where I had been living for the past year. I had decided to move, but the circumstances around me moving hadn’t left me with complete peace of mind.
My friend Zeenat sent me a loving reminder that morning to meditate and set my intentions for the big move. I journaled what those intentions were, and found myself tapping into a lot of gratitude, closure, standing strong in my boundaries, and leaving space open for new relationships and experiences.
I also felt grief at leaving what had been my home and community. I set an intention to take the seed of desire that had been planted to cultivate roots somewhere to my next place.
Then I started to meditate but allowed myself to let any images that wanted to come up do so. I immediately envisioned hugging the farm dogs goodbye. And that’s when all the grief I had been feeling finally released, and I just sobbed and sobbed.
At the farm, I was able to stay mostly grounded and bring that energy of gratitude and calm-assertiveness to the situation. It enabled me to have a much-needed conversation without coming from a place of wounding or defensiveness.
By the time I got home from the farm, I felt clear and ready to move on.
* * *
I do want to mention an important point here about doing these spiritual practices, that this farm experience reminded me of.
Listening back to this episode, I realized that it could sound like I’m saying that you just have to think and do all these “positive” things, and your stresses and difficult feelings will go away. If you’ve been following the pod for a while, you'll know that I am absolutely not about spiritual bypassing or reinforcing our Western culture’s hyperfocus on our rational thinking brain.
So I want to point out that being able to stay grounded at the farm and not get overwhelmed by emotions came from so much more than just setting an intention and the desire to be compassionate and calm.
It came from doing my trauma-healing and somatic therapy work over the last four years and developing my nervous system's capacity to stay with and move quickly through those feelings of ungroundedness when they were activated.
It came from having cultivated the capacity to be with the complex feelings of grief, gratitude, and excitement all at the same time – instead of feeling like I could only be "okay" if I was just focusing on the "positive" feelings.
So while having practical tools and step-by-step “instructions” of what to do when we’re feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, and so on, can absolutely help to recenter ourselves, it's really the ongoing, deeper healing work that has been the most transformative piece for me.
Because that kind of work is what has truly shifted my distorted beliefs that I am not worthy, lovable, or welcome to a more deeply embedded knowing that I deserve, am loved, and belong. And that foundation is what often makes it easier (and what is sometimes even required) to use those spiritual tools and practices effectively.
Because if, say, we try to access our spiritual practices when we're feeling anywhere from "off" to highly triggered, but those feelings are coming from our wounds of "they don't care about me" or "I don't belong anywhere," then no amount of positive affirmations or gratitude giving is going to truly bring us to a state of groundedness or peace (at least it won't be a sustainable shift).
I guess my point is that there is nuance to everything. And that can make us want to pull out our hair, because sometimes we just want an easy step-by-step manual or quick fix to turn things around.
But the more I've let go of that dream, the more I've opened myself up to learning how I can be with this complex, messy, not-so-straightforward thing called life. And that, to me, is where true self-empowerment, resilience, and peace of mind comes from.
With love, Janice xo
P.S. You can listen to "Creating a Daily Spiritual Practice (S1, EP7 | The Soul's Work Podcast)" on: the website | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Podchaser | Stitcher | Please subscribe + leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤