Today, in our giving back series, we want to focus on the SOUL. By definition, the soul is the spiritual principle embodied in human beings and within the universe, it makes us who we are and defines the essence of a person’s energy, wellbeing and fulfillment.  We all know the importance of feeding and exercising the mind along with the body – the importance of connecting with a community and giving back to serve a higher purpose – but we often forget what it looks and feels like to feed the soul. When the soul is fed, creativity is sparked, our purpose is clearly understood and our trust in ourselves and what’s to come is in full motion.  When we stay connected to that part of ourselves, it has a positive ripple effect on those around you and on the entire world as a whole.

There are many ways to connect to that part of ourselves, but here are four ways I like to feed and nourish my soul:

1. Keep a gratitude journal

What if someone told you that spending at least 5 minutes journaling each day could improve your physical and mental health immediately — would you do it?

By writing down three things you are grateful for, every day, you can reduce negative emotions and depression while increasing empathy, happiness and overall mental health. Putting pen to paper brings intentions and thoughts into motion. Being grateful puts focus on the good and truly helps you reflect on the positive things in your life.

2. Push the boundaries of creativity and exploration

Every new experience is an opportunity to observe, listen and learn. As humans, we often sit inside our comfort zone for the majority of our lives – and because of this we limit our spiritual growth opportunities and overall understanding of who we are.  How will you know that you don’t like travel until you try, that you’re not creative until you put a paint brush to a canvas, that you can’t write until you begin? This is the true exploration of the SOUL, and it’s our responsibility to put ourselves in said environments. Every hike I go on, I learn something new about myself. Every time I sit down and read, I learn more about what makes me happy.  I’m constantly seeking new ways to explore what makes me feel alive.

3. Go beyond what’s needed

We often prioritize only our most basic needs. The “meat and potatoes,” if you will. Well, what would happen if you served your SOUL a 5-course meal every day by making YOU a priority? Sometimes we hold back the good stuff and table our desires for other things, and it’s to our own detriment.

It can be the smallest things that can set our soul on fire and fulfill our hearts.  Taking a break to take our dogs to the dog park, eating lunch away from the desk instead of while we type away to send that extra email, playing with small children, pampering ourselves with a massage or a coffee date with a friend.  It’s important to get to work, to keep ourselves healthy, to check off our to do lists, but we have to check in with ourselves and do things that make us happy each day too. When we are in tune with what we need and allow for a different pace each day, we will ultimately be happier and more productive.  

I sit at a desk every day, and often find myself looking out the window thinking, “man, I wish I could just go for a 5-minute walk and soak up the sun.”  Often, my workaholic brain barks back “I don’t have time for that, I have things to get done.” BUT WHY? Why can’t I reward myself with 5-minutes of sun soaking? One of the things I’m constantly working on is quieting the negative and judgmental voice in my head that makes me feel pressured and guilty.  We have opportunities every day to give back to ourselves, to reset and re-energize, and we should take them. Serving the soul makes us better at everything and better to the humans around us.

3. Get quiet

Oh, yeah, this is the hardest one. Being quiet – and actually listening to your thoughts. This is why TV and social media is so addictive, and why so many of us keep calendars jam-packed with social events and things we don’t necessarily even love. Sometimes, when you turn off all of the noise, and just listen….well, it can get kind of scary. Sitting in silence and meditating each day is a good way to go within and see where you’re at.  Things come up, feelings arise, and sometimes it’s really difficult. The moments within the process can be rough, you might hear things you don’t want to, you might get distracted and you will definitely get uncomfortable. But you will also confront – well … YOU.

This is your most important friendship – the one you have with yourself, and it’s one that’s worth working on every day. Spiritual meditation can change your life.  It can be a tool to help you process your thoughts and release stress and negativity. It can bring things into perspective by giving you time and space to look at the bigger picture while releasing things that don’t serve you.  Through meditation we can tap into inner wisdom, guidance, and inspiration that we’re otherwise sometimes too busy to listen to. It can give us a deeper sense of well-being, hope, love and deep gratitude. For me, sitting in silence and meditating daily is a large part of my spiritual journey, and one that brings me in tune with the universe around me.  I think we can all learn a little something by getting quiet every once in a while.

-Kirsten