Spirit is quite a personal topic. The main thing is to connect yourself to something you love.
My point is that what Spirit means to you is true for you. Most people confuse religion with spirit and not so many people described themselves as ‘Spiritual’. I am no hippy, I love hippies as I do the majority of people from all walks of life. I was raised by a pair of Atheists (one raised as Catholic and one as Anglican – both going to boarding school – which would be enough to put anyone off religion they told me), and I am not an atheist. I don’t judge people’s religious beliefs, Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jedi etc; whatever works for you to make you feel connected to others or to something.
I believe in the beauty and power of Mother Nature and as an animal, we should fit in and connect with Mother Nature as much as possible not to fight her. I know when I have felt most stressed in my life, I have been cooped up in a hospital, room, office or city and can’t see sunlight, trees or hear the birds. I also noticed the more I studied biology I became in awe of the design of all living things.
The things that are most important are our family, our animals, plants, and environment. If we all aimed to be gentle, kind, generous and sensitive to those less ‘powerful’ in our environment the world would be a more beautiful place. When we understand that we are all connected to all other species on this planet, everything including the insects, plants, and animals, it is only then that we take more care with our attitudes, behaviour, and approach to every living thing. Connecting with Mother Nature to feel at one with yourself and Spirit, even just kick off your shoes and walk on the grass bare-footed!
Everything we do does affect the planet; we are connected to everything else that lives in our same home. The Earth is a fragile creature, we are well served to remember that. Historically the species that have overgrown, have eventually become extinct. The human species has now become the very sickest species on the planet, the rates of CANCER are now so staggering. When I say to connect with nature, your religion, your environment it is all the same. We need to regularly take stock and remember other creatures and to get into the environment to balance ourselves and feel well again.
To reconnect some people go for a walk with their dog, some people ride their bike, others meditate, others pray, or go camping; whatever works for you. When you are feeling sick, stressed, over-worked, or lonely, reconnect with Mother Nature, or your Church, or friends and you will you feel much better.
I do a mixture of things, I meditate, walk my dog (in nature), play tennis (in nature), go sailing (in nature), ride my bicycle (in nature), meet with special friends (often in nature), and go camping (in nature). I define these as all spiritual pursuits.
Meditation is a mental focus to realise benefits or as an end in itself.
Deepak Chopra describes meditation as ‘not a way of making your mind quiet but a way of entering into a quiet already there.’
The average person thinks about 50,000 thoughts every day. Meditation has been used for centuries by Eastern cultures and nowadays is a widely accepted relaxation technique. Some sports/exercise use it as part of the program e.g. Yoga, martial arts (e.g. Karate, Kendo, etc) and some spiritual and relaxation programs use mediation. The goal of all meditation procedures both spiritual/religious or therapeutic is to quiet the mind. Meditation can benefit you as much as you can manage, ideally daily would be best and some people practice at the start and at the end of the day. When you have cancer it can quiten your stressed, busy mind.
There are three types of meditation:
The practice of mindfulness meditation primarily focuses on breathing. I use this practice myself daily or when doing Yoga. My basic recommendation:
- Sit upright with spine straight, either crossed legged or on a firm chair, with both feet on the floor uncrossed. (I sometimes meditate lying down, but usually, fall asleep due to relaxation, so suggest sitting instead), go to bed if you need to sleep.
- With eyes open gently looking a few metres ahead or eyes closed, focus on the exhalation and inhalation of the breath.
- If the mind wanders, acknowledge and return to the ‘out’ breath.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Transcendental Meditation uses a mantra (a word that has a specific chanting sound but no meaning). The person meditating repeats the word silently, or sometimes out loud, letting thoughts come and go. Try ‘I am enough’ as your mantra, it will help your healing.
This method involves heightening awareness of the immediate surrounding environment, the act of which is very like the definition of mindfulness. Choose a routine activity when alone:
- Folding your clothes, focus on the feeling of the fabric on your hands and the weight of the fabric
- Washing the dishes, focus on the feeling of the water on your hands and the weight of the dishes in your hands, etc.
If you have any trouble meditating or getting your mind off your stresses I recommend that you get an App to help you such as CALM, as this can help distract your busy mind until it relaxes.
The benefits of meditation:
There have been multiple studies on the minds of Buddhist monks, who regularly meditate, which have shown that they have increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with happiness, compared to those who do not meditate regularly. Monks meditate for many hours/day, which may not be practical for you, however when you are waiting at appointments or treatment centres even small amounts of meditation are known to have benefits in terms of concentration, reduced stress, and ratings of higher enjoyment of life. Studies have shown that meditation can benefit the heart and can reduce blood pressure, and improve calmness and happiness.
Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!
Mindfulness has gained more ‘awareness’ and popularity in recent times. The state of mindfulness is being in present time consciousness. Your attitude can point your mind in a direction.
What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
One of the most effective and inexpensive methods to reduce stress is laughter, during the absolutely most stressful times in my life, the most effective way to cope with the stress I found was to use my sense of humour and to joke around and laugh! Laughter is always best shared!
- Laughter is known to:
- Lower blood pressure,
- Stimulate the production of endorphins (feel-good hormones),
- Open up your creativity.
- Laughter is known to:
Play leads to happiness
Have you ever watched little children play – most of the time they are laughing, acting out ideas and just being themselves. In our busy world as adults, we usually allocate no time in our schedule for play. I am not talking about exercise, while you might be playful when you do exercise, find something you love and let yourself be playful. Most of you may have even forgotten how to play. Tapping back into that part of you, you once easily expressed as a child can increase your creativity, relaxation, and enjoyment of life. Try to schedule AT LEAST one session of play per week. If you can fit in more fantastic, remember, life is too short not to enjoy it and play is about one of the best ways to live your life. Watch a comedy movie if you are not feeling playful.
Ideally think of something you can do with others, board games (especially acting out roles – I did this once with my cousin’s boys – we played a game where we had to act like different animals – it was hilarious and we laughed so much – it was great fun) or something active outside in nature is perfect. Do something that you love and you will enjoy your play time. Schedule as much in as possible, which will lift your spirits.
Passion and love
Ideally, you will be living and working in your passion, have passion and love in your relationships and love yourself as well. If this is not true for you, you may need some assistance and perhaps coaching to get to your sweet spot! Follow this link to find out more about how to train your Mind for the ultimate in health and wellness. Or book in with Dr Rachel for some coaching and assistance.
Yours in good health,