Earlier this week, I wrote about returning to center when life feels as if it’s spiraling out of control. I am a work in progress when it comes to keeping the main thing the main thing, but I have a few touch points I use throughout my day to help me remember I am a human being, not a human doing.
I’ve discovered a few key things that I find life-giving, and I try to layer them into my day. My things may not be the same as your things, but I thought I’d share as a jumping off point for you to think about your own desires and what touch points you might incorporate into the labyrinth of your busy life.
Prayer, scripture, and stillness are a must for my day to stay centered. We all know this to be true, but finding the time can be a struggle in our busy days. Rather than finding the time, I create it in the mornings. I often find it difficult to turn off the incessant turning over of minutiae in my brain and focus on connecting to my spirit. Through trial and error, I discovered one of the best ways to quiet my thoughts and enter into the realm of the spirit, is to begin by reading a Psalm. Is there a particular book of the Bible, or passage of scripture that speaks to you? Begin there. Is there an ancient prayer you might repeat? The words of a hymn? A song of worship you might play? We all have our own path to prayer and scripture reading. Find yours and begin to incorporate it. Your day will thank you for it.
To stay centered, I need to move my body. No one loves to lounge on a sofa more than I do, but my backside loves it a little too much. My motivation to begin moving was, to be honest, based on the state of the aforementioned backside. However, I discovered one of the by-products of putting my body through the difficult motions of running, pilates, or yoga has the opposite effect on my mind. While my body moves, my brain receives a much longed for break. The motion centers my mind from its endless circling. On busy days, I keep it as simple as a walk around the block, and I might spend my time praying then too. Walking gives me the chance to focus on them all: Brain, Spirit, Butt. Every day, move a little.
As in most things, soul care looks different for each of us. For me to feel fully centered, my day would ideally include:
Reading: I need to read. I need it like water, and my soul feels dry and brittle when I don’t read a little everyday. Some days, all I can muster is a poem. Others, I might manage a chapter. I haven’t found anything else that brings me back to the core of who I am, apart from reading a good book. It was the first thing I turned to as a child, and as an adult it often feels like the last thing I allow myself to do. It feels indulgent. The truth is, it’s necessary to my soul’s health.
Creating/Writing: I know this won’t scratch where most of you itch, but I need to write a little every day. I don’t hold myself to a particular number of words, and journaling my inner crazy counts. I need a place to spill everything building on the inside. When I don’t write for a while, the words build like castles, taking up all of my soul space. Once I release them on a page, they can talk amongst themselves. Writing may not be your thing, but we all have the ability to create. Soul care involves creating. What is one small thing, one baby step you can take each day, to add creating into the rhythms of your life?
Listening: When my children were young, I passed through a season where I couldn’t add any more noise to my daily life. I rarely listened to music, and never would have listened to a podcast (had there been such a thing). Music was soul static, but my life was poorer for it. I wish I’d explored music more, and found something to soothe my soul rather than irritate it. I’m making up for it now, and I find I need to listen to either music or an interesting podcast at some point during my day to feel whole. Someday, I’d like to learn how to make music of my own. Does listening help you center too?
Chasing Beauty: One of the smallest ways I stop circling and come back to center, involves chasing beauty. It took me decades to discover that finding beauty in my everyday life is one of my core values. For me, beauty often has its genesis in nature or art and always leads me to a deeper truth about myself or God. Sometimes I find beauty in the connection points I offer above–on a walk in the woods, reading a poem, listening to classic jazz. Other times, I have to chase it down by recognizing it in the curve of my daughter’s cheek, a certain slant of light, the scent of fresh cut lemons, or in a friend’s laughter. Beauty is everywhere, and it is essential to slowing the soul spiral. Often, I like to capture it in words or in photos to help my soul remember. Where do you find beauty? Are your eyes and ears open to it daily?
You might be wondering how to fit all of this into your already full day. You work, you raise littles, you hold the weight of the world on your shoulders, like Atlas. Often times, making one centering choice, allows the others to tag along. If you fit in the time for a walk, say a prayer along the way. Look at the way the sun shines through the dappled oak leaves and chase that beauty. Listen to your favorite song on the walk home. Create by humming a tune of your own. Layer these connection points within your everyday.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, but we make it so. Keep it simple. Connect, move, create, chase. You can do this, I promise.
What would you add to my list? What would you take away? What is your best tip for staying centered?