I remember my mom pausing suddenly to give thanks for the moment. I have images in my head of her just staring into the horizon, a soft smile on her face. She would point out flowers as we walked past them, or a hummingbird flitting past the window. The breathtaking sunsets never went unnoticed or unannounced.
Suddenly, it clicked. I discovered that healthy spiritual, emotional, even physical practices don’t work, for me, when I treat them like an exercise routine. What I mean by that is, when I schedule 30 minutes of my day to sit, read, and ponder the mysteries of the universe, the road almost always goes one way: I schedule it in, it becomes a chore, I become disconnected and then discouraged, and eventually I stop doing it.
What if I flip the ratio? What if…I allow pondering and reading and spiritual awareness to flow freely during the bulk of my day, and schedule in the errands and the “have-to’s” for smaller chunks of my focus time? What if I pause, reflect on the moment, and offer thanks for it right then and there? “Thank you, Lord,” she would say. Simple. Beautiful. And more profound than I ever recognized.
So here are some things I’ve done that have helped me start this shift:
Write simple practices on sticky notes and post them everywhere. For example, I have one on my fridge that says, “Pray. Stretch. Breathe. Drink water.” Every time I pass it by, I pick an act on the list and do it right then, no matter what’s happening. I stop and do the thing.
Think about what you actually do during each part of your dayand try to come up with how you can make it a moment of higher spiritual connection, even if it simply creates an opportunity for an emotional check-in with yourself.
Look around you and discover what you have the honor of using, enjoying, being a part of, etc. I get caught up in my short-comings or the negative state of things. But whenever I think about the positives (what I AM, what I DO have, what I am CREATING) rather than the negatives (what I am NOT, what I DON’T have, what I want to DESTROY), there’s a massive internal, emotional shift that happens. Suddenly, I feel like I’m marching toward something instead of blindly marching away from something, and it has a snowball effect.
Move and breathe deeply. Stretch and follow your breaths — like inhale when you straighten up, exhale when you touch your toes, etc. Sometimes I pray while doing this, sometimes I let my mind go blank, but I always close my eyes and breathe deeply.
Sing. This doesn't have to be a written song or even one with words. I've found that simply humming something uplifts my spirits, takes me out of a grumpy or anxious mindset, and just generally brings me to the gateway of spiritual connection.