I feel compelled to start this blog with a head’s up. It was a really tough one for me to write and there were many re-writes throughout the day. Without question it’s because I decided to take on a personal, complicated and maybe even private subject: Spirituality or Spirit or the nonphysical part of our beings sometimes called the soul. I felt compelled to write about this after attending a service recently at the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles listening to Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith reminding and/or encouraging everyone in attendance about the importance of having a regular spiritual practice – a practice that regularly feeds and sustains our Spirit. As I sat there listening to the Rev’s wise and inspirational words fill my entire being, I got that hit that I had to try to take it on for a blog, during Earth Month. Maybe my spirit told me to?
As human beings, I do believe that we are made up of body, mind and spirit. Feeding our bodies and minds are no-brainers. We all know what we need to do to take care of and nourish our bodies and minds. But it’s that third one that makes people feel nervous or uncomfortable or uncertain and maybe for some, excited or intrigued. But for many of us, our minds go into overload. Is a Spiritual practice the same as religion? What is “Spirit” anyway? And what, if anything, has Spirit got to do with climate change and social justice and filthy fashion? And what good is meditating going to do to make the world a better place? And my own mind is asking me…”why am I not covering important topics like droughts and melting polar caps and disappearing coral reefs and the filthy fashion industry for Earth Month?” Why am I getting the message so strongly that preservation of the planet begins with a commitment to meditating every day? Why indeed. Stay with me.
So what does Spirit really mean and how is it defined? Here’s what my google search revealed:
1. the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul. “we seek a harmony between body and spirit”
2. those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period. “the university is a symbol of the nation’s egalitarian spirit”
That definition brought some clarity but how does one go about feeding one’s spirit for our own good and the good of all humankind? Especially because it’s a non-physical part, right? I will cut to the chase: I’m not sure. But I do believe that affirmative prayer and meditation are important. And that adopting a practice of feeding our Spirits or souls matters now more than perhaps ever in the history of mankind. I believe a committed, regular spiritual practice will help us live more consciously and mindfully every day. If more of us live mindfully, it will slow down the impact of climate change, it will impact our daily thoughts and actions regarding how we deal with the hate and unspeakable atrocities that are being committed daily and it will move us quickly in the direction of living a truly sustainable life.
Who would not agree that we are living in a time when the news is filled with so much hate, hyperbole, lies, misinformation, slanted perspectives, us vs them, and overall ugliness that millions of people are turning the news off or walk around in a constant state of angst? We all need coping mechanisms or tools to navigate these troubled times and feeding the nonphysical parts of our emotions and character is essential to help flip things, to move us to a different way of being.
Trust me when I say it’s taking a great deal of courage for me to say this but I believe that, collectively, massive numbers of people adopting daily meditation practices would contribute greatly to developing limitless love, goodwill, compassion and discernment. Through prayer, whatever that looks like for you, the tendency to set anger and retaliation loose will give way to patience, forgiveness and loving kindness. Can you even begin to imagine the impact that could have given what we are fed by our daily news stations? And wouldn’t regular meditation practice, whether the winds that begin to blow are evolutionary or revolutionary, help us to stand together in them with a healing peace radiating out from our beings into the world? I say yes. I say affirmative prayer and meditation would help more of us care about the millions of people starving as I write this newsletter; and more of us would care about the millions of displaced people, in areas of the world where severe droughts have driven them from the homes they have inhabited for centuries; and help us be open to finding solutions to help them. And more of us would care about the air we breathe, and the relentless devastation of the rainforests that literally provide us with oxygen for every other breath we take. And, yes, I believe that if we all spent more time “in the quiet” feeding our souls, we might even begin to think about and maybe even care about the millions of people we have locked up in our country and who have, for the most part, been forgotten. As individuals, we might begin to understand that where we shop, how much we buy and from where what we buy is sourced, matters to the human beings who made it possible for us to purchase whatever it is. Filthy fashion, fair trade and cruelty free might take on new meanings and result in our making different choices. Sitting in the quiet will make a difference.
In closing, here is my final thought I’d like to leave you with. They are names of individuals who feed or who still feed their Spirit daily. Ready? Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Jesus, the Dalai Lama and Michael Bernard Beckwith. Pretty good list I’d say. Here’s to feeding your soul – every day.