Category Archives: nourishing your soul

13Sep/16

5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 3: Nourish Your Soul

 

To be happy you need to tune into your inner wisdom and nourish your Soul.

This is the most crucial Habit, because without this step you remain unconnected to your true self, and therefore lose your capacity for that strong, unmoveable inner joy, fulfilment and alignment.   Let me say this again: connecting, nurturing and strengthening your Soul Voice is your key to happiness. So when I said in part 1 of this series that ‘happiness is all in the mind’ I was only half right. It is in your mind and body and soul, interlinked in an unperceivable and magical way. Your Soul is the essence of life, the energy that makes you you. It is what makes you the unique and amazing individual that you are.

So how do you nourish your Soul Voice?   This is the million-dollar question and the answer isn’t the same for everyone. The lucky ones among us have a natural connection to their Soul Voice that has kept them on a congruent path for most of their life, or has led them to make changes throughout the course of their life that have brought them back to what their true inner selves’ needs and desires. But because this is not what our society teaches our children, most of us don’t learn how to do it. Our education system is focused on solid measurable matters, information and statistics. It deals with concrete facts not fuzzy concepts. It doesn’t concern itself with happiness or self-actualisation because it wasn’t designed for that. State education was only established to teach our children to become workers and economic contributors to society, not to become fully expressed – and happy – human beings.

Over the last few years the tide has been slowing turning, as research is increasingly showing that happiness and self expression actually creates better workers and higher productivity. As a result there is more motivation from government and businesses to investigate the ‘softer’ side of education and self-development.

But as parents we want to be able to provide our children with all the knowledge, experience, and skills to be happy. We don’t want them just to get a secure job and have enough social skills to get through life, keep healthy and provide us with grandchildren. We want them to be happy. Deeply, joyfully happy and in love with their life. We long for them to be happier than us. We know – now we are over 30 and have experienced the (sometimes bitter) teachings of life – that meaning is important. We may not know what the meaning of life is (except after that 3rd glass of wine…) but we know that our journey towards it, attaining it, losing it again, living it is the most important journey of life.   We know that the mind-numbing mundane, following the herd, doing what everyone else is doing is the death of our Soul, and therefore the death of us.   So we long for our children to have that joy and happiness that we know is possible, but that we weren’t taught how to value or create. We know we can give them a better start than we had, simply because we’ve been lucky enough to live in an era in which learning and self-development, and self-expression is possible, and even starting to flourish.

But how do we teach them if we are still learning ourselves?   By being ourselves in all our flaws, but daring greatly and falling and getting up again and trying again. We learn what works for us, and we teach our children what we know by modelling and talking and teaching when and how we can. In our own unique way.

So back to my original question, before I got sidetracked by the meaning of life! How do you connect and nourish your inner Soul Voice?

You experiment.   You become a scientist, an artist, a child playing and measuring and experimenting with different activities and habits to work out which ones nourish your particular individually amazing soul.

Most importantly, the activities should light you up, recharge you, bring you joy or a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. They are usually pleasurable, but not purely in a hedonistically way (i.e. all day, every day, lacking meaning and leaving you empty). They can be difficult and not enjoyable at the time – think struggling with the structure of a novel for days, weeks or months, and then it all coming together and working like a dream. It wasn’t all fun and happiness, but the daily pursuit of a meaningful goal can be extremely nourishing.

How do you know you are nourishing your soul? You notice when you feel peace, joy, expansiveness, connection to self & others, connection to things or causes bigger than yourself, excitement, a deep inner knowing, contentment, lightness, fulfilment.

Does nature nourish your soul?

Does nature nourish your soul?

While we are all so very different, there are still some commonalities that can help us identify activities that might nourish our Soul. Look for activities that get you into flow, into creativity, into your body, and into nature. When I first started trying to connect with and nourish my Soul I realised that many of the things that worked could be described as ‘primal’. For example: music, singing and dancing, walking, being in nature, hugging my child, quiet, stillness and meditation, connecting with others.

Personally, I’m still learning how to nourish my soul and find my inner joy. I know that writing, walking, being in nature, seeing the sea all nourish me. I know the right kind of music (I’m listening to it now, as I write) raises me up and makes my soul soar high full of love and joy and possibilities.   I know that happy, light-hearted family moments fill me with love and recharge my soul. I know when I act with integrity – especially with regard to parenting my children –  it has a strong drip, drip effect of nourishing my soul. Concentration and challenge – what is often called flow – is nourishing for our heart, mind and soul. But what creates challenge, focus and concentration for one person does not for another. Be it equations, silverwork, writing, painting, working with a patient in clinic, gardening, problem solving ….something will work for you. For me, I love writing. Sometimes it’s hard for me, and I don’t want to sit at my computer when there are so many books tempting me with their words and secrets, but when I start and I am challenged by what to write next and have to concentrate on developing a structure that will work, deciding what to include, delete and how to address my audience, I am in flow and I feel connected to myself and to the readers that may read my work. I am nourished. My soul has been at work, it has been nurtured and spoken to, and listened to. It brings a certain kind of peace.

This peace and fulfilment can last for quite a while, or it can be punctured in a second when the kids start arguing. So don’t think I float around in a cloud all day, instead understand that that deep nourishing of my Soul recharges my physical, emotional and spiritual batteries and strengthens my resilience. By nourishing my Soul I have what I call a clearer and stronger Inner Guidance System which helps me navigate through my life. Whether that is simply guiding me with wisdom on what path to take professionally or listening to my intuition when comforting an angry or sad child, I think and act more in line with my values and who I am when my Soul is nourished. I can hear it more clearly over the shouts of my Ego Voice and know that it has the answers I need.

My challenge to you is to start experimenting with nourishing your own Soul.  Do the things that bring your joy, peace and fulfilment. Prioritise them, create habits around them.  Recharge your batteries, strengthen the connections you have with your Soul, with your inner being. Listen to the inner wisdom that this deeper connection allows you to access it and follow it’s advice and guidance rather than the fearful voice of your Ego.

Please let me know in the comments what activities nourish your Soul. What lights you up and brings you joy?  Until next time,

Thea

xxxxxxx

 

There is Nothing Wrong with You!

What’s Being Said in Your Head?

5 Steps to Inner Joy

18Aug/16

5 Habits for a Clear Mind – Step 2: What’s Being Said in Your Head?

Ego vs Soul wisdom

 

Habit 2: Notice what is going on in your head.

 

Knowledge is power.

As we discussed in Habit 1, we all have conflicting desires, thoughts, opinions and beliefs that have developed from our evolution, our upbringing, our experiences and our culture. To help understand and deal with the ebb and flow of all these influences I find it useful to divide them into two dominant identities; our Ego Voice and our Soul Voice.

Unhappiness is often simply a result of the battle between Ego vs Soul taking centre stage.

I describe the Ego Voice as our scared voice. It’s the voice that keeps us safe from the tiger, from social exclusion, from going against our parents’ belief systems, from other people’s judgement.   It’s there to protect us from the myriad of threats that it has evolved to interpret and anticipate. It does a very good job of keeping us safe from physical and social harm.   However…and you knew this was coming didn’t you…it also keeps us from being our truly authentic self. It keeps us small and hidden, afraid to be vulnerably courageous and express our brilliant selves to the world for fear of failure and judgement.

Our Soul Voice on the other hand is the grounded, wise, connected voice that comes from deep inside of us. As I write that – ‘deep inside us’ – I know that this is not a scientific statement. Science has not discovered some part of our body or brain that is designated as the space where our soul or personality or self resides.   But I know that most of you reading will understand that phrase. You know that you have an inner wisdom that you can tap into sometimes – some of us more than others. It manifests itself as that nagging feeling that something is wrong, or the conviction that a decision is right, despite it not being logically so. It’s that feeling you get as you step into the 100th house you’ve looked at and know immediately it’s the one for you. Or the unrivalled sense of peace that envelopes you on a crisp winter’s day walk. Our Soul Voice has a feeling of alignment, of connectedness, of being grounded in nature and the universe.

For most of us in our modern frantic lives, our Ego Voice is usually in charge, often completely suffocating our Soul Voice. It does this all in the name of protection and safety – as the brain is designed to do – but is unhelpful in modern life, where there are fewer physical dangers and even fewer survival threats.

Our Ego Voice is also encouraged and manipulated by the culture we live in in the western world. The pressure to be successful, to be the best, strongest, smartest, richest or thinnest tells our brains that these measures are crucial for our self worth. It defines what is (supposed to be) most important to us, and not surprisingly over time we begin to believe it too. Our Soul Voice’s desires to live a simple life, to be kind rather than competitive, to switch off social media, or to downsize to the coast are ignored and squashed because they don’t fit with the biggest, better, strongest image of success that we have been inculcated with.

I know that many of us are aware of these status, money and power driven standards in our society and we know that we can choose differently, and indeed many people do. Some of us become teachers despite the scorn and low pay, some of us parent our children with love rather than fear in the playground while tutting tongues and shaking heads are all around. Lots of us ignore the latest fashionable trends and buy the jeans that we’ve always bought, knowing they suit us and our lifestyle. Lots of us choose fresh food over pizza most days. Others save money and build a nest egg for retirement while resisting the constant calls to bring sunshine into their lives with the latest gadget, bigger house or new car. We all know that we can make decisions that live outside of our media culture’s dominant values as we do it every day.   We do this when our Soul Voice is strong enough and persistent enough to lead the way.

However, for every decision that the Soul Voice makes I would guess there are at least 10 that our Ego Voice makes – maybe more – as we go through our days on automatic pilot. You head the messages from your Ego Voice: to wear the bland, safe clothes that will make you fit in, rather than that floaty dress that you love and makes you feel like a goddess; to go against your urge to make that casserole for the friend who’s having her kitchen done, cos you don’t know her that well, and she might think you’re a bit creepy;  to not risk doing the school run without make up in case you meet someone who may judge you for looking so ‘tired’ or ‘rough’.

So Habit 2 is all about noticing what is going on in your head. Start listening to all the thoughts and urges and impulses and whispers in your head. Notice what they are saying, from what place they are saying them (peace or fear, love or hate, acceptance or resistence). Are they coming from your Ego Voice or your Soul Voice? Can you begin to build up a picture of each of these voices as they are inside you. Can you recognise their characteristics?

Notice when and how you tune into your intuition and gut feelings.

Notice what triggers your anger, your fear, your automatic responses that you perhaps regret after the event? Is there a common theme? Is there a voice from your childhood that is coming out in your Ego Voice? What fears is it feeding? Are they real fears? Are they helpful?

Get to know that negative, fear based Ego Voice that’s only trying to protect you. What is going on when you are in stressed and overwhelmed and in threat mode. Learn to see your emotions as feedback. Not good or bad – just feedback.

And get to know what makes your heart and soul sing – this is the key to connecting and strengthening your Soul Voice. We will look more at this in the next Habit.

Remember – if you are feeling ill at ease, overwhelmed, unhappy, stressed, anxious or depressed, it’s probably due to an internal battle between your Ego Vs Soul.  But if you listen hard enough you’ll learn to distinguish between the two, and start to choose more often the option that nourishes your soul rather than be a slave to your ego.