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The Top 10 Ways to Awaken Your Spirit
Awakening the Human Spirit
By Shonnie Lavender

"Doing" plays such a large role in most of our lives that the being-ness is often left behind. There are many ways to awaken the human being in you and to bring your soul and spirit to the top of your consciousness. Here are ten ideas to get you started. I hope they will spark your creativity and lead you to discover other soul waking experiences in ways that are particularly powerful to you.

1. Listen to evocative music.

To be touched by the melodies, voices, and rhythms of music you need to be undistracted. Choose music which has personal significance to you, ask friends what music evokes them, sample songs on the Web NetRadio.com Player or at a store, or check out some of my favorites (Enya, Watermark on Orinoco Flow; Jonathan Elias, The Prayer Cycle [album name]; Cecilia, Amazing Grace on Voice of the Feminine Spirit). Create a space to listen in - turn off your telephone's ringer, sit or lie somewhere comfortable, light a candle or two, or close your eyes -- then turn on the music. Breathe deeply and slowly as you relax and listen to the music. Let it delight your ears, strum your heartstrings, and stir your soul. Be with the music and let it be with you.

2. Read true-life inspirational stories.

Expose yourself to the richness all around. Allow yourself to picture the people in the story. See and feel their courage, dedication, passion, steadfastness, fear, and willingness. Be influenced by their purposefulness and let it motivate you. Some of my favorite resources include: Chicken Soup for the Soul (books or daily e-mails), Small Miracles (Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal); Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Kindness and Courageous Acts of Service, Marianne Larned, Ed.; Women of Courage: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them, Katherine Martin.

3. Share yourself with someone in need.

There are so many ways to be of service, so choose a way that allows you to give yourself fully and also puts you directly in contact with who you're helping. Ideas to consider: Spend time loving, playing with, and caring for animals in shelters. Visit residents in a nursing home, be with them and listen to their stories. Offer to baby-sit your busy neighbor's child(ren) so they can have some time alone. Do something that calls to you to the place Frederick Buechner described when he wrote: "the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

4. Meditate on the impermanence of life.

A woman once asked Carlos Castaneda how to achieve a spiritual life. He responded, telling her that when she got home at night she should sit in her chair and remember that her child, her husband, everyone she loved, and she herself, were going to die -- and they would die in no particular order, unpredictably. "Remember this every night," Castaneda said, "and you'll soon have a spiritual life." When we are conscious of the temporality of life, we often are more grounded and able to focus on what matters most to us. We often appreciate the value of the present moment and are more open, considerate, forgiving, light and loving to ourselves and others. When we know that now is all we have for certain, we find ways to have now be the best now possible.

5. Take a weeklong media fast.

Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way, has an exercise in which you tune out all media -- TV, radio, newspapers, books, Web, etc. -- for one whole week. While this book focuses on nurturing one's creative self, I found that this exercise helped me reconnect to my full self. I became aware of how much time I spent immersed in others' ideas rather than cultivating my own. I also found that during this week my life was simpler, less stress producing and more flexible -- all qualities that help me be myself.

6. Enjoy nature at least once a week.

Depending on your circumstances -- work and home responsibilities, access to natural areas, weather -- you may or may not spend much time interacting with the natural world. To get the greatest spiritual benefit, I think being outdoors in a natural environment is a must. Walk barefoot in grass, make snow angels, lie on a hillside and gaze at the clouds, hike a wooded trail, or star watch from a desert mesa. During times nearer city's confines, bring nature as close as possible. Have green plants or flowers in your home. Hang out where you can take in the colors of a sunrise or sunset. Eat a piece of fruit slowly, noticing the texture, aroma, and juiciness of each bite. Choose ways to interact with the rest of the world's creations.

7. Nurture one relationship each week.

Take time to really be with another person, whether or not you actually come face to face. Write a letter to a loved one who would be delighted to receive some mail. Call a friend out of the blue to say, "I'm thinking of you," and find out how they are. Make or buy a token gift of thanks to give to a co-worker. Invite your mate to a candlelight dinner you've prepared. Say, "I'm sorry" to a relative with whom you've had an argument. By sharing your life and opening yourself to someone sharing theirs, you are both enriching and being enriched.

8. Create and use a Spirit Chest.

Find a box or container of some sort and fill it with items of personal significance. Perhaps photos, a poem or quotes, a comic strip. Maybe choose a sacred stone, dried flower, or vial of your favorite scent of essential oil. Have fun selecting items, decorating the box, and finding a safe "home" for this chest. Then, when you're out of sorts, feeling sad, or have forgotten what you're doing with your life, open your Spirit Chest and reacquaint yourself with its contents. Let the energy, and joy you used in creating the chest soothe, replenish, and remind you of the deep spirit within you.

9. Acknowledge the truth about yourself at least weekly.

Often we spend more time focused on what's not working and what's wrong that we forget or miss what is working and what's right. This can be particularly true of how we treat ourselves. Take time to recognize and acknowledge the characteristics that make you who you are. I learned to do this self-acknowledgement using a mirror and really looking into my eyes as I spoke the truth aloud. Besides refilling my spiritual fuel tank by reminding me of who I am, doing this exercise allows me to more easily connect or reconnect with the rest of the people in my life.

10. Give thanks for at least one blessing each day.

This practice evolved from my family's Thanksgiving meal tradition to the daily ritual my husband and I share at dinner. We hold each other's hands and share one or more things for which we are grateful that day. Some blessings you recount may be profound and others simple, yet it is the initial awareness of the blessing and the act of gratitude that I believe is most important. By keeping your mind and spirit in tune with the world, you may find more to be thankful for than you'd ever imagined.

Copyright 1997, 98, 99, by Coach U, all rights reserved. Shonnie Lavender, Clarion Coaching

Visit Jane Mullikin's Spirit - Finding Hope In A World Of Uncertainty for more stories of spirit, hope and inspiration.