2020 has certainly been a year of crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has not only thrown the entire planet into a health crisis, we are also amidst an economic crisis, and most importantly, a global stress crisis, with many people unsure and insecure about what the future holds. Innumerable scientific research studies have been carried out on the effects of stress on our health and wellbeing with results revealing an increase in cortisol levels and inflammation, thereby compromising the immune system. With stress levels reaching such significant high levels, never before has there been a need to engage in practices and techniques to quiet the mind and therefore help reduce inflammation and manage stress.
When we don’t have answers or a sense of direction, when institutions have failed us, we have to nurture ourselves from within and become our own leaders; no one but you can give you a sense of certainty and ease. Cultivating your spiritual wellbeing and connection is now more important than ever.
Today, I’d like to share with you tips which have helped me improve my mental and spiritual wellbeing in my own times of crisis, ideas which you can start to implement so that no matter what challenges are going on in the external world, you have the strength and wisdom to navigate them. As Martin Luther King, Jr once said:
‘’The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’’
Tips to help improve mental and spiritual wellbeing
Tip #1 ~ A Sense of Purpose
Having a sense of purpose gives you, your life, a deeper sense of meaning, but I know through my own experience that finding your life purpose is no easy feat and requires a deep and time-intensive search of self. In the Ayurvedic tradition, your life purpose is called your dharma; the spiritual Law of Dharma states that for every special talent, the world has a unique need that can only be filled by the expression of that talent. In other words, there’s at least one thing you can do better than anyone else on the entire planet.
To get you started in discovering your purpose, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I love?
- What am I good at?
- What does the world need from me?
According to Dan Buettner, an explorer and journalist who travelled extensively across the globe in search of countries and regions where people enjoy the longest and healthiest lives, having a sense of purpose not only gives you direction and a reason to get up in the morning, it reduces the risk of mortality, increases your resilience, improves sleep quality and cultivates a positive outlook.
Tip #2 ~ Self-Love
From a spiritual perspective, love is part of creation, woven into the very fabric of the Universe. Although we often take an external journey in search of a person to give our love to and from whom we hope to receive it, this type of outward love is dependant on our moods, on how others see us and therefore, by definition, is changeable. The love I’m referring to here is the love that comes from the soul, the love that connects you to the truth of who you really are, to the source of love, and is a love that requires you to take an inward journey to find your own fullness – a love which nobody can ever take away from you unless you choose to allow them to.
Tip #3~ Self-Worth
True self-worth comes from discovering that who you really are is an infinite spirit, unbounded from the physical constraints of time and space. Once you’ve awakened to your essential nature, you will find that you let go of the ego’s struggle to build an external sense of self-esteem. Your true self doesn’t need to be improved, changed or even healed. It is whole, perfect and complete, exactly as it is. Shifting your sense of identity to your true self frees you to create a life of joy and fulfilment, no matter what is going on externally.
You can begin to shift your sense of worth by paying attention to your thoughts, your feelings and your reactions throughout the day. Being aware of the what is going on is the first step to change. Most people desperately try to earn the approval of others and are easily hurt when someone you care about doesn’t give you what you want. Just notice what’s going through your mind when you feel anxious or unhappy. Witness the emotions without judgement, allowing and accepting them without trying to push them away, so they are heard and validated.
Tip #4 ~ Cultivate Inner Peace
Inner peace is a vital component of our physical and mental health and wellbeing, yet many of us, regardless of what is happening in our outer world, often create even more stress and anxiety within. We continue to have inner conversations with ourselves and others that keep inner peace at bay and create even more fear, worry, stress and misery.
There are a number of tools and practices at your disposal to begin tapping into your inner peace and joy. Practices like mindfulness, yoga, meditation, prayer and deep breathing which can help you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises. Another simple solution to stress is to be at one with nature. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get out of the city or visit your local park, you can simply look up at the sky, watch trees swaying in the wind, see a sunset or sunrise. You can pay attention to what’s around you. Listen to the birds, or the wind rustling or blowing through the leaves. Or just watch the clouds in the sky. Simply be.
We are so often oblivious to the peace that exists in nature because we’re not paying attention; the stillness of nature is where we can tap into a great source of happiness and inner peace, remembering that we are one with the Universe.
Tip #5 ~ Service to Others
When you are being of service to others, you discover that often the most important things you have to offer are not material things at all. You start to uncover the full range of resources at your disposal – your time, your presence, your attention – and recognise that the ability to give and serve others stems from a state of mind and heart, a place much deeper than the material. Inspired by the possibilities this opens up in every moment, you begin to discover humble opportunities to serve – everywhere.
This process begins a shift from looking at the world from a ‘me’ perspective to a ‘we’ perspective and you start to see people and situations with a more altruistic approach, breaking the ego-driven self in asking questions like “What’s in it for me?” and thereby shifting the mindset from consumption to contribution. Paradoxically, when serving in this way, you are no longer operating from a space of scarcity. Your cup fills and overflows.
Tip #6 ~ Generosity of spirit
When we freely share our own gifts, talents, time and appreciation with others, without expecting anything in return, we make a difference and help transform situations and people’s lives. Generosity of spirit shows respect and compassion for our fellow human beings. More than an action a person does, having a generous spirit is a state of being and what we give, comes back to us in ways we may never have expected.
During these dark and uncertain times, we may be physically isolated, but we can choose to stay connected emotionally. In this moment of ‘The Great Pause’, I invite you to use it as a gift to connect in new and deeply meaningful ways with yourself, your family, those in need and our ecosystems.
With much love and light,