by Renee Trudeau
It’s 1976 and my mom and dad are sitting quietly with their eyes closed, hands resting upward, thumb and index finger touching, while my younger siblings crawl on their backs and shoulders. My two older brothers and I sit nearby, holding our own meditation poses, bored and counting the minutes until this ritual will end. Growing up, my parents would regularly pull all five of their children into our library for a family meditation. As much as I complained, a part of me yearned for this spiritual practice.
Spiritual renewal is essential to our emotional well-being. It helps us nurture our essence, feel centered, build inner strength, live in integrity and trust life. It allows us to connect to a higher power, feel a sense of purpose and experience meaning in our lives. Here are some of the daily practices that help nourish my spiritual life:
1. Creating Ritual
We all crave sacredness and ritual in our everyday lives. Rituals can be both carefully planned events like a blessingway for a new mother, and casual like saying grace before a meal or creating dedicated space in your day for contemplation. When we mark important transitions or milestones in our lives, we connect to the sacredness of everyday life. We remember that life is mysterious and that we’re more than our to-do lists.
2. Cultivating Stillness
Stillness, whether experienced through prayer, meditation or reflection, is our time to be alone and connect to our inner wisdom or our higher power. One of the biggest gifts I’ve received from a daily meditation practice is the ability to live more comfortably with what is, whether it’s my girlfriend’s cancer or a fender-bender. Meditation has helped anchor me, so that despite this impermanence and turmoil, I’ve learned how to be still and find my center in the face of it all.
3. Practicing Service to Others
Mother Teresa says, “The fruit of love is service.” We are all interconnected. The more we reach out and are present to one another’s pain and suffering, the stronger we become and the easier it is to embrace the esoteric idea that we’re all one. I’ve seen huge shifts in consciousness occur when we reach out and help one another. Sometimes that might look like volunteering to bring sandwiches to your local homeless shelter, and other times it’s helping out your neighbor who just lost her husband.
4. Living in the Present
Many great spiritual teachers believe that the answer to everything is to just “be here now” and that our suffering and emotional distress would end if we simply stopped resisting the present moment. One Saturday I sat on the couch with a miserable fullbody cold. And as I watched the things I was missing — my friend’s dinner party, my son’s piano recital — fly out the window, I connected to my breath and felt myself arrive in the present moment. I sensed my resistance beginning to dissipate, and a feeling of peace slowly settled over me. I temporarily suspended my desire for things to be different, and I embraced the fact that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
5. Choosing Happiness
Three of my immediate family members died unexpectedly between my 26th and 34th birthdays. For years I let those losses dictate how much and how often I could experience joy. Any time I started to feel light, free or happy, the old feeling of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” would creep in. Can you be happy only if things are going your way? I believe we’re born with the innate capacity to experience emotional well-being and joy; it’s our birthright to feel good. Happiness comes from within. We just have to remember to choose this moment to moment.
A regular spiritual practice, whether that’s daily prayer or meditation, being in a spiritual community, or singing, serves to anchor us. It grounds us and helps us navigate the challenges we face from just being human. It helps us stay awake, and it helps us begin to let go, so we can relax and trust in the rhythm and flow of life.
Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized life balance coach, speaker and author. She is the author of the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. Renée lives in Austin with her husband and son. www.reneetrudeau.com