When I think of spiritual renewal, the first thing that comes to mind is getting time away. Why? For many in the business of providing spiritual enrichment to others, making provisions for our own spiritual nourishment can feel like more work. So what better way to experience renewal than a vacation with a spiritual theme—maybe a silent retreat will do it, or perhaps a pilgrimage to a sacred site, or an extended stint in nature? Sadly, these getaways can be few and far between.
When our work is caring for others, there is no stopping point, no time when we can say the work is complete and we can finally get that well-deserved rest—except perhaps on vacation. In recent years I discovered that saving my spiritual renewal efforts for those precious moments away was no longer workable. It was often too little too late. My coaching clients seemed to be finding the same thing.
In 2015 at one of those week-long spiritual retreats I finally came face-to-face with the need to prioritize my spiritual nourishment. Like many who enter the helping professions (as a soul coach and instructor), I was a master at caring for others and less skilled at caring for myself. On this particular retreat, I made a commitment to fully embody my Soul (Christ Consciousness) however long that might take. I vowed to live a spiritually integrated life—and so began my quest for spiritual auto-renewal.
My Embodiment Project
To bring my Christ Consciousness onto the manifest plane, my first task was to commit to being here, really here, in this messy, uncomfortable, mixed up world. As someone who has always felt more comfortable in my head or in my heart, I needed practice opening my feet (energetically) and connecting consciously with the earth and my body. I also practiced shifting my focus downward into the three bottom chakras rather than expanding my consciousness/heart-space up/out. These “lower” chakras were my “forgotten” chakras. I mean, why bother with the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras when one could sit in the bliss of the heart or the awe and wonder of the third eye or crown?
To help me with my “Embodiment Project,” I decided to start a conscious relationship with my body—to give it the respect and consideration I would one of my coaching clients or workshop participants. This did the trick. Our relationship blossomed with the practice of doing a “body scan” each morning and evening. It’s a simple practice of just noticing sensations in the body. Gradually, I found myself scanning several times a day. I often discovered that my jaw or shoulders felt tight, or I was holding my breath, or my eyes were tired, or I was thirsty. I began to notice which behaviors, food choices and activities contributed to feeling good and not so good.
This practice allowed me to become aware of all the ways I could put off caring for myself. Not enough exercise, water, leafy green veggies, iron, sleep—you name it! Perhaps you can relate. But also I discovered that my body was full of insight and information. The more I connected with it, the more energetically in-tune I became. My body was like a receiver picking up and relaying information that I hadn’t known existed.
Over time I developed a capacity to sense shifts in my energy field. This helped me avoid my old pit falls of missing meals, pushing through without rest, or not staying hydrated. More interestingly, it allowed me to better gauge my energy level for the tasks before me. I stopped trying to power through like some driven taskmaster and started treating myself more gently.
I learned it was impossible for me to be on spiritual auto-renewal if I was ignoring my physical needs. But becoming comfortably embodied was just the beginning.
Since entering into a conscious relationship with my body had worked so well, I decided to do the same with my Soul. Visiting daily with my Higher Self became an essential practice of my spiritual auto-renewal program. I spent time quietly listening in the noosphere—the space in between my thoughts. Another practice was to repeat, “I am here” as I drifted into meditation or off to sleep.
I never once doubted that with patience and practice I could develop as clear a connection to my Christ Consciousness as I had with my body. And I was not disappointed. I began to hear Her voice (She is distinctly feminine), and She has now become a constant companion of mine. She can be quiet for weeks and then come blazing onto the scene full of direction, guidance and creative ideas.
The gift of this relationship is deep trust. It feels fundamentally different than the steadfast presence of Principle or the endless love of the Divine Mystery. It is like having a powerful collaborative partner in my life. Her energy feels more personal and at times even feisty!
Prioritizing the relationship with my body and Soul had a powerful impact on my personal and professional life. The guidance from my Soul combined with the energetic feedback from my body really worked wonders to help me choose when, where and how to focus. This greatly reduced my work-related stress and opened up huge reservoirs of creativity. Rather than waiting for time that never came to work on my soul-calling, my Soul and body kept that at the top of my list.
A Circle of Support
With all the progress I made on my own, my path to true spiritual auto-renewal was super-charged when I committed to a year-long program of support. You may have heard the phrase, “If you aren’t embarrassed by the amount of support you have in your life, you probably don’t have enough.” For years, the opposite was true for me. I was embarrassed by how little support I had. But, if we are to serve as leaders, we must model what it means to receive support.
Whether it’s a Master Mind circle or prayer partner, a women’s circle or men’s group, or a personal coach or spiritual counselor, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a regular commitment to receiving compassionate support.
This year I have upped my game! I registered for a year-long course of spiritual inquiry through painting with a powerful painter/mentor, and I have committed to six months of spiritually focused writing classes, along with my women’s circle.
Often just committing to a program of spiritual renewal is enough to unleash magic. Saying yes to a long-term growth commitment signals the Universe that we are serious about making our spiritual renewal a priority. And the beauty of a six-month or year-long program is we only have to make the commitment one time. Then we put the dates in our calendar and off we go.
My challenge to you is this: Don’t wait for your schedule to ease up before you find a mentor or make a substantial time commitment to your spiritual renewal. It is the very act of insisting that your schedule accommodates regular spiritual renewal that allows it to become automatic. The gifts awaiting you are beyond imagining.