If you have read any of my sporadic posts over the past few months, follow me on instagram, or know me in real life, it is probably not hard to figure out that I have been doing a lot of soul-searching the past six months. In fact, it seems like that is the majority of what I have been doing.
My bedside table holds a rotation of self-help books, a journal, crystals and rocks touted for their various healing properties, and my favorite Ganesha figurine. The stacks of other self-help books, spiritual texts, and little binders full of inspirational quotes or daily mantras litter my room and have found homes on the floor, under clothing, and stashed in my closet (I should really think about investing in a bookcase).
Today, I think, that after six long freakin’ months of searching, that I have found it. I have found a nugget of information that I will hold like a precious gem.
Finding myself and feeling stable were two things that I intended to do here in Arizona. Today, I can honestly say that I don’t necessarily want either of those things anymore. What I am more interested in now, is continuing to find things that feed my soul.
While I was letting the idea of this blog post ruminate, I looked up the definition of soul and there were several definitions that resonated with me:
1) a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional nature
2) the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.
3) a person’s total self
4) a strong positive feeling (as of intense sensitivity and emotional fervor)
5) the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe
Why is “what do you do for a living” one of the first questions we ask people? Why do we know where someone graduated from college before we know what excites them or scares them? Do you know what feeds your soul? I know this may sound naive and silly. But really, when is the last time you felt that feeling of total bliss? That moment of “ahhhhhhh” where your shoulders finally drop away from your ears and your whole entire body breathes. The moment you realize that three hours just passed while you were 100% engaged in an activity; you were in the zone.
It is funny that I had to lose everything to gain something so small, yet, it feels like I am on to something. I used to think that if I could create a perfectly stable life, I would be happy. I used to believe that production was powerful. I used to think that being extremely busy for days on end meant I was finally allowed to indulge in 7 hours of sleep. I drove my partner crazy doing crunches and triceps dips while we tried to enjoy a movie. My goal was stability, productivity, and perfection.
Yesterday, as I vented to my Mom that my day didn’t go according to my plan, she quickly cut me off, reminding me “Life is what happens while we are busy making plans.” Thank you Mom. I needed that. So, the little nugget of information that I told you I came upon is essentially this: I believe strongly in finding what feeds your soul. The time you invest in seeking out and engaging in behaviors that are truly nourishing, will fuel you in a way that your to-do list, hyper productive nature, and incredible work ethic never will.
The harder I pushed myself, the more unhappy I became. I would have never contemplated cutting my study time a little short or running one less mile to sit in nature and listen to the crickets. That would have sounded like a ridiculous waste of time to me. Today, this very moment, I have realized just how much I have changed.
My soul-searching has brought me to my knees. It has allowed me to understand how I was interacting with people I loved. It has forced me to look at the parts of myself that I conveniently denied and secretly abhorred. It has made me want to ask people that I meet, real questions. And, it has given me an appreciation for the little things that feed my soul.
Things that I have found, that feed, truly nourish, and energize my soul:
1) Nature. Sitting in it, smelling it, feeling it, being shaken by it, having my plans be disrupted by it, sweating in it, crying in it, and laughing in it.
2) Yoga. The type of yoga I have done for the past six months is nothing like I used to do. It is not fueled by a desire to shape my quads or strengthen my core. It is not in a studio. It is straight-out-of-bed, can’t-help-myself-my body HAS to move, kind of yoga. It is the most basic and raw part of my day. Just myself, my bed-head, my sleepy eyes, and movement linked with breath.
Combining nature & yoga has been even more therapeutic.
3) Meditation. I could explain, but I will be wordy. Very, very wordy. So, I will spare you. (I know, I know, when am I not wordy? ;-))
4) Trying new things. My social anxiety hated this one in the beginning. I hate change and woke up many mornings missing the comfort of San Francisco. Now, I know that change is what has awakened me and it is what helps feed my soul.
5) Photography and writing. I knew I always liked these two things but I never knew just how therapeutic they could be. When I write, I am allowing myself to feel. When I am living in the moment and appreciating things around me, I see just how beautiful the world really is. I get lost in these two things many times a week.
6) Cheesy inspirational quotes, books, and music. These things have fueled my life and kept me fed when nothing else felt even semi-nourishing. Music has fed my soul more than I knew was possible. Inspirational crap keeps me flying, fighting, and believing that there has to be something more.
7)Drumming. Talk about soul food. I could get lost in drumming for hours. I am able to express so much more than is possible with words or thoughts.
What feeds your soul? How often do you allow yourself to stray off the beaten path? Do you feel successful because of your to-do list? What is it that really captures you and makes you feel alive? Do those things as often as you can.
Remembering to laugh at myself through all of the soul-searching and self-help book reading….