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Week 5 | Mar 22-28

Week 5 | Mar 22-28

This Week's Focus: Spiritual Wellness

Submitted by Deb Forstner, Chaplaincy Director

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is a concept that has room for many perspectives and beliefs. It includes a sense of being connected to something bigger than self. In recovery programs, this is often referred to as a “Higher Power.” Spirituality involves a search for meaning and having a purpose in life. A spiritual experience may feel sacred or transcending above the ordinary, and filled with a sense of joy in the spirit of being alive.

The big questions

Spirituality may involve asking large questions about who you are, and what you are potentially capable of. In times of suffering, such as in the COVD-19 virus restrictions we are currently living through, we might ask: Can I find a meaning in all this? Can I grow through this? How can I make good of this bad situation? Can I be thankful in adversity? How can I live my best possible life in these circumstances, living day by day, and as much as possible, letting go and letting God.

Spiritual practices and routines

Letting go of a need to control, knowing that in a sense, things are at times beyond our control, can be a good spiritual practice as we breathe in and breathe out (with a longer exhale than inhale). Here is a quotation from Thomas Merton that speaks to that:

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”

It can be very helpful each day (or more than once per day) to check in with your own inner spirit, and well as offering prayers for help for self and others, trusting that you are being heard. Look also for the blessings, and you could offer prayers of thanksgiving for those things.

Read and Reflect

There are many good devotional books that give a reflection for each day of the calendar year. Because there are so many, I will not make any specific suggestions. But know that there are apps for such reading as well, including a Holy Bible app that contains suggestions for various Bible Studies and will send you a verse of the day.

A prayer journal can be a great way to track your thoughts and feelings and converse in writing with your Higher Power. You may get artistic both with your words or drawing/doing crafts right within your journal.

Remember what peace there is in silence.

In many ways, we are fortunate to be in an age of social media and 24-hour TV news for communicating what is happening with COVID-19. Yet, there are times for our spiritual selves that we simply need silence. Take some silence time-outs. It might surprise you to find there are some quiet whisperings and guidance that you can only hear when still. And heed these words of a poem called The Desiderata, written by lawyer Max Ehrmann in 1927.

Here are the words in bold, with explanations written by blogger Michael Shook in italics, of the Desiderata phrases:

The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Stop talking to fill the silence and listen to your own inner voice.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Everyone is walking their own path with their own struggles and could really use your good thoughts.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

Loud and noisy persons are almost always trying to get you to pay attention to them instead of the voice of your own heart. The internet and TV are full of these people.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

You are already you and nobody is going to be any better at being you than you are. And it is OK to let other people be who they are.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Much of the fun in life is the journey, not just the destination. If you don’t enjoy the journey, you are wasting most of your life.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Pick something you like to do and learn more about it, and let everyone else do the same.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Individually, people are pretty good. Many of them think they have to act some other way at work; they don’t have to, but they think they do. In their hearts, most people are kind and good. Pay attention to that part of them.

Be yourself.

Don’t pretend to be somebody you aren’t. It doesn’t work well, never lasts, and is always a waste of time. But understand that who you are and how you think is going to change over the course of your lifetime.

Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

The greatest commandment is love. It is all that counts, and if you concentrate on loving others, you will find your own life filled with love in return.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

It is OK to grow up; your view on things changes, and it's really a lot of fun, no matter what they try to tell you about wanting to stay a child.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Authentic spirituality is always about love and light. If a spiritual practice or religion teaches anything different than that — especially if they are teaching you to be afraid — that teaching is wrong, and its time for you to let go of your attachment to it.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

That inner voice that talks to you, you have control over. And when you let it say nice things to you, your life becomes more beautiful.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

You are not a mistake, you are not a sinner, everything you are is God. Everything. You are not cut off from God, he doesn’t think you are bad and every day He is sending you signs and symbols of how much He loves you.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

It's OK, the part that counts most is your heart. Think good thoughts, do good things, and allow others to do the same for you. Your perception of life will change tremendously, much for the better.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Let yourself be happy. Your life will be so much better when you are.

Please Reach Out

If you would like to get in touch with me to discuss any of these ideas or for support regarding your spiritual wellness, I can be reached at Lake Region HealthCare 736-8077 (private office number) or daforstner@gmail.com.

Place trust in yourself, trust in others, and trust in God.

Chaplain Deb Forstner