The Words of the Santelli Family
Everyone knows that instant coffee isn't great. But sometimes, when life gets busy, instant coffee while not good, can be good enough. A strong and healthy spiritual life is not instant; however, sometimes with only one or two small adjustments to our day, we can give ourselves that extra jolt of meaning and internal energy that we need to get us through. This list isn't a quick-fix; rather, it's a few jump-start ideas to get you going.
1. Stop to watch the sunset
In the evenings, I often find myself immersed in some online activity, whether it be Facebook, checking e-mails, planning lessons or just surfing the web to veg out after a long day. But recently I've been taking time to stop and look out for the sunset. It is by far one of the most beautiful, incredible (and unique) light shows on the earth -- and it comes free of cost. All it takes is my willingness to stop what I'm doing and look for it. Its one of the easiest ways to connect with the natural world, wherever one happens to be in the world.
2. Put a map on your wall
I love maps. I have two huge ones in my living room -- one of Germany (which is where I live at the moment) and the other of the world. Maps help you orient yourself and they make you see the bigger picture instantly. I can't help' but be curious about other people and other cultures on the other side of the world when I look at it. It's an instant reminder that the world is bigger than myself. If a map doesn't do it for you, put up something that will.
3. Say thank you out loud
Gratitude is certainly one of the building bricks to a stable and healthy spiritual life. Besides saying thank you in prayer, try saying it out loud to another person or even to your food. Stop a minute before mindlessly eating that apple and say "thank you for being so red and crunchy." Think about the farmers that grew the lettuce that you put on your sandwich, and for all the people along the way that made it possible for you to eat this food right now. It sounds a little hippieish, but I guarantee you will see and appreciate your food in a way that you never did before.
4. Drink more tea
A bit yogi? Perhaps. However, tea is and has been a staple in many healing systems around the world for centuries. So instead of loading up on caffeine, soda, energy drinks, slurpies and whatever else, try adding one or two more cups of tea to your day. Green, black, white, fruit or herbal -- there are so many kinds you're sure to find one that you like. Not sure where to start? Check out www. learn-about-tea.com which is an online guide to the world of tea and all their (physical and spiritual) health benefits.
5. Subscribe to a quote of the day
If you're going to check your e-mails ten times a day anyway, you might as well add one more e-mail (or blog) to the list that can give you some spiritual food for thought. Add an inspiring quote of the day to your inbox -- a great one is www.charityfocus.org. They e-mail a DailyGood quote and (true) story about someone who has done good for the world and made a difference in some small way. It's a change of pace from all the other spam out there.
6. Try to eliminate words like "have to", "should" or "ought to"
Being an adult is about being responsible. We have to pay bills and we should do tithing and we ought to volunteer our time to do more in the community. But in reality, when we feel we must do things out of duty, it suddenly becomes a burden rather than something joyful we choose or want to do. When we use words like "have to" or "should," we make it difficult for ourselves to experience this activity without feelings other than obligation. So instead of saying, "I should do Hoon Dok Hae (this is the Korean term for the Unificationist tradition of daily scriptural reading with the family) more often," try saying, "I want to do Hoon Dok Hae more often." Let this simple word-change influence your feelings towards an activity that needs doing.
7. Turn off the screens
Whether it be your laptop, PC, i-pod, TV, cell-phone, BlackBerry or whatever other digital device that keeps your head looking down rather than up and around at the world in front of you, turn it off at some point during your day and keep it off. Feel yourself become panicked and antsy and just let it pass. Try to sit still for three to five minutes and just be. Allow yourself to not be distracted. You don't need to go into a full-on meditation, but just allow yourself a break from the intangible world on the screen(s) and bring yourself back to the world right in front of you.
8. Clean up something
As the saying goes, "cleanliness is next to Godliness". Number eight probably shouldn't be something you are forcing yourself to do (see number six), but if you willingly choose to clean up your life in some small way, you will be giving yourself a tremendous gift. Whether it be your desk, hanging up your clothes, cleaning out all those receipts from your wallet, or just emptying your inbox, you will feel as if a load has been lifted from yourself internally and with it, more space to think about things that are more meaningful to you and your spiritual life.
9. Make a ritual for yourself.
Okay, so this one is open to interpretation, but try to create some pattern or ritual for yourself to follow each day. While "variety is the spice of life", we don't need to "reinvent the wheel" all the time. Make time to do something each day that is meaningful to you; whether it be to take a look at your yearly goals or take a short morning walk to prepare for the new day ahead. Allow yourself a small ritual that brings you inner joy and helps you to focus (or refocus) yourself for the day.
10. Wake up earlier
Not all of us are early birds, but there must be something to waking up in the early hours of the morning since most spiritual masters practice this form of self discipline. If you can't manage to wake up at five, then take small steps and wake up maybe ten to twenty minutes earlier. Use this time, in the quiet of the morning to prepare and reflect on your day, your week or your life in its present state. Take the time to make a proper cup of coffee (or tea) and maybe watch the sunrise too. Allow the freshness of the new day to rub off on you and feel refreshed too.