8 Ways to Maintain Your Spirituality in Times of Stress
Being spiritual around the clock isn’t easy.
In between time commitments, children, making dinner and hustling in and out of the house, it can be easy to lose your spiritually cultivated mindset at the exact moment when you need it most. Not to mention the stress from whatever’s going on in the world. Stress can cause anyone to lose their balance – spiritually, emotionally and mentally. But you don’t have to.
Here are eight tips to keep you centered even during the most stressful times.
- Ground out with nature
Take your shoes off in some grass, walk outside and stare into a patch of forest for a few minutes. Even better, take some time to yourself and go on a 10-day nature retreat. Any amount of connection to nature – large or small – can provide you with a much-needed check into what is really important.
Just five minutes under a tree with your phone turned off can work like a miracle. And often, this is all it takes to bring you back into the moment.
- Get a higher perspective
One of the best things you can do in a time of stress is to give yourself the opportunity to see the bigger picture. To do this, find the highest natural point nearest you and go there. Stand over the vista and look out on the landscape before you — and just breathe. See, you feel better already.
- Connect with your higher self
Each and every one of us has a physical body that houses our soul. It is within your soul where there is a wellspring of higher, inner wisdom. You can tap into this wellspring of wisdom for guidance at any time.
The easiest way to access your soul’s highest wisdom is to separate yourself from modern society —temporarily. Get some alone time. Meditate. Go for a hike. Be you with just you and ask yourself the important questions.
- Quality time with animals
Animals always seem to know what is important. They are never stressing over deadlines, conflicting schedules or wondering what some dog three houses down thinks of them. To reconnect with what is truly important, head to the pet store, a local zoo, hang out with your own pets or go out into nature. Birds, squirrels and small animals often abound, and simply by observing them you can reunite with some of the most basic, yet essential, truths.
- Unplug it all for an hour
Stressful situations often don’t originate from within. Their origins are usually found on all the external pressures that are placed upon us. Disconnect the cause of the stress. Turn off the computer, shut down your phone and unplug the television for at least one hour before you go to bed. In doing so, you’ll calm your nerves, disconnect from other people’s stress and have an easier time falling asleep. Doing this will make it easier for you to face the next day with a present state of mind.
- Grab a book
Books can be incredibly relaxing and grounding, especially books of a spiritual nature. To reconnect with your spiritual nature in times of stress, re-read through the spiritual virtues you follow and refresh yourself. Simply revisiting what you value most can have a profound effect on your ability to cultivate resilience through the storm.
Rumi, Khalil Gibran, and Rainer Maria Rilke are excellent go-to authors for revisiting and reconnecting with your own ancient and timeless spiritual wisdom.
- Walk it out
There is nothing like going for a long walk, run or bike ride to soothe your soul. Moving your body can help you mentally move and process the emotions and thoughts you have that are ready to be released.
As you move, you’ll naturally give movement to your mind for welcoming new concepts, ideas and ways of being. Creating a space of active movement will cultivate new thoughts that will both empower and motivate you through stressful times.
- Lie Down
And finally, there is nothing better you can do in a time of stress than to simply relax. Give yourself a five minute time out and find a place to lie completely on your back. Whether it is on a bed, on the ground outside or on your living room floor, lie down. Stretch, look up at the ceiling and breathe. You’re alive. Everything is going to be OK.
Paramhansa Yogananda: A Mahayogi Comes West
Millions actively practice yoga and meditation with the ultimate goal of achieving self-realization, but few are aware of one of the most influential people who brought these Eastern teachings to the West. Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi and guru who lived from 1893 to 1952, experienced his own rendition of the famed Hero’s Journey. Yogananda’s legacy lives on, and his seminal work, Autobiography of a Yogi, is still considered among the “100 Best Spiritual Books of the 20th Century,” continuing to grace the bookshelves of philosophers and the spiritually inquisitive.
Born to a devout, upper-class family in Gorakhpur, India, Yogananda’s spiritual fate was foretold in his infancy. His parents’ guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, blessed the child and told his mother, “Little mother, thy son will be a yogi. As a spiritual engine, he will carry many souls to God’s kingdom.” The prophecy did not take long to begin its manifestation, and at an early age, Yogananda experienced the first signs of spiritual awakening.
When he was eleven years old, Yogananda’s mother was in Calcutta — he had a dream that she was dying. A telegram arrived soon after, confirming this tragedy. From this point onward, Yogananda’s spiritual life escalated, and he began an earnest search for the guru he had seen thousands of times in his dreams. When he was 17-years old, he finally found Swami Yuktweswar Giri, a revered teacher who met him with open arms, and declared that he had been waiting for Yogananda.
It was at their first meeting that Yuktweswar taught Yogananda the meaning of unconditional love. In his autobiography, Yogananda recalls his master’s words, “‘Ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. Divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. The flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.’” It was also during this first meeting that Yuktweswar told Yogananda that he was destined to teach Kriya Yoga in the United States and throughout the world.