This month at BounceBack we've been talking about getaways and taking a vacation from the mess of a broken relationship -- taking a break to focus on family, friends, rest, relaxation and, most importantly, you. The mess might still be there when you return, but you'll likely find that you feel more grounded and therefore better able to cope.
The idea of a spiritual getaway isn't new, and doesn't always require that you go anywhere (not physically, at least). Unlike Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love few of us are in a position to embark on a year-long international journey of self-discovery. What we can do, though, is begin to build spiritual getaways into our daily lives. If practiced consistently, this can lead to synergy of mind, body and spirit -- something many would agree represents optimum health.
Many spiritual practices are rooted in religion, but most would argue that one can be spiritual without being religious. There are countless definitions of spirituality, and how one defines spirituality is unique to his or her experience and world view. Based on my experiences with clients, a simple definition of spirituality involves honing our ability to be aware and to find meaning and purpose in our experiences. It's a sense of connectedness to our experiences, rather than a feeling that at the end of the day we are essentially alone and that our lives are without meaning.
During a crisis such as a relationship breakup or divorce, incorporating ideas that can be described as spiritual (compassion for self and others, healing from wounds -- some of which are older than the relationship -- and finding personal meaning in the pain) can ease the process of getting back on your feet and being stronger for the experience.
For some guidance on how we can incorporate spiritual "getaways" into our lives, I've called in Rebecca Cofiño, a certified yoga instructor for over a decade who studied with a master yogi in India. Cofiño is the founder of mamaguru, where she not only writes about spirituality and offers spirituality workshops, but also shares ideas about parenting, vegetarian cooking, wellness and more.
Spirituality During Times of Crisis -- Such as a Breakup or Divorce
Cofiño suggests that a personal crisis offers an ideal opportunity to nurture your spirituality, because in the process of working through the crisis you can "get to know yourself better, cultivate meaningful happiness deep within yourself and form a strong spiritual identity," all of which can lead to "contentedness with life and a sense of inner peace."
Cofiño also points out that if you have the time and means to travel alone and spend some time connecting with your spirit, being single is an ideal time to do it. "Spirituality is essentially an individual experience," she says. Going on a "radical spiritual adventure may not be possible at any other time in your life."
Going on a Spiritual Getaway Without Actually Going Anywhere
A spiritual getaway doesn't require travel, however. Cofiño suggests that a weekend retreat in your own home can provide similar benefits. (If you have children and aren't able to do this, read below for other suggestions). The point of such a getaway explains Cofiño, is to "pretend that you're actually physically gone. Take a break from the social scene and spend some alone time. Our lives are spent in a constant state of expression these days with texting, tweeting and more. Socializing directs your attention outward. The purpose of a spiritual getaway is to focus your attention inward. Being quiet enables you to hear your own inner voice which can get lost in the constant chatter of life."
"Prepare Friday night by de-cluttering, buying healthy groceries and going to bed early," says Cofiño. "Turn off your phone, computer and television for the weekend. Fill your weekend with quiet reflection. Match your activities to earth's rhythms by waking with the sun and resting when it sets. Spend time journaling and preparing wholesome meals to nourish yourself. Go outside and connect with nature by hiking or swimming in a lake or ocean. Meditate everyday. This can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath.
"Simple as it may seem, this spiritual getaway can completely rejuvenate your spirit. The quiet time will help shift your perspective and remind you about what is important. You will probably feel more like yourself by the end of your getaway. You can carry the mindfulness you gained into your daily life by prioritizing healthful habits, connecting with nature and taking time to nourish your spirit everyday."
Spirituality and Parenting
"The teaching-learning dynamic between parent and child can be a very powerful tool for spiritual growth," says Cofiño. "Your child is a Zen master of living in the present moment. When you play with your child, allow yourself to completely enter their world, rather than just sitting on the sidelines.
"Also, as a parent you can teach your child how to remain centered when frustrating situations occur. Modeling balanced emotions and clear intentions rather than reacting with anger to your child's emotional outbursts is an enormous challenge. Building that state of equanimity will give you tremendous spiritual growth and will give your child a wonderful example to emulate.
"In addition to incorporating parenthood into your spirituality, it is important to find small ways to nourish yourself as an individual. The easiest way to do this is to wake up 15 minutes earlier than your family. Sit in quiet meditation and connect with your breath. Set an intention to which you can refer back as the day progresses. Living a deliberate life, rather than a reactionary one, is paramount to spirituality."
"Spiritual growth can happen in the blink of an eye or in the space of a breath, so whatever time you can devote to it will garner benefits," says Cofiño. "If you have a weekend for a spiritual getaway, take it. If you have ten minutes before breakfast, take it. Just focus on living a mindful, deliberate life. Remember that each human being gets the same 24 hours each day; devote some of that time to nourishing your spirit."
BounceBack helps people find happiness after heartbreak from a relationship breakup or divorce. It's a place to tell your story, get community support and advice from experts. Heartbreaks happen to everyone. And everyone has the potential to bounce back and move forward to a life full of strength, confidence, and happiness.
Follow Mary Darling Montero, LCSW on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bounceback2life