What's eating you? What's chipping away at your soul each day?
What do you think about when you actually get quiet enough to think?
What is holding you back from greatness? From having peace in your life? From love? From the desires of your heart?
It's simple really: soul pollutants. That's right. Your soul can become contaminated, polluted, dark, and diseased just like any part of your body that is neglected and battered by the get-up-and-go, rush, hurry, got-to-do-it-now heartbeat of modern living.
We all think of the word "detox" as a simple process of eliminating certain foods, chemicals or substances from our bodies. Or on the flip side, as a period of time in which we limit our intake of certain foods like sugar, flour, alcohol, or large amounts of red meat to cleanse our digestive systems, knock off a few extra pounds, and give our vital organs a rest from the often "decadent" and "gorge yourself" mentality of the 21st century. Let's face it, we as Americans, in particular, eat horribly, and we are grossly obese as a nation of children and adults alike.
But I recently discovered that I needed to "detox" more than just my body. I needed to detox my soul. Let me explain. To "detox" means simply this: "A treatment or process designed to rid the body of poisonous substances." Well, I have news for you. For all of us. Our souls (aka our hearts, our core, our essence of being, our conscience) also get weighted down, calcified, and poisoned daily with the wounds of our past, the pain of our losses, the weight of our stresses, and the neglect of our dreams.
Our soul is where we live, after all. Our soul is what makes us who we are. Our soul is that place deep within us that propels us to greatness, or settles us into a lifeless lull of routine living. Our soul is what makes us dance, sing, laugh, press on, keep hope alive, love, give, care, empathize, and most of all be resilient. So, if our "soul" becomes TOXIFIED, so too does the very essence of our living.
We all need to take the time to go on a "soul detox".
Look, I know we are all very busy. I know we are all worried, weary, and worn down. I know the kids need you, mom. I know the family needs you, dad. I know the job, the car, the blackberry, the iPhone, the trip, the activities, the church, the friends, the boyfriend/girlfriend, the best friend all need YOU (and me), but if you do not take the time to STOP and get a hold of what truly matters in your life, in this life, then you will become what most people have already succumbed to: a life of grudging acceptance, physical illness, anti-depressants, divorce, loneliness, lack of communication, brokenness, apathy, anger, isolation, regret, guilt, and worse.
If we can recognize that our bodies need a rest. So too should we recognize that our weary souls need a rest. I knew my soul was crying out for release from the last five years of upheaval, stress, pressure, and enormous change, so I committed to take a seven-day hiatus (a staycation at home) because like all of you I still have to work and handle my responsibilities as a busy 21st century professional, but I set out to give my soul, my mind, my core a rest. And when I emerged seven days later, I can tell you I had clarity about myself, about who was around me that needed to go, about what I wanted vs. what I needed, about what I needed to start casting vs. carrying, who I needed to forgive, and I emerged incredibly grateful for all that I have in my life that is daily blocked from my view by all of my "DOING" and being "BUSY" in my life.
Here are some steps you can take that I promise will radically change your life outlook, and your health as a secondary benefit. For we know that if the mind is healthy, the body will follow. But, when the soul is healthy, we can love better, engage better, give more, receive more, share more, and be more with the world around us and everyone we meet along the way. I also recommend a great book I read written by author Craig Groeschel, titled, Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World.
1. I set aside a specific period of time every day for quiet. I walked. I prayed. I journaled. I cried. I wondered. I gave thanks constantly (even did a gratitude jar journey), and I focused on my soul. I turned the TV off, I tuned the devices off. I turned everything off. And I had an accountability partner (in my case I asked 10 of my closest confidantes and trusted "love counsel" to join with me) who encouraged me, prayed with me, checked on me, and checked me if needed.
2. I abstained from alcohol, frivolous conversations with friends, from social media, from even talking to my beloved sweetheart so that I could HEAR from my soul and from God. I took a time out, even though I had to do work, and function normally. I got still, by disconnecting from distractions. I forced radical change in my environment so that I could better live in my environment.
3. I made a list of things that were bothering me and what I needed to do about those things in order to get them off of my heart. And then I wrote them down, put them in a trash bin, and burned them.
4. I made a decision that my peace was important to me. My peace of mind. My peace of being. My peace of wellness, And I made a vow to myself to honor myself. No more keeping secrets. No more lies and cover-ups relative to the past. I made a decision to be authentic with myself. To be transparent with myself and with others in ways that allow us to grow together, or grow apart when necessary.
5. Finally, I have embraced change as a good thing. If you look at change as a constant in life, then it is not scary. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Accepting that fact is critical to living a happy and fulfilled life. But in order to achieve true transformation in our lives, we must make a decision to act, to do, to shift, to change.
Take a minute. Take some time. Find some moments to reconnect with you, and to reconnect with your soul's landscape. Your soul, like your body is constantly under assault. Constantly under duress. So give it a rest. Stop pushing down your pain. Stop masking the marks left on your heart from those who walked away or misused you. Stop denying your dreams, and start living with purpose. Stop acting as if you aren't human. You are. And finally, stop being so busy, that you forget to just be.
Detox your soul. Trust me. You'll be grateful that you did.
For more by Sophia A. Nelson, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.