05/19/2010 09:56 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How to Know the Way of the Soul

My post last week, Solitude For Extroverts: Medicine For The Weary Soul brings us to looking more deeply at how to become more adept in understanding the needs of the soul and how to tend them.

This post is an update of an earlier one, written last year: 10 Ways to Nurture Soulful Living. The subject is so compelling for me I keep coming back to it; and each time, my soul reveals new material to be digested. My personal blog, Rx For The Soul, is another repository for my writing and explorations in this area, so please come pay a visit there if you feel drawn.

You might be wondering if you even have the luxury to attend to the needs of your soul with the kind of demands life makes of you. But rest assured, tending the soul is not a cyclical job, best reserved for the easy times. For when the soul is left unattended, our lives become dry and dusty, we feel barren and parched. More often than not, in times of great difficulty, at some level, it is the soul seeking to be fed. This is the soul's way of getting our attention when we've fallen asleep. Pay attention to these times.

Pay attention to when you feel "stuck" and nothing seems to flow in your life, Pay attention to when all the lights are red, all the doors and exits are closed and the path ahead becomes obscure. Pay attention to when you feel "lost" or uncertain of where to go next. The soul is sending a signal that it's time for a change, so fasten your seat belt as change and transformation are surely on the way. Ask me how I know ...

Resisting change is a natural human response to uncertainty, but know this: resistance may slow down the process, but it will not deter the soul from fulfilling its purpose. The soul moves through its agenda like water flowing over rocks. Just as the mighty Colorado River carved out the Grand Canyon, so your soul will carve its agenda into your very existence. Resisting its force will just propel it to find a new way around whatever obstacles you present.

Neither can you push the river of your soul's agenda where it's not bound to go. You may think you know better than it does, but think again. Your soul came here to complete itself and you are but a passenger on the voyage. That is not to say you have no say in the matter. You can co-operate by saying "yes" to its calling and follow it, or you can try to swim upstream against its flow and see how well that works.

Anyone who ever achieved greatness -- every great artist, musician, conductor, composer, writer, athlete, actor, chef, preacher, teacher, spiritual guide, healer, physician, world leader, mom, dad, grandmother, anyone who ever inspired you -- did so because they followed the call of their soul. The soul gives its gifts and we can either receive them and "let our light shine" or we can reject them and "hide our light under a bushel."

The soul beckons us to see with new eyes, to alter our point of view. It's inviting us to open to new possibilities, ones that lie beyond our ability to see from where we're currently looking.

The way of the soul is often radical as it has its own agenda that doesn't always line up with the desires of the personality. The way of the ego is perfection, as in zero tolerance for error. Because of its fundamental insecurities, the ego's path is a straight and narrow one, lest anyone deem it lacking, and since there's no room for error, there's little room for learning and gaining wisdom.

The way of the soul is an entirely different story. Because the soul is a "whore" for learning and wisdom, any path will serve its purpose as long as it leads to the unfolding of truth.

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather, "I have found a truth." Say not, "I have found the path of the soul." Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path." For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

-- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Our soul hungers for what's most essential to our survival. It cares not whether its requirements are convenient for the personalities we inhabit. The soul takes on these earthly bodies in order to gain access to yet another classroom. It hungers for experiences available only to the human part of Being as the human journey provides many new portals to wisdom not available without a body.

So the question arises: What feeds your soul? What sets your soul on fire? What gets you through the tough times and has you come out even stronger? The answers to these questions are the medicine your soul is seeking. A worthy inquiry, indeed! Search your own soul for the answers.

10 prescriptions for living a soul-filled life:

1. The Truth And Nothing But

We "search our soul" when we need to find answers for life's deep questions. The soul is the seat of our own truth and is a demand for it. We must seek the truth and tell it. Skate by the truth as your soul knows it, and sooner or later, you'll be back to re-visit the subject you avoided. The soul settles for nothing less than the truth laid bare. The truth may not always be the easiest path to chose, but it's the simplest, much less complicated than trying to keep track of which story you've spun in order to avoid being found out.

2. Embrace Nature

Live close to the earth and you'll know its soul. When you know the soul of nature, you'll know your own. Spend time in the natural world and allow yourself to connect with all living things and you will find your place in the order of life. You will see yourself as a part of nature, no more and no less than the stars and the trees. The soul rests in the natural world.

Allow this world to breathe you. Feel its rhythm as your own heartbeat, for it is.

3. Dive In To Your Experience

The soul is a junkie for experience. It has no preference for pain or joy -- just a demand that we experience whatever is true in the moment. When grief or sadness are upon you, feel them, experience them. Through these harder emotions, new doors open and great freedom enters. When joy and passion are present, live them out loud. The soul is a glutton for living with gusto!

4. Live On The Edge

"Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish." --Jean De La Fontaine

Live out to the edges of your life. That's where the soul thrives. The soul seeks possibilities that can only be found beyond what is already known, safe and comfortable. It does not understand the meaning of "impossible." What is already known is already known. To the soul, the "juice" lies in the unknown, where all things are possible. The soul calls us to come to the edge, then go beyond. Then go beyond again. And again.

5. Learn To Dance In The Rain

There will be times in your life when the sun doesn't shine. Dance anyway. There will be times when life is painful. Dance with your pain. The soul is naturally drawn to the dark, tight places inside. Its job is to expand those places so the light can shine into and through them. Dance with whatever cards you're dealt, then tell the truth about it. The soul is nothing if not an excellent dancer. Give it the dance floor and step aside!

My friend just lost her 48 yr. old son, Matthew, to a liver disease brought on by chronic alcoholism. This brave woman held her son as he lay dying a premature death brought about by his addiction. Her heart broken, she is now planning his "fun" funeral, complete with bagpipes and a wake held at his favorite bar. She is dancing with her broken heart because her soul demands that this is how she is to send her son off to the great beyond. She is as resolute and grounded as I've ever known her to be, all within 12 hours of her son's death. She is dancing in the rain of her tears and sadness, and in an odd way, it is bringing her a new form of liberation.

6. Declare A "Lily" Day

According to HuffPost blogger, Anne Naylor, " On a Lily Day, there is nothing I should or feel I have to do, unless I really want to. It is a bit like having a holiday at home without the discomforts of travel and facilities that do not meet my expectations. And it is just as refreshing, potentially more enriching and it does not cost anything. It is a Day to be available to and nurture my inner spirit." and I would add "soul." Read Anne's wonderful Lily Day post here. Give yourself permission to have a Lily Day at regular intervals!

7. Daily Doses Of Solitude, Stillness, And Meditation

To meditate is to enter the soul's inner temple. Here, you'll hear the soul's whisper. Meditation is like drinking water after crawling through the desert. It quenches the soul's thirst for silence and stillness. Start slowly, 10 minutes daily. Gradually build up to a minimum of 30 minutes/day. Solitude and stillness are the soul's saving grace. Be sure to read HuffPost bloggers Ed and Deb Shapiro's weekly posts on meditation here every Tuesday and on Here's their latest post.

8. Keep A Journal

Having kept a journal for over 30 years, looking back, I see that many of the same questions are with me today as 30 years ago, I'm just on a different turn of the wheel. I'm taking a deeper cut, more surrendered to the wisdom unfolding as my life. All of this comes through my writing as I see my soul's process over the long arc of time expressed on the pages of my journal. Your journal is a living document that you were here, you lived a life, you loved, you lost, you learned. Be sure to record your dreams, which are the language of the soul.

9. Love Unconditionally

At the end of the day, what it all comes down to is how much did you love? Were you a lover of life, the world? Did you love with a big, wide, open, generous heart? Did you love without conditions? This is what will matter when you come to the finish line. The soul is here to learn to love it all, even and perhaps especially, those things the ego thinks are unlovable. Love the unlovable parts of yourself and others and your soul will find peace.

10. Honor The Sacred

To the soul, every thing is sacred. Every moment, every experience, every blade of grass, every bug that crawls, baby that cries, tear that's shed, gesture of love, act of kindness ... it's all sacred. To honor the sacred in every moment is to live out the mission of the soul.

"To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." --Howard Zinn

What constitutes good soul medicine for you? What feeds your soul? Please drop by the comment section below and share your thoughts. Become A Fan and be notified when a new post is published. And please do come pay a visit at my personal blog and website, Rx For The Soul.

Want to get your life fit? Want to learn more about tending your soul? Take yourself to camp! Check out my new Life Fitness Coaching Boot Camp page and learn more about the next group coaching opportunity that begins on June 29. It's my honor to join you on that journey. Meanwhile,

Love and Blessings on the path,