Think of it as our human software - the spiritual operating system that orients everything we do. It guides us as we think, work, play, love, create and give. Have you checked what spiritual OS you're running? Are you happy with its functionality? Would you like to know three ways to update and restart your spiritual self?
The following ideas are ancient and modern, commonplace and mysterious, available and rarely accessed. They are simple and deep. And they can be applied to all belief systems, including atheism.
I offer these ideas as loving challenges - in hopes they spur you to ask your own questions about how to tap into the spiritual cloud.
3 Ways to Reboot Your Spirit
I like these approaches because they don't take much time and they offer flexibility to accommodate individual tastes. They are active and creative. They bring comfort as well as challenge.
I believe awareness brings connection. And connection brings wholeness and love.
What brings awareness?
To me, it's a vital sign not only because it keeps our heart beating, but also because it opens our spirit for connection. In a truly wonderful irony, we breathe to keep our body functioning so our spirit can connect far beyond the confines of our cellular structure.
Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh writes that:
"Breath is the bridge that connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts."
And our thoughts connect us to the cosmos - everyone and everything.
Try this: Breathe in slowly. Breathe out slowly. Say "Thank you." (It helps me to think of something about which I feel authentically grateful on the exhale.) Try it three times. See how you feel. Try it 5 more times. See how you feel. Now try it 10 times. (This will take less than two minutes in total.)
There are many ways that breathing can help connect body and spirit. But sometimes we just need to reverse the negative inertia that can drain our energy so we can direct our own journey in a manner that fits with our most heartfelt values.
Why do you think everyone sings "Happy Birthday" as a way to celebrate an individual's entrance on the planet?
Why do faithful folks sing or chant in every spiritual tradition?
Singing transforms language into music. And music is an invitation to emotion and movement. It's all about connection and community. The vibrations of our vocal chords become vibrations in others' ears. Feelings become easier to express and understand. As we hear a good song, the artificial divisions of body, mind, heart and spirit become difficult to keep separate. Do you tap your foot to the beat? Do you want to dance? Does a memory come to mind, revived and made potent by the simplest tune? Do you want to sing along?
Yet so many of us think we "can't" sing. Or that our voices are somehow "bad."
This stunts our spirits. When we sing we can find instant connection with the creativity in our own bodies. When we sing with other people, we can feel the instant community that a shared song can bring.
Try this: Find some privacy and then sing your name. To any tune. Make one up. Or just use "Twinkle, Twinkle." And while you sing, put one hand on your voice box - that's in the throat area of the neck if you've never checked - and the other hand on your heart. You will feel the vibration. Then put your fingers in your ears and sing again. You will sound different, but you will be able to hear yourself much better. Then sing a simple song using only the words "thank you" repeated. See how you feel after this. Try it with an understanding friend if you like. Feel their voice as it vibrates in their body. Touch the miracle of another's voice singing. Then sing along.
Always have Plan B ready to implement
My Plan B is for when things don't work out, for when I suffer, for when my loved ones suffer, for when I feel disconnected and spiritually stuck.
My Plan B is not fancy or complicated.
My Plan B is just to keep trying.
No matter what. Learning where possible. Never giving up.
I love my Plan B. It's the ultimate backup.
Try this: When things go badly, think of something you are authentically grateful for. Once you have it in mind, just say, "Thank you." Say it even though your misfortune may be uppermost in your mind.
Gratefulness can come from the most basic things. That we're alive. That we have friends. That we have food and shelter. No bonus points for complexity here. The idea is to get a toehold. To keep trying by staying engaged, by staying in relationship with the positive aspects of our lives.
In many ways, our thoughts forge our experience and we mold our thoughts moment by moment through free will. Finding an authentic thank you is a way to exercise our spiritual power to choose integrity, grace and connection.
I often think of the process like this:
We go inside to connect outside. We seek our own balance to unite with a balance that transcends and unites us all.
Our breath, our voices, our ability to keep trying.
These are all declarations of our belonging.
Truth is, we humans focus on our differences in blatant disregard for our common biology and experience. Have you ever stopped to consider that we are all sons or daughters, all part of a remarkably long line of humans nurturing other humans?
I believe we just need to let the light of this connection permeate to our deeper selves. That's why the simple spiritual reboot I've proposed can help. It reminds us of what we already have -- a shared humanity, a shared legacy and a shared destiny.