It is probably an understatement to say that a commitment to parenting consciously can demand a lot from us at times! Refilling the well, soul nourishment, is therefore an absolute must. If we become too depleted giving can become an onerous 'have-to' that isn't coming from a generous, open heart. Nurturing others, staying present, conscious speech, etc., takes energy that can become draining if we don't remember to self-nurture as well. Our day-to-day lives in addition to our intentional parenting can use up all our resources. Soul nourishment is not optional--our soul will cry out for attention.
I heard Dan Millman, the author of Peaceful Warrior, when giving his top 10 for living a fulfilling life say 'Everybody takes a vacation, no matter what.' It is up to us to make sure it is when and where and how we choose. There's a reason for the saying:
We can't go long running on empty without inviting a course correction. Soul nourishment is not just for those times when catastrophe strikes--it is for every day.
Each of us get to discover what it is exactly that nourishes our souls. It may be different at different times. When I am tired and depleted, sleep not only nourishes my body, but I notice sleep also nourishes my soul. I love naps! When I am overextended, downtime nourishes my soul. When I have been working a great deal, play~~table tennis with my kids, jumping on the trampoline, playing a card game with my kids, nourishes my soul. When I have been around too many people, solitude nourishes my soul.
When I have been bombarded by some negativity from another, a good cuddle with my kids patches up and soothes the bruises and nourishes my soul.
Too much indoor time and I have to get outside for a good walk, a meander down the road, or getting my fingernails dirty with some industrious digging in the soil of my garden. Exercise, especially yoga refreshes my soul and my body. And a visit to the lake or the ocean is the ultimate! Whatever soul nourishment is for us on an individual basis:
Creative outlets are a major boon to my soul. I often forget and/or dismiss the value of creativity. But when I remember and attend to this craving of my soul, I take the time to draw with pencils, sew, write, play music and my soul and divine inner child are delighted.
I love taking an hour and drawing with pencils. My away-at-college son's room is where I can get away for solitude and attunement. And, it is where I can draw uninterrupted to my heart's content.
There is something organic which takes place in me when I draw. I enter into the drawing as it reveals itself to me. Through a process I can only describe as organic, it becomes a part of me.
My teenage daughter was telling me this morning that last night she was feeling very out of sorts. (I knew this before I went to bed, so we had spent some cuddling and whispering to each other. But it was late, and as her distress had eased to the point where she could chuckle a bit at my efforts to put a smile on her face, I told her good night with the assurance that we would spend more time in the morning.) So she gathered together a few things: the novel she is currently reading, her journal, and her drawing sketchbook, and tucked herself into bed. After a quick appraisal of her choices, she opted for the sketchbook and listened to music while she doodled until she felt soothed. She told me this morning that drawing 'just untangles all my emotions'. She has got a good handle on what soul nourishment is for her.
The word 'create' originated in the late 14c., from Latin creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget," and was related to crescere "arise, grow" as in crescent. Ancient cultures did not possess a concept of creativity. They claimed art was not creation, but rather discovery. I like to think of the process as a discovery as we bring forth what wants to be expressed from a soul level.
There is so much more, but all of these unearthed gems in self-discovery are what provides soul nourishment as we bring forth sustenance from within in the practice of creative expression.
A few years ago, a friend of mine invited me to go on a sewing retreat with her. I have been a sewer, 'one who sews!', since my preteen years, as a way to augment my wardrobe with those 'must-have' accessories not included in the financial plan of a family of seven! I continued to sew through my college years, decorating my studio apartment on a shoestring budget. Then sewing Halloween costumes for my eldest when he was a little tyke indulged my sewing 'hobby' with justification! But I never gave sewing a great deal of value.
So when I was invited, I said yes to the 'retreat' part of the invitation. I really craved a get-away and it could have been pole-dancing for all I cared at that point. But that week was a godsend to my soul. There was class-time in quilting, appliqué, and painting on fabric. Then hours were spent in the company of other women devoted to just creating our works of 'art'.
The week was an eye-opener. I found out how much healing I needed and received in giving this time to myself. It was an eye-opener for me on how vital soul nourishment is and how this was one of the avenues for me. Sewing did not have to have any other "practical application" besides this: it was filling my well.
After the retreat, a year went by during which time I worked on my piece probably 4 times. I thought that at that rate I would never finish it. Then inspiration struck. It occurred to me that if I worked on it every day for a bit during my morning 'quiet time'...Since then I have added 10-15 minutes of needlework every morning to my morning meditation, spiritual practice time.
I have crocheted an afghan for my daughter, I have completed a quilt, appliquéd a Christmas stocking, the list goes on....just in a few minutes every day. But I have added so much more to my life. Throughout the day, I can be so much more present because of the quiet moments I have spent with my soul. Unstructured unlike other types of quietness such as reading, meditating, etc.... which are just as vital but nourishing in a way different from what I receive with my needlework. A space is created in me that serves as a point of contact with my soul that I can use as a touchpoint throughout my day providing the refreshment I need in any given moment.
If you would like to see a soulful video on the spiritual significance of appliqué practiced as an art form in the creating of Fabric Thangkas in Tibetan Buddhism,'Creating Buddhas' is inspiration and validation for soul nourishment!
The piece I started at the sewing retreat...well...unfinished, still, but I know it will be completed eventually (!) with my few minutes a day.
Also, my drawings are definitely not ready for market, and I can't see that they ever will be but here are some of my pencil drawings, soul nourishment for me.
May you be inspired to discover your special brand of soul nourishment, or if you already know what it is, like vitamins for the soul, make it part of your day today. Make your favorite cheesecake recipe. Get out the watercolors. Whatever... You and your family will reap huge benefits!
Peace and Blessings!
Site updated 02-03-17