May 10, 2011

Raising Spiritual Consciousness. Right Here. Right Now.

“God is a current that runs through and between all things. The Divine Source resides in everything and everything resides in the Divine Source”. ~Annie Burnside

If you’re like me, you’re probably convinced that there’s a divine power in the universe. Whether you call it God or Krishna, Divine Wisdom or Infinite Intelligence, you know that it’s there, because at various times in your life, you’ve felt it right at your core. The tricky part is tapping into this power on a regular basis—and making the spiritual energy and intuitive wisdom it provides part of your daily experience.

That’s why I’m enjoying reading Soul-to-Soul Parenting, A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family by Annie Burnside. While the book’s mission is to show us “how to blaze a spiritual path for your family”, it’s reminding me of something I can tend to overlook—finding and maintaining a spiritual focus while getting caught up in the daily machinations of life.

For those looking to stay in touch with their spiritual side, Burnside has some helpful ways to keep us (and our families) on track. Along with several chapters on spiritual themes for family discussions, her book offers a list of 22 ways to access the divine and “integrate spirituality into your family’s daily life.”

Here are a few of Annie’s ideas that I took to heart; some I already use, others I’m going to put into practice:

Visual Cues. Burnside periodically posts a changing array of messages around her home, taping them above her desk, in the kitchen and other high traffic areas. A few choice ones she called out are: “Remember All Is Well”, “Take a Conscious Breath” and “Speak Truth with Love and Compassion”, but the fact is any saying or quote that appeals to you can work as a reminder of your spiritual nature.

Sacred Spaces and Places. It’s important to have places in your home, yard and surroundings that you associate with spiritual pursuits. For me, it’s a certain chair in the living room where I indulge in spiritual reading, but for you it might be the stone bench in your backyard or a community garden. The key is to find the places that have meaning to you “where divine inspiration seems to reach us more directly due to the receptivity and openness they activate within us” and access them everyday.

The Intuitive-Gratitude Journal. I keep a journal, but Burnside reminds us that more than just putting down thoughts about the present moment, journal entries can also be used to express gratitude and appreciation for others. If someone does something nice for you, jot it down. These notes serve as reminders that the world is a good and blessed place, even on those days when it seems life is against us.

Show Your Spirit. This idea can apply to anyone you’re close to: Let your children see the artist in you, the dancer in you, the gardener in you, the empathizer in you, the fire starter in you, the Broadway star in you, the best friend in you, the teacher in you, the nature lover in you, the entrepreneur in you, the student in you, the minister in you, the healer in you, and the lover of life in you.

Meditation. I recently wrote about meditation here on the pages of Elephant Journal and Burnside reminds us to “take the time each and every day to go within”. She also preaches the benefits of active meditation, like long walks or hikes, bike rides or yoga. She reminds us “there is not one way to meditate” and it’s purpose should always be to “quiet the inner noise of your mind long enough to hear the beautiful voice of your soul”.

Conscious Breathing. This is related to meditation, but is actually something you can pull off anytime, anywhere—even in the office or while behind the wheel of a car. Simply take deep, steady breaths in and out, in and out, and focus your attention and awareness on the sensation of breathing. For me, it’s the equivalent of a mini-meditation session.

Make-Her-Day Moments. The idea here is to make-the-day of someone who passes through your life, “consciously choosing to extend yourself to another”. For example, Burnside and her daughters decide to tip “an adorable, friendly waitress” 40%, then quietly leave the restaurant before she notices.

Nature. Burnside writes “there is no greater outward expression of God than nature itself…you can sense an underlying unseen connection between human beings, nature and all that is.” If you’ve ever watched the waves along the ocean or taken in the view from a high mountain peak, you know she speaks the truth. So take the family or a loved one and head outdoors!

The bottom line: One doesn’t need an ashram, temple or church, to find the Divine Source. It’s within us and around us all the time. And with the right reminders, we can make it part of our everyday lives.

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