Feeling a bit stuck in my work and a little weighted down with some burdens I’ve been carrying around lately, I decided to get out of the house and go for a walk along the sea’s edge.
The autumn morning shimmered bright and blue, the foggy marine layer still far offshore, warm enough that I needed only my light jacket. Gulls cried in the air as I traversed the sandy dirt trail, and a cool breeze caressed my face while wrapping me in the sounds of the ocean.
Not twenty feet distant, sapphire waves crested with white foam broke upon the rocks, and with every step I felt lighter and more expansive than when I set out from my cottage.
The power of nature, its beneficial effects on our overall wellbeing, our psyche and soul, is immeasurable, and I write about it repeatedly (the better part of a recent book, actually). Yet as I walked the familiar seaside trail this morning, musing on my work along with my seeming troubles and disappointments, it felt like my soul itself was reminding me of a few things—the first of which I was already doing, and opening the door to other insights I needed to remember.
1) Go outside.
Breathe the unconditioned air. Feel earth beneath your feet rather than concrete, vinyl flooring, or synthetic carpet.
Get real and elemental again, and take off your shoes, allowing your sole to reconnect with soil…and soul. Move, stretch, breathe deeply. Your wild soul is a part of nature, not apart from it. From an evolutionary standpoint, your soul and nature are the same thing: the embodied creativity of the cosmos.
Nature, even a backyard or city park, helps us feel alive, open, and connected to something larger.
2) It takes courage to follow your soul.
No one discovers and embodies their true purpose, that strange mysterious calling, without risk. Soul is the ineffable, creative blueprint of who we are meant to be and become—a bright wedge of freedom in the heart—our personal authenticity. But to follow its whispers and allurements, its challenging directive to leave the comfort of the familiar village and venture into dark woods alone in search of something, most will resist. Instead they will choose safety and stability, but at what price?
We cannot have growth and security both, it’s one or the other—and security is mostly an illusion.
3) Being broken open is part of the soul’s process.
We all live within our own chosen shell, that familiar armor of ego and persona that we project to the world; yet to grow and become authentically who we are meant to be, the casing must crack. In choosing to follow our soul—into creative work, a new adventure, or even into the arms of romance—it is guaranteed that we will be split open. When it happens, we find ourselves vulnerable and exposed.
Old, familiar ways don’t seem to work anymore, and sometimes we’re not at all sure where we’re headed or who we are. Yet for better or worse, this is simply part of the process, because only when we’re broken open can we become something larger and more authentic—the person we’re meant to be.
4) Your deep yearning is the entry point for a larger life.
There is a reason you are alive, and part of the journey in life is discovering that unique design. It is the longing for an authentic sense of aliveness—passion, vitality, connection and meaning—that holds a key to the soul’s purpose. Our deep yearning, even if we cannot clearly articulate what it is, offers the entry point for the larger life that awaits us.
The feeling of something essential missing isn’t something to be fixed but followed, even into a darkly tangled wood. Especially then. It is often in the places that we most fear that we will find what we seek, or most benefit from.
5) You don’t have a body, you have a “bodysoul.”
Your physical being is something infinitely more than a mechanical machine with parts that break or eventually wear out; each cell hums with unimaginable intelligence. Every part of you harbors consciousness and memory—intuition and creativity, even. The soul is not disconnected or apart from any of your human body, but rather essential to it. Tending to the physical—healthy diet, exercise, yoga, adequate rest, time in nature, etc.—so that it thrives also nourishes the mind and soul; whereas neglecting it—junk food, lethargy, living only in technoworld—we become dulled on all levels of being.
The paradox is that you are much more than your body, yet it remains the vessel with which we navigate life.
A lone California brown pelican cruises low over the shimmering waves, barely moving a wingtip as he glides effortlessly. Watching him, my own body feels expansive as the wide blue horizon. In heeding my soul’s prompt to come and wander this shoreline, to escape the four walls that confine me too often, my entire experience has realigned for the better. I’ve come home to myself again, my conscious and uninhibited best self.
True, my seeming troubles haven’t disappeared and the day’s work remains waiting for me, yet having stepped outside into nature, my perspective is shifted once more. I feel awake, recharged and connected to something larger, less burdened by the up and down difficulties of life and living in touch with the soul. Here, now, I am a significant step closer to well-being and balance.
Cliché as it sounds, every day really is a journey, an opportunity to say yes to our soul’s calling or to turn away, back to the computer screen and million distractions of the Internet. Yes, sometimes you will feel broken open, or like you’re simply flailing about in trying to offer something of value to the world. Difficult and uncomfortable as it feels, trust that it’s part of the process, and you have to find the things that nourish you deeply—body and soul.
Somewhere deep inside, your wild, authentic soul is whispering to you. Are you listening?
More inspiration from L.R.:
Author: L.R. Heartsong
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: via Joshua Earle at Unsplash