“Connect to your spirit”—I’ve been drawn to this phrase for years.
I’ve heard it said often, but what does it really mean?
I remember moments from my childhood: dancing barefoot outdoors on the fresh cut grass, before a summer rain, when no one was watching. The wind washed through my hair and I felt like the most beautiful girl in world, because in those moments I was connected to myself—my true self—and the nature around me.
I also recall an afternoon in my first semester of high school. New school, new surroundings, different people and routines. I was shy, scared and younger than the rest of the students. In other words, I was a perfect target for bullies, and on this particular afternoon immediately following gym class, I found myself on the field with three such girls.
But there was something else there, too. It was that same connection, once again coming through with the help of the elements and the nature that surrounded me. I don’t remember if I was teased and taunted by these girls—if I was, I didn’t notice. All I remember was the smoky smell of autumn, carried on the wind, and feeling much like I did when I had danced barefoot on the grass.
Despite the ugly vibes of the bullies, I felt absolutely beautiful.
When we are connected to the natural world around us, something magical occurs. When we are aware of the wind whispering through the trees and the damp smell of the earth, we are reminded of who we really are.
This feeling didn’t visit me as often in my early adult years, or perhaps, I didn’t have as much mind space to observe it. Creating space for myself was difficult in those days. Consequently, I very rarely focused on the present moment. Life became busier, more pragmatic, and less mystical, but eventually, something inside me began to whisper.
Our unconscious minds are all knowing and they whisper to us through feelings, thoughts, perceptions and objects or actions in fantasies and dreams, that contain information essential to our well-being.
In my case, I didn’t pay attention to the whispers until they turned into yells—I began suffering from anxiety, sudden self-consciousness and over-sensitivity. It became blatantly clear that I could no longer afford to not pay attention.
I had some inner work to do, but I didn’t quite know where to start. Luckily for me, that popular saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” (meaning that when one genuinely desires help, the universe provides it), turned out to be true. Soon after I set the intention to work on myself, a friend introduced me to yoga, which further developed into a regular meditation practice, which set me on the right path.
It took a while—a few months of daily meditation, as well as some intensive growing pains and bouts of frustration—for me to get into the “flow.” As much as the outer universe has a flow, so does our inner universe. It’s an energy that should be followed.
What’s this flow about? Exploration. It means listening to and understanding the messages coming from our unconscious minds. For instance, these messages and whispers eventually became my personal gurus, teaching me how to bring my meditation practice to another level by focusing on what I was feeling in my gut and my breath. What was I breathing in? Was it fear or anxiety? Or was I inhaling hope and positivity?
Those feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness and over-sensitivity slowly dissipated, and I cultivated a better relationship with myself. I started to feel an inner trust and a sense of inner peace. At the same time, that old feeling of beauty from my childhood and adolescence—the feeling of connecting to my spirit—returned.
We are much more powerful than we think, because we are our spirits. And our spirits are the expression of our souls, which are more powerful than our flesh.
With practice, I’m now able to access the power of my spirit any time I need to shift my energy. Like that afternoon in high school, when it came to me in what could have been remembered as a harrowing situation with three school bullies, that feeling of beauty can instantly shift the energy within me. This in turn affects the energy that surrounds me, and can improve the outcome of certain situations by diminishing my fear or worry. Unpleasant meetings get easier, dental appointments bearable and subway interruptions become a welcome break from the hustle and bustle.
Our spirits are powerful. But what I’ve learned is that we must pay attention in order to feel them. And we must learn how to feel them—truly feel them—in order to understand what it means to connect.
Perhaps we will never be able to connect to our spirits completely and permanently while living in our bodies, but we can call upon their magic when we need it the most.
Author: Mary Dunlop
Editor: Nicole Cameron