As we once again face another shift in our external world, it’s easy to get swept away by the stress of uncertainty, fear and frustration. New directions from the CDC, lots of misinformation and a return to shortages, from chicken to chlorine, on top of a shift back into public living, from schools to work to entertainment, may push some of us back into panic or knee-jerk reactions.
But major changes offer us an opportunity to go inward. Instead of spinning our wheels trying to guess what is going to happen next and mindlessly reacting, we can pause and consider where we want to go on a deeper level.
On this podcast, we spend the majority of our time focusing on mind and body, how they interact, and how this interaction affects our emotions and behaviors. But there is another element that is perhaps more important to our well-being and that’s our soul and/or spirit. We don’t focus on this much because both soul and spirit are very individualized and subjective, with varying explanations imbedded in different religious and secular beliefs, making it impossible to identify one single definition of what they mean. But, since we are all energetic beings, if we step back and simply look at these elements from an energetic perspective, we can think of them as the invisible engine that drives us.
There’s also some confusion about the difference between the soul and the spirit. Some use the two terms interchangeably, while certain religions define the two as having very separate meanings. I believe they are distinct, but that they influence each other. What does any of this have to do with mindfulness? Mindfulness is awareness of both what’s going on around us and what’s going on within us. And for many, this past year has pained our souls and put a damper on our spirits. Some may even have experienced that “dark night of the soul” that so many of us have gone through, when we realize we don’t know the meaning of our life or the purpose of even being here. We hit a depth of struggling or suffering that causes us to question the point of it all.
The origins of the word spirit include the Latin spiritus, the French esprit, and the Greek pneuma, which all include the description “breath.” In Eastern philosophy, spirit can be considered life force, which makes sense, since we can’t live without breathing. With mindfulness meditation so focused on our breath, there seems to be a connection here that the breath connects us to something bigger.
So what’s the purpose of this invisible energy? Again, everyone has differing ideas, but I agree with the theory that the soul is the eternal part of us that goes on once our physical bodies expire and that spirit is the part of our consciousness that is connected to a higher source. That could be God or Allah, nature, the zero point field, collective consciousness, or an endless number of sources, depending on your beliefs. Most of us believe that there’s something more than just our physical existence, at least to varying degrees, but it’s quite challenging for us to really grasp how the universe works and how we’re connected to that higher source. And frankly, we’re busy and harried and focused on getting through our days, not usually taking the time to contemplate the cosmos and beyond, right?
When we experience a profound event that taps into this level of consciousness, be it through pure love or that darkest of nights, we tend to start searching, but frequently don’t know where to begin. We realize something’s missing, or we feel a longing for answers to questions we’re not quite sure of. It’s frequently referred to as a spiritual awakening. Many philosophers and writers have called it the hero’s journey, or framed it as a great quest in every possible scenario, from chasing windmills to slaying dragons.
If you’re feeling this restlessness, this desire for a deeper knowing, but not sure where to start, today’s guest may provide some clues. Jennie Lee is a spiritual coach and certified yoga therapist who has counseled private clients for over 20 years, and is passionate about sharing practices to help people reconnect to soul wisdom and live purposeful lives. Jennie also facilitates international wellness retreats and is a regular contributor to numerous national magazines and other yoga related books. She is a multi-award winning author of 3 books: TRUE YOGA: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness & Spiritual Fulfillment; BREATHING LOVE: Meditation in Action, and her newest, SPARK CHANGE: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution, providing us with the big questions to contemplate on our quest or journey through spiritual awakening.
Thanks again to Jennie for joining us today and providing an excellent start to begin our own journeys. You can find more information on Jennie at www.JennieLeeYogaTherapy.com
If you’re ready to start your own hero’s journey, stay mindful and practice self-compassion. It’s not easy to search for the meaning of life, to make major changes in your beliefs or to look deeply into your own soul. It’s not a straight line from the beginning to the end, either, but more of a very zig-zagged line that includes peaks and valleys along the way. And there may be no final destination, at least on this dimensional plane, but the journey itself will enrich your life, shift your views of the world and beyond, and ultimately provide a sense of connectedness and inner peace that is hard to achieve otherwise.
Remember, if you feel panic rising over the lack of lumber or diapers or washing machines, take a breath and remember that we’ve successfully navigated this before. There’s no need to panic and in fact, we help create the shortages by doing so. Like everything in life, this is temporary and it will pass. We’ve made it through very difficult challenges for over a year and have proven that we’re strong and resilient, so a shortage of rental cars and toasters at this point is simply an inconvenience, not a life-shattering event.
You can find all of the books by the authors we’ve interviewed on our website under the book club tab and view the full interviews on our youtube channel. Be sure to join us next week for a fascinating conversation with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, famed Harvard neuroanatomist and author of a new book herself, Whole Brain Living, which includes the part of our brain that connects with a higher source from an anatomical perspective, along with a very different view of how our brains work and how we can use that information to improve our lives.
Until next time. Stay well, be kind to yourself and others, and remember to be mindful.
Have a wonderful week.