When I need some soul-nurturing, one of my favorite activities is to write. If the weather’s warm, I head outside and spread a blanket on the grass or pick a semi-shaded spot on the beach in summer. I need a journal or notebook—electronics won’t do for me! But use whatever works for you.
Here are some ideas of soul-nurturing activities to journal:
Appreciation: I’m sure you’ve heard of the benefits of focusing on what you’re grateful for. Likely, you’ve experienced the power of gratitude yourself. Whenever we’re thankful, we’re in the moment, truly appreciating and enjoying life’s gifts.
Here’s one way to journal on gratitude. Look around you. If you’re outdoors, start with nature. Are you grateful for the ocean or lake in front of you? The earth beneath you? Rather than making a list of things you’re grateful for, dive into one thing deeply:
A blade of grass may conjure up gratitude for the beauty of its green color—and all that “green” means to you.
You may appreciate the growth cycle and write in detail about the growth of that one blade of grass.
Notice how your blade of grass feels as you touch or rub it, how it smells. Breathe in your own appreciation for life as you smell the grass. Write about that. Does the smell remind you of a specific incidence in childhood? Write about that. Just one small gratitude can take you on a long and vitalizing journey. You’ll feel more alive and naturally more self-love.
Connection: One way to nurture yourself is to nurture your connection with the Life. If it’s a sunny day, go outside and feel the warmth of the sun. Perhaps close your eyes and face the sun, noticing the colored light peeking through your eyelids.
Meditate on the sun and feel its warmth. Imagine the sun’s light revitalizing every cell of your body—each atom and the spaces in between. Ah, how good and refreshing it feels!
Now, draw a circle in the center of your journal page and smaller circles all around, representing all the people, beings, places and things you feel connected to and that nurture you in some way. Write names or words in the circles for each of them. One by one, write about each connection and how it nourishes you.
Do you feel drawn to get together with one of the people you write about? Or do you feel like taking a walk to one of the places you wrote about (either a real walk or an imaginary visit in your mind)? Take one small action that comes out of this activity.
Your Muse: If you’ve read this column for any length of time, you’ve probably seen me mention the muse before. Your muse is that part of you that supports creativity, insights, ideas—and your muse has access to wisdom beyond the usual time and space constraints of the conscious mind. Your muse may appear as a wise being, a totem animal, a symbol or just a felt sense of connection.
Here’s a short meditation to connect with your muse for self-care and soul-nurturance:
- Sit in a chair, feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes.
- Experience the chair supporting your body
- Bring your attention to your feet and feel the support of the floor—and the earth beneath that.
- Notice your breath.
- Now, imagine yourself walking a path in the woods to a building where your muse is waiting for you.
- Walk the path, noticing what you see, hear, smell, feel and even taste.
- Enter the building, go up the stairs, open the door and find your muse.
- Ask your muse to show you how you can best nurture yourself right now.
- Your muse may have a gift for you. Receive the gift.
- If you feel confused about the gift, you may ask your muse what it’s for or what it means.
- When you feel complete, thank your muse and see yourself returning the way you came.
- Open your eyes and write about your experience.
Be sure to take time to write your answers afterwards. Some people go so deep they may not remember. If that’s you, have someone guide you through the visualization and talk you through it—where you provide answers and they record them as you go so you can listen later. These sessions can be very rich. You may even want to use an audio recording program to record your answers as you do this.
Of course, you can also just sit in a cozy corner or outdoors and write anytime, without an exercise. But if you ever feel in need of some extra support, these exercises will help the writing flow, and help you get in touch with the loving, nurturing instincts within you—and help you do loving things for yourself.