A very wise person once told me that life can be related to flying on an airplane. When the flight attendant is going through the pre-flight briefing, what is the first thing we are instructed to do in the case of an emergency? Secure the oxygen mask that drops down from the overhead on YOURSELF first before moving on to assist others.
We cannot take care of others if we first cannot take care of ourselves and I believe it starts with our soul. Talk to two different people about the soul and spirituality and you’re likely to have two very different conversations. Some equate spirituality with the practice of religion. Others might see in a supernatural and mystic light. There’s really no right answer.
I have always had a vision of myself as a Shaolin monk living in the still and quiet of a monastery hidden deep in the mountains. Like I imagine a trek to find such a monastery to be, my spiritual journey has taken many twists and turns over the course of my life so far. I was baptized and raised Catholic, became very interested in Eastern philosophy such as Buddhism and Taoism, dabbled in Hawaiian mysticism, and most recently did a brief stint as a born again Christian.
All this time I have been searching for something deep to connect to. I often hoped that I would stumble upon some ancient secret that would guide me to my purpose. What I learned is that matters of the soul are not as difficult as we most times make it out to be. Spirituality is rather simple. As such, I have kept my goal and plan of action free of complexity. Gone are the days of adhering to strict doctrine and walking a tightrope suspended above a pit of fire and brimstone. Also in my rearview are the hopes of discovering the Atlantis of secrets to guide me to my one true purpose.
My goals for the spiritual spoke on my wheel of life are to simply practice the art of gratitude, mindfulness, and create joy and peace. My plan to accomplish these goals consist of actions that anyone can incorporate into their own lives. First, to practice the art of gratitude, I pray and give thanks when I first awake in the morning and when I finally lay down to sleep at night. I also remember to show my appreciation to people and life when I experience good things. This practice help me keep life in a positive perspective especially when things don’t go my way.
Next, to practice the art of mindfulness, I take time every day to sit in silence and meditate. Meditation doesn’t have to be some transcendental experience like that of the Buddha. Although I aspire to live my life in an enlightened and awakened state one day, I use meditation to simply quiet my mind and hear the whispers of my soul. I believe that somehow our soul and intuition is always guiding us, always redirecting us when we stray from the path. But with all the distractions going on around us in our physical world, it can be impossible to escape to the quiet and form a connection with our soul unless we make a conscious effort to do so.
Ultimately, my goal is to create lasting joy and peace in my life. We all have the power to do so in any moment. It is not found in anything material or external. It doesn’t come when we reach a certain milestone or make a certain amount of money. It happens for us when we choose to make it happen. Like so many things in life, it’s simple but not necessarily easy. Once we can take care of our own soul and create joy and peace for ourselves, we then have the unlimited capacity to do the same for others.