Editor's Note: The quest to find the spirit in our lives is something unique to humanity, as clearly evident by the history of faith and religion around the globe. Eastern thought emphasizes mindfulness and compassion, while Western thought is led with kindness to others (as we would want for ourselves) and service. The Daily Prism has excerpted from an essay "4 Practices to Find the Spiritual in Everyday Life" by Lena Schmidt, four basic elements to our collective spiritual search.
MindfulnessAdd some sweetness and ceremony to your day by doing your daily tasks with the utmost awareness. Notice the sensations in your body, bring your attention to your breath, and acknowledge your emotions without judging them. Do a regular assignment in slow motion. Drink your coffee or tea without doing anything else. Brush your teeth without looking at your phone. Ritualize your most dreaded chores to make them less mundane, such as putting on music, setting a timer, and getting down to work.
CompassionThe Compassion It movement challenges us to turn empathy into action. Compassion doesn't just benefit those who receive the acts of kindness, it benefits those who offer the kindness as well.
To bring some sense of spirituality and interconnectedness into your everyday life, try acting on your empathy with one of these ideas:
- Smiling at a stranger
- Giving someone the benefit of the doubt
- Sending a "thinking of you" message to a friend going through a tough time
- Having self-compassion and not beating yourself up over imperfection
- Simply being fully present with a friend
BeIn Italian, there is a saying: “Il Dolce far Niente.” It means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Can you imagine? Doing nothing and feeling okay? Doing nothing and not being wracked with guilt and anxiety?
It takes practice but it’s worth giving it a shot! Your mind, body, heart, and spirit will thank you for this de-stressing practice. Practice the art of doing nothing by sitting in meditation or setting a timer for 10 minutes while you simply “do nothing.” Gentle reminder: You are a human being, not a human doing.
ServeBy sharing your time to help others, you’ll remember that we’re all in this together—that deep down we’re all longing for the same sense of love and belonging. The homeless woman you’re bringing a sandwich to? She could be you minus a paycheck. The next-door neighbor who needs your help walking the dog? He could be you minus a helpful partner. The stranger on the verge of tears carrying those grocery bags on the subway? They could be you minus your new car.
Service is an act of compassion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve … You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
By devoting an hour, day, week, or month to service in any capacity, you may even stumble upon your life’s purpose. (Hint: your purpose is joy).
By practicing mindfulness, compassion, be-ing, and service, you can explore ways of making even the mundane activities more spiritually aligned. You may travel to far off lands to glean inspiration. You may navigate your daily to-do list with a bit more awareness. Either way, slowing down and breathing into the moment can help you feel more connected to others and to a power greater.
And this shared connection of humanity? That’s the key ingredient for world peace.