10 “SPIRITUAL” WAYS TO RELAX THIS SUMMER
Even when you’re not on vacation!
Summer — such a delicious time of year! Even if the pace doesn’t slow as much as we’d like, the focus shifts and the weather (usually) is glorious!
In keeping with our Spiritual Life Hack explorations and focus on how faith practices can transform our spirits and our lives, here are some ways to relax and deepen your enjoyment of the season — whether you’re traveling or at home, on vacay or cleaning out the garage. I’ve put them in order of least to most challenging (at least for me!):
What music relaxes you in a way that connects you to your deeper self and God? Gospel? Hymns? Classical? U2? Folk? Whatever it is, keep it on hand. In fact, why not make yourself a playlist you can play on your phone, in the car, or while you’re walking?
Notice your breath, filling and leaving your body. Draw it in for 5 counts, hold for 3, and release it for 5 counts. Repeat 5 times. Do it upon waking, before sleeping, when you realize you’re stressed, when your brain is racing and you want to be more present.
8. Practice feeling gratitude.
We can all make lists of why we SHOULD be grateful. But taking 60 seconds to actually experience the goodness of all God has given — that’s a different and very anxiety-reducing practice. Try it upon waking, upon going to bed, when you sit down to eat, when you exercise, when you do something you love to do or are with people who make you smile or listen deeply. Gratitude opens us to God. What if this became your default attitude?
7. Be still.
Notice your breathing, in and out, in and out. Use your senses: what are 5 things you see? 4 things you hear? 3 things you touch? 2 things you smell? 1 thing you taste? Close your eyes, allow silence to fill you. Savor it. You may sense God’s presence.
6. Choose a summer Bible verse mantra.
Is there a Bible verse that puts things in perspective for you and helps you let go? “The Lord is my shepherd…who leadeth me beside still waters…”. “Be still and know that I am God.” “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” “Peace I give to you…not as the world gives.” And there are MANY, MANY more! Pastor Gretchen and I would be delighted to help you find one to put on your screensaver, or dashboard, or bathroom mirror, or wherever. Or make it a habit to internally say it whenever you do certain daily things, so it becomes a habit.
5. Pray throughout the day.
John Somm just shared a great three-word all-purpose prayer with me: “God, guide me.” It can be that simple. Or you may find power and clarity in praying about something specific in the moment.
4. Be present in the moment.
Notice God In the moment. So many ways God shows up: little children (for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”), in nature, in kind and loving interactions- however small, in “the least of these”, in conflicts resolved and relationships reconciled, and on and on.
3. Give in to a generous impulse.
Bring some luscious strawberries to the neighbor you don’t really know. Write that check to aid famine victims. Do the thing at church or another volunteer organization you keep meaning to do. Doing any such things even just once is golden.
2. Unplug and unscreen.
Yes, you can! Start small, like an hour before bed. Many of us remember when we actually lived our whole lives this way!! You might feel lonely and at loose ends, or you might find yourself better able to do # 10-3. Either way, your spirit will be nourished, and the likelihood of connecting with God and others goes up exponentially.
1. Observe Sabbath.
Not every Sunday, but you owe it to yourself to do it at least once. I have done it a few times and it is AWESOME! Make meals ahead. Do only things that nurture your spirit. (You know what they are; other things just get in the way. But God commands this! 🙂 Nap. Stare at the night sky. Take a walk. Write a letter or call a friend, just ‘cause. Leave those screens alone! It’s amazing what power there is in knowing that sabbath is a “thing” people have done for millennia, and it has rejuvenated and blessed them. Want ideas or to talk it through? Let me know.
And how about if we share any experiences, thoughts, suggestions on this topic at the
Our Redeemer’s Spiritual Life Hack FaceBook group?
I look forward to the summer!
May God nurture your spirit and mine,
Pastor Kathy Hawks