50 Elaborations on 50 Ways to Live Spiritually Well (continued)
31. Wake up early. Thanks to our natural biorhythms, rising with the sun gives us energy and vitality. Even though I’m not a “morning person,” I fully recognize the value of waking up early. It gives a more relaxing and spacious feel to the day, gives me time for a nice breakfast, morning meditation, writing time, or stretching. It gives me time to start the day off on the right foot, rather than stumbling around in a hurry to get out the door. See what the morning can do for you.
32. Reawaken wonder. I wonder if eggnog will taste good in my cereal. I wonder what the person who shot John Lennon went through as a child. I wonder how many licks it takes to get to the center of the earth. Wonder translates to open receptive expansion; it is a growthful and powerful state of being. Not coincidentally, to be “full of wonder” or “wonderful” is a very good thing indeed.
33. Listen deeply. This is less obvious than it seems. Much of the time, listening is a compulsory response to the fact that somebody is talking—and while that mouth is moving, our own mind is busy planning what to say when it’s our turn (if we even wait that long). Or, we are busy judging what the other person is saying as s/he says it. It turns out one cannot listen to one’s own thoughts and the words of another at the same time. If we really listen to others, we begin to hear what they are saying, what they're not saying, and the feelings behind the words. It enriches communication, and sometimes, changes it completely (for the better!).
34. Savor. Nothing lasts forever, so appreciate what you have while you have it. From a delicious bite of berry cobbler a la mode, to a quiet moment at home, to a wonderful conversation or instance of connection…Let it roll on the tongue, simmer on the brain, soak on your skin. Basking in the glow of what you enjoy reinforces it in your mind and body and makes you a happier person.
35. Make eye contact. The eyes are the window to the soul, they say, and there’s synergy in the exchange when contact is made. It’s profound; to look another in the eye and really let yourself see and be seen. In the instant my eyes meet yours, there is nothing else—I see you and you see me and that is all there is to it. It’s a totally authentic instance of human experience. Here eye am.
36. Dance. Some people have developed the strange notion that they can’t dance, simply because some other people have developed the ability to dance in really specific, so-called classical ways. If you dance from your heart, for pure enjoyment and appreciation of movement, music, expression, then you DO YOUR DANCE, and that is one of your highest and best occupations.
37. Cherish your body. It works tirelessly to support and sustain, digest and disseminate your many activities. It’s really a marvel: it communicates with you, and if you listen, you save yourself a lot of trouble. Acknowledge what your body does for you, and show it your appreciation and love. My own body has withstood years of heavy abuse. It has healed from deep injury and trauma. It has created new life.
38. Take on responsibility. I have recently become responsible for the life of our new baby corn snake, Cow. Feeding her thawed baby mice and maintaining the proper temperatures in her cage, watching her shed her skin, feeling her curl around my finger…it’s quite fulfilling. Responsibility comes in many forms: taking the lead on a group project, volunteering to cook a meal, or being more diligent in personal habits. It all leads up to the ultimate responsibility, which is the fate of the world and/or life itself.
39. Think positively. Research shows that positive thinking corresponds to better health, longer life, and more satisfaction. Taking responsibility for your thoughts allows you to choose what to think. In regard to the image of the glass half full or half empty, I used to say it was too early to tell because I’m still pouring. Or I would say that from a “bird’s eye view,” it would look like a full circle no matter what, with perceived fullness or emptiness being irrelevant. Now I say, what’s in the glass? There are always two sides to a story, and two ends to a battery. Given the choice, go for the happy ending and be positive.
40. Appreciate the world. For better or worse, you are here. Make the most of it. It is a special place. It’s not always pretty, or kind, or even comfortable. But it’s our only home, and there are some amazing cooks in the kitchen.