Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life
*“Earth is crammed with heaven,
And every bush is aflame with God
But only those who see, take off their shoes
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.” – Elizabeth Browning
We are a plugged in, distracted society. My day is filled with driving around the county to see my patients, answering my cell phone, listening to my GPS telling me where to turn next, text messaging, meeting deadlines, caring for my family and trying to fit in time to walk the dog. I sometimes struggle with shifting from all of the consuming sensory overload to being centered prior to entering a patient’s home. The last thing a patient needs is to have someone frazzled and feeling hurried taking care of them. What puts things in perspective is to sit at the bedside of a dying patient. The quietness fills my heart. It makes me pause and realize how fragile life really is. It is then that I am truly present. The love that is in the room between family members, the faith that they cling on to, I found the sacred…
What kinds of things make you pause and see the sacred? I consciously try to “ground” myself and quiet what is going on inside my head a few times a day. I believe, that really makes me slow down a bit and see more opportunities to experience the sacred around me. Seeing an incredible sunset, hearing the birds chirping or witnessing a family working so hard together to keep their dying loved one comfortable. I truly feel the presence of God during those times.
Taking a time – out in our busyness during the day helps us to be more present, more focused on things that are happening around us. Maybe it’s a short prayer, some deep breaths, or a quick body stretch to shift our attention to the present. Becoming more “mindful” in our day helps to center us and also significantly reduce stress. Dr. Goldstein has published the article “Sacred Moments: Implications on Well-Being and Stress” in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. His study found that integrating mindful principles into daily life for just 5 minutes a day over 3 weeks resulted in significant reductions in stress and significant increases in life satisfaction and positive relations with others.
Here are some tips on to becoming more “mindful” and present during your days, and hopefully finding the sacred along the way…
1. Unplug – Turn off your computer, silence your cell phones, and shut off the TV for a specific time during your day. Take a few days break from watching the news – I find myself getting anxious and feeling uneasy with all the negative reporting.
2. Get enough sleep – This is my biggest challenge, but on weekends – I nap! It feels so good and recharges me. A nap is very nurturing, allow yourself that time to take one or two during the week.
3. Each day spend sometime outside in nature – Take a walk, sit outside under a tree, feel the earth beneath your feet. It’s God’s creation out there just waiting for us to take it all in. Enjoy…
4. Pray for others. When I pray for others, there is such a peace that I feel in my heart.
5. Make a meal special with your family or friends. Even if it’s pizza night, gather together, say a prayer in thanksgiving, and shed some candlelight on the meal to make it extra special!
6. Let go of the work week as best as you can. Thoughts keep popping into my head about work, patients I’ve seen, and wondering how they are doing. I take a time out and say a prayer giving all of my worries up to God. Most things are beyond our control, so we just need to hand them over… I know, it’s easier said than done!
7. Give gratitude. An appreciation of what is around me makes me more present and in the moment. Some actually keep a gratitude journal, which is a great way to express what you are feeling gratitude for.
8. Laugh! I try not to take myself too seriously…some of the most intense times with patients, someone in the room will say something to break the ice and make all of us just laugh, including the patient. When that happens, it lightens the room! It makes what is so challenging a bit easier to handle when spirits are lighter.