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SpiritualNow, if you are an agnostic or self-proclaimed atheist, don’t turn away! This is also for you.

No I am not trying to convert you. Far from it. As long as you are okay with your relationship with God, far be it from me to interfere. I leave all that to God.

You are a spiritual creature, whether you realize it or not. It’s built in in some fashion either genetically or by direction from God. Take your pick. It’s real.

Part of a good and happy life is nurturing and responding to this ever so important aspect of who you are. You, my friend, or a spiritual being having a human experience. And it is ever so much more exciting to knowingly be a part of that.

Let me explain by offering you a little experiment. It takes only five minutes. It helps to have a timer. Sit in a quiet place with eyes closed for five minutes. Or three if you find it too intimidating. This is not meditation. Let the thoughts come, and simply identify them–thoughts about the past (why did he get so mad when I said that?), thoughts about the future (I do hope my car is ready tomorrow!), or thoughts about the present (my forehead itches!). Keep a mental tally, as best you can.

What you will invariably find, is that the vast majority of your thoughts are either about the past, or the future. We are almost never in the moment in our own minds. Test this at will as you fold clothes, drive to work, or rake leaves. Your mind is always busy thinking about that which can’t be changed, or that which may never happen.

This is not to say that those are not good pursuits, for introspection is very useful in learning from our past mistakes and changing our behaviors. A certain amount of planning makes a future event a whole lot better than none. I’m talking about our propensity to go over and over and over past slights or mishaps bemoaning them, or the alternative, worrying ourselves constantly about what MAY happen.

We miss the moment. We miss the feelings, the smells, the sounds, the tastes, all because our minds are elsewhere. We eat mindlessly and we eat too much, and enjoy very little of it. We walk along and tune out the songs of birds, the feel of the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the very physicality of our bodies moving.

These are means by which we connect to ourselves and to our world. Atheists an agnostics undoubtedly believe in evolution, as do I a believer. How wondrous to look upon a frog or a rabbit and know that we share a history!

Everyone, atheist, believer and all in between feel the same intake of breath, the same joyous stirrings within ourselves when we gaze upon ocean waves breaking upon the beach, or the splendor of mountains, or the stark beauty of deserts. That is ourselves, responding to the grandeur that God has wrought through evolution, or that evolution has wrought by itself. We are connected in a way that astounds us and thrills us.

These are real moments of joy and something we savor and seek. Why else do we climb mountains and challenge the ocean in sailing ships? We seek the connection. We seek our center.

There are a host of ways to make the connection with God if you see it that way, or with the One as described by Buddhists.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Practice yoga. This is a real way to bring mind and body into alignment. It focuses us on our bodies and our breath. It has wonderful benefits medically, helping to reduce stress and  lower blood pressure. Tai Chi offers similar benefits.
  2. Learn to meditate. There are dozens upon dozens of methods. Some are more faith oriented, i.e, the desire is to connect to the God, others are Eastern in nature, such as Chakra work. Others are simple efforts to de-stress. One of the best methods I’ve ever found is Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, by Cynthia Bourgeault. Although focused on Christian meditation, it is adaptable to any meditation.
  3. Spend time on a regular basis in nature. Wherever you can find it. Get down on your tummy and examine the little world at your feet in your own back yard. It’s just chock full of insects going about their lives. Garden indoor or out, collect stones and imagine how they came to be where you found them. Lay on your back in your yard at night, allowing your eyes to telescope until all you see is the field of stars before you. Be amazed at what a thrill will come to you as you feel on the edge of planet Earth, and feel yourself hurtling through space. I dare you not to grab a fistful of grass to hang on!
  4. Get a pet. Spend time just watching your favorite pet in his world. You’ll be endlessly surprised at how smart and clever animals are. Learn from them, and make the connection.
  5. Practice mindfulness. As often as you think of it, stop thinking about that before and after stuff, and concentrate on what is happening now. How does the water feel on your hands? How does the towel feel? Now the silk shirt? Close your eyes and just listen to the sounds going on. Close your eyes and smell the bacon! It won’t last for a long time, but do it as often as you think of it. It will surprise you how connected you begin to feel.
  6. Pray, go to church regularly, read scripture if those are right for you. If not, then read spiritually driven poetry or prose that is inspirational although not overtly faith related. There are plenty of authors who write beautiful soaring words that fill you will hope, awe, and wonderment.
  7. Be grateful. Look around you. At your home, and your loved ones, and your friends. You are blessed with much. Don’t take it for granted. As you can, share some of yours with those who have little or none. Feel the great wonder of helping. If that doesn’t connect you, well, something is wrong.

Relax and enjoy just being you.

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