Ah, summertime, when the living is easy. It's hard not to feel happy during the warmer months. But what if life could feel summer-good all the time? Summer is a wonderful time to put in place some spiritual practices that will serve you well all year long. Here are 10 ways to get started:
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- Take a walk
You don't have to walk the Camino de Santiago to connect with your soul. Take advantage of the good weather to take long, contemplative walks in your own neighbourhood. The fresh air and exercise will boost your spirit.
- Go on a retreat
Many spiritual centres will allow you to spend the day in their gardens for a small fee. Some offer reasonable overnight accommodation and simple and nutritious meals. A retreat can provide an economical mini-break to refresh the soul.
- Engage in fellowship
It's hard to attain spiritual growth on our own, as we are meant to live our lives in community. In the summer, it's easier to connect with others since people are not as pressed for time. Take the opportunity to reach out to the hockey family across the street as they won't always be in the arena. If you see your neighbours on their balcony or out doing yard work, invite them over for a drink. Strike up a conversation at the park. If you have entertaining angst, summer is your season. Burgers on the grill make a marvelous al fresco dinner, so don't worry about polishing up the silver or even cleaning the house. Just invite people over for a casual meal.
- Find a spiritual home
If you've been wanting to add some structure to your spiritual practice, summer can be an excellent time to think about a new place of worship. In the fall, everyone is rushing around to re-establish their routines and may not have as much time to welcome newcomers. In the summer, people have more time to talk and answer your questions. If you are spiritually shopping around, the summer is a great time to kick the tires anonymously. If you want to try things out without commitment, places of worship in cottage country or popular vacation spots are used to hosting visitors.
- Take a break from the drama.
Summer is an ideal time to hit the reset button and get away from whatever it is that drains you. Summer vacation offers an excellent excuse to step away from the fitness class, water cooler gossip session, or coffee hour that no longer serves you well. Come fall, you can have a whole new routine in place that leaves you feeling more spiritually enriched.
- Feed your soul with books.
Summer is a wonderful time of year to catch up on reading. Instead of reading the latest creepy thriller, pick up something uplifting that speaks to you soul. Try to develop a habit of reading every day that will carry into the fall.
- Become king (or queen) of the road.
Road Trips are an excellent way to break out of one's comfort zone, which always helps foster spiritual growth. There is something freeing about piling into a vehicle and seeing where the road takes you when you don't have a particular schedule in mind. You can pull over at a quaint diner or tag sale. If you see a country fair or a roadside attraction, you can stop. And if you want proof that this is a kind and benevolent universe, simply look for a roadside stand selling butter tarts.
- Shop at farmers' markets
If you ever have trouble seeing the world as a place of abundance, seek out a local farmers' market. Baskets filled with fresh peaches and buckets filled with dinner plate-sized Zinnias prove that whatever we need is available to us if we are good stewards of the earth. Plus, it's hard to be cynical around freshly made kettle corn.
- Start a spiritual journal
Remember the diary you kept at summer camp? Why not start a new one now? But instead of writing about the cutie in Cabin 12, write about your spiritual journey. When you are having a rough day in the throes of winter, reread what you wrote.
- Get outside
Have you ever sat on the dock at someone's cottage and looked up at the night sky? It's hard not to believe in something bigger. Max Lucado wrote: "Nature is God's workshop. The sky is his resume. You want to know who God is? See what he has done." Nature is a beautiful reminder that it's a big wide world out there and there is a larger purpose to all that we do. Walk through the forest. Skip stones on a river. Spend some time watching the waves crash onto the shore. Sit outside in the night air and listen to the crickets. It's all good for the soul.
Summer is an ideal time to hit the reset button and get away from whatever it is that drains you.
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Philosopher Albert Camus wrote that "in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer." Why not lay the foundation for your invincible summer now?
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