For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m going through the motions in life. I’ve been completely stuck in a spiritual rut! One minute we’re sailing along, completely feeling the flow of the Universe, and the next we’re in a place of numbing and escaping. Sometimes we have to fake it till we make it in our spiritual practice in order to pull ourselves out of the deep black hole we’ve fallen into. Even the most seasoned spiritual masters go through booms and busts. It’s different for everyone, but here are the steps I take to fake it till I make it and reawaken my body, mind and spirit:
IMPORTANT: These remedies are for when you are feeling drained & down. NOT for when you are feeling depressed or suicidal. Don’t mess around with any mental illness, & know you don’t have to go it alone. If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
1. Stick to your morning routine. Waking up at the same time every morning, getting up without snoozing the alarm, and getting on with my wake-up routine are all essential to pulling myself out of a spiritual slump. Even though you may feel like snoozing 10 more minutes when you’re feeling low, if you can push yourself to jump out of bed, you’ll feel that much more energized once you have started moving. Mel Robbins recommends counting down from 5 upon waking, and making yourself blast out of bed when you get to zero – yes, as though NASA is command controlling your brain. Repeat self-compassionate mantras to yourself – we’re most vulnerable when we first wake up, and this is a common time for negative self-talk. Some of my favorite morning mantras are “Today I will judge nothing that occurs,” “I am worthy. I am loved,” “I am a boundless beautiful being of light,” and “I am a part of the Beloved Mystery.” It could be as simple as saying, “I love you,” to yourself. Challenge yourself and try to find a unique mantra each morning this week – if all else fails, let my Pinterest board inspire you.
2. Get moving to wake up. Roll out that mat or lace up those tennies, and blast the happy dance music soon after waking. Studies show working out in the AM boosts your metabolism, improves your mental and physical energy, and can actually improve your sleep! You’ll be more energized for the work day, since that post-exercise boost is more effective than a cup of coffee. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, try to move a bit after waking, and always get in a yummy stretch before and after.
3. Don’t skip your meditation. If I’m really dragging in the morning, I’ll have the self-sabotaging thought for a split-second that, if I meditate, I’ll likely fall asleep and be late for work. Even if I really need an upright meditation that morning, I might trick myself by thinking I can lie down, which ends up making me feel more lethargic and reluctant to get up. If I’ve moved first, even if it’s only 10 minutes of gentle yoga, I’m much more likely to stay alert and focused during my meditation. And, even if my mind wanders to thoughts of my bed, just practicing meditation is the point. The point isn’t to achieve anything. Often just lighting my stick of incense or turning on the meditation music will do the trick to prepare my brain for stillness. My meditation ritual readies me for the day ahead, and helps me stay present in the face of inner resistance. Check out my guided meditations here.
4. Resist the urge to switch on and switch off. Above all, remain present. Because of my spiritual practice, I’m much more tuned into my inner life than I used to be. I can more sensitively intuit when I am doing something simply to numb or escape. I’ve lately found what a crutch even work can serve for this purpose. But it comes in all shapes and sizes, and can be different for everyone: eating, television, exercise, drinking, social media just to name a few. Our society is quite obsessed with numbing and escaping the ever-present reality of life. When you feel that little nudge to numb or escape, instead practice the RAIN of compassion: Recognize that it’s happening, Acknowledge that it is a fact and possibly a habit, Identify what is causing it, don’t identify with the act of numbing or escaping, and instead Nurture yourself. I found this week I had gotten into the habit of coming home from work and binge-watching a certain TV show. Once I realized, this isn’t making me feel good, I want to do something else, I chose a different evening for myself. I came home, lit a candle and played the guitar instead. When Jon came home and turned on the TV, I went into my zen den and practiced yoga instead for 30 minutes so not to be sucked in to the show. As I write this, I have my headphones on while typing on my laptop, so the TV isn’t a distraction. I’ve found myself wasting hours in front of it – we live in the golden age of television after all! Just imagine all the wars we could end and diseases we could cure with that time if we put our heads together.
5. Pull from your emergency resource list. If you don’t yet have a resource list, check out my printable here and create one stat! Your emergency resource list is your proactively curated trove of activities and actions that will help you – in all your unique glory – get through this low moment. Assess your energy level first – Are you scraping the bottom of the barrel? Can you muster traces of energy? Or are you “just okay,” with your normal energy reserves? Next, identify how much time you have or want to spend resourcing – almost none, a little, or a lot? Do what’s on the list. Trust yourself that you have prepared this list from a place of higher perspective, and that you know what’s best for you.
6. Whatever you do, don’t judge yourself. It is not your fault that you are stuck in a spiritual rut. Our culture tends to write off these episodes in order to not acknowledge that they can – and do – happen to every human being at one point or another. It helps me immensely to see these periods of time as a sort of spiritual “cold” – I’m under-the-weather, spiritually-speaking, and with the right remedies it will pass. What we need during these times is not self-judgment, but rather self-nurturing, as we would nurture a sick child. We have to give ourselves permission to feel this way in order to heal. There could be an underlying reason for the gloom, perhaps an unconscious one you can work on identifying in your meditation. Or, it could be for no reason other than pesky hormones, chemical imbalances and genetic dispositions! All the more reason to recognize it as out of your control, and start in with the self-love and forgiveness. Check out my 5 minute guided meditation to kick self-judgment to the curb.
Dear ones, I sincerely hope this list helps you pull yourself out of your spiritual rut. I honor the challenge you face, and stand with you. You are not in this alone.