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Jane Alexander

What is Soulful Living? 
by Jane Alexander

As I write this, itís nearly Yuletide and my four-year old son is virtually exploding with excitement. Iíve been forcing myself to put aside my usual workaholic tendencies and share his wonder. So weíve been making cards and decorations and tramping out in the cold frost to bring back armfuls of holly, ivy and mistletoe. Every so often Iím able to slough off the worrying and cynicism and gloom of adulthood and become, in essence, a small child once more. The world turns gleaming new and I remember my own childhood when every leaf, every pebble, every glint of sunlight was magical. And you know what, THIS is soulful living. It really is. Itís so simple, itís almost unbelievable. Soulful living is about BEING, pure and simple. Itís about living totally and utterly within our true selves, in the moment, breathing deep of life. Itís about slowing down enough to notice the tiny wonders of everyday life, to share a smile with a friend; to look deep into your partnerís eyes and say you love them; to hug your child, to notice the frosted lace of a spiderís web.

Live Well: the Ayurvedic Way to Health and Inner Bliss by Jane Alexander

It may be simple but it certainly isnít easy. All too often I find myself tangled with trivia, obsessed with the material world, caught up in what needs to be done, what SHOULD be done. And of course, we have to keep our eyes on reality or weíd all sink. But please, please leave yourself time for the small joys of life. The greatest gift of all is time Ė itís the heart and soul of soulful living. Itís been said a million times before but seriously Ėwhat would you regret not doing if you were to die tomorrow? Would the material things really matter? I donít think so.

This last year has been tough for me Ė my father died in June and my sister spent a lot of time in hospital battling cancer. Many people I know have been through hell and back. It reminds me that soulful living isnít always about being constantly light and bright either. The MBS movement is wonderful but equally I think it has become wildly unbalanced. Everyone is looking for a quick fix, for instant spirituality, for unbounded joy and success and wealth Ė all the time, just like that. Itís just not feasible and itís certainly not soulful. I firmly believe we are put on this Earth to learn and that learning means embracing the rough as well as the smooth. Sometimes itís necessary to descend into our own hell, to meet ourselves in our primal, true form. Itís necessary because soulful living is about being absolutely totally yourself, with no airs or graces, without the burden of an overextended ego. Itís tough and, to be honest, itís far easier to "play" at being soulful. We can all sling up a few pictures of Buddha, toss together an altar, light up our incense and feng shui our houses. We can easily take up yoga, or chanting, or go for massages and acupuncture. We can pray until weíre sick of the sound of our own voices but, unless itís meaningful to you at that moment, itís wasted time and space. I think, because we live in a mall culture where shopping is tantamount to religion, lots of us imagine we can "buy" soulful Ė if we get the right accessories and do the right things, we will automatically become soulful. Not so. Soulful living is far more elusive than that.

Spirit of the Home by Jane Alexander

My advice is to start small. Look for the spiritual, the divine, in everyday little things. By all means have a spiritual practice but check itís not overtaking your life. I know several people who are too busy meditating and going on retreats to spend time with their children. They buy in takeaways because they are too absorbed in the latest spiritual bestseller to cook. Theyíre missing out. Prepare and cook a meal with love and it becomes a spiritual act Ė I recently met a yoga teacher who chants blessings on the food as he cooks (and the food tastes divine!). Clean like the Shakers Ė make it moving meditation. Learn how to breathe fully Ė breath is life and how you breathe symbolises how you approach life (Iíd recommend deeply and fully!). Look long and hard at your relationships and figure out how to make them better Ė other people are our teachers (all the things that irritate you about them will undoubtedly be your own faults!). Donít procrastinate Ė itís a horrible word for a terrible practice.

Take every opportunity to play with your children Ė playing, imagining, creating plugs you into soulful living like nothing else. Donít have children? No excuses. Transform yourself into a favourite aunt or uncle, godparent or grandparent. Seriously, itís real soul work.

The Energy Secret by Jane Alexander

Go out into nature and notice the little things as well as the wide horizons. Iíve spent the last year devoting as much time as I can squeeze to shamanic journeying and it really is a wonderful soulful practice Ė simple, straightforward and down to earth. Itís a direct way to contact spirit Ė and to bring healing and wisdom back to ordinary reality. I canít recommend it highly enough and would like to honour the Sacred Trust for my training (theyíre affiliated with the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Ė www.shamanism.org ).

Last thoughts. Be very wary of anyone who calls him or herself a guru and run like the plague from anyone who wants to charge you bucketloads of money for spiritual guidance or healing. Bottom line? Keep it simple: follow your heart, believe in your dreams, hug your kids, examine the odd snowflake. OK, thatís it. Now Iíll go try to follow my own advice!

Read more of Jane Alexanderís work on her website: www.janealexander.org

Copyright © 2002 Jane Alexander. All Rights Reserved.


Spirit of the Kitchen by Jane Alexander The Weekend Healer by Jane Alexander The Five Minute Healer by Jane Alexander Spirit of the Nursery by Jane Alexander

Spirit of the Bedroom by Jane Alexander Mind Body Spirit by Jane Alexander The Detox Plan for Mind, Body and Spirit by Jane Alexander Spirit of the Living Room

Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander is a UK-based writer on natural health, holistic living and contemporary spirituality. SJane Alexander has written numerous books on soulful living and natural health, including Live Well (HarperCollins), Spirit of the Kitchen (Watson Gupthill) and The Weekend Healer (Fireside). Her website, www.janealexander.org, is packed with information on how to live more soulfully. Jane lives with her family in a remote farmhouse in the Exmoor National Park in the South-west of England.





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