Soulful Practice: Spiritual Practice—Soulful Nature
Today, in the face of my writing deadlines, I put my sweet puppy in the car and take her to the nearest State Park. She needs to move away from the concrete and the neighborhood and the carpeting as much as I do. We walk in a field, along trails, through grasses and leaf piles. We skip and play as she runs ahead and then quickly turns around to see that I am still here. Leash attached, she turns as if to just smile at me, showing her excitement through her beaming eyes and dangling tongue.
I decide to sit in meditation after our walk in the park, instead of when I first rise. I decide to spend a little less time writing so that I can make both rituals happen each day this week. I’m reminded in doing things this way, that creativity—the very source of our nature—is found in the empty spaces between what we do and what we say. Without these experiences, without the silences that rise and fall between them—we have no room for our creative self.
My late morning meditation finds me more in tune with the breezes coming through the windows and doors, my breath as it rises and falls, the tingling sensations of my legs and arms. I can feel the oversized twelve year old of my past, recall the sound of my Aunt Claire’s voice, and the furry belly of my cat who has long since left this world. I note the memories, the feelings they promote, the images passing through, and the great release of breath as I return to the present moment. I am still, and sit beyond the bell when it is time for it to ring.
Let’s Talk Spirit; Let’s Talk Soul.
Soul is dark, moist, the unknown, deep, endless, remembering; it is meaning making, draws toward itself, rich, fumbling, sensing; found in bogs, caves, at sea level; soul retrieves, utters, connects.
Spirit is sky, mind, light, dry, expansive, euphoric, active; it is lifting, inspiring, motivating; is found in high altitudes, tree tops, in bird flight; spirit soars, discerns, is cutting, editing, searing.
Soul is body—spirit thought. Soul is the legs upon which ideas walk through this world. Spirit, the imagination of escape and limitlessness by which creativity first takes flight.
Our spiritual nature is a nature born of the mind. Elation, inspiration, meditation—these words speak to and tend to conditions of the mind. The mind is a powerful resource, and an inspired mind, a clear mind, is an unstoppable force of transformation.
Our soulful nature is a nature born of the body. Movement, feeling, instinct, connection—these words speak of soul. Soul is grounding; guttural. It is found in the painful experiences we survive, the touching moments of birth and death, the instinct to stay alert when tragedies occur.
Spiritual Practice—Soulful Matters
When thinking about spiritual practice, soulful matters must not be overlooked. If we think of spiritual practice as what will inspire and clarify our mind and heart, then soulful practice would be seen as that which grounds us in our body, attunes us to our gut, and connects us to the earth itself.
For many of us, the words spirit and soul have become interchangeable. We have lost our history and become separated from the rich material that distinguishes spirit from soul. Without this distinction, each lose their interconnectedness—spirit and soul are two parts of an inseparable whole.
How do we pay homage to these two vital aspects if we no longer see them for their individual attributes? How to keep our soulful nature embedded in our spiritual practice?
For myself, it means taking off my shoes, getting out of doors—out of the city—raising my sensual levels, adding in more breath work, more feeling work, more connection to nature and to my gut. Every time I sit to write, of late, my soulful nature calls me out of doors. And everywhere I go, my soulful nature presents itself. It says, "Over here! Not where you have planned to be, but where you are! Come here to this unknown place. Put your date book down and come here! Set the directions aside and turn left!"
In thinking about spiritual practice, let us not forget the body of the world around us, nor the body that our spirit inhabits. In responding to our soulful nature, let us practice responding to the present moment—moment to moment.
Make clear the distinction between clearing the mind and body of toxic thought and toxic food, and clearing the body from its connection to the earth. We need to get dirty! Our toes know themselves best when digging in the mud. The squidgy feel of wet sand along an ocean walk is the height our bodies live for. In our spiritual practices, let us not forget our soulful bodies.
Yoga is a great example of this: We Westerners tend to think of yoga as a set of physical positions to move through. But yoga is a series of in and out breaths which move through a variety of physical positions. When we experience yoga as breath, we are merging spirit and soul. As sentient beings we must make alive our physical senses (the work of soul) while tending to the spirit and the mind.
Balanced Practice—Spirit & Soul
The word practice implies a repetition of some kind. We are going to repeat with some regularity a certain act or way of being. Meditation, observant mind, journal writing, yoga poses, silent walking—to name a few. And the more we repeat them, the more harmony they sew into our lives.
Listening to the body works the same way. Acknowledging hurt and anger might grow into a practice of feeling your feelings before acting on them. A practice of feeling the pain before you medicate yourself might grow into a realization of what the pain is saying to you. Information is locked up in symptom and if we practice listening to the symptom we learn more about ourselves.
Any practice is going to raise awareness. If we include the body, our connection to our world will also be increased. This kind of practice calls soul forward. Remember, soul stuff is the dark stuff that we may be forgetting is part of our whole. We are not just spirit. We are also soul.
Check in regularly with your feelings. How you feel about your life, what your gut is telling you about people and situations with which you are involved; listening to the gurgles in the tummy, the tightness around your breath, the tension in your stomach, will all serve to reconnect you with your soulful nature. If you think of soul as speaking through the body, through circumstance, through unplanned happenings, then you begin to tie parts of your unawakened life into your awakened one.
When looking to spiritual practice, invite in your soulful nature. Find out what you feel about the things that you are doing. Make it a daily practice to sit with the rumblings of your tummy. Before you take an aspirin for a headache or a Tums for your heartburn, make it a practice to listen to the body and find out what else it might be saying.
And finally, when creating spiritual practice, do not forget to take your shoes off and get into the mud. Rolling around in the messiness of life is as necessary as finding perspective through sitting above it.
© Copyright 2004 KD Farris, Ph.D.. All Rights Reserved.
Read KD's Past Columns:
Jan-Feb 2004 - "Making Our Dreams Come True Is Living A Truthful Life"
December 2003 - "Graceful Living - Confessions of a Professional Speaker"
October 2003 - "Serenity: As Calm, As Clear
May 2003 - "What are Your Needs?"
April 2003 - "Techniques for Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part II of II
February 2003 - "HESHE & Clearing the Space for Communication" - Part I of II
January 2003 - "Body & Soulful Living"
November 2002 - "Getting Into MESHE with Your Home Through Minor Adjustments"
October 2002 - "Being in MESHE with Clearing Clutter"
September 2002 - "Discover Going on Retreat"
July 2002 - "Build Your MESHE - Seek the Space: A Process for Reclaiming the Shadow"
June 2002 - Revisiting: "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
May 2002 - "Bodywork 101"
March 2002 - "Being Present Within Your Prosperous Life"
February 2002 - "HESHE and The Third Bird"
December 2001 - "Manifesting Your Perfect Partner with Personal Truthz"
November 2001 - "Remembering What We Already Know"
September 2001 - "Be Led By What You Are Trying to Avoid"
August 2001 - "Draw Your Way to Clarity, Health & Balance"
June 2001 - "Tending to the Negative Mind"
May 2001 - "Gentle Conscious Living"
April 2001 - "MISON and The Moment"
March 2001 - "The MESHE Concept - A Path to Soulful Living"
KD Farris, Ph.D. is a successful counselor, healer, and bodyworker. For more than twenty years she has taught
extensive workshops based on MESHE, HESHE, MISON & ORBIT as well as many other self-discovery topics.
KD began developing her integrated bodywork and counseling techniques in 1983 under the tutelage of many prominent doctors and healers throughout the United States.
Her education into the spiritual and physical aspects of the human experience served as the foundation for her private practice and the development of a new philosophy. She combined her techniques into four guiding principles, which she shares in her book, MESHE, HESHE,
MISON & ORBIT: What My Grandmother Taught Me About the Universe. She teaches a companion workshop series, where she creates an interactive environment demonstrating the material from her book with tangible, life altering effects. In these workshops, individuals discover a
deepening of their relationship to self, others, and life itself.
Through individual counseling and group workshops, she has taught her results-oriented programs to many different types of people including those confined to mental institutions, substance and food abusers, and generally, people in life transitions, struggling with intimate
relationships, or who lack direction in their lives. Visit www.kdfarris.com.
KD is currently touring a new body of work, Talking About People in Transition, Also Known As
Liminal Space. She will be writing about liminality and its relevance to day-to-day living in upcoming issues of Soulful Living. For more information on this new and exciting topic, or to learn about more her private practice, workshops and lectures, visit
Contact KD at: info@MESHE.com