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My top 3 tricks for slowing down and listening to your soul, even when your to-do list is way too long

I’ve heard from a few people recently that they want to get better at slowing down and listening to the voice of their soul…

…but it’s really, really hard when there is just so much else to do!

It’s understandable! If you’re like many people, you have a ton on your plate. You have long lists of stuff that has to get done, and not enough time to get it all done–let alone mindfully savor each moment, like you feel like spiritual people out there somewhere must be doing. 

Can I let you in on a secret?

Most of those “spiritual people” struggle with busyness and overwhelm, just like you. 

I know I do! I’ve been committed to near-daily spiritual practice for decades, and even now, the whole being-mindful-of-each-precious-moment-of-existence thing does not come easy. I’m someone who tends to prioritize whacking through the to-do list each day. Slowing down is hard for me too. 

But after years of experimentation, I’ve found a few tricks that really help me slow down and check in with my spirit. This week, I thought I’d share my top three with you, in the hopes that at least one of them might help you too. 

1. Mindfulness alerts on my cell phone

I use the Mindfulness Bell app (it’s only for IOS, but there are similar ones for Android) and set it each day to ring a chime every half-hour. (You can set it for whatever interval you want.)

When the chime rings, it’s a gentle reminder to pause and take a breath or two. When I’m at my laptop, I also take a moment to read the quotation I have pasted right next to the touchpad: 

Five minutes before the hour, I stop, check in, and ask Spirit, “Am I following your Guidance in this moment? What am I feeling right now? Is there anything blocking my Peace and Joy?”

—Lerita Coleman Brown, When the Heart Speaks, Listen: Discovering Inner Wisdom

I try to pause and feel into those beautiful questions: What am I feeling right now? And is there anything blocking my peace and joy?

Even when I’m in my busiest, most productive mode, I almost always feel a little more peaceful because of that pause. And it only takes a few seconds.

2. Daily spiritual practice time–on the calendar!

This one might not work for the more free-spirit types out there, but it works for me! 

I’m someone for whom, if I’ve put something on my calendar and then I don’t do it, I feel guilty, like I’ve failed myself in some way. I know, I know, that’s not great…but in this case, I’ve made that tendency work for me, by blocking off half an hour of spiritual practice time on my calendar each day. Literally, it’s right there on my calendar along with all the have-tos and social stuff and everything else. 

Plus, I set a calendar alert to go off when it’s time to start. (Oooh, I’m sensing a pattern here! Alerts really work for me!) 

Do I sometimes blow through that half-hour and do other things instead? Absolutely. But does it help me stay faithful to my intentions for myself, more times than not? Again, absolutely. 

3. Monthly spiritual direction session, without fail

For many years now, I’ve had a monthly appointment with my spiritual director that I keep no matter what. Just having that hour a month with someone I trust–it really helps me connect in with myself, so I can give some care to all the tender stuff inside me that might otherwise get swept off to the side by all the stuff I have to do. 

Some time ago, I’d been in the middle of a particularly intense crunch-time when my spiritual direction appointment rolled around. I was telling my spiritual director about all the stuff I had on my plate–mostly good, just a lot–when out of nowhere I found myself crying. I hadn’t realized how very tired I was. And how much I was longing for rest. 

In that spiritual direction space, I could hear myself again. Not just the getting-things-done part of me, but all of me, including those quieter parts that crave rest, and gentleness, and peace. That very day, I went back to my trusty calendar and blocked off a couple of big swathes of time in the next few days, now labeled, “Time off!!!” 

(Learn more about spiritual direction here)

So there you have it–my top 3 tricks for staying in touch with my spirit.  And how about you? Send me a quick note if you like–I’d love to hear what works for you too.

Warmly,

Laura

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