Therese Borchard, author of the popular blog Beyond Blue and her upcoming memoir Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes (January, 2010), recently wrote about 7 Ways to Prevent Burnout. In this blog she summed up a book by one of her favorite authors, Robert Wicks, who laid out a path toward integrating spirituality into daily life in an effort to prevent stress and live the lives we want. Definitely worth the read and if you have any aversion to the word “God” or “spirituality,” just replace that term with “higher self” and see how that works.
In 2005, I conducted a national study in an effort to see people could in fact cultivate what I called “sacred moments” and see what effect that had on their stress and well-being. Lo and behold, in practicing 5 minutes a day for 5 days a week, for 3 weeks, there was a significant positive effect in stress reduction and well-being. What was so fascinating to me was that for many it allowed them to touch a sense of spirituality when they felt they had never been able to do this before.
A quote from one participant:
“[I experienced sacred moments] through this process. I never noticed any Spiritual moments before this. [The words] unique holy and worthy of reverence was not within the scope of my intellectual reaction of things. To be able to pray was something that I was not willing to [do]. What I like about [the sacred moment practice] is it allowed me to explore spirituality in a nonthreatening manner and for me that was special and unique.”
If you want to give it a spin, here were the same instructions the participants were given:
- Choose an object – This object should represent something special, precious, or sacred to them. Almost anything can be sanctified and considered a sacred thing. According to Emile Durkheim (1915), known as one of the originators of modern sociology, “By sacred things one must not understand simply those personal beings which are called gods or spirits; a rock, a tree, a pebble, a piece of wood, a house, in a word anything can be sacred” (p. 52).
- Mindful Check-In – Begin each practice by taking a few moment to be conscious of the breath and then slowly bring attention to the physical body, thoughts and feelings, hearing, seeing, tasting, and smelling. Just be aware of whatever you notice.
- The Sacred Object – After the mindful check-in, gently shift attention to the sacred object and being open to what was sacred in the moment. There was no maximum time specified for this exercise. Instructions to participants permitted them to go longer than the suggested 5 minutes and asked them to simply make a log of the time.
Cultivating this practice is a very personal experience and at the same time sacred moments are shared by millions around the world.
As always, don’t take my word for it; go into this practice with a beginner’s mind, letting your judgments reside at bay, and just noticing whatever arises for you in the moment.
Please share your thoughts, emotions, and stories below. You interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.