The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
By Anna Zhang
Spirituality is a journey. Like any growth in life, whether academics, career, or personal, your spiritual development also takes time. It’s a difficult journey because your spirit cannot be heard — it can only be felt. It doesn’t manifest visibly but when it appears, it appears in love, happiness, and positive thoughts. These are things that may seem immeasurable and therefore insignificant. But if you observe the most inspiring people, you will notice that they all talk about their spirituality when overcoming obstacles.
Oprah once did an interview with Stanford University where she described her experience hiring for the Oprah Winfrey Network. She asked potential hires, “What is your spiritual practice?” Many were taken aback, some responded with “I’m not religious.” Oprah said, “Well, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking what is your spiritual practice? What do you do to take care of yourself and protect the spirit within you?”
As a recent grad who lived in Los Angeles, I’ve learned a thing or two about self-care to discover my own spiritual path. It’s never too soon to nurture our souls — and the more we build harmony within ourselves, the more we can impact the world. Here’s just a few of my spiritual practices that I’ve developed over the years. Maybe give a few of them a try and start your own journey.
1. Walk With Nature
There’s something about being in nature that makes me feel so small that my problems become insignificant. Humans were born to interact with this earth. Sadly, modernity has led us to spend less time with nature and more time cooped up in our homes, offices, and classrooms. Many of us rarely interact with sunshine, fresh air, or crunchy leaves. As cities build more properties, our closeness with nature slowly chips away. So Yelp those hiking spots, find a park, find a hiking trail —you’ll see that it’s truly an alleviating experience.
2. Learn How to Spend Time Solo
There are days when spending time with myself is extremely healing. It allows me to think without worrying about responding to someone else, and it’s really a time for me to be selfish and do whatever I want to do. I’ve gone hiking by in the early mornings to think and journal. I’ve gone to the movies, choosing what to watch and what snacks to munch on. I’ve gone to coffee shops to read and people-watch. I’ve driven cross-country singing at the top of my lungs and reflecting on life.
Moments like these are valuable. Nowadays, everything and everyone are fighting for our attention and it can get tiring. There’s nothing like going on a real date with yourself and spending time in solitude. Who cares if people think you’re crazy? Do more of what heals you. With solitude comes peace.
3. Hot Yoga
Yes, you heard right. Not only is it good for stretching, healing, and creating flexibility, it is also so darn good for your skin! Hot yoga helped stretch me out and alleviate pain areas, while also teaching me how to breathe in tandem with my body’s movements. It’s so good for your mind and body. When I come out of a hot yoga session, I feel like I can conquer the world. I feel like Pharrell is personally singing “Happy” to me.
4. Consume Less of the Unnecessary
I created a rule for myself: no social media before 12pm.
My mornings are mine. Instead, I opt for a book or article that can teach me something new. I also listen to podcasts that inspire me and help me become a better person (I recommend School of Greatness and Optimal Living Daily.)
When I block out 10 minutes of my morning to meditate, I am more focused and less reactive. My day becomes more productive, I can think clearly and maneuver my thoughts to being positive. It’s how I train my mind. There are so many apps out there nowadays, you can do it in the comforts of your chair!
This is the most therapeutic part of my practice. I like to write down what I’m grateful for, my dreams, and my reflections. It’s cathartic to spill my heart out without fear of judgment. Have a go at it — you can keep a physical diary, type into a protected blog, or put it in your phone notes. Release and clear your mind. When you put words down and you’re honest about your feelings, it’s almost like therapy.
7. Meet with a therapist
Speaking of therapy, I recently signed up to meet with a therapist. In school, we had counselors but I was always too afraid to meet with one. Now I realize that the fear I had about taking care of my mental and emotional wellbeing was silly. At therapy, I can talk about things that happened in the past, how I control my emotions today, and how I’m going to improve tomorrow. It’s helpful to speak to someone who is trained to respond and provide guidance.
If you’re like me, and something is bothering you to the point of distraction, there’s nothing wrong with seeing somebody about it. Therapy doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re sick. It just means that our minds need support, too — just like how people hire business coaches for their businesses or personal trainers for their physical bodies.
It takes courage to accept spirituality as part of our lives and give our spiritual selves the attention and care we might need. Admitting that you need nurturing on the inside is admitting your vulnerability — that’s something that our society, for a long time, has condemned. But as we see from some of the greatest people of the past and present (and most definitely, the future), we learn that they all carried solid spiritual practices. Whatever your method of healing is, I encourage you to be fearless and embark on the journey with love.