Jennifer Mertens, a high school religion teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio, wrote an article in the Jan. 12 edition of National Catholic Reporter entitled, “Eight Tips for Nurturing your Body, Mind and Spirit in 2018.”
I am going to share her “eight tips” and give my own comments.
Before I begin, I want to say I love her title. It’s wholistic. She addresses the whole person – body, mind and spirit. We cannot neglect any part of who we are and expect to be well-rounded.
Tip 1. Slow down. Author Tim Ferriss tells us, “Slowing down doesn’t mean accomplishing less; it means cutting out counterproductive distractions and the perception of being rushed.” Slowing down helps us to get our priorities in line and address the most important ones. A hectic lifestyle can leave us rushing past our deep longings, and ultimately diminish our presence to life itself. Spend time discerning where you truly need to place your attention and energy.
Tip 2. Turn off the screen. We need to make sure that we don’t become a slave to our cell phones, television sets, Internet surfing, our social media like Facebook and others. While technology has become a useful tool in our modern world, it can also make us less human. Studies have shown that many people who opt for texting rather than one to one conversation, fail to develop good communication skills. We need to be selective about our media intake.
Tip 3. Get back in your body. We depend today on experts to tell us what our bodies need and what is wrong with them. Part of slowing down is taking time to reflect on what is happening in our bodies. Am I eating right, am I getting enough sleep, am I getting enough exercise, am I avoiding things like tobacco or drugs that would harm my body? Taking time to be in touch with our physical selves is vital to our health and well-being.
Tip 4. Reconnect with the natural world. Author Charles Cook writes, “Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.” We live in an area where human industries and natural disasters have threatened our marshes and wetlands. We have a beautiful gift from God that we must preserve. Take a good look and appreciate God’s creation all around you.
Tip 5. Seek out an adventure. Try something new. Get out of the “old rut.” Go somewhere and do something you have never done before. Take up a new hobby or do that project that you always wanted to do. Look forward to doing something different. Take “the road less traveled.” Look forward to waking up in the morning with a new appreciation of life.
Tip 6. “Spark joy.” A Spanish Proverb says, “Unshared joy is an unlighted candle.” Musician Richard Wagner reminds us, “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” We need to reflect on our relationship with our possessions to see whether they truly “spark joy” within us or they are holding us back. Try “downsizing,” clearing out clutter, clarifying priorities, and living joyfully.
Tip 7. Cultivate relationships. Let’s face it. Our Christian religion deals primally with relationships. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. How are your relationships with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, parishioners and our local community? Where do you need to improve?
Tip 8. Nurture our relationship with God. Developing an inner spiritual life should be our primary daily task. We can do this each day through meditation, reading Scripture, journaling, reflecting on God’s gift of nature, or any other way we can tune into God’s will for us. Along with our weekly worship of God, we will discover our deeper selves, true happiness and joy.