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How to keep your spirits high in a busy urban world

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As a yoga teacher and author of books on yoga and spirituality I am often asked questions like ‘How does spirituality fit into a busy modern woman's life?’ and ‘How does a person start to be more spiritual - my life seems so removed from spirituality?’

These questions are especially common from friends who are also mothers to young children.

I don’t claim to have all the answers on questions so huge, but I do have some insights and many of them are based on my own experience.

First, there is nothing wrong with you. The marketing machines and advertising executives within our modern day culture want you to feel like you are not okay.  They want you to feel like you need fewer wrinkles and more clothes.  They need you stressed and anxious so they can sell you washing powder that smells like meadows to transport you to laundry heaven or get you to spend $100 on moisturiser because your skin would be like sandpaper without it.

The basic teachings of yoga philosophy and indeed most Eastern philosophy is that you are great just the way you are. What a relief.  The only thing Yoga and Spirituality want from you is for you to feel OK exactly as you are right now in this moment with all your strengths and all your perceived weaknesses.   Spirituality is not about adding another thing to that ever expanding to-do list.  Or feeling guilty because you don’t meditate.  It is about accepting and nurturing and becoming friends with yourself.

Becoming friends with yourself is how you start to connect more to your spirituality.  Instead of going on-line and buying a new handbag or eating half a bar of chocolate will find deeper spiritual connection if you:

  • read your pre-schooler a book
  • pick some flowers and arrange them nicely in your home
  • light a candle
  • listen to a piece of music that inspires you
  • make a green smoothie with your children and sit down to drink it together.

That’s spirituality because these are the things that connect you to the best of who you are and what you can be.  And that’s the only goal of being a spiritual person. You already are a spiritual person, you just keep forgetting!

Why do we get off track?

  1. We get tired.  Many of us are tired most of the time for myriad reasons.  Sleep heals and is one of the biggest de-stressors of them all.
  2. We get into bad habits (especially in the way we communicate with those closest to us).  If you’re regularly grumpy and moaning, take a look at that and see what you can do to change it.  Even just becoming more conscious of your bad moods will help to shift them.
  3. We forget to hit ‘pause’ (I’m going to write a whole lot more about this in a future post because it’s been such a useful insight for me but for now I’ll just say … SLOW DOWN).
  4. We think we’re always in a rush.  If I had a dollar for every time I tell my children to ‘hurry up’ it would keep me in soy lattes for life.  Sometimes even when they are just playing a game for no purpose other than the sheer fun of it, there is a voice inside of me that wants to say ‘Get on with it, we haven’t got all day,  I’ve got things to do!’ even if I don’t.  Even if I’ve deliberately carved out this time to be a mum and just play.  It’s deeply ingrained within us to rush, rush, rush.  Mostly it’s an unhelpful and unproductive way of being.
  5. You think you are multi-tasking but you’re actually just driving yourself nuts.  As you are reading this are you trying to do something else?  Are you reading properly or skimming? How many electronic devices are in your immediate vicinity niggling for your attention?  Try doing one thing at a time.

If all else fails remember the thing that will bring you closest to a sense of spirit is love. The people who accept us the most are those who can help us to accept ourselves.  The most spirituality happens every day in the moments when your partner or child shows you love – when you’re in K-mart PJs, with porridge in your hair trying to breast feed a crying baby, or when you are stressed out and ratty, or when you’ve just burnt the dinner.  In the moments when a friend shouts you coffee or you unexpectedly get to soak in the bath.  Those are your spiritual moments and they are happening everyday, just don’t forget to notice them.

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Katie Manitsas - to view all of Katie's blog post click here

Katie is the director of Jivamukti Yoga Sydney. She was the first certified Advanced Jivamukti Yoga teacher in Australia, and has also studied extensively with the Wise Earth School of Ayurveda and is a qualified Kundalini Yoga teacher. Katie is a writer for various publications and has had three books published 'Spiritual Survival and the City', 'Yoga Off the Mat' and 'The Yoga of Birth'. She also completed training as a doula in 2009 and is mother to five-year-old Christos and two-year-old Ziggy who was born at home.

Website: http://www.jivamuktiyoga.com.au

  • Karen

    Love the post. Sometimes we just need reminders just like this. I had a moment of self reflection today when my 4yo asked ” why are you talking like that?” I realised I’d been talking to him in an impatient manner for no good reason. Yes there was unfinished work but I hadn’t expected to get it done tonight anyway. Anyway, I’m glad that he called me out on my behaviour.

  • What a great article Katie. Sometimes we get so caught up in this world that we need a serious reality check. I like to remind myself with the word ‘moments’. It is the moments that are special, the small, unexpected moments with our children, family, even just ourselves that make me stop, breathe and connect with myself.

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