Over the weekend I read an interesting article in Scientific American Mind entitled Ready for Anything about enhancing your resilience. The article talks about rethinking adversity with a positive emphasis, encouraging optimism, taking on novel challenges getting plenty of physical exercise and developing strong social support systems and friendships.
The article soon had me reflecting on my spiritual life and what makes for resilient spirituality. How do we maintain and grow our faith through the ups and downs of life? In previous posts The Stability of Practice . and Have You Taken A Spiritual Audit Recently? I have talked about some of what I think is important here. Here is what I find makes a difference.
1. Maintain regular spiritual practices. This has been the key to my spiritual resilience. I know that many today are afraid of regular practices because they can become stale and legalistic, but if we don’t have these regular disciplines then our spiritual life soon dries up.
In my book Godspace I talked about the need for regular routines and rituals, practices that enhance our lives without overwhelming us. I suggest that we need four types of practices – those that intentionally deepen our relationship to God, those that move us towards wholeness and maturity, those that empower us to see beyond our own needs to the hurting world of which we are a part, and those that draw us into the rest and celebration of God’s kingdom. I still think that these are all important and intentionally thinking about the purpose of our spiritual practices is one way to keep them fresh and alive.
2.Establishing regular physical exercise regimes. Like the article in Scientific American Mind, I find that regular physical exercise increases my spiritual awareness and wellbeing. It is no wonder that many people feel closest to God when running, walking and hiking. Intentionally combining exercise with spiritual practices like prayer walks or labyrinth walking may be even more effective for some.
3. The practice of gratitude. This practice revolutionized my life several years ago. Thanking God for the good things God has done is at the heart of a resilient faith. I particularly love the way that Sue Duby practices this as she describes in her post What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?
4.Going on Retreat. I am sure that many of you get sick of me talking about this, but I feel I cannot emphasize this practice enough. Regular 3 monthly retreats have become the mainstay of Tom’s and my spiritual life. I outline the process we follow in this post Retreat, Renew, Refresh.
5. Discerning as a Group. The article I mentioned above talks about the importance of social networks and relationships for developing resilience, the group discernment process that we embarked on in MSA several years ago has enhanced and strengthened our relationships in ways that I think is unique to a spiritual community.
So what practices have you found provide spiritual resilience for your life? If you have other suggestions to add to this list we would love to hear from you.