“What do I need right now?”

Life is full of beauty, joy and love all mixed in with hardship, stress and fears. These human experiences can extend our life or cut it short. The “What do I need right now?” question is life-changing, for many reasons; first, because asking it – and following through – is a powerful expression of Self-Love. It is also the foundation of Your Spiritual Toolbox: a personal arsenal of healthy actions and practices to choose from or combine when you feel challenged. You may already be using some of them; others may be new to you. Your Spiritual Toolbox contains things like creativity and gratitude practices, exercise, meditation, time in nature, journaling; a hug from someone special, a hot bath, and yes, an occasional glass of wine.

But there is another, even more powerful way to use the tools in your toolbox – as daily, preventative medicine. Think of it as staying in shape (for the most part) instead of continually starting a new diet or exercise program.

In practical terms, the tools in your toolbox make up your “Wellness Workout”– simple things you can do on most days (note: “most”) that will significantly impact your entire life, in all areas – emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and even financially.

Here’s the beauty: every tool described here super-charges another, making each one them far more potent. Think about it – to really get in shape, relying only on cardio is great, but would only get you to a certain point. So, as you read on, think about this: What if you meditated or did some journaling outside? What if you brought mindfulness to your creative practices? What if you spent thirty seconds noticing how your body feels when it is warmed by the sun?

After decades of engaging in all these activities, my discovery was this: It was combining the various tools that ultimately transformed my life. Scientifically speaking, it turns out that this is partially because of the impact each activity has on my brain – quieting down certain areas; ramping up others – all resulting in less stress, greater peace, better health, and the clarity I needed to create my life exactly the way I wanted – and continue doing so.

Welcome to Creative Awakenings: Where Spirit Meets Science

When you ask the “What do I need right now?” question, your answer might be a hug, a run, a good night’s sleep, a therapy session, cleaning out your emotional closet or even an occasional monster piece of cake. Over time, you will understand when and how much of each tool will provide you with immediate relief, which make the most sense in your world, and which will offer the most long-term gains.

For starters, the tools I share in this section of the Creative Awakenings site have all been backed by scientific research, meaning isn’t just woo-woo that meditation, nature and creativity make us feel better – through decades of studies and current brain imaging, researchers and scientists have confirmed that these approaches promote changes in our bodies and brains and bodies that decrease stress and increase wellness.

Use this part of the Creative Awakenings site to explore these tried and true practices and suggestions. Then, begin asking the magical “What do I need right now?” question, and follow through with the answers.  Before long, your Spiritual Toolbox will be overflowing with practical approaches to support you in living a longer, happier and healthier life.

Seven Start-up Suggestions for Your Spiritual Toolbox:

1. Keep it Personal:

Our Spiritual Toolboxes may have common things, but overall, mine is personal to me, and yours is personal to you. Your Spiritual Toolbox should contain things that soothe, boost and inspire you. They should bring you joy, keep you real and keep you strong. And, there should always be at least one or two goodies in there that truly help clear your mind. Your tools will always be there to help you stay present, access what you already know, navigate your life your life, and yes, find gratitude in whatever challenge comes your way.

2. Let it Evolve:

Spiritual Toolboxes evolve over time – what worked to soothe the soul at 25 may be entirely different at 30, 40, 50 and up. The only hard and fast rule to what works is that it works for you – over days, months and even decades.

3. Be Realistic:

The tools in your Spiritual Toolbox are like anything else – if you set unrealistic expectations about using your tools, the likelihood is that you won’t. Since different things work at different times, it also follows that different things make sense at different times. If your day is too jam-packed for an hour and a half yoga class, opt for a ten-minute breathing break outside.

4. Trial and Error:

You can’t truly know what works until you understand what doesn’t. This is also something that varies from day-to-day, hour-to-hour and at different times in your life. For example, 50 minutes of hard-core meditation practice may work for one person on a Tuesday, but a walk outside may be perfectly timed for you. A day in the studio might be realistic in my world, but cooking or going through old photos may be what soothes you in that moment.

5. Be Open:

We are blessed to live in the information age of infinite wellness options, teachers and masters – you never know from where your next learning experience will come. Explore, investigate and most of all, enjoy the ongoing quest for self-knowledge.

6. Notice:

Pay attention to what is working in the short-term as well as how your life unfolds over time. Small steps can have a huge impact – once you notice positive results, you will be even more inspired to dive into your growth.

7. Be Accepting and Loving:

Accept and embrace that there are times when feeling sad, bad or challenged is just part of life’s normal flow – remember that every responses offers some kind of wisdom. And, while it may be painful, diving into and exploring difficult feelings can be incredibly enlightening. Reach into your toolbox for self-soothing, and remember that professional help and guidance is also part of your wellness workout.

I thank you for the opportunity to share what I have learned, and send you many blessings on your Creative Awakenings journey.