How a Spiritual Connection Can Help You Through Tough Patches
In the award-winning children’s book The Cat Who Went to Heaven, a priest commissions a starving artist to create a painting of Buddha for the temple. Knowing the artist’s poor economic condition, he offers a first payment immediately so the artist will be relieved of money worries. “Only a clear pool has beautiful reflections,” the priest says.
It is difficult to maintain a spiritual connection to whatever you consider divine when each day you are struggling to pay for shelter, utilities, transportation, credit cards, medical bills, clothes for growing kids, and—oh yeah—groceries. When your income is less than your expenses, month after month, you feel like you can never catch up. Your pool of thoughts is muddied with anxiety. How can you clear it long enough to have beautiful reflections?
Condensed Spiritual Practices
When economic times are tough, you regrettably might have to give up enjoyable spiritual practices that cost more money or time than you can afford right now. So learn how to condense your moments of spiritual reflection, sort of how a microwave oven condenses cooking time.
If you can no longer attend your hour-long yoga sessions, carve a block of just three to five minutes out of your busy day to do one asana that involves a good stretch and opens your chest, such as the dog pose. For those few moments, focus on your breathing and allow your breath to lead you to a state of mind where money—especially the lack of it—does not matter. When you return to doing whatever needs to be done to keep your financial head above water, you will be able to approach it more calmly.
During economic down times, surround yourself with quick reminders of what’s important in the grand scheme of life. Keep spiritual icons where you will see them often, such as photos of angels on your refrigerator or prayer flags across the top of your door. Or write down your favorite inspirational quotes, song lyrics, and positive affirmations for posting near your computer or on your bathroom mirror. Even a single word like “Hope” or “Believe” can be enough of a trigger to momentarily divert your thoughts away from worry and toward spirit.
Enjoy a mini-retreat whenever you walk up or down steps by repeating a little rhyme to yourself, like: “I feel good; I feel great; I focus on my spiritual state” or “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”
Count Your Blessings
Counting your blessings at night helps you sleep better than if you lie in bed counting all of your past-due bills. Research has shown that people who focus on their blessings instead of on what they lack really do sleep better and experience more optimism in life. Sure, it can be depressing to collect coins from under the couch cushions to pay for gas, but, hey, look at it this way: at least you have a car that runs to put gas in. For every situation where you feel like you’re at a disadvantage, there are probably other people who are worse off than you. So say a prayer for them and then a prayer of thanks for your bounty.