We’ve nearly perfected the art of mental numbness as a society. Every conceivable moment can be endured, so long as we have our smartphone or tablet there with an endless stream of GIFs, memes, Twitter and texting. It can feel like our mental needs are being met, but even someone on an Insta-diet likely has at least flashes of realization that something is being glossed over or satiated with fluff rather than substance. Our minds need, among many things, a balance of sensory information, opportunities to be creative, and new learning challenges to fuel our inner spiritual work.
Energy and Stimulation
The amount of activity and external “noise” we need to feel satisfied varies with our personalities, moon-time, background energies and season. There are likely times where you can take in a lot of sensory excitement and may crave more—more people, more events, more goals on which to work. Alternatively, most of us also have times where we need to retreat, rest or even withdrawal. You may want to diminish your obligations, conserve your energy, and focus on inner work. This ebb-and-flow is natural; accepting it has made me much more willing to engage both ends of the spectrum because I know it will only last for a time.
The twist that personality brings to the mix is that our “baseline settings” for how much external energy we desire are not the same. Some of us consistently need more time for inner work to achieve balance, whereas others consistently need to be more active. Neither is superior and both types are needed. Without an understanding of the role of personality, it is very easy to engage in self-judgment if we compare ourselves to others who run at a different speed. The introvert may feel “less than” for not having sufficient photographic evidence on social media of lively gatherings, and the extrovert for never living up to the “quiet time” images of books and nature and coffee. Let your intuition rather than your phone’s feed guide how you spend your time.
Curiosity and Creativity
Humans are curious creatures, seeking to understand and make sense of the world around us even from infancy. We tend to celebrate the inquisitiveness and creativity of young children, but many of us are shamed into stifling these talents as we grow older. If you don’t already, consider opening yourself up to creative exploration and following your curiosity where it leads you. For those who have experienced constraining environments and some types of trauma, this might much harder than it seems it should be but can be a liberating endeavor.
I am not known for being spontaneous, but I am usually delighted by what I uncover when I let go a bit. Once, I wandered into a flooded park and managed to stumble upon a snake nestling under a rock. Only about three inches of its head protruded. I simultaneously gasped, jumped, and took several photos as the snake made a quick leap into the river. I’m pretty sure it was a harmless species, but the tiny edge of danger woke me up to wondering what else I could run into if I let myself be—without focused purpose—for at least a little bit.
Learning and Receiving
So many books, so little time to read them all! I haven’t arrived at the digital revolution in terms of my reading, preferring instead the crisp feel and smell of ink and paper. An area of inner tidal forces I struggle with at times is how much energy to spend on my own inner work and information gathering as compared to outputting my own version of what I’ve absorbed. I recently quit a side job because I realized trying to fit it in stripped me of any energy I would normally put towards learning and contemplation. If you love to read and have a pile of books you’ve never touched, consider whether there is a way to free up some time to dive in.
So far in what I’ve seen of the community of people who are interested in Goddess Spirituality, bookworm does seem to be a fair descriptor for most, however, there are other options if reading isn’t your main learning style. There are audio resources available, as well as hands-on training opportunities you can complete on your own or in groups. Determine the ways in which you most fully tend to absorb experiences and information and search for opportunities to grow and challenge yourself through those practices. You may want to step out of your comfort zone at times and try new types of training. You might surprise you with how they impact the way in which you learn. Although it can very easily tip into a way to numb myself, I have been surprised at how much inspiration I get finding beautiful online artwork and photographs or walking around goddess-y type stores or festivals (in which I must literally touch nearly every object of course!).
When I was going through a challenging time in my young adulthood as I broke away from my culture, religion and family of origin (basically lost my own identity there!), I was frequently overcome with feelings of guilt at how much I was receiving in terms of modeling, care and attention from others. I wish so much I could have trusted others’ messages that it was okay to let myself be in the “student/learner/initiate” space for that period of time.
I now believe that the only way to give to others from a healthy, grounded, responsible place—the only way to teach or lead that I respect and feel is safe is to never give up on receiving. There is an assortment of facts and experiences, and then there’s knowledge—something gutted out like a pearl plucked from an oyster in shark-infested waters. Whatever the form of your learning is, I believe making time, energy and space for it isn’t selfish and doesn’t detract from the good work you are doing in the world, instead, it is the heartbeat of genuine change and meaning.
Attuning to what our minds require is only one aspect of meeting and making sacred our needs. I’ve decided to take a non-linear approach to my exploration of self-care, so there will be upcoming posts on the other types of needs interspersed with discussions of ways to balance, schedule and adjust how we care for ourselves.