Taking care of ourselves–physically, emotionally, spiritually–is one of the more obvious things we need to give attention to.
Yet, it is also something that many of us struggle with.
We struggle with the perceived complexity of it. Our minds run to exercise programs, therapy sessions, and church or religious attendance. In some cases, some or all of these activities might be helpful. If you need them, seek them out and participate in them fully.
But there is a lot to be said for keeping it simple, too.
I’ve been interested in “simple living” and “simplicity” for a long time, but my interest was mostly around the philosophy of it. When it came down to it, I convinced myself that I somehow thrived where complexity reigned.
It was all in my ego.
I wanted things to be more complex than they actually were, because I could feel smarter when I accomplished it.
That’s how the ego works–our desires are rooted in feelings we have about ourselves that may or may not be true.
I had to let go of my ego to truly embrace simplicity in taking care of myself. I was trying to do too much. I was trying to schedule too much. None of it felt natural to me, and I realized I was trying to build my life (and my spiritual practice) around what others thought or told me I needed.
I tried to workout everyday (even though it took a lot of time away from my young family); I tried to start my morning with an hour of Bible reading and prayer (because I read it in a book); and I tried to follow up Bible reading and prayer with journaling for my emotions. This last practice was actually the most helpful, but I rarely got to it, because by the time I finished up with Bible reading and prayer, I had to move on to “more important things.”
I ended up accomplishing little, and the successes I did have were more frustrating than not because I realized they weren’t sustained.
Nowadays, I’ve simplified my practice to a daily walk of at least 30 minutes. For me, a substantive daily walk combines physical, emotional, and spiritual work.
- I walk briskly and exercise physically for at least 30 minutes.
- Being outside, in nature, away from my phone and computer helps my emotional health.
- The longer I walk, the more my mind clears out the mental clutter, and I find freedom to pray to God.
This isn’t all that I do, but it is what I do daily. It is my simple spiritual practice. I can keep it, and it helps me. It is all I need.
What is your spiritual practice like? Are you finding it fulfilling and life-giving? If not, what can you do to simplify it?
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Self-care is an important topic. I wrote a whole book on it. The book is geared toward pastors, but anyone who is interested in learning more about self-care–both the importance and practice of it–should pick up a copy. When you’ve read it, let me know what thoughts you have.