May Inspiration

“Staying Connected with your Spirit and your Heart During Times of Crisis or Adversity”

Recently, I was doubly blessed in that I performed a lovely and deeply personal marriage ceremony for a young, head-over-heels-in-love couple out on Eastern Long Island and then raced to the upper West side of Manhattan to perform by candlelight a very touching and much-anticipated baby blessing for a young family who had been struggling with secondary infertility for years and was overflowing with joy at being able to welcome a new daughter into their family and to finally give their eight year old son a sibling. While there were a lot of logistical challenges involved for me, the minister, that day, it was just so clearly and totally a day where everyone I interacted with was feeling connected to his or her heart and spirit. It was a day where love was flowing easily and smoothly through and from and toward and around everyone involved. No one had any problems on this very happiest of days with staying connected with their hearts and spirits. We were all able to act from and be with what I call our “Higher Selves.” (The wise, spiritually connected part of ourselves that is always available to us but much easier to access at certain times than at others.)

Contrast this Saturday love-fest with my experience at the hospital on a recent Thursday: I spent about five hours at the bedside of a family friend, a forty-ish father with four young children and a lovely wife, who had gone to the emergency room with some heart palpitations and after hours of trying to stabilize his heart with various medications, was told that he’d need an emergency procedure called a Cardio-Inversion. This procedure involved putting him under general anesthesia and then completely stopping his heart and then “jump-starting” it again! I’m sure you can imagine the shock and fear that my friend was experiencing as he faced the prospect of literally “dying” and being “brought back to life.” Compounding his anxiety was the fact that his wife was not able to get there until just minutes before the procedure. As I spent about two hours working with him, doing meditation and breathwork together, then praying, then massaging his hands, head and feet, and then leading him through guided visualizations, I watched as my friend went from a state of total fear and uncontrollable anxiety to one of utter calm and peace.

The Strength Within Us

I have been in other circumstances where the exact same arsenal of tools has failed to help someone in need of reconnecting with spirit—the difference was that this wonderful, strong, humble man was able to see that he needed to actually put into action certain things he had learned along the way. In a moment of extreme crisis, he was willing to act upon new knowledge and skills he had acquired over the preceding two years. I often say that crises and trials are opportunities for us to practice what we now know and are finally ready to do. And so that day, at Vassar Hospital, I witnessed a fellow marcher in this great hit parade of life face a crisis that had the potential to be literally heart-breaking, and I am so proud of his willingness to put into practice some important knowledge and skills that just literally may have saved his life.

Now, hopefully, your “workout” days are filled with “hits” and challenges that are not quite so dramatic. But I often say it and I’ll say it again now: we really are marching together in what I call “the great hit parade” of life and hard, sad and downright brutal stuff does happen to us—usually when we least expect it. As Rabbi Harold Kushner has been telling us for decades now, bad stuff really does happen to good people. I remind you of this not to be pessimistic, but to “normalize” this part of being human. It is normal for you to take hits to your finances, your relationships, your health, etc. It’s not like we go around hoping for this stuff to happen, but it can and it does and when it does, we are always faced with a choice: How do we choose to respond to what has come our way? On the easy, lovey-dovey days in our lives, the choice is automatic and easy—we respond with love, ease and grace because it just comes naturally to do so. But on the really hard, brutal and bitter days, how do we choose to respond? What do we do on the days when fear and anxiety threaten to derail us?

Choosing How We Respond

So, when we’re in the middle of a “workout” day—a hard one—what do we do to keep ourselves connected to our spirits and our hearts? Let me ask you a few little questions:

  • When you’re facing a hard hit or dreadful day, do you fall back on any “crutches” that might be undermining your overall wellness? For example, do you smoke when you’re stressed or rely on lots of caffeine when you feel like you can’t go on? Do you drink too much or binge-eat sometimes just to help take the edge off? These are common behaviors we humans engage in when a “workout” day proves to be too much for us.

  • When you’re dealing with a heart-breaking hit or dreadful situation, do you feel as though you have nowhere to turn for genuine help or guidance? Do you feel like you have an inadequate support system?

  • When the going gets tough, do you have any practices or strategies you rely upon to help you respond to crisis or adversity in a more resilient way? Or are you unsure of how to best help yourself through the tough stuff?

These questions and your responses are leading you to some insights that you need to really integrate into your life if you want to take life’s hits and come out on top. Here are some really practical things you can do today to help yourself stay connected to your spirit when you most need its limitless strength and resilience:

  • First of all, if you haven’t read The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit, I really hope you’ll get it and read its very short and easily digestible chapters. It is a total prescription for dealing with the hardest stuff and doing it with ease and grace. I have big excerpts of it for free on my website and on the book’s website and if you get it off Amazon, it’ll probably cost you less than three or four mocha lattes. I didn’t write this book to make money—I wrote it so that you would have a plan for dealing with life’s hardest hits. Please get this book and learn the secrets that helped Azim and I survive the murder of a child, the loss of a six month pregnancy, chronic and severe pain every single day of my life due to a permanent neurological injury caused by a reckless driver, a “challenging” childhood, and oh, so much more. This book is like having your own crisis coach, adversity advisor and bounce back buddy permanently at your beck and call 24/7—get it and use it.

  • Find a spiritual path or practice that is authentic for you. No more going through the motions for you, my friend. Just because it worked for your parents or works for your neighbors, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Being a real grown-up means finding a way to feel connected to your spirit that is real and fulfilling. The book goes into a lot of detail about this but there’s also a lot of free content on the book’s website that can get you started. When I was a little girl, I thought that God was an old man with a white beard sitting on a throne up in heaven watching over me and intervening on my behalf. Just because my understanding of God has changed in such a way that that no longer makes sense to or works for me, doesn’t mean I’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. I still find that I need God in my life. I have found my own personal and deeply meaningful way of connecting with God and my spirit and this is such a source of solace for me, especially when life hands me the hard, hard hits. Find your own, true way to God and your own way inward to connect with your spirit. No one can make this way for you—start your seeking now and realize that it’s the biggest adventure of your life. (See the book’s website and my personal site for resource lists and materials to get you inspired or at least send you on your way.)

  • Connect with other people who are looking to be more in touch with their spirits and hearts. Again, the book itself and both the book’s website and my own personal site do address this challenge. Maybe you can form a book club where you only pick spiritual self-help titles and, therefore, create your own little self-help support network. (There are book-club ideas and materials on the book’s website and some video footage of my own book club in action!)

  • Try to do at least one thing a day to nurture your spirit. Maybe you already do something everyday to nurture your body (work out, eat veggies, do yoga?) but have you ever consciously thought about trying to do one little thing each day to stay connected with your spirit? Consider baby steps, like blessing the water you drink or shower in or maybe counting at least three blessings in your life each night before you go to bed. (Again, the book and websites are full of suggestions related to this idea.)

  • I have found that when life’s hits grind me down the hardest, reaching out to others to help them is the most selfishly helpful thing I can do for myself. When I lighten someone else’s load—even a tiny bit--it always, always makes my own burdens easier to bear. It seems counterintuitive and you might feel like you can’t help anyone else when things are so hard for you, but I challenge you to give it a try and see for yourself the miracle that happens when you reach out to care for someone else who is hurting. I have discovered the very selfish pleasure I derive by practicing random acts of kindness. I do some nice or special things for other people sometimes but I never allow myself to forget that it is really my own needs that I am addressing when I reach out. Doing someone else a bit of good can do you a world of good. It works like magic.

So, this is the part where I sign off for now and leave you to make your choices and take whatever actions are necessary. I know from my own personal spiritual journey that this message can come into your inbox and you can read it and yet, nothing changes for you as a result. I know how taking action makes all the difference. In fact, I think that taking action on what we know to be true is so important that the very last chapter of The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit is called Take Action! So, I challenge you to take action this month on some of what you know to be true…to take action and put into place some element, choice or behavior that will boost your own spiritual resilience. You don’t need to change everything all at once. Just begin today to take some action—no matter how small—that will keep you connected with your spirit and heart. If you take small steps—if you keep taking action---before you know it, you will be far more spiritually bulletproof than you would have ever believed possible.

Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
Jillian Quinn, author of Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit
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