It was late April 2018 on the day in question. I found myself north of the Arctic Circle with 10 teammates on a hiking trip across Baffin Island. With crampons on my boots, I was walking along a frozen river dragging my sled of belongings behind me. It was mid to late afternoon, the temperature was around -20C and the winds were howling in my face. In this moment, my sensory world consisted only of the crunch of the crampons on the ice, the sound of the powerful wind and the sight of the loose snow being blown off the ice to reveal the cracks and air bubbles beneath. This was definitely solid Arctic conditions and I felt totally and utterly alive!! Although challenging, I felt as if my soul was jumping out of every part of me. I was loving this moment and so grateful to be there with 10 amazing people. For me, these types of experiences are a part of who I am, an expression of how I want to live life and in a way, they nourish my soul.
I am privileged to be part of Soulspace (www.soulspace.ie), which takes place on September 22 in the spectacular Claregalway Castle in Galway. With this in mind, over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about the whole idea and practice of really nourishing the soul. Of course this will be different for all of us and what nourishes my soul could do the absolute opposite for someone else. Life is short which is why I think doing things that truly feed our soul and make us happy, fulfilled and really alive is so important. Not just for us as individuals but for the other people in our lives who we impact. Our families, our children, friends, work colleagues, clients and all the people we interact with on a day-to-day basis. I know personally when I feel my soul is being nourished, I am happier, more engaged, more present and generally am a more enjoyable person to be around. I know I am better at my work and can have more impact with the clients I serve. So how can we figure out what types of activities actually feed our soul on a very authentic and heartfelt level? I think if we stop to consider this, we will instinctively know. Perhaps the actual letters of the word soul are a very good compass to navigate this search.
Spirit – when we are doing something that feeds our soul, our spirit comes alive. That essence of who we are is in full flow. In my opinion, this doesn’t need to be anything overly spectacular. It could be reading a book, spending time with loved ones, hiking in the woods, playing music, going for a swim. The types of activities this might involve are endless and are probably expressed in different ways as we go through life.
Of you – what I mean by this is when we are doing something that feeds our soul, whatever “it” happens to be is absolutely of you. It’s an expression of part of you and who you really are. I know for me personally when I’m out in nature, this is a part of who I am. It’s not all of who I am, its simply something that I believe is deeply engrained in my DNA, its something I love to do and I know I am a better human being when I consistently spend time in nature.
Unplugged – soulful activities involve a sense of being unplugged from what’s going on in the world. They involve that sense of loosing track of time while we are engaged in them. It’s nearly like we can get so consumed in them and to an extent can be “in flow” that we completely loose track of time and anything else going on in our lives for that period of time we are doing something that is nourishing our soul.
Love – simply put when doing something that is soulful, we just love doing it. It doesn’t need to be explained or justified to anyone. There doesn’t need to be a reason or purpose to it – we just love doing it.
When I came back from the Arctic in April, as with all the other expeditions I have done, I felt like I was coming back a slightly better version of myself. My wife might tell you if this is actually true or not! But I definitely felt a renewed sense of well-being, gratitude for what I have in life and excitement for what lies ahead. At Soulspace this coming Saturday, in my workshop, I’ll be exploring the idea of consistently integrating more of these soulful activities into our day-to-day lives. Hopefully I might see you there but if not, perhaps this article might be of assistance to you in nourishing your own soul on a more consistent basis going forward.