I am and have been for the bigger part of my life, a spiritual person. I find strength in feeling connected to something greater than my “Self”, but I am also a believer in true inner connectedness. You can find true inner connectedness through practicing self-care, by nourishing your inner temple—your physical, emotional, and spiritual self. This is, admittedly, very hard for most of us to do right now as we struggle with so many new, voluminous variables. Ironically, those very obstacles make this inner connection more important than ever.
As we collectively grieve our old lives during this pandemic and maybe struggle to find comfort in our usual relationships (due to lack of time and emotional bandwidth), it is our inner temple that we need to tend to and nourish. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about “How to Connect with Yourself” where I shared the importance of building your inner temple no matter what your beliefs are. I decided to re-share this blog post today, in hope that it will help you find ways to support your inner temple now when you most need it.
My one request as you read this blog: remember that we are experiencing unusual stress and stimulus. Activating some of what I talk about in this blog must be done in gentle measures. Instead of attending an entire yoga class online, you may only be able to find 5 or 10 minutes of time to stretch and breathe. That’s great! Don’t judge it. Instead of date night with your beloved, you may only be able to have a brief hug as you cross paths in the kitchen. Relish it. Just be conscious of those precious moments and let them touch you as deeply as possible.
The time is coming where we will find relief and return to some semblance of normalcy. We will have the opportunity to tend to our inner temples in greater measure. And when that time comes WE WILL NEED AND MUST GIVE ourselves the extra doses. These injections of self-care will revitalize, heal us, and help us integrate everything we are experiencing now so that we can each move forward in health.
I grew up in a rather religious household and had the unusual opportunity of experiencing a few Christian denominations: Catholic, Baptist, and Evangelical. I stopped ascribing to the Christian religion somewhere in high school and by college was out in the world exploring other religions and communities.
In college, I attended services at a mosque, a Jewish synagogue, and a Hindu temple. I traveled to the Vatican and sat in some of the most exquisite churches throughout Europe. I studied regularly in Buddhist temples. Even today, I find myself sitting in meditation at the Buddhist center here in Chicago and longing to check out the Bahai Temple not too far from where I live.
It is safe to say that I am officially spiritual and not religious. Those years of seeking—and my continued curiosity—give me opportunities to feel entitled to connect with myself in a deeper way. The aesthetic and energy I enjoy inside of religious temples evoke a level of centering, calm, and connection that allow my inner voice to speak so loudly that sometimes I feel moved to tears. YES, I have a mindfulness practice, but there is something about the energy in these places that is pretty special.
While I feel drawn to the physical aesthetic, sense of community, and acceptance that organized religion offers—at the same time, I feel repelled by the rules and the “gatekeepers” that many put in place.
I’ve awakened to the fact that what I’m inclined to is this: spirituality and caring for my inner temple.
So what are the differences between religion, spirituality and your inner temple?
Religion focuses around the belief that there is something outside of yourself guiding your fate that will grant you connection to something bigger than yourself. You can deepen the connection through services, ceremonies, or rituals. Most of our beliefs around religion are inherited from those around us.
Spirituality revolves around the belief that you can create a connection to something greater than yourself without having to go through a gatekeeper to do so. You can deepen that connection to others and yourself by defining what spirituality is to you.
Both religion and spirituality have a component that asks us to look beyond ourselves in an effort to feel connected to something “greater” outside of us.
But, there is a third idea I want to introduce you to. It is the idea that you have an inner temple. Your inner temple is your true connection to yourself. (It actually IS your physical, emotional, and spiritual self. You can’t escape it.) Ignoring our inner temple leads to fear, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, exhaustion, breakdowns, failed relationships, poor health, and disease.
Exploring your inner temple focuses on being conscious of what we put in our brains and bodies and using what we believe to better ourselves (and hopefully our experience of the world around us). Regardless of what you believe and how you believe it, there are ways to build your temple…and ways to destroy it. A few examples:
- Quiet time
- Happy, healthy media
- Conscious food and alcohol choices
- Positive self-talk
- Rest and relaxation
- Healthy relationships
- Internal reflection
- Sense of greater purpose
- Physical exercise
- Putting yourself first on a regular basis
- No focus on the inner temple/self
- Unconscious media consumption
- Unconscious food/alcohol consumption
- Negative internal dialogue
- Carrying out unhealthy self-fulfilling prophecies
- No down time
- Unhealthy relationships
- No internal reflection
- No greater sense of purpose
- No connection to something bigger than yourself (spirituality, community, etc)
- Physical self-care routine is lacking
- Everyone comes before YOU
Bottom line: I’m not judging you and hopefully you’re not judging yourself or anyone else for what they are inclined to believe in and practice. What I hope for you is that you awaken to the fact that we each have an inner temple and we choose what goes in it and how much we nourish it.