Monday, June 09, 2008

10 Ways to Bring the Sacred into Everyday Life

When I first begin work with my coaching clients, they are invited to assess the various areas of their life. One of these areas is ‘spiritual’ and so many people ask me what I mean by this (and subsequently find it is a missing, yet very much needed, part of their lives). I’m also often asked for coaching around the subject of work-life balance. So when I read the following article – which combines sound advice for improving work-life balance with ways of bringing some spiritual practices into our lives (and explaining what these are along the way) I knew I had to share this article!

My thanks to the author, Rabbi Kula, for his kind permission in allowing me to reprint this article.

10 Ways to Bring the Sacred into Everyday Life

Do you feel like you barely have time to breathe? Ever seem like you never really manage to unwind? Many of us are "plugged in" 24/7, leaving little energy to enjoy our lives. We tend to leave the sacred for the Sabbath and focus most of our attention on work. It's time to stop compartmentalizing and begin infusing our everyday lives with the sacred. Here, Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of The National Jewish Center for Learning, offers 10 easy ways to help you enjoy your life more fully.

1. Leave Work Earlier Than Usual

There is always one more phone call or one more email. Consciously stopping early once a week (at least one half-hour) affirms that we do not just live to work, but work as part of living.

2. Let Go of the Work Week

Cease doing and worrying about the work of the week. Practice gently letting go of thoughts and concerns about work that inevitably pop into mind and take over. Eventually these thoughts soften and recede. Sometimes I take a more scenic route home to help clear my mind.

3. Turn It Off

Set aside your BlackBerry, turn off your computer, set your cell phone to silent, at least as it relates to work. See how your consciousness shifts and how it doesn't. If you feel incredibly uneasy and even destabilized, you are being invited to discern new ways of taking control of your life.

4. Eat a Special Meal with Family or Friends

Taking time to reconnect to those we love expands our sense of who we are. Savoring our food (a new recipe once a week adds adventure) deepens our connection to the material world; candlelight invites us to bring forth more light from within and see beyond the surface.

5. Make Love with Intention

Take pleasure in the sensual part of life. Set aside a time to engage in some activity that creates greater intimacy with someone you love.

6. Give a Blessing to a Child in Your Life

Remember what it was like to feel genuinely blessed by an adult in your life. In a world in which children are so vulnerable, an adult's blessing is transformative and life-affirming.

7. Experience the Beauty of Nature

Take a walk or a bike ride; go for a drive or a hike. Experiencing the awe and wonder and amazement of the natural world creates a reverence for life--and gives the enlivening and ethical sense that we are each an interconnected part of such an infinite cosmos.

8. Engage in a Contemplative Practice

Find a contemplative, reflective, or centering practice that you can do regularly. This can take the form of reading from a wisdom text, listening to music that touches your soul, looking at art that engages the heart, or engaging in more traditional prayer or meditation. Try not to listen to the news.

9. Laugh

Laughter is a signal of transcendence. It reminds us that no matter what is happening in our lives, this too shall pass; it helps us to hold our absolutes humbly and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously--all qualities that insure we can deal with whatever life throws at us.

10. Express Gratitude

Find five things for which to be grateful over the past week. Consciousness is like tofu. Its taste completely depends on what it is marinated in. When we "marinate" our consciousness in gratitude, we become more grateful people.

Bonus Practice: Take a NapSleep restores the body, refreshes the spirit, and is the place of dreams.

About the author: Rabbi Irwin Kula is the president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (see and is the author of "Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life" (Hyperion, 2006).