In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where the waters of Lake Junaluska reflect the beauty of the land, I recently hosted a group ona Yoga & Silence retreat. As we began, we chose to honor the spirit of this special place, a sacred ground named after Chief Junaluska, a revered figure of the Cherokee tribe.
As we gathered on this hallowed ground, we acknowledged the deep history and significance of Lake Junaluska. Since the first Methodist assembly gathered there in 1913, this place has been a sanctuary for rejuvenating mind, soul, and body for many. It is a privilege to hold space for others in this way and to continue tradition for soul restoration at Lake Junaluska.
Her is Our Blessing:
We honor the ancient wisdom of the Cherokee people, the original inhabitants of this land. Chief Junaluska, a Cherokee leader who played a pivotal and vital role in history, lends his name to this lake. We acknowledge the deep reverence the Cherokee people had for the land, we thank them, and we seek their blessings for our time here.
Lake Junaluska's roots in the Methodist tradition run deep. The first assembly in 1913 was a gathering of Methodist leaders and faithful followers seeking spiritual renewal. This connection remains strong, and we honor the Methodist heritage among our ecumanical group and give thanks for for all who have and will come here, United Methodist and beyond. May the spirit of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, continue to inspire all who come here to seek a deeper connection with their faith and a commitment to making the world a better place.
We acknowledge the importance of family and tradition as generations of families have made Lake Junaluska their place of retreat. May the bonds of faith and fellowship grow stronger with each passing year, and may this place continue to be a source of spiritual growth and inspiration.
In this sacred moment, we offer our gratitude to the land, the water, and the spirits of both the Cherokee people and the Methodist tradition. May their combined blessings infuse our hearts and minds, guiding us on our journey of inner and outer exploration, no matter our roots.
May the energy and serenity of Lake Junaluska, steeped in the history of the Cherokee people, be a beacon of light and hope for all who come here, ourselves included. Let this land continue to be a source of inspiration, healing, and transformation for our time and for generations to come.
Blessed be the Cherokee people and the land of Lake Junaluska, a place where history, spirituality, and tradition converge, and may it forever be a sanctuary of peace, worship, and renewal for our body, minds, and spirits, with all thanks to our Creator.
, Thanks to the support of my spiritual director, I've found great help in understanding myself as one who identifies as an Enneagram Four. The Enneagram is a fantastic tool for self-discovery and has helped me claim and lean into my type. We are known as the "Individualist" or the "Romantic," and are characterized by our deep emotions, introspection, and desire for authenticity.
If you have not already guessed, we Fours thrive on creativity and emotional depth (which I believe makes for a great writer and spiritual director). However, the journey can sometimes feel lonely, and it is indeed challenging at times. On Sunday at worship, a friend asked me how I keep my creative juices flowing for the podcast, books, and other teachings. I told her I could not help it! My brain overflows with creative juices and ideas - more than I can manage. This exchange was after I had written about 10,000 of the 35,000 words for my next manuscript. My fingers cannot always move fast enough to capture everything in my mind. I have paused at 10,000 words because I need time to process and embody what I have written and ponder with God what will be written next.
This got me thinking; I could share tips to help others lean into their creative sides. So here are some tips offering inspiration for your creative inspiration:
As Enneagram Fours, we find solace in solitude. Quiet time is when our creativity can flourish. Get away, take a retreat, or create a dedicated space for yourself at home, whether it's a cozy corner of your bedroom or a spot in your backyard. Allow yourself regular introspection, contemplation, and times of self-reflection, as these moments often ignite the spark of inspiration! Prioritizing solitude is a must if you want to foster your creativity. I'm an extroverted contemplative Four, so this complicates matters! The hardest part is breaking away, befriending myself, and calming my mind, but it is worth it!
Seek Inspiration Everywhere:
Look beyond conventional sources for inspiration. Explore various art forms, music, books, and movies that both challenge you and resonate with your emotions. Engage with diverse cultures, explore nature, and immerse yourself in experiences stimulating ALL your senses. Pick up a very different kind of book or play music from a playlist you have never heard. Take a hike and look for interesting things that capture your attention. Ignite your own creativity as you savor and enjoy the creativity of others and God's creation!
As Fours, our creativity stems from the depths of our emotions. We can often talk about deep things quickly with others. Vulnerability is a gateway to true authenticity, but it is not easy or natural and takes some practice. Allow yourself to be seen and heard, even if it sometimes feels uncomfortable. Express your thoughts and feelings in an appropriate way that works best for you, understanding that your unique perspective holds immense value.
Creativity often comes hand in hand with self-doubt. Hello, Imposter Syndrome! Be gentle with yourself during moments of uncertainty or creative blocks. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that these challenges are part of the creative process. They actually HELP with what is coming next so try not to fight the pause that comes with creative blocks. Treat yourself with kindness, celebrate small victories (like 10,000 words!), and allow for rest and rejuvenation.
Engage with Like-Minded Souls:
Though we may cherish solitude, connecting with like-minded individuals can provide invaluable support. Seek out creative communities, workshops, or online spaces where you can share your work and ideas. Engaging with other creatives who understand and appreciate your unique perspective can be an incredible source of inspiration and encouragement.
Move Your Body:
Engaging in physical activity, whether dancing, biking, practicing yoga, or walking, boosts your energy levels and promotes mental clarity. When active, your body increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, improving cognitive function and enhancing creativity. I firmly believe that movement (large or small) fuels creativity!
What inspires you on the creative journey? Write about it, think about it, or share it with us so we can be inspired too.
As the vibrant warmth of summer embraces us, our calendars often fill up with activities, vacations, and social gatherings. While these experiences can be joyful and invigorating, the hustle and bustle of the season can leave us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from our souls. In this busyness, it is crucial to intentionally carve out moments of soul care and embrace the beauty of everyday life.
So, slow down, take a deep breath, and let's explore how you can nourish your soul during the busy summertime season - while still basking in the everyday moments.
Prioritize Mindful Presence:
No matter your stage of life, it's easy to get caught up in the never-ending to-do lists and multitasking of a new season - especially one that includes extra time for fun! However, taking the time to be present in the moment is essential for soul care. Cultivate mindfulness by engaging fully in whatever you're doing, whether enjoying a refreshing swim, savoring a delicious meal, taking the kids/grandkids/friend's kids to the zoo, or spending time with loved ones. By slowing down and fully immersing yourself in each experience, you can indeed find solace and replenishment for your soul. Mindful presence is living in an embodied way that keeps your soul refreshed.
Embrace Nature's Healing:
Summer is the perfect time to reconnect with the wonders of nature and find solace in God's creation. Take a break from the fullness of daily life and spend time outdoors, whether it's lounging in a hammock, going for a walk in the park, or simply sitting under a tree and soaking up the warmth of the sun. Allow yourself time to marvel at the intricate beauty surrounding you – the vibrant flowers, the whispering breeze, or (if you're lucky) the gentle waves of the ocean. Let nature be your sanctuary, where you can rest in God's presence and find inner peace - even for a moment.
Create Rituals of Rest:
While summer may be synonymous with adventure and exploration, it's crucial to balance those experiences with intentional moments of rest and rejuvenation. Establish healthy rituals that help you slow down and recharge your soul. Consider starting your mornings with quiet reflection, journaling, or meditation. I have a podcast for that! Carve out time for daily restorative activities such as reading a book, practicing yoga, an afternoon Yoga Nidra meditation (scroll down to practice now), or engaging in a creative pursuit. By making rest a priority, you create space to nurture your soul and restore your energy.
Seek Meaningful Connections:
Summer provides ample opportunities to foster meaningful connections with others. Engage in conversations beyond small talk and truly connect with the people around you. Share your thoughts, dreams, and struggles, and listen attentively to others. Invest in your relationships by organizing gatherings where you can engage in deeper conversations, such as a picnic in the park or a shared meal with friends. A handful of close friends is priceless! Meaningful connections nourish our souls, reminding us of our shared humanity and offer us a sense of belonging.
Gratitude is a powerful tool for soul care. Take time each day to reflect on the blessings in your life, no matter how small. I enjoy doing this before bed each evening. Thank God for the big and the small! Expressing gratitude helps shift our focus from what's lacking to what's present, cultivating a sense of contentment and joy. Keep a gratitude journal or share gratitude with others, whether through written notes or verbal expressions. By acknowledging and appreciating the everyday moments, you'll find that your soul is uplifted and your perspective is transformed.
During the busy summertime season, it's vital to remember to care for your soul. Slow down, be mindful, and savor the beauty of everyday moments. Embrace the healing power of nature, rest in God's presence, and create meaningful connections with others. Cultivate gratitude and let it permeate your life. Remember, caring for your soul is not an indulgence; it is a necessity in all seasons. Why not pause not and savor some time for soul care?
Whitney R. Simpson
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Content @ 2010-2023
Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC