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Spiritual Practices: Nurturing

Deprivation, Codependency

The Basic Practice

A spiritual journey is usually considered to be a movement toward community and Spirit but an essential loop of our route must pass through the realm of self. We have to find out who we are before we can make commitments to others. We have to care for our own souls in order to have the energy and strength to care for our families, our neighbors, and the earth.

There are many ways to practice nurturing, and everyone will find his or her own best ways to receive and give nourishment. The spiritual traditions emphasize two in particular. The first is study. Be a lifelong learner; read and contemplate sacred texts and other sources of inspiration that take you deeper into yourself and out into the wider world. Second, keep the Sabbath. Dedicate some of your time to leisure and reflection.

Why This Practice May Be For You

A regular regimen of nurturing helps you achieve a balance in your life between inner exploration and outer involvement, time alone and time with others, work and play. Feeling imbalanced — that things are out of whack in your life — is a sure sign that you need to step back and engage in self-care to regain your equilibrium.

Actually, we usually recognize our need for nurturing by its contrasts — feeling deprived, ignored and neglected. If you are starved for attention, most likely you lack spiritual sustenance in other areas of your life as well.

There are also shadow elements associated with nurturing. We can be so involved in nurturing ourselves that we become totally self-absorbed. We can go too far under the guise of nurturing others, so that our caring becomes a way of controlling them. Or we can sacrifice ourselves and our best interests in our concern for others, mistaking codependency for nurturing. Again, a lack of balance is the key symptom.


Resources on This Practice