Noticing Life’s Deeper Meanings and Possibilities
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall
As we live our lives, making choices and accumulating experiences and wisdom, we may occasionally sense that there’s more beyond what we comprehend with our rational minds. We may glimpse deeper connections within the mysteries of life or a larger vision of the universe and our place in it.
This sense of oneness may be discovered in acts of kindness, caring relationships, deep listening, the beauty of the outdoors, or a quiet presence in a moment of pause. Perhaps one experiences a sense that goes beyond the individual, linking us to all others and the wholeness of the universe.
As we’re confronted with life’s challenges, limitations, and complexities, do we see ourselves as isolated or as part of a larger whole? Do we experience occasional glimpses of unity under all the complexities and noise?
In recent years, I’ve come to recognize and appreciate my own leanings as a seeker of meaning and spiritual connection. Perhaps you can relate to this experience – occasionally sensing that life’s synchronicities may be more than coincidences, losing yourself in the awe of nature, or noticing an inkling of “something more” from the depth of your being.
Some of us may experience the deeper interconnectedness among human beings as we feel compelled to serve a greater good for reasons beyond our own needs. We may recognize the importance of caring for other people and the earth, or are drawn toward taking action for social justice. Others may seek meaning in life’s seemingly random occurrences as we awaken to the bigger picture of things.
We live in a world charged with meaning. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “humans are meaning-making machines.” I’m not sure where this expression began. It recognizes that we have experiences and our minds try to make sense of them. From a psychological perspective we know that meanings enable us to make sense of the world around us, influencing our emotions and ideas (Baumeister, 1991).
Do you sometimes – even for fleeting moments – sense a hidden unity underneath the multiplicities of everyday life?
Noticing Life’s Deeper Meanings and Possibilities
Whether you see yourself as seeking greater meaning in life, appreciating the beauty and wonder of nature, or experiencing a deep sense of spirituality, you may ponder how to connect more frequently with inspiration, your own inner knowing, or the underlying oneness of us all.
Contemplative practices create space to open to life’s meanings and possibilities. Journaling, yoga, qigong, meditation, prayer, peaceful time in nature, listening deeply, and conversing mindfully with another person can be experienced not only for contemplation but for boosting our well-being, physical/emotional health, and becoming more fully present in our daily lives (Goldman & Davidson, 2017; Kabat-Zinn, 1990). These activities can help us slow our minds and open to calmer, quieter places within. Sometimes these practices may help us awaken to doorways of transcendence within and outside of ourselves, perhaps resonating with a greater sense of peace, balance, or unity.
Journaling is an easy and powerful way to support your journey in life, helping you become aware of your thoughts and getting them out of your head into the light of day. In a practical realm, journaling can help you gain awareness and insights, set intentions and goals, and work through challenges and obstacles. In a contemplative realm, journaling can help you open to life’s questions, mysteries, and wonderments.
If you’d like to take action to journal, here’s a simple strategy:
Take two to fifteen minutes each day this week to jot down a few words, phrases, or paragraphs about whatever comes to mind. Remember there’s not a right way to journal – it’s not something you should know how to do. Just take a few moments to write about anything you’re thinking about or whatever is impacting you.
Slow down. Breathe. Notice what’s going on within and around you. Jot it down.
Resources and References:
- Baumeister, R.F. (1991). Meanings of life. New York: NY: The Guildford Press.
- Cowan, R. & Thal, L. (2015). Wise aging: Living with joy, resilience, & spirit. Springfield, NJ: Behrman House.
- Goleman D. & Davidson, R.J. (2017). Altered Traits: Science reveals how meditation changes your mind, brain, and body. New York, NY: Avery.
- Kabat-Zinn (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Delta Books.
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Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD is a life and leadership coach, psychologist, and educator. Ilene has dedicated much of her career to the personal and professional development and integrative well-being of others. She inspires others to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online and access free resources at http://ileneberns-zare.com.
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