I am in the process of reading a book called “Power Choices: 7 Signposts on Your Journey to Wholeness, Love, Joy and Peace” by Brenda Wade, Ph.D. Dr. Wade is a San Francisco based psychologist, TV host, author and speaker. I met her when she spoke at the Black Enterprises Women of Power Summit in February, 2011 on a panel dealing with relationships. She had a lot of very insightful things to say about how to better communicate with your spouse to get what you want or need and about our minds in general. One of the most intriguing things she said was that our minds are computers and that we control the programming. What she meant was that we have the ability to control how all those “lessons” we learned and internalized from our parents, society or wherever (whether taught to us overtly, by observation or implicitly) affect our lives, our actions, our emotions and our relationships. I found her contributions to the panel so useful that I bought two of her books. The second one (which I have yet to start) is called “Love Lessons – A Guide to Transforming Relationships.” When I finish reading each book, I'll do more in-depth posts about them.
The first “signpost” that Dr. Wade identifies in her book “Power Choices” is investigation. That's where you take a look at your life and see what is working for you and what isn't. In connection with that, she gives you a Cosmopolitan Magazine-like test to take. Remember those “Test your Sexual IQ” tests? Anyway, the test she gives you is designed to measure how much attention we pay to various areas of our lives – Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. I took the test and discovered that I was really lacking in the spiritual area. This wasn't a great surprise to me. I had known for a while that I needed to do something in that area. I flirted with the idea of learning how to meditate and/or joining a church, but I had done nothing about it.
I knew that I'd never be able to learn how to meditate effectively without getting some guidance first and the thought of organized religion seemed so restrictive. You see, I've always been more spiritual than religious and I've always related better spiritually through music. That's when the lightbulb went off. I decided to audition for and join a gospel choir.
At first, I was a little worried about whether I'd really be able to make the time commitment necessary for rehearsals and performances. My choir rehearses for two hours each Monday and Wednesday evening and performs at two services over a five-hour time period on Sundays. Then, when I found out that we had to be at the church by 8:00a.m. each Sunday morning to warm up and do final preparations for the 9:00a.m. service, I wondered whether I'd be able to get there on time since I don't even get to work that early. I even wondered whether my burning desire to join a gospel choir and devote so many hours a week to it was just another form of procrastination in finishing my books.
Despite my concerns, I have to say that my decision to join the choir has been one of the best I ever made. I couldn't have found a church better suited to my personality and personal philosophy or a better group of people with whom to sing. My choir is a large one comprised of an extremely diverse group of people in terms of race, national origin, sexual orientation, professions, talents, walks of life and even religions since you don't have to join the church to be a part of the choir. Yet somehow, we come together every Sunday and make beautiful, uplifting and inspiring music. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to help make music that touches people's hearts, gives them hope and inspires them. I wake up crazy early every Sunday morning looking forward to repeating the experience.
Being a part of the choir has had a positive effect on my writing too. Using my talent for singing, which had remained dormant and unused for years, has stirred up my creative juices and inspired my writing. Being a member of the choir has also exposed me to some very interesting people and gave me a few ideas for future books. More on that later.
I guess the moral of this story is not to let the pressures of daily life get us so bogged down that we forget to nurture our souls. What would nurture your spirit? Listening to some good gospel music? Practicing meditation or yoga? Communing with nature? Joining a church? Whatever it is, take the time to do it. The benefits are numerous.
Let me know how it goes.