By David Solomon, author of “The Dead Saints Chronicles: A Zen Journey Through the Christian Afterlife”
It’s almost Easter, and the promise of springtime is in the air. (Finally!) This is the season of rebirth. And it’s only natural that as dark, depressing winter gives way to budding greenery, we find ourselves longing for physical and spiritual renewal.
We’re wired to feel joy and hope when we can see life bursting forth everywhere we look. The Earth is literally clueing us in to the spirit of rejuvenation that people of all walks of life should embrace.
Read on for nine simple tips to help you renew your spirit this spring:
1. Really savor life’s simple pleasures.
Take time out of your day to enjoy the taste of delicious food (hello, Easter ham and marshmallow Peeps!) and perhaps a glass of good wine. Inhale the rich, mysterious fragrance of dirt as you prepare your garden. If you have a moment of pure silence, tune into that moment so you really experience it. Get a massage as a treat and make a point of staying present throughout.
Life is abundant with gifts of indescribable beauty. The more you practice alertness and experience life happening now, the more you will be able to appreciate the good parts of life — because you are paying attention to them.
2. Keep a spiritual journal.
One of the best ways to practice self-care is to keep a journal. I personally am meticulous with my journaling practice, and having a written record of my life has been an invaluable factor in my spiritual journey.
Each day, take 10 or 15 minutes to write. Write what you feel: your thoughts, dreams, questions. By checking in with yourself daily through writing, you will gain a keen sense of what peace means to you, and your soul will go to work to find the answers.
3. Embrace an art form that gives you goosebumps.
Art is one of the most transformative modes of communication. It helps us connect to our humanity and the Earth on a deeper level — sometimes that connection is even beyond words.
Find your own meaningful form of art to either practice or appreciate. Some examples may include painting or sketching, learning a musical instrument, or taking a sewing or acting class.
4. Practice gratitude daily.
Maybe you’re having a tough time right now, or maybe things are going a-okay (I hope!). Either way, get used to feeling grateful for the gifts you do have. Sometimes writing them down in a gratitude journal can help, but you don’t have to do that: Just use your senses and pause to reflect on the beauty you see, hear, taste, and smell around you.
Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving, because it forces you to continually find the silver linings during life’s storms. Acknowledging the positives in your life makes even the roughest paths seem more tolerable and in time will make you more resilient.
5. Find a spiritual practice that resonates with you.
If you don’t want to go to church or adopt any sort of belief system, that’s fine. But it is important to work on connecting your body, mind, and soul in some meaningful way. Check out a yoga class, or meditation, or find a spot by a stream or lake that gives you a peaceful feeling. The possibilities are endless; you can even create a “shrine” in your home. It doesn’t need to mimic an altar; it’s enough to have a collection of photos and objects that remind you of people you love or make you feel serene.
6. Weave random acts of kindness into the fabric of your life.
There is no better way to celebrate the spirit of Easter than being kind and loving to others. You don’t have to be showy; sometimes a smile is all it takes to brighten a stranger’s day. But if you really wanted to, you could buy a bunch of flowers and give them to a neighbor who seems lonely or heavy-hearted. Or just be extra generous when tipping your server. Paying it forward is a kindness that will only perpetuate love, and love is the primary force of Heaven.
7. Find something to smile about every day.
Choosing joy over sadness is a continual journey. You’re not going to feel great every day. Bad things are going to happen. But choosing how you respond to life’s ups and downs will affect you deeply in the long run. That’s why it is so important to smile every day. Soon, you may notice that your outlook is more hopeful than ever before. And hope is what it’s all about.
8. Cultivate a springtime garden.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what Heaven looks like. Let your imagination run wild. Now open your eyes and figure out how you can incorporate a literal interpretation of Heaven in your own garden or home.
I have extensively studied the phenomenon known as the near-death experience (NDE), and a common theme among NDEs is that the Afterlife is a place of stunning, indescribable natural beauty. Many NDE survivors strongly believe that this place they visited is Heaven — and that visit changed their lives forever. Even if you’ve personally never “seen” Heaven, you can envision it.
Once you have an idea of what Heaven looks like to you, find flowers and other plants that match the colors you envision. This is the perfect time of year to start a garden or even just plant seeds in a window box if you don’t have a lot of space. Pot indoor plants and trees to make your interior just as beautiful as the outdoors.
9. Find inspiration through music.
You probably already know which music feels intuitively good to you. Find time every day to play music in your home that resonates and makes you feel connected to your own spirit — or to a higher power. Maybe you love to listen to jazz on Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee. Or, say, ’80s pop makes you feel joyous and giddy. (I’m not judging!) Find a time to get lost in your music and enjoy the peace you feel when that happens.
The human spirit responds to music. It’s not surprising that many NDEs include descriptions of beautiful, otherworldly music. So whatever music feels good to you, incorporate it into your life to really internalize the hope and peace this season naturally brings.
Creating your own Heaven on Earth is a powerful way to take a stand against dreariness, cynicism, and negativity. When you mindfully practice these tips (and come up with your own), you’ll find that each day becomes more colorful, more richly textured, more infused with joy and meaning.
While Easter means different things to different people, each of us could stand to have a little more hope and peace day to day. Glimpses of Heaven are all around us, if we choose to open our eyes and acknowledge them. It’s my hope that the Earth’s rebirth here at the advent of spring inspires everyone to find a way to bring the essence of Heaven into their homes and hearts.
David Solomon is a Christian minister and the author of The Dead Saints Chronicles: A Zen Journey Through the Christian Afterlife. He is regarded as a leading philosopher and exponent of cosmological mythology, Bible interpretation, and prophecy. In addition to a lifetime of spiritual studies under renowned Christian and Buddhist teachers, David is the founder of a multi-million dollar payment processing company, Fast Transact, Inc.