My 5-year-old granddaughter knows how and often takes “selfies”.
Don't we all?
For many of us who grew up with cameras that didn’t have that functionality, it may be slightly awkward but let’s be honest, it’s now somewhat of a cultural norm.
Snapping a selfie is often an automatic accompaniment to various moments in our day; we pause to take a picture of ourselves on a beautiful hike, at a festive party, eating a special meal, sitting on a plane about to take off.
What is the purpose? The motivation?
Is it to record events in our life?
To show off?
To make it look like we are happier than we are?
It’s worth asking yourself what the point of all those selfies really is.
While it may be harmless, and even enjoyable, what I know for sure is that it is not a practice that brings us closer to our true selves. We may look at the pictures (unless we just post them for others and never look at them!) and feel completely disconnected from ourselves, wondering whether that fake smile was convincing or not. Or maybe we look at them and think we look great at that moment and start obsessing about how to look as good the next time around.
They are outward expressions of who we wish we were and who we worry we might be or not be.
What if we chose to take a “soulfie” instead, traveling inward to see how we become truly alive and fulfilled; doing what matters most to us and helping us bring more peace and love into the world. In other words, look into your soul and discover who you really are.
While everyone may have his or her own definition of the soul, for now I am using the word soul as Naomi Levy does in her book, Einstein and the Rabbi . “I envision the soul as a compass that resides within us, always pointing us to eternal things- love, beauty, wholeness, meaning, union, calling, God…. The soul has wisdom to offer us, answers to questions that haunt us. There is something that your soul knows that you’ve forgotten.” It is fundamental to one’s journey through life to connect with that part of us (call it soul) that is always at work, guiding us in the direction that we need to go in order to be at peace. We need to focus on what our soul most needs and honor the truths found there. As Oscar Wilde writes, “in your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.
Being true to your soul is your ticket home. As Horace Mann wrote: “the living soul of man, once conscious of its power, cannot be quelled.”
Taking a “soulfie” requires time, commitment and a willingness to be moved.
Begin by asking yourself what activities or relationships nourish your soul. Allow the answers to come to you slowly and perhaps unexpectedly.
Next, ask yourself if there’s anything your soul has been trying to tell you that you hid from or ignored?’
The mind will try to convince you that there was a good reason for not listening to the soul. Go ahead and listen to the words of logic but then sense the murmurs of the soul and decide for yourself what feels right. The writer and spiritual teacher, Caroline Myss, knows exactly what I am referring to. "The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”
Finally, ask what does my soul yearn for? While the answer may pop right up for you, some of us need to sit with this one for a while. Do things that are good for the soul: take a walk in the woods or on the beach, listen to a spectacular piece of music or watch a sunset or sunrise and the answer will reveal itself. Let it continue to hold your attention, and allow it to speak to you softly but clearly, fully acknowledging those yearnings.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about the people I am drawn to and whom I admire most. I realized that the common denominator of all of my “heroes” is that they are living their most soulful lives.
Charles Bukowski puts it this way: "The free soul is rare but you know it when you see it- basically because you feel good, very good when you are near or with them.”
Don’t overcomplicate things. Do what nourishes your body as well as your soul. Listen to it calling you. You will know it when you see it and it will make you feel good, very good. Include people in your inner circle who are living their soul's desires. It's contagious!
Marianne Williamson is unequivocal that "the soul is the truth of who we are.” There is nowhere we have to go to discover the secrets of the soul. Rather, it's about discovering what's not good for the soul and casting it out that is important. Let the soul breathe, reemerging into your life.
According to C.S Lewis “you don’t have a soul. You are a soul”.
So, go ahead and take a “soulfie” and then look at it closely.
What can you learn from this inward investigation?
Does the “soulfie” need more light? Is it in focus? How is the color? Are there shadows in it? Does the setting do it justice?
Be curious, be open, be real.
Follow those soul stirrings beyond the obvious, the materialistic, the popular, and the easy. You know what matters most.
And so does Bob Marley:
“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver and gold.”
Reach for what moves you, delights you, soothes you and steadies you. You will then have taken a perfect “soulfie"!
With love and light, Nora