Artwork by a friend of mine – the prayer I wrote for Evelyn is wrapped around the hands.

When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to raise her to be in touch with her spiritual dimension, but I also knew following one particular religion wasn’t something I am comfortable with. So, I wrote a prayer for her. Over the years, I have given considerable thought about raising a spiritual child without religion.

You don’t have to believe in a supreme patriarchal being to teach your child the great spiritual lessons. Whatever your beliefs, you probably want your children to know that life is sacred; that their presence in the world can and does bring joy and goodness; that things have a way of working out (not always as we expect, but always as we need them to). We want our kids to know that life’s greatest joy is often found in the small things and that our purpose in life – the purpose we all share – is to love generously.

I knew that even if I didn’t teach my daughter about a “God”, per se, that I wanted her to know that she is a co-creator of her life, that the Universe has her back, and that her intuition should always be her guide and that it won’t ever steer her wrong.

When I was little, I recited a bedtime prayer each night. I wanted that tradition for my daughter too, without religious undertones, so I wrote this prayer and have been saying it with her every night since she was a wee baby:

Thank you Universe for this day

For the blessings and lessons that came my way

May my sleep be filled with dreams and rest

And tomorrow may I do my best

After we say that, we list the people we love and ask the Universe to take care of them and keep them safe.

Non-religious spiritual lessons for children

Your intuition is your guide 

We want our children to believe in their own power and inner wisdom. One of the things I always tell my daughter is to trust her own gut. Trust what her ‘belly’ or feelings say about a person or a situation. Children are fantastic judges of character. When my daughter feels uneasy with someone or tells me directly (once we’re out of earshot) that someone isn’t a good person, I believe her. Children (and animals!) always see someone’s heart.

I want her to believe that her heart knows best even as she grows into a teenager and grown woman. Teaching her to listen to her inner wisdom is perhaps one of the most important lessons I want to teach. If I hadn’t spent so much time doubting my inner compass, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through some things I have in the past. Intuition never steers us wrong.

There is always something we can do to make things better.

Whether this is through a small act of kindness for a stranger, doing something thoughtful for someone we love, or trying to change our own frame of mind about a situation, we can always do something. Wishing is good. Dreams are important. And even the occasional pity party when things are going wrong is okay. But we need to take action in order to change things for the better. It is my belief that raising children spiritually means raising empowered children who believe in their ability to make things better – whether for themselves, another person or even their community.

Practice gratitude 

Gratitude is a tried and true spiritual practice that works regardless of your beliefs about the nature of the divine. Regularly practicing gratitude makes us happier. When we’re struggling emotionally, gratitude can lift us up. Looking at what we do have and acknowledging the good brings more good to us. Somehow, gratitude seems to open the door to the life we want. When the Universe sees us practicing gratitude, we’re able to receive more, and we get more out of life as a result.

For this, I try to model the behaviour. I say aloud how lucky we are to have this beautiful day, a family as loving as ours, friends as generous in spirit and time, each other’s love and support, this cozy home we share, her incredible school and teacher, etc..

Respect nature

I’m sometimes sad about the world – the earth – we are leaving behind for our children and our children’s children. Will they have wars over access to clean water? Will their oceans be so polluted they’ll be void of life? I don’t spend time focusing on that, though. I focus on the kind of child I can raise who can be a steward to the Earth.

My daughter was born with a natural inclination to be good to Mother Earth. She often picks up (safe) litter and carries it to the closest trash can. She speaks of this frequently – that she wants us all to be good to her, to respect all of all the animals who share this planet with us. This is all stuff out of my daughter’s mouth – she has taught me how to be a good citizen to this planet.

We want to raise children who appreciate nature. Who know the divinity of dipping into a cool lake on a hot summers’ day, and the peace that can be found sitting underneath a tree. And who want to make sure that we treat this planet we have respectfully, so we leave a clean and livable place for future generations.

Spirituality and deep connections can be found in the stillness

My daughter and I have our best conversations when the electronics are turned off in the house, there’s no background music playing. We have our deepest chats and our creative breakthroughs in the still of the quiet. We have our emotional connections strengthened when it’s quiet. I want my daughter to know that it’s okay to be quiet and in fact, it can be healing. Even if sitting with a friend who is hurting – sometimes quiet is better than saying anything at all.

There’s meditation too (and YouTube has some great children’s meditation videos!). Any adult who has taught themselves how to meditate can tell you how hard it is to quiet our minds. Children, I think, have an easier time at this. So if we can teach them the tools for meditation early on so it’s not a struggle later, why not?

These are some of the spiritual lessons I hope to impart on my daughter, but this is not an exhaustive list. Stay tuned for part 2: more on relationships with angels/guides, kindness to others, etc…

If you are a parent/auntie/uncle/guardian, what are some of the spiritual lessons you hope to impart on the children in your life?

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Setting: 2007. 2am or thereabouts. My basement apartment bathroom. Dim lighting. No windows.

Crouching while seated on the toilet, I leaned forward to place my head in my hands in an attempt to steady myself as the room I was in spun around me. But instead of placing my head in my hands as intended, I leaned forward and smacked my face squarely on the shelving unit in front of me. Defeated, I lay on the floor and wept, wondering where I’d gone wrong and why I couldn’t stop. Why couldn’t I stop drinking? Why couldn’t I just keep the promise I made to myself every morning and stop finding excuses? Why did I have to feel everything so intensely and why did I turn to alcohol to numb all of it?

At the lowest point in my life, I was drinking alcohol way too often, whether alone or with friends. I had a stalker. I was entrenched in my own intense emotions as well as those of the people around and connected to me. I was miserable. And I felt so lost. I really wasn’t good to myself, but I knew I could – and would – do better.

After my tears dried, I gathered my wits about me and winced at my reflection, horrified at the gash on my nose and the already purple bruise forming in the center of my face. In that moment, I promised myself I would get my shit together. I had to. Each morning I woke up, my wound was a reminder of this promise (and my shame). Shortly after the bruise – my visible reminder to be good to myself – faded away, I found myself in a Goodwill, holding the book that would change the entire direction of my life.

Over the years, I’ve had a large number of requests to write about empaths and alcohol. I’ve written about empaths surviving the holidays, empaths at work, empaths living out our life purposes. But empaths and alcohol? Until now, I’ve avoided the topic because writing about empaths and their relationship with alcohol requires me to write from a state of honest vulnerability. I could write about empaths and their relationship to alcohol without adding my story to the article, but something is telling me to share.

Because someone reading this might need it as much as I needed to find that book in a Goodwill all those years ago. I saw myself within the pages of that book in which Colette Baron-Reid described her own abuse of substances before she knew she was an intuitive empath. Maybe someone else needs to hear my story of healing too.

I’m an empath. And I have turned to alcohol to numb everything that comes with that in the past. Not anymore, thanks to some serious soul searching, energy healing and self-love. But it was an internal battle I had as I was going through my Saturn Return. In order to ‘survive’ a party amongst friends, I had to get intoxicated. I was an empath but I didn’t yet know what that was or what it meant for me. All I knew is that being in crowds was too intense for me – I could feel everything. Energetic protection was something I had not a clue about at this point.

Now, I know what being an empath means. I’ve learned how to protect my energy so I don’t have to absorb everything. I have a toolbox of things I do before I go places with a large number of people (though if I’m being honest I avoid this more and more as I age!) so I don’t ‘have’ to get intoxicated to get through it. I know myself well enough to avoid going to malls (thank the Universe for online shopping!) or anywhere else that will have a lot of people in a small space with too much to absorb.

If you are an empath and struggling with substance abuse, know you are not alone. A lot of empaths struggle with this as we navigate our way out of absorbing everything and learning to protect ourselves. This Reddit thread is a discussion amongst empaths about the substances they use to ‘turn off’ their sensitivities. It’s more common than you may think!

Because of the overwhelming emotions of others, we often look for ways to numb, to cope. This is where addiction or escapism sometimes rolls into the picture. Because we are not aware that we have collected everyone else’s energy into our already overloaded systems, we melt down and look for a way to become comfortable. With no awareness or tools to understand what being an empath means, many of us look to numb ourselves because it is overwhelming. I used to feel like I was crawling out of my skin in large groups, completely overwhelmed by feeling what everyone in the room was feeling but not saying. (Try lying to an empath – go ahead, just try it – they’ll know instantly even if they say nothing!).

As an empath, you feel everything, and there’s no way to stop this sensitivity: it’s just who you are. All the feelings and emotions of other people and all other Universes of energy, plants, objects, and even places are felt by you.

Judith Orloff, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA says:

Empaths actually feel other people’s emotions and physical symptoms in their bodies, without the usual defenses most people have. Empaths feel things first, then they think [about them], which is the opposite of how most people function. Empaths sense other people’s emotions in our bodies without the usual filters; we can hear what they don’t say.

Being an empath has its benefits – it’s something I love about myself. It brings with it greater intuition, compassion, creativity and a deeper connection with other people. But living in this state of high sensitivity also comes with its challenges, such as becoming easily overwhelmed, over-stimulated, or exhausted, or absorbing stress and negativity from others.

Given these risks, it’s not surprising that empaths are particularly vulnerable to developing depression, anxiety, emotional burnout and addictions.

If you’re an empath, one of the keys to protecting your physical and emotional well-being is to avoid absorbing other people’s stress and negative energy excessively. There are different strategies that can help with this. Experiment and see what works best for you.

  • Learn to set boundaries: If someone is draining your energy or emotional reserve, limit the amount of time you spend with him or her or keep the length of the conversation to a minimum. Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry but I don’t have the time or energy to talk right now,” or, “I’m not up for going out tonight; I’m too wiped out.” Protecting your energy isn’t selfish – because ultimately, you’ll have more energy to give support after you’ve filled up your own ‘tank’.
  • Stay in tune with your emotions: When you feel a sudden shift in mood or the onset of emotional overload, ask yourself whether the new feeling is genuinely yours or belongs to a loved one or someone around you. Chances are, if you hadn’t felt anxious or depressed or sad before, the discomfort you’re feeling likely belongs to someone else. Acknowledging that what you feel doesn’t belong to you can help dissipate the feelings you absorb from other people — or prevent them from having as deep or draining an impact as they might otherwise have.
  • Alone time:  Empaths need to spend time alone to regroup and centre ourselves. For me, just sitting alone in silence is what I need. Find what works for you, whether it’s sitting quietly, breathing slowly and deeply, meditating, or listening to soothing music. I also find water healing – I either go for a walk near a body of water if possible or even just stand in the shower for a few minutes to wash any emotions that don’t belong to me off.
  • Spend time in nature: Sitting underneath a tree and letting her absorb my energy is always healing for me. Use your senses to experience the sights, sounds, smells and physical sensations of the grass, soil, plants around you, etc…
  • Put some distance between yourself and others (whether real or imagined): Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries between yourself and others. Even those you love most, you still need breaks from. Be honest and vocal about how you’re feeling whenever possible. I find most people understand when I need a break from it all and if I word it gently enough, they are willing to give me the space I need in order to regroup and center myself.
  • Create your energetic shield: Something I like to do when I feel overwhelmed by my empath ‘feelers’ is to visualize separating myself from other people’s energy. I put up an energy ‘shield’ around my body that prevents other people’s negative emotions from reaching me. This allows me to stay physically present but have an invisible boundary that helps protect my energy.

With healthy coping mechanisms, I no longer turn to alcohol to numb myself. Because it is no longer a habit, the temptation is no longer there, but when I was first finding healthier ways to manage being an intuitive empath, I had to really fight the battle within myself to get and stay healthy. Now, I use the tips suggested above and have a healthy relationship with myself, with alcohol (I can drink a couple drinks and not abuse it!) and others.

Are you an empath who has experienced substance abuse or used something to escape? I’d love to hear your story. If you have any coping mechanisms, I’d love to hear that too!

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Writing New Moon Intentions – with a partner or by yourself

October 15, 2017

For a couple years now, I’ve been writing New Moon intentions. The new moon is the first phase of the moon, and it represents the beginning of a cycle. (A full moon represents the closing of a cycle). The new moon is considered to be an ideal time to plant the “seeds” of the things we want […]

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Signs of intuition & psychic abilities in children

October 15, 2017

Children as young as three years old (and sometimes even younger, if they’re particularly verbal!) have been known to share stories they remember from their past lives. Not all children remember their past lives, or feel the need to express them. All children are born with a clear channel to Spirit. After all, they’re much […]

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11 signs you’ve met your twin flame

June 28, 2017

Okay, I’ll admit it. I used to think the whole idea of “twin flames” was a bunch of hogwash. Yeah – the woman who talks about spirit guides and soul mates, reincarnation and energy healing thought something related to these topics sounded…a little bit (or a lot) made up. That is, until I met mine. When […]

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Children of the Dirt

February 10, 2015

My parents were here in Toronto visiting this past weekend, and it was so wonderful to have my home filled with love and family and laughter. When they left yesterday and my daughter and I came home to an empty house, I sat down and cried; I felt so alone. My family all lives a […]

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Cobwebs & Changes

February 5, 2015

If a website could collect cobwebs, The Daily Awe would be covered in them. There have been many times that I’ve contemplated blogging here, but either forgot, got distracted or didn’t feel inspired enough to hit ‘publish’. I keep a fairly active Facebook page where I post quite a bit, but only a very small number of you are […]

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4 year “blogiversary” and birthday celebration – with a giveaway!

July 17, 2014

It’s been 4 years now since I started blogging here at The Daily Awe. 4 years!  It started off as a way to satiate my desire to write and talk about my journey on a path to self-healing, discovery and intuitive development. I look back at some of my first articles and cringe. I’m happy to […]

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Soulful Parenting – a review and a giveaway

May 27, 2014

My little girl is a dreamer – she’s often in her own little world, head in the clouds, laughing at her own private jokes. I often wonder what it is she’s thinking about; does she still remember what it’s like to be on the Other Side? Sometimes Evelyn will point to “nothing” (seriously, she’ll point […]

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How to improve your relationship with money

April 21, 2014

Money is a really sensitive topic for most people. Many of us don’t speak about it openly. It’s taboo to talk about it – we cloak money in secrecy – how much we make, how we spend it, and what it means to us. We obsess over it: how to bring it in, keep it, […]

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