Trends Newsletter

   ICA Trends 
October 2017

Ten Ways to Care for the Soul (From Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore)By Caren Goldman 

            Typically, at the end of a lecture or during the phone-in segment of a radio interview, Tom Moore’s audiences want to know how to care for the soul.  The key, he tells them is not to be preoccupied with maladies and cures, but to give serious attention to the imagination.  “From some grand overview of life, it may seem that only the big events are ultimately important.  But to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.”

            Here are ten of Moore’s suggestions for practicing “care of the soul”.

            Nourish and educate your imagination.  The mind thinks; the soul imagines.  Reading, listening to stories, exposing yourself to all the arts are ways of caring for the soul.  The stuff of the world is there to be made into images that become for us tabernacles of spirituality and containers of mystery.

            Respond to what asks to be dealt with. Take what’s most pressing at the moment.You don’t have to look around for something else to do. The most pressing thing can be as complicated as a relationship, but it can also be as simple as a door falling off a hinge.Soul is affected by the small details and tiny decisions of everyday life.    

            Listen to your heart. We avoid caring for the soul when we have superficial, ready-made explanations for what’s going on in our lives.  The soul is poetic.  There’s never one story that will explain everything.  Simple explanations of our pain can keep the soul from flourishing, no matter how compelling the story behind them.

            Learn to live with complexity. To care for the soul, we must live with complexity instead of running from it.  Ask the question, “How do I distance myself from the problems and challenges in my life?”  Is it by not using my talent and gifts? By not being able to live with not knowing? By avoiding paradox and mystery?  Care of the soul does not offer the illusion of a problem-free life.  The poet John Keats says the point is to “feel” existence.

            Live an individual life.  Be willing to go against the grain of the establishment.  This might mean becoming more eccentric, or even being irrational.  Recognize that care of the soul results in an individual “I” that you may never have planned for.

            Choose work that suits the soul, as well as the budget.  Explore the “soul values” of your potential work.  What is its spirit?  Will you be treated as a person here?  Is there a feeling of community?  Do people love their work?  Are there any moral or ethical problems?  It’s not possible to care for the soul while violating one’s own moral sensibility.

            Be of service to others. Recognize that the soul exists beyond your personal circumstances and conceptions.  You are well on the way toward soul when you feel attachment to your family, community, and the world.

            Learn that the soul speaks through simple things. Recognize the soul speaking in your home furnishings, in architecture, in mountains and lakes, in boarded-up houses and crime-ridden streets—in everything around you. In the idea of anima mundi there is no separation between the individual soul and the world’s soul.

            Know your own mythology.  Mythology is not the same as myth.  It is a collection of stories that attempts to portray the myths, the deep patterns, that we live out in our ordinary lives.  Our memories, reflections and dreams are all rich with imagination and soul.  As we reflect on our experiences and learn to express them artfully, we are making life more soulful.

            Be exposed to spirituality in a soulful way.  The emphasis here is on images and stories instead of high spiritual achievement.  Discover many different spiritual traditions and let them teach you how to make ritual part of your everyday life.  Ritual is an action that speaks to the heart and soul but doesn’t necessarily make sense in a literal way.  By letting go more and more of what Jungians call the dominant function—our primary mode of relating with life—we can give more care to the soul every day.

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