Whether we’re aware of it or not, some of the activities we engage in routinely can be helpful to us in bringing body, mind, and soul into balance. When we perform them deliberately for those reasons, I like to call them power activities. These activities offer us the gift of being “out of our minds” for a while, away from the confines of our thoughts, and they allow the soul to have a voice. They help us tap into our creativity, intuition, insight, and imagination, and allow us to access more of ourselves than the logical, linear self. Power activities are a gateway to the soul.
Whenever I feel the need to bring my being back into alignment, I return to my body, in the present, and pay attention to the sensory information coming in at the moment. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, movement, and tactile sensations are pathways to my creativity and to my soul. When I focus on them, I can quiet my thinking, move beyond the boundaries of my mind, and gain access to my soul’s wisdom. Power activities guide me in knowing my integrated self, and they support me in creating and contributing my gifts in the world.
As each of us becomes more attuned to ourselves and our individual needs, we will discover which activities serve to restore our balance. These become our power activities, and the ones that are most effective will be different for every person. The activities I prefer are a combination that is unique to me, just as yours will be unique to you.
To give you an example, walking and running outdoors by myself are key elements in my power activities list. Although walking in the company of others provides exercise and often stimulating conversation, it doesn’t restore me in the same way as time alone. Likewise, walking or running on a treadmill indoors helps to keep my body in shape and often quiets my mind, but doesn’t serve to nurture my soul as being in nature would.
The “power” in power activities is that they can reset the entire system. When I walk or run on my own, I am more likely to notice the rhythm of my movement, take in the smell of the fresh air, and hear the birds. The longer I run or walk, the more I feel in tune with the natural world around me. After a run, my body has been served by the movement, my mind has been quieted, and my soul has been honored by the gifts of nature.
When I’m quiet on the yoga mat and am focused, I can find unity within myself while surrounded by others in a crowded room. If I’m fully concentrating my attention on my body and the instructor’s cues, I’m able to ignore what others are doing. By not making conversation with people and not comparing myself to anyone else, I’m better able to tap into my being. Afterwards I often find I have a new idea or deeper insight.
Your own menu of power activities might include biking, hiking, skiing, climbing, or possibly dance, sewing, gardening, or pottery. Your list can also involve massage, Reiki, biofeedback, or some other way of engaging the services of others. The goal is to identify activities that are inspiring. For individuals whose capacity for physical movement is truly limited, the key is to find ways to move beyond the confines of the mind. For many this is music or meditation. For others, it could be poetry, journaling, or art. Frequency and variety are what matter.
Combining power activities is another strategy I use to help me renew. Cooking while listening to carefully chosen music is one way to do this. It stimulates all of the senses through colors, textures, aromas, flavors, and sound. Of course, I enjoy cooking with others, but I cannot be as present to my own process when in conversation. Tuning in to oneself is paramount for any activity that’s meant to serve as a power activity.
The importance of these activities is that they integrate our being and then inform our doing as we move through life with mindfulness. I’ve found that I need to continually be attending to myself by doing power activities multiple times per week. As I use these activities to quiet my mind and nurture my whole being, they support me in looking objectively at the facts and responding from my heart in ways that honor the interconnectedness of all living things.
So, when you’re feeling wonky or can’t think clearly, take time to engage in any activity of your choice—alone or with others, indoors or out—that will support your intention to integrate your body, mind, and soul. Being present is one of the keys to a truly restorative process. Aim to keep your body fit, relax your mind, and allow your soul to express itself.