For more than a year, the Mennonite Spiritual Directors Network has been posting brief articles about spiritual direction – testimonies that witness to the potential of spiritual direction for encouraging and deepening spiritual growth.
In addition to continuing articles about spiritual direction, the series will also include brief articles about spiritual practices that renew our faith and strengthen us for ministries of love – peacemaking, healing, compassion and service.
Deanna Waggy is an occupational therapist, spiritual director and Certified Zero Balancer. She has a private wellness practice in South Bend, Indiana, and is a member of Kern Road Mennonite Church. You can find information about her cards at BalanceResourceCards.com. They are also available at the bookstore on the campus of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana.
A reoccurring theme in my life has been balance. My spiritual director helps me notice when balance emerges in different forms: life/death, work/rest, self/others, giving/receiving, scarcity/abundance, past/present/future, body/mind/spirit. Because balance is dynamic, there is a dance that occurs as I navigate life. I need something to create a still point to help balance these themes.
Spiritual practices help me find the balance point in my life.
I first began craving silence as a new mother. I used breath prayers in the middle of the night to relax me when I could not sleep. After reading Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, I began using mandalas and creative arts as my spiritual practices. I mowed a labyrinth in my front yard. I began journaling.
These tools help me connect with my inner feelings and also support a deeper connection to God.
They are the still points that create balance in my life. When I do not make time for spiritual practices in my life, then my sense of balance slips away.
After becoming a spiritual director, I discovered my directees had the same yearnings for balance in their lives. I watched as they discovered new spiritual practices which in turn brought balance to their body, mind and spirit. When they let those practices slip, so did their sense of balance.
I taught these same spiritual practices to my occupational therapy clients as tools for stress management. I noticed they were also struggling for balance in their lives.
My training as an occupational therapist and a spiritual director informed my view of seeing a whole person as body, mind, and spirit, instead of seeing a disability or a disease process.
Simple breathing techniques relaxed the body by switching the body’s stress response from the fight or flight mode to the rest and digest mode. When I introduced these clients to breath prayers, mandalas and journaling, they began to notice what was happening internally with their feelings and emotions. We began to have regular conversations about faith and prayer. Spiritual practices became powerful tools for stress management and healing because they helped balance the body, mind, and spirit.
After I had a series of dreams about creating a deck of cards with these spiritual practices, I decided to act on that dream. Nine months later, I picked up the finished product from the print shop and launched a website for my Balance Resource Cards. As I reflected on that whole process with my spiritual director, I realized these cards were ultimately for me. They are my top 64 tips for self care and wellness. I need to use a combination of them regularly to maintain balance in my life. As I choose different cards on different days, I am in tune with my body as a living sanctuary for the Divine. These cards, which are spiritual practices, are my still points, which bring healing and wholeness to my life.