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By Barbara McDowall

The Oxford Dictionary defines 'foundation' as 'the solid ground or base from which a building is built up.' Or in this case, the solid ground or base from which a person is built up. 

Just as a building requires a solid foundation to ensure its stability, we also require that same kind of support. This foundation is built, mindfully one brick at a time.  To become more aware, conscious and awake to who you really are (authentic self) requires a disciplined approach. It requires you to slow down, pay attention and to get below the surface of who you think you are.  This is the purpose of a solid spiritual foundation.
Like a garden if regularly tended, it will remain balanced and can be relied upon to support you no matter what happens on your journey of self-discovery and self-mastery.

What supports you when times are tough; when bad things happen to good people?  Is there an intentional foundation in place you can access when life throws you a curve?

Through experience I have learned the importance of intentionally and consciously creating a spiritual foundation that continues to support me through change and some tough times.

For success, the components of any spiritual foundation require intentionality, commitment and implementation.  Here are the ingredients of my spiritual foundation:

Conscious nutrition of the body
A healthy diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water is essential in taking care of the holy temple in which your spirit lives.  Eliminate fast food and any junk food.

Conscious nutrition of the mind
Expose yourself to new perspectives, new ideas through books, lectures, small groups, etc. to counter the misinformation about who you are and who you have been.  Self knowledge is self mastery. 

Include movement/exercise such as yoga, tai chi, nia, swimming, walking, hiking, jogging, etc. as a means of staying healthy and active.  Movement provides the gift of clarity and reminds us of the body, mind, and spirit connection.

Conscious breathing
Move beyond shallow chest breathing; breathing in a fight or flight mode.

Your lungs extend close to your waist which is where most toxins reside.  To fully cleanse these toxins, practice soft belly breathing (breathe like a baby).  Use your full breathing apparatus:  spine, diaphragm, rib cage and abdominal muscles.  Getting the full amount of oxygen into your brain allows you to think clearly and creatively ~ to be fully resourceful.

Define and apply personal values/templates daily
Take the time to clarify and apply your personal values every day.  Define a template for conscious living, e.g. Golden Rule, Prayer of St. Francis, Four Agreements, Eightfold Path (Buddhism), etc. and practice it daily.  Close the gap between who you say you are and who you show up as.

Daily Spiritual Practice
Begin your day in prayer (conversation with god), meditation, yoga, journaling, or walking, etc.  End each day with meditation or writing in a gratitude journal.

A daily spiritual practice allows you to develop a deeper relationship with your Source ~ beyond 9-1-1 and Let's Make a Deal.

Connection to a spiritual community
Being in community can be a wonderful support as you journey through life.  Community consists of any group that meets on a regular basis, e.g. yoga class, a small discussion group, a quilting group or a bridge group.  It is here you can find support, encouragement and be challenged you be all you can be. 

Service to others
When life seems to be without any hope or meaning and you are feeling as though you are the only person in the world beset with problems, offer help to someone less fortunate.  You realize you are not alone and it can provide you with another perspective.  Your city is filled with opportunities to be of service.

Quality people in your World
Are the people in your quality world congruent with each other?  Are they positive, supportive people who support you exactly where you are?  If not, lovingly remove them from that 'inner circle' and place them in the 'outer ring'.  Choosing not to spend as much time with them, will allow you to move toward your dreams and goals. 

Awareness/ moderation of addictions
Addictions can be a signpost telling us there is something we need to take a look at.  Watching too much TV, drinking too much, indulging in drugs and too much sex or work numbs us and keeps us asleep.  Take the time to look at any and all addictions and take steps to address the root cause.

Adequate sleep
Get a good night's sleep that allows you to be rested, ready to be fully present in each and every moment the following day.  You can then respond appropriately to situations as they present themselves.  Intentionally set up your sleep space by eliminating such distractions as radios, and TVs.  Have a bath, light a few candles; meditate.

Work that supports who you really are
Find work that allows you to contribute from the core of your authenticity; work you are passionate about; work that honours your personal values; work that is fulfilling and on purpose.

Uplifting language
Use language is that empowering and uplifting; not demeaning and disempowering of self and others.  Do not participate in gossip.

Regular self-care
Take some time away from the usual busy routine of work and home life, time in nature, attending to your personal care through massage, a visit to the naturopath, candle lit baths, manicures and pedicures.

Develop a good sense of humour.  See the humour in challenging situations.  Humour has the power to heal.

Authentic Living