Staying Afloat: How to Develop ‘Spiritual Buoyancy’

“Spirituality is fearlessness. It is a way of looking boldly at this life we have been given, here, now, on earth, as this human being.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

Last night on Twitter, I asked my friends to suggest some topics for me to tackle and explore alongside you, the reader, here on DaveUrsillo.com.

A suggestion from my friend Francesca caught my attention: “Accepting the ups & downs of life would be nice. Struggling with it. And ways to cope, ride the waves.”

How timely, I thought, because I was in the midst of writing this very piece on riding the wavespractical methods for developing a deeply-rooted, inner resiliency to “stay afloat” when times are tough and you’re fighting just to keep your head above water. I call this practice, “Spiritual Buoyancy.”

(Note: a musical recommendation that you might enjoy listening to to accompany this piece: “Amongst the Waves” by Pearl Jam, on their recent album “Backspacer”)

Turbulent Waters: How Do We Ride the Waves?

To be dropped into a vast ocean without the ability to swim is to invite certain disaster.

And yet, we wonder how over the course of their day-to-day lives so many millions of men and women nearly “drown” when troubling times send high waves of uncertainty, fear, and sadness crashing down upon them.

How can we expect to survive without the ability to swim? Without a life-preserver to keep us afloat?

Of course, those who cannot swim will overcome this dilemma by simply avoiding the ocean!

However, in life, surely everybody encounters times of great challenge and difficulty, such as personal strife, the loss of life, and so on.

What we need to do is prepare ourselves internally to create a spiritual buoyancy, an inner resilience, that will help us keep above the water when we suddenly find ourselves struggling to stay afloat in a great ocean of uncertainty.

How to Develop Spiritual Buoyancy

“There is another level of spirituality… a basic spirituality… basic human qualities of goodness, kindness, compassion, caring. Whether we are believers or nonbelievers, this kind of spirituality is essential. As long as we are human beings, as long as we are members of a human family, all of us need these basic spiritual values.” ~The Dalai Lama

I believe that every human being has within them what could be described as a “Spirit” or “Soul,” regardless of one’s individual religious beliefs and what dogma might be espoused to religious institutions’ devout believers.

The spirit is an intrinsically human trait.

The spirit is a source of inner strength and perseverance; an embodiment of love and compassion that can be nurtured, developed, and maintained with practice like playing a sport or cooking or any other skill-set.

Developing a spiritual buoyancy is as simple as intently practicing goodness, kindness, compassion and caring — as the Dalai Lama suggests.

These traits are inherently human characteristics, and they necessarily involve a lot of interaction with others around us. We begin to nurture an inner spirit by providing ourselves to others.

Be kind. Be compassionate. Care. Do what is good.

Not everyone is naturally peppy, positive, and optimistic — and feeling any of those emotions is doubly hard during tough times.

When we are struggling to keep our heads above rough waters and turbulent waves, we can begin to flip our attitudes and mindsets by immersing ourselves in the lives of others — by giving a helping hand, offering what goods or advice or listening ears we possess — we begin to create a sense of spiritual strength, of true inner resiliency, a deeply grounded “buoyancy” within.

It might seem an irony, but by giving ourselves to others — beyond our means and at our inconvenience — and focus less on ourselves, our pains and suffering; we help develop the spiritual resiliency to stay afloat amid difficult times.

Enjoy this?

Get new stories and articles in your inbox every 2 weeks: