I recently started posting photographs on Instagram again. Initially, when I first joined, the experience did not resonate with me. I kept the account, though, thinking that I might one day return to it when I could find more value and meaning in the process of posting and viewing the posts of others.

When I decided to use it as a platform for spreading messages about mindfulness and living mindfully, I discovered a wealth of information and positivity on Instagram. It was really mind-blowing. At first, it was just a shock that anyone wanted to follow our silly little account, but then I began to discover that there are a lot of people out there thinking of creative ways to spread messages of wellness and goodwill. It's quite inspiring and incredibly humbling.

I think perhaps I did not realize how hungry I was for the community of people that are earnest in sharing their discoveries, insights, and knowledge with others in a creative format. I absolutely love how accessible photography has become for all. The talent and vision of other artists on the web is astounding, and there is something to be said for viewing art as a mindful practice in and of itself.

In my minute discoveries, I came across Over the Moon Mag. Initially, I was a little wary, because I didn't understand the demographic or the message. After reaching out to the Elle, the ingenius editor and stylist behind Over the Moon, I started reading between the lines.

In my professional role and in my personal life, I watch for patterns. Whether it's the intricate, yet funny coincidences or the uncanny conspicuousness of life events happening at just the right time that bring about serendipitous insights, patterns can be very indicative of our state of mind at a given time. It's not so much a matter of what you believe in, as having a system for defining what's meaningful and important that makes sense to you

Even for those who don't ascribe to a particular spiritual or religious practice, as human beings we imbue meaning in everything we do. Our actions, thoughts, and words have meaning because we have a prefrontal cortex. We assign meaning to make sense of our experience, and for some this can be a spiritual or religious endeavor. For others, it "is what it is," and that's perfectly alright too.

I posit that no matter who you are, assigning meaning is a transcendent process. It expands our awareness, nudges the corners of our boundaries, and explodes our understanding at the best of times. It also challenges us and occasionally diminishes us when we struggle with doubt, self-criticism, guilt, and shame, but then we rise anew with a passion and earnestness that serves as our new baseline.

When reading an article on Over the Moon about energetic alignment and dietary choices, I didn't allow myself to get lost in a spiritual practice I didn't understand. What I took away is the concept of goodness of fit. This is a concept that factors in strongly in the field of psychology. Whether it's a therapeutic modality, rapport with a clinician, a setting, or even an idea, it ultimately doesn't work if it's a poor fit for the person(s). In layman's terms: If it doesn't fit, don't wear it. 

When I think about alignment, the thing that automatically comes to mind is not an esoteric spiritual practice, but car maintenance. We all have to get the alignment on our vehicles checked from time to time, especially if we have had a mishap with a curb recently. Alignment of the soul, on the other hand, comes down to whether we are living our lives in a way this is attuned and in-tune with our values and the things we find meaningful.

For Jeff and I, alignment means bettering our observation skills and lessening the practice of judgment. These are core mindfulness tenets, but it's often easier said than done. I think this is especially the case because we began our relationship as high school sweethearts. When you have literally grown up together and watched another person develop from an adolescent into an adult and struggle through the inevitable obstacles of living, it's easy to assume you know what will happen next instead of welcoming something as new simply because it hasn't happened yet. 

Another aspect of alignment is about staying true to our course, on an individual and marital level. We regularly evaluate our progress and talk at length about where we see ourselves in the future on many levels: academically, vocationally, physically, romantically. It's all of value, and taking good care of our individual selves and our relational selves requires that we monitor our alignment as individuals and as a couple. It's a shared process. 

Today, I watched a webinar by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk. He noted frequently throughout the presentation that we do not exist alone. We are relational creatures, and we define ourselves and our sense of self in relation to other people. Relationships are the heart and soul of the self. Dr. Van der Kolk also stated that the more we notice the self and meet the self where it is at (rather than where we want it to be), the more we get in touch with the core of our self. Essentially, soul maintenance and repair means being able to observe our progress in the journey non-judgmentally and then evaluate course corrections. We do this in the context of our relationships, community, and culture. In essence, we exist within a system. When we are out of alignment, others parts of the system may be as well.

When you consider what is truly meaningful to you, do you feel on track? Are you just surviving or are you thriving? Do you need a metaphorical or metaphysical re-alignment? To get to where you want to be, what do you need to manifest in the here-and-now? Is it a thought, an affirmation, a feeling? When you shine the light of self-reflection on your current self, what is highlighted? What falls into shadow? What needs to be cut away or let go so that you can be may live and represent your values with authenticity and with passion?
Whatever it may be : Sieze it, be it, do it.