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It's time to be honest: we are in unprecedented and very challenging times. We're all busy and lose touch of our routines with friends, family and even ourselves. We sometimes cheat on our diets or forget to do one thing in our skincare routines. Even being positive consistently can be a real challenge. It can sometimes feel easier to speak well on others and negatively on ourselves. (First of all, let me tell you to stop that. Talk about yourself the same way you'd talk about your best friend, favorite cousin or that coworker you love getting lunch with.)

The truth is, we have the power to speak so much over our lives, through prayer, affirmations, meditation, visualization and reflection. But the words we use are just as important as what we use them for. Think about it: if you do something for a good cause, but the approach is a little off-putting, how good did you really do?

1. Prayer

Prayer is simply talking to God. Sometimes I set aside a chunk of time to focus solely on talking to God, and other times I take just a moment in my day. Regardless, in my conversations with God, I’m always honest and vulnerable. If I can’t do that, what is it for? My prayer life needs to feel authentic, and I can’t do that if I feel like I’m holding anything back.

Just as importantly, I also enjoy silence afterward so that I can hear from God. The ways in which God responds to us are not coincidences; they occur in conversations, a song on the radio, a post on your timeline, etc. In that, my spirit is fed. I feel connected and closer to God, which brings me peace that words can’t really do justice.

2. Affirmations

Affirmations are another way of practicing spiritual wellness. The act of speaking over yourself can do wonders, especially in a world where it’s so easy to think negatively on you and your life. Simply saying out loud that you are God’s child can do wonders. From repeating “I am” statements to affirming the hopes and dreams you believe and have for yourselves, is irresistible. I’ve had some of my WISDOM Scholars and other Spelman students complete exercises and practices in affirmation, and it lifted my spirits to hear them say such beautiful things about themselves. Having that ability is restorative in a world where it is all too easy to believe the negativity that is constantly put out.

Remember and be empowered by this: there is power in the tongue, courtesy of scriptures like Proverbs 18:21, Ephesians 4:29, Proverbs 16:24 and Matthew 12:37. With affirmations, we are given opportunities to retrain the way we think and speak about ourselves — and there really is a difference in how we move about the world and how we relate to other people after the fact.

3. Meditation

Meditation is also helpful, whether you practice Lectio Divina, use an app for guided meditation like Shine or Headspace, or some other form. Meditation can be honing in your breath. You might even hone in on a specific concept or word that you’re trying to magnify in your life. You could even meditate on particular scriptures you want to stay with you. I know this isn't really speech, but there is a lot that can be said about focusing on specific words and phrases that you want to resonate in your life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jesus himself used both prayer and meditation, ya’ll. Just think about that.

4. Visualization

Visualization is another form of spiritual discipline: it’s just getting an image in your mind about where you desire to be. While this also isn't technically speaking, pictures do tell 1,000 words. Proverbially speaking, things tend to be “out of sight, out of mind,” but take a second to think about what could happen when you keep things in your sight and mind. Really, take a second.

Some call it manifesting or manifestation, and will use vision boards to exercise spiritual discipline. (Shout out to vision board parties, because physical support from others is still important in your spiritual journey.) Whether you see a career change or a difference in how you react to the world around you, seeing it in your sanctified imagination is the key. Let it be detailed and visualize with energy. Allow yourself to be immersed in whatever you see, so much so that you can almost feel it. Let it be your reality, even if for a moment, because then it can only grow.

5. Reflection

The last act of spiritual discipline I want to talk about in this post is writing in a journal and practicing reflection. Now, the act of writing can be combined with all the other acts described here, because you can write down your prayers, whatever you meditated on, your affirmations and even what you visualize. But slowing down sometimes and purposely reflecting on your life in a tangible way is such a sweet form of release. I know plenty of people who picked up a journal to write about one small thing and ended up filling multiple pages. Not to say that it “gets out of hand,” but it brings you face to face with subconscious things you might not have realized you were holding on to. Somewhere between “let go and let God,” and “write it down on real paper with a real pencil and watch it get real,” is the act of journaling and reflecting.

In the words of Ms. Lauryn Hill, it could all be so simple. But these spiritual disciplines, these practices of spiritual wellness, are crucial in times of worry and anxiety. They are solid ways to feel anchored in your dreams and goals. Methods that reassure us that we are never truly alone and that, in times of anxiety or worry, we aren't up river without a paddle. We hold the power in these disciplines; it's all up to us where we are headed. Keep that in mind and be kind to yourselves.