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Author, Annie Ridout explains why she believes spiritual intelligence can be vital for our energy levels and mental wellbeing. Here’s how you can develop it…
Back in the day, there used to be a general assumption that people could be easily divided into two camps: “woo woo”, and “non-woo woo”. The first group, if you were dealing in stereotypes, were easy to identify thanks to their love of candles, sandals, Glastonbury, crystals, chakras, tree-hugging and Tibetan prayer bowls. The second group featured, well, everyone else.
Except that division no longer holds. The “spiritual landscape” has undergone a massive shift and embracing the woo has moved decidedly mainstream. More than a third of women describe themselves as spiritual and almost half of Brits believe that humans emit negative and positive energy or vibrations. Manifestation is now part and parcel of Gen Z life – the hashtag has surged beyond 31 billion views on Tik Tok – and astrology continues to enjoy its huge 21st century comeback. It seems many of us, perhaps frazzled by the always-on-ness of modern life, are desperately seeking inner peace, and are therefore more open than ever to using spiritual tools to help us get there.
Desperately seeking connection
Annie Ridout, coach and author of new book Raise Your SQ: Transform your life with spiritual intelligence embodies this new brand of spiritualism. She’s a successful entrepreneur with a savvy eye for social media, who believes her success has come, in large part, from cultivating her spiritual intelligence, or SQ.
She writes: “I’ve used magic spells to make more sales and oracle cards to help me price up a job. I’ve manifested pretty much my entire life using vision boards to list my desires. I use scent diffusers to bring positive energy in at the beginning of each working day and burn sage around my office space to dispel negative energy after difficult work encounters … But I also work hard on a practical level, as a freelance business owner, journalist and author. For real world satisfaction, I believe you need a combination of magic and sweat.”
“Go for a walk and ask Mother Nature to help you with your work challenge.”
Ridout had the idea for her book during the pandemic, when spiritual tools and practices such as tarot cards and magic spells enabled her to “escape” the confines of being locked down. She believes that suddenly losing our external lives, made many of us look inward and search for new ways to feel connected – to each other, and to something deeper.
“We rediscovered nature because on our one walk of the day, we craved being somewhere green. We needed hope, and for some people, that came via spirituality, prayer, affirmations – those things certainly helped me.”
Ridout and her family swapped London for Somerset 18 months ago, and she now intersperses her working days with spiritual practices – reiki, breathwork, yoga, inner child work, meditation… This may sound fine if you’re working for yourself and have the cash to spend, but what if you work shifts, have a rigid 9-to-5, or small kids that leave you with no spare time or cash?
“You don’t have to spend money to raise your SQ,” says Ridout. “It’s about building a spiritual toolkit to help activate your intuition, and give you the confidence to follow your heart sometimes, instead of your mind. You don’t need an expensive massage or a wellbeing cleanse that costs hundreds. It can be as simple as waking up in the morning and instead of spiralling because you’ve slept badly, you can instead say to yourself, ‘I’m lucky and grateful to wake up this morning.’ You can light a candle, set your intentions and shift your thinking so that the day unravels in a more positive, calm and joyful way.”
“For real world satisfaction, I believe you need a combination of magic and sweat.”
Ridout says that just keeping gemstones in your pocket and using them like worry beads can help you survive a difficult day at work, or you can use your breaks to get into nature and transfer some of your negative energy. She describes recently finding a special tree and nominating that tree as a place to visit when she’s feeling stressed or overwhelmed. “It’s somewhere to go and feel calmer – I can put my hand on the palm of the tree and ask for the answer to a question that’s troubling me. I believe the answer just drops because it was already there in my mind – but whether you believe the tree gives you the answer or acts as a prompt, it doesn’t really matter.”
For parents who feel sapped of energy or short on time, Ridout invites them to involve their children in some simple rituals or practices. “This stuff comes easily to kids – they’re open to magic, they don’t question it. In a way, raising your SQ is about returning to that childlike openness – having an open heart and mind is something that sadly gets lost as we grow older,” she says.
It’s easy to feel self-conscious about pursuing more spiritual experiences, especially if your friends or loved ones take a more hesitant or cynical view. Ridout suggests seeking out like-minded people – look for a local women’s circle, yoga class or gong bath workshop. “It can feel extremely liberating to be around people who are open to these ideas. I’m always trying new things and connecting with new people.”
Ridout is realistic that not everything in her book will appeal – cynics might struggle to get on board with “quantum jumping” and superstitious animals – but there is something undeniably persuasive about her passion for getting women to trust their intuition and explore their curiosities.
“Obviously I can get angry and tired like anyone else but my life is so much more joyful now,” she says. “I can feel so good – like my body, mind and spirit are all connected, and I’m completely sober! It’s a giddiness that I don’t remember having since childhood. Anyone can try these things – it’s not for people who hang out with certain people or dress a certain way. I’m talking to you in my tracksuit – I like to think of myself as a very normal person.”
Annie’s tips for adding some SQ to your working routine:
- At your desk, first thing, engage in some happiness or gratitude journalling.
- Light a scent diffuser or incense that makes you feel joyful, calm and productive.
- If your energy dips, mid-afternoon, roll gemstones in your palm, like worry beads.
- Go for a walk and ask Mother Nature to help you with your work challenge.
- Sniff something lovely – a candle, or bath salts – for a mindful moment.
- Clear negative energies from your work space, visualising them disappearing as you waft incense around the room and ask them to leave.
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