A Canary and Your Soul

What does a canary have to do with the health of your soul?

Great question. One of the earliest systems for coal miners to detect poisonous gas included these little creatures. The system was rather low-tech and not very animal friendly, sorry. Keep in mind, canaries are very sensitive to carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases that can be found in a mine.

Here's how it worked. Coal miners would take a caged canary into the mine with them. As long as the air quality was good, the canary would chirp and sing all day long. However, when hazardous gases were present, the canary would begin to have trouble breathing and start to sway awkwardly on their perch. This abnormal behavior was a warning for the coal miner to leave the pit.

Again, what's this have to do with my soul?

A canary was used as a warning signal that the coal miner was in danger.

So, here's the connection. What warning signal can you point to that indicates something is not quite right in your soul?

Is it your tone? Attitude? Frustration level?
Have you increased your activity level and busyness allowing for very little if any margin?
Have you withdrawn from others? Are you isolating?
Do you avoid eye-contact?
Do you talk non-stop?
Do you fall silent?
Is your impulse control low?
Are you doing things that are potential harmful to you or others?

Likely, there is something you can put your finger on that says... oops my soul is heading for trouble. What is it?

Being aware is the first step in being attentive to your soul. Finding a way to monitor the state of your soul is crucial to sustaining health.

So, what's your canary?

Me? I know when I'm headed down a path that is unhealthy... I divert my attention and find that I've stopped looking into the eyes of the others.


  1. What's my canary? Restlessness. Easily agitated. An underlying discontentment. Ever so subtle.

  2. I'm a definite withdrawer-- I isolate. Although, in some ways, I'm not sure I think this is always all bad. Sometimes pulling out, thinking it through and getting it together is just the "space" I need to rejoin or re-evaluation how and with whom I rejoin.

  3. great insight. i have learned that i need time to "regroup" and "gather" my thoughts especially when something or someone has touched on a sore spot for me... this allows me to NOT just react but find a way to respond or enter a conversation.


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