WIN-ning Wednesday: Spiritual Health

What is Spiritual Health?  A complete view of health includes body physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.  Modern day medicine has clearly defined what physical, mental and emotional health is, but we sometimes miss out on a good explanation for spiritual health.  Furthermore, we so often hear wellness referring to “Body, Mind and Spirit,”  but again, what is “Spiritual Wellness?”

Spiritual health does not refer to a healthy following of any one religious belief.  Spiritual health is about the vitality and balance of a person’s own spirit.

Those who are intuitive-types can feel and know this aspect to their life more acutely.  Some people cannot sense the spirit component of their life very easily and need to work on developing this sense.  Because a human spirit cannot be scientifically measured, its connection to life can be overlooked, and some even doubt its existence.

However, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a human life are deeply intertwined and dependant on one another. Because of this close interrelationship, each component has a profound effect on the others.

The spiritual aspect of health involves knowing, and taking care of, the soul.  The soul is the very essence of a person.  The physical body, and all it represents, is the vehicle for the soul.  The soul is the life force that animates the human body.  Also, the soul is the authentic self within that is connected, and equal to, the great energy driving life on earth and in this universe.  A strong and vital spirit grounds us in our existence in a very significant way.

To help clarify the connection between the four elements of health (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual), and how one element, for example a physical concern, can impact spiritual health, we can look an an example of this.

A lack of sleep, either due to an avoidance of sleep cues, stress, physiological obstacles or other causes, can cause physical fatigue.  If we are tired, we can feel irritable and more prone to depression or anxiety.  We may also feel the more strained by daily stressors.  With the fatigue and stress, we may feel caught up in the day to day demands, and find it hard to make a little time to nurture ourselves.  Only a small amount of time, as little as 1 minute, is enough to do something to nurture the soul.  When the nurturing is put aside because we forget, are irritable, busy or distracted, the spirit is not tended to.

Over a period of time, which is different for everyone, this can start to create a deep sense of disharmony.  Although some are more readily in tune with this feeling, it can be hard to put a finger on it, or this feeling can be ignored all together.  However, this disharmony, a deeper feeling that things just aren’t right, can further compromise a our sense of wellbeing and vitality.  In turn, if spiritual health is eroded, we become more susceptible to feeling compromised by health issues, personal issues, work issues, etc.  A deep seated unhappiness, and/or uneasiness, can emerge.

Spiritual awareness and strengthening happens over the course of our lifetime.  Doing one thing, or a combination of things, consistently over time can be beneficial.  Here are some ways to help build a healthy spirit:

1) Stop what I am are doing, sit still, close my eyes and only listen to my breathing.  This can be done for just 30 seconds to 30 minutes.  During busy times at work or between daily duties, taking even a small amount of time (30 seconds!) to stop and turn attention to the breath sound will help.

2) Meditation.  This is the regular and consistent practice of being still, clearing the mind and practicing being fully present.

3) Yoga.  It’s true that yoga is great for physical, mental and emotional health, however yoga builds the spirit.  It is a practice where these four aspects of health cannot be separated.  Even for those who start out doing yoga for just a good stretch eventually realize there is something more they are getting from the practice.

4) Spending time in Nature.  There is a strong energetic vibration that is given off by trees, flowers, plants and other living things.  No matter what the season is, regularly spending time outdoors is food for the soul.

5) Doing something fun everyday.  Whether its gardening, music, art, dance, cooking, watching the sunset, spending time outdoors at night stargazing, going for walks, exercising, enjoying time with a pet, reading a book, watching a funny movie… what ever it is… this helps to put good energy back into me and is extremely spiritually re-vitalizing.

6)  Although a religious devotion is different than spiritual health, for some people their religious practice can also nurture their spirit.  Their faith can help them cultivate a connection to spirit.

7) Regularly asking myself: Who am I?  What is my purpose?  What gives me inner peace?  What gives me strength?  When do I feel authentically fulfilled?

8)  Feeling a sense of gratitude for the little things in life.  There are so many little things everyday to be thankful for… am I noticing them?  A smile from someone, a bowl of rice, seeing the life force through a small weed growing through a crack, laughter, a pillow to lay your head on, a cool glass of water, the ease of breathing, the warm presence of a pet…

9) Nurture humour in life and not taking myself, others or life, too seriously.

10) Remembering that even painful situations can bring spiritual growth if it is used to bring us closer to our true self, strengthen our life awareness, understand others better, build a deeper sense of gratitude and/or help us see our purpose in life more clearly.

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