Soul awareness and a personal relationship with God or Spirit; trust in your intuition and willingness to change; gratitude; creating a sacred space on a regular basis through prayer, meditation, walking in nature, observing a Sabbath day, or other rituals; having a sense of purpose; being present in every moment. These are what Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri (2000), consider to be “optimal components of spiritual health,” summarized as the “experience of unconditional love and the absence of fear.”
This is part four of a six part series exploring the links between self-care and good health. In this post, I discuss characteristics of good spiritual health and the benefits of a personal spiritual assessment.
To begin, I must be honest. I struggled with this post. In researching the topic and considering the above “optimal components”, I felt I was – in short – spiritually lacking. My enlightened partner pointed out that spiritual health however, like other things, is a learning process. I resolve then, to remain a good student and keep trying.
I do not meditate in a naively, “traditional” sense; sitting for long periods in the lotus position focussed on my breathing. However, I do often sit and stare out the window and watch the trees dance with the wind (a different type of meditation). I no longer go to church every Sunday as I once did as a child, but every week I do my best to go for a long walk either with my partner, my dog or by myself. At times, my sense of purpose feels like a spinning compass, yet after journaling for an hour or so, I feel I have confidently charted a healthy course of action.
My point is, in asking myself a simpler question, “What are my daily and weekly rituals from a spiritual perspective?” I was able to look deeper into my current practices, apply a spiritual lens to them, and then reassess my spiritual health. It was a matter of perspective and indeed, many of my spiritual practices were more unconscious than conscious.
It was only in my late 30’s did I come to understand a difference between being “religious” and being “spiritual”. I believe when the need arises, we automatically tend to our spiritual health. We take a few deep breaths, leave a room to go outside and “cool off”, or consult with a friend or family member about our life path. I believe the journey of optimal spiritual health involves being more proactive than reactive. Taking walks regularly, paying for a coaching session or two to refocus, creating rituals and healthy habits that involve prolonged moments of silence, or simply writing out what we are grateful for. These things can make a spiritual world of difference.
And I suppose that is the beauty of Spirit, it is always there forever awaiting our gaze.
Take good care,
Ivker, R.S., Anderson, R.A., & Trivieri, L. Jr. (2000). “The self-care guide to holistic medicine: creating optimal health.” Penguin Putnam Inc., New York.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA