One definition of Spiritual Wellness: It is that which allows one to live a life consistent with one’s own belief and moral systems, while establishing our feeling of purpose and finding meaning in life events. To me this simply means being able to live life in harmony with the outside world around us.
We are all imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. When things are going well, we are happy. But when things don’t go our way, we become stressed, anxious and unhappy, and our spirit suffers. We cannot control all the people or events in the world. All we have control over is ourselves, and how we can lift our own inner spirits. Here are some ways how to improve our spiritual wellness.
For a lot of people Religion is synonymous with Spirituality. I personally was brought up Catholic and for most of my life considered these words to basically have the same meaning. They both dealt with things I believed but could not see. This involves personal beliefs, morals and faith. For many this is enough and provides that feeling of spiritual wellness and sense of purpose in this world. If you are religious and this works for you? Then, excellent! Continue what you are doing. For others that have issues with organized religion, finding spiritual wellness is still possible through different means. Each person is unique as is their spirit and needs.
Yoga or Meditation
When I first heard these 2 words they immediately brought visions of far eastern religions to my mind’s eye. I thought of Buddhist monks in robes chanting while sitting cross-legged on prayer mats. How wrong I was…
Yoga indeed originated as a Hindu practice involving body postures, breath control and meditation practiced for health and relaxation. Yoga is an excellent way to help achieve spiritual and physical wellness. After all, it has been practiced in the world for over 5,000 years! There are many books and videos available on the subject for beginners. It has also been gaining popularity in the West, and there are many established schools and instructors available throughout. I myself got started when I picked up a Yoga book for beginners on the bargain table at a bookstore. Next step would be to actually join a class. Everything in its own good time. No pressure. Putting pressure on yourself to get certain “results” is counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve with Yoga. Go easy on yourself.
Meditation, on the other hand, has been present from ancient times in all the world’s organized religions. It may be known by different names but some form of it is a major element in all religions. Having said that, one does not have to be religious in order to practice or benefit from meditation or as some refer to it, mindfulness. There is something out there for everyone. Lots of information on the internet and its easy to get started. Too much information to share here. I will write more on this later in a separate article.
Believe it or not, by helping others we help ourselves. There are many scientific studies that show that by helping others we actually increase our own happiness. This may seem counterintuitive but just think back to how you felt after helping someone else. It felt great, didn’t it? So, to increase your spiritual wellness and happiness just be more helpful and find simple ways to help. For me it was as small as letting someone out in traffic. Felt good!
Again, there have been increasing scientific studies that show that grateful people are happier and better adjusted to life. Aside from that, practicing gratitude on a daily basis is a very positive trait. At first, I was skeptical about this. But I have found that the more I reminded myself to be grateful for everything, the more my attitude changed. I slowly changed my outlook over time from mostly negative and pessimistic to more positive and optimistic. This has been a long, slow journey but change happens. Even if you can’t see it for the most part. Just start with the little things. You may also find that gratitude can be contagious. Be the change that you want to see in others.
Awareness to me is one of the most important factors for spiritual wellness. This concerns being aware in the present moment. Right here, right now. Many if not most of us are here physically but our minds are elsewhere. We are always either living in the past rehashing old mistakes or re living good times. Or worrying about the future, of what might or might not happen if we do this or don’t do that. If you are able to look at your thoughts on a daily basis. You would be surprised how much time is spent ruminating about the past or the future.
If we can become aware in the present moment and get away from the past and future scenarios in our head. Then we can begin to understand where we are and where we need to be. Raising your awareness is like trying to get into a good habit. You need repetition and remembering over and over to be aware in the present. It’s not easy at first but gets better with practice. Meditation also helps with this as it works to calm what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind”.
So there you have it. To increase your overall wellness level you cannot ignore your spiritual side. You can choose to implement all or just some of the above described measures. Whatever you decide to do, you will see and feel a difference in how you see the world, your calmness and how you react to events. This is not always easy but it is possible. As always just start small and increase as you move along. One thing that I can say is that you change as you go along. And this is what makes it easier to continue on the path to spiritual wellness.