What is “spiritual wellness”?
From the beginning, let me confess to know nothing for certain. My upbringing defined “the Spirit” in a narrow conservative Christian context as my connection to God that convicted me of wrongdoing. I continually confused guilt derived from institutionalized dogma with conviction by the Holy Spirit. Certainly, many positive characteristics I have stemmed from my religion (such as hard work, honesty, compassion), but I lived with a lot of remorse and very little joy. Only recently have I looked into the area of spiritual wellness with more openness and curiosity, searching for enlightenment and peace.
Is spiritual wellness even worth pursuing or should the idea be dismissed as “woo-woo” nonsense?
Despite questions and doubts, I continue to believe in some power greater than all of us. Has the expanse of nature ever inexplicably inspired awe in you – perhaps on a mountain top, surrounded by a forest, or standing next to the ocean? Have you felt the contrast of being insignificantly small while deeply connected to the large world around you? In these instances, I feel that Great Power pulsing in my bones inspiring contentment and peace. This universal energy feeds all life and is the essence of spiritual wellness.
How does a person achieve and maintain spiritual wellness in her life?
No standard formula exists to achieve and maintain spiritual wellness because it is so personal in nature. Throughout my life, I struggled to feed my spirit, succeeding at times and failing at others. What works for one season of life, may not work down the road. I finally realize that is OK! Spiritual wellness is an evolving process. Don’t try to fit it into a box.
I’m new to spirituality, where the heck do I start?
If you are questioning where to go from here, I understand! Given the uniqueness of each person’s needs and circumstance, knowing where to start your spiritual exploration can be overwhelming. However, spiritual wellness is not completely elusive. I suggest exploring and practicing the 4 key concepts below to nurture your spiritual wellness. Take a concept and consider what it means for you. Then tailor and integrate it in your life through comfortable activities you can build upon as you grow.
4 key concepts that support spiritual wellness.
To be clear, I am mom to two very active young boys who taunt death at every opportunity. Just this weekend, my 4 year old climbed a log building to see baby birds, my 2 year old jumped unaided off a pontoon onto a floating dock (life jacket was on), and both (at separate times) ran golf carts into stationary objects. Relaxation is a precious commodity in short supply in my life, but I need it! I love the moments I hide in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and hygge soundtrack. For you, relaxing may involve a good book, a walk in the woods, or laying on a beach (if you live by the ocean and are able to enjoy this regularly – that is awesome, I am so jealous), or something else completely. Whatever it is that relaxes you – do it. Find time every week, heck, every day!
Take time to step outside yourself and quite your mind. Again, prayer/meditation takes many forms so explore what works for you. I meditate by focusing on a candle and my breath while relaxing music plays, ruminating on a spiritual text, even coloring!
3. Value Guided Decisions
Decide what characteristics, people and activities are important to you (if this is a struggle, check out this article for an exercise that can help you clarify). Consciously consider these values when faced with opportunities and deciding among alternative options. Does the proposed job, friendship or activity align with the vision you have? If so, go for it! If not, have the courage to walk away.
4. Openness to Different Views
Dare I say most adults fail miserably at being open to different views? Turn on the news and you will see close-minded individuals spreading hate and fear while clinging to long-held opinions and biases (on both sides of an issue). I admit to continually fighting my own paradigms and unsupported assumptions. However, personal and spiritual growth cannot happen when you only talk to people who think and look like you. The less you assume to know for certain and the more you let curiosity and love guide your perception, the richer your life becomes. For certain, openness to different views is not easy (as evidenced by how rare it is put into practice, but it is essential.
Keep in touch as you embark (or continue) on your spiritual wellness journey. I promise to do the same.
Love & light, Jennifer
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