What is Spiritual Health, and why has it become a forgotten health focus?
With so much focus placed today on taking a holistic approach to health, it's a wonder that a key aspect of our overall health, our Spiritual Health, has been all but forgotten in the broader discussion of good health.
But what is Spiritual Health?
It's a question that many struggle to define clearly and one in which many associate immediately with organized religion. Personally, if someone would have asked me to define Spiritual Health 15 years ago, I would have assumed that they were trying to steer me down a line of intense personal questioning meant to end with - "Have you let Jesus into your heart?"
What I failed to see then, is that organized religion is just one of the many ways to aid in elevating our Spiritual Health, but it does not define what "Spiritual" Health actually is. This would be like defining the state of your Physical Health as the diet you choose to follow. A diet plan is just one way in which we can practice awareness and maintenance of our Physical Health, but it does not define it. And just like following a specific diet, no one religious practice fits all and is only one aspect of keeping in good Spiritual Health.
So in trying to answer the above question myself, I look to the part of our human experience which the two more common areas of today's health focus, Physical and Mental, fail to cover. Or more specifically what is the missing link between the two? What aspect of our overall human experience does not fall under either of these two realms of health? This is where I discovered a lack of focus on our emotions and the important role they play in our healthy perception of ourself and our relationship to our life experience.
What role does emotion play in the level of Spiritual Health we experience?
Emotions are an incredibly important part of our human experience and tie directly back to how we see our Self (often put as how we "feel" about ourself), and how we view this Self in relation to our external environment (how important we "feel" this Self is). It is here that we discover the answer to our question of what is Spiritual Health? The answer lies in reframing the original question; how healthy is your emotional perception of the importance of your unique Self within the greater mystery that is our life experience?
Now that we have defined Spiritual Health as our emotional connection to the importance of our unique Self, how can we work on bettering our Spiritual Health?
Before we dive into answering this question, it is first important to explain why I include emotions as part of Spiritual Health and do not separate as Emotional Health. This is due to one distinct difference between our emotional body and our physical body and mind. The origination point of our emotional body does not tie back to something we can find specifically in our physical body. Because of this, the emotional body then becomes part of the greater mystery of our Spiritual Experience which is the awareness of our own Self (Spirit) separate from others.
In trying to pin down where our emotions originate, we begin to traverse the aspects of our experience that seem to lack explanation. Those feelings of intuition or a deep knowing of something we have no direct experience with. That feeling of intense joy, nostalgia, grief or dejavu that hits us out of the blue like a lightning strike.
When we look at a beautiful person or landscape and we feel it's beauty, where does this "feeling" come from?
Why does something that makes me happy, make another sad? Why do I yearn for something another cares little for? In asking where our emotional body lies and why we each experience emotional connection differently, we find that we must also ask where does our Self or Spirit lie? Where does that part of our Self that experiences and translates our emotional connections originate from? How aware are we of this Self? What makes our Self different from others? Is this Self important?
It is in the asking of these last four questions where we can start to build a foundation for the better understanding and nurturing of our Spiritual Health. How Self/Spirit aware are we? Do we know what makes us separate, unique and important? How confident are we in how we feel about our Self, what this Self is capable of and how this Self affects the larger collective experience. How often do we feel a sense of personal purpose? How often do we feel passion? How often do we authentically express this feeling of passion outwards beyond our Self into our external environment? How often do we experience beneficial emotions like joy, beauty and excitement in relation to less beneficial emotions like fear, anxiety, and anger?
As we begin to better understand our unique Self, we can then start the search for avenues which can support and elevate our sense of Self and our sense of its importance to what lies beyond ourself in our external environment.
This may look like utilizing tools such as meditation, sound healing, yoga, and the intuitive arts like reiki and tarot to help bring awareness to and bolster energetic connections between all three of the plains of human health: physical, mental and spiritual. Or this may look like joining a religious organization, a community outreach program, or practicing a hobby with others that brings awareness to our ability to transcend our immediate circumstances through a shared passion, a common vision, and our own ability to positively affect the collective experience.
No matter what avenues you choose to focus on to support your Spiritual Health, the importance is that you do make the choice to focus on this area of your overall health. Your Self will thank you.
Join me next week for a look at the Existential Crisis and how it can actually be the breakthrough point to living a meaningful and purpose driven life instead of a breakdown.
Excerpt: Without a healthy sense of our own Spiritual Importance, we have difficulty emotionally connecting with a sense of meaning and purpose, and we find ourselves facing a very real and vast Existential Crisis. But is an Existential Crisis meant to be feared or embraced?