True wellness focuses on much more than just the physical. Holistic wellness considers the whole individual, including emotional, social, occupational, mental, financial and environmental factors — along with physical well-being.
In many of the categories that constitute the holistic wellness concept, spirituality plays an important role. For some people, spirituality can refer to religion, but I believe that it can also take shape as personal growth by finding the meaning in life, living by a code of personal ethics and creating joy for oneself and others. Spiritual wellness helps enhance the connection between the mind and the body.
So, what is spiritual wellness actually?
It’s difficult to define exactly because spirit health means different things to different people. We all face our own challenge to define it, develop it, nurture it, and maintain it. However, those with high levels of spirit health tend to enjoy great social, emotional, and physical health.
You, me, and all human beings are made up of three parts – spirit, body, and soul.
Your body is probably the easiest part of us to understand. We put a lot of focus on it because it’s something that we can literally see. We interact with the physical world the moment we are born. We can touch, see, feel, and taste and from there, we learn the power of reasoning based on these things. It’s all visible. Now, your body is made up of parts that you can’t see. Thanks to science, though, you know that they are there. It’s important that you know your body because knowledge will help you maintain its health.
You can’t see it and because of that, there’s a lot of confusion about it. Often, we equate our spirit with our soul. This is not the case. Your soul is made up of emotions, will, and mind:
- Emotions are powerful and can influence your will. Often, you allow your emotions to dictate your actions rather than logic. We associate our emotions with both the negative and the positive. Either can cause us to act on impulse. your choices stem from your will.
- You have a selection of options and your mind tackles the reasoning and analysis portion of the decision-making. Your will, will consider the pros and cons and then choose the solution. That could be a logical decision or, not. Your will is simply the decision-maker.
- It’s not overly difficult to understand the mind. The mind is in charge of reasoning and thinking. When you need to solve problems, your mind engages. If you want to practice a new habit, your mind takes the wheel. Thinking properly reaps the benefit of making the right choices, which results in a happy life.
Combined, these are the things that are your soul. Your soul directs you.
This is where things get blurry. There is a clear difference between the spirit and your soul. It’s the deepest aspect of you and it’s the most difficult aspect to put your finger on. You can’t study it like you can your body. You can’t describe it like we did the soul. The spirit is the master. What most people are confused by is the belief that they can study it via their mind. There is a strong connection between spirit and mind and knowledge will allow you to influence the spirit with your mind. That doesn’t mean your spirit has to accept it. Because it does not have any power or control over the spirit. Here are the three parts of your spirit that you need to understand – conscience, intuition and values:
- You know that your will is pulling the trigger on decisions combined with the logic of the mind. Your logic is swayed by good and bad, which stems from your values. If you do something bad, deep down you know you did wrong. You can try to dismiss it, but it gnaws at you and you feel compelled to make amends.
- Your gut feeling is often referred to as the sixth sense. People often rely on their gut to guide them. You might fall into the belief that intuition falls under the umbrella of your mind. You may choose to listen to your intuition, or you may ignore it and live to rue the day. Your mind relies on learning and knowledge. Your gut is all intuition. You’re born with it.
- Your values are rooted deep within you and your conscience is their keeper. Values matter. Your values guide you, you embrace knowledge, you embrace change, and you reap the benefits as you maintain your path. Your bad habits transform into good habits. When you fail to do good you feel shame and want to make amends. Your shame stems from your conscience telling you that you have offended your values.
There is no definition that can completely summarize the meaning of [your] spirit health. But no one can dispute the fact that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected. What affects one can easily affect the others as the health of one can affect any of the others.
How to get started with spiritual wellness?
The first question to ask should be: Why is spiritual wellness important?
Your overall health can be impacted by spirit health. When you are going through a major life event, such as a job loss, a big move, divorce or children, you tend to cope better if your spirit health is high. We are more resilient as a people when we look after our spirit health.
It’s easy for life to shake you, and this can result in a blow to your spirit health. You may feel like your old habits provide you with better relief. You are a whole being. Within your whole being, there are different aspects that you have to look after.
Your physical health matters, as does your emotional health. People don’t have too much difficulty understanding that these are important aspects of self to look after. Yet, just as easily dismiss spirit health. To remain whole and balanced, every aspect of you must be nurtured.
I want you to feel comfortable asking yourself tough questions:
- What makes you feel complete? What makes you feel connected to the world?
- When do you feel connected?
- Where do you draw your inner strength from?
- When do you feel like your whole self?
- What gives you inner peace?
These types of questions can help you get to know yourself and move forward in the healing process. It’s just one way that you can serve your spirit health.
Spiritual wellness has the power and capability to make our decisions and choices easier, ground us during periods of change and give us the resiliency to survive with grace and inner peace in the face of adversity. Having a spiritual element in our lives may even help us heal when suffering from a physical or mental condition.
What are examples of spiritual wellness?
What we can concretely point to as the criteria of spirit health is the presence of one or more of these:
- Belief in a higher power
- Organized religion
- Guiding sense of value and purpose
- Inner peace
- Belief in a greater force
- Lightness of being
- Internal joy and calm
Just because you tick one or more of these boxes does not mean you will automatically be healthy spiritually speaking. There are things you need to address within these concepts to find freedom and wellbeing. These are a good place to start, however.
The last thing you need to know about spiritual wellness
Finding meaning and purpose may be a lifelong process that evolves based on unique circumstances, individual experiences, and global events. Along with the other dimensions of wellness, a person’s level of spiritual wellness often fluctuates throughout their life. It is natural to experience a variety of emotions along the path to spiritual wellness – both positive (hope, forgiveness, acceptance, joy) and negative (doubt, fear, disappointment, conflict)
If you are a religious person, you can follow your own religious customs to promote your spiritual life. However, there are many additional ways to engage in spiritual wellness practices.
Simply spending time in quiet contemplation or writing in a journal can promote your individual spirituality. You also can practice with others by participating in discussion groups and group meditation sessions. In addition, many people find spiritual meaning in helping others through volunteer efforts.
In whatever way you decide to pursue your personal spiritual wellness, your mind and body are sure to benefit.