Expanding Spiritual Resilience

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ― Ambrose Redmoon

The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” ― Jodi Picoult

Expanding one’s spiritual resilience is at least as important as resilience in the other quadrants of life as defined by many Native American traditions – physical, mental, and emotional.  We are spiritual beings, and the spiritual qualities we have underlie the other resilience factors, and even our entire worldview.  Paying attention to our spiritual selves is vitally important if we are to be resilient people, and ignoring the spiritual part (or any quadrant, for that matter) of life will leave us unbalanced and less resilient. 

Some people ignore the spiritual side of their existence, assuming that they are not particularly spiritual. The spiritual side does not go away, and ignoring it predisposes us to difficulty in other quadrants, particularly the emotional. Faith is a foundational part of spirituality, and every human being lives by faith every day.  If one rides an elevator, boards a plane, drives a car or walks down a street, it is by faith that the outcome will be as envisioned.

Every human being has hope, and indeed lives by hope.  Refugees flee under terrible conditions in the hope of finding safety and comfort.  Cancer patients endure painful and sickening treatments in the hope of living longer.  Parents endure their teenage children in the hope they will someday become reasonable adults. In my work in the area of suicide prevention, I teach others that when a person no longer has any hope, that is a critical risk factor for suicidal thinking.

Humans experience, and indeed long for love and true intimacy.  Love is far more than an emotional experience, more than a feeling. True love engages the mind, will and emotions, and in that order.  Love is a commitment to another person that is made visible in acts of service and choices of preference every moment.  What drives such commitment?  It is a spiritual drive in us that is deeper than an emotional condition.  If “love” is primarily emotional, it will be subject to whims as well as external in internal forces.  Love that comes from the spiritual core and that engages the mind, will, and emotions – the heart – will endure great hardship and setback without faltering.

Ignoring the spiritual growth and expression will be harmful, increase stress, magnify difficulty, and reduce resilience.  Spiritual resilience enables a person to exercise faith, hope, and love, factors that will see them through even extreme circumstances.   Following are a few ideas from research and from my own experience on expanding spiritual resilience.

Research tells us that:

  • Exercising and expanding faith increases social support and supports better physical health.
  • People who have significant belief in God tend to be less anxious and live with less stress. Lower anxiety and stress at baseline are predictive of greater resilience.
  • Exercising faith reinforces a person’s values, which help in navigating difficulty. Exercising faith also attaches greater meaning and hope to difficult circumstances.
  • If you are a student of the Blue Zones research (NatGeo, WHO, CDC, NIH, et. al), you will discover that people in the Blue Zones regions who exercise their faith connections on a weekly basis, one of the nine Blue Zones power lessons, and add up to 14 years to their life span.

What are effective strategies to strengthen one’s spiritual self? Here are some I have found effective in my life, along with some added benefits from research literature for some of them.

  • Invest in prayer, for the research indicates that prayer offers the same spiritual resilience building and stress relief as all forms of meditation. Praying to deepen intimacy with God as opposed to simply asking Him to work is a more positive approach.  For more on this see my other blog, the Adventure Blog a 1 Pursuit.org.
  • Express more gratitude daily, for gratitude has a growing list of physical and emotional health benefits identified in the research. It is the new “health food.”
  • Express faith intrinsically, inwardly. People who tend to be more inward and sincere in expressing faith experience a list of positive health outcomes.
  • Express a solid faith-driven optimism, for it will help you to be more calm, focused, and less distressed even in difficult situations.
  • Cultivate solitude and silence in your daily living, finding the solitude recipe that works for you. That may be walking, gardening, journaling, meditating, praying, listening for God’s speaking, or just being still.  I do all of these, most of them daily, and have found them to give much strength and stamina in my spiritual self.  Such time is restorative to the spirit.  Again, you will find blog posts on these topics on the Adventure Blog at 1 Pursuit.org.

Invest significant time and energy in spiritual resilience, for we are all spiritual beings and in need of balance and strength in all areas of life.

Disclaimer: none of my websites and blogs are “monetized” in any way.  You will not be advertised to or offered anything but information there.

“In quietness and trust is your strength” – Isaiah 30:15

“Let your faith be bigger than your fears or your difficulties.”

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