Tools for Tough Times: Spiritual Fitness

Spiritual well-being, or spiritual wellness, is built upon important life decisions that we all need to address.  Sadly, a great many people do not think much about these decisions or the spiritual aspects of their living.  When we invest ourselves in making healthy, informed decisions regarding our spiritual selves, there is much growth that can come into our lives.  In many native American traditions, wellness is expressed in four major areas – physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual.  The healthiest approach to life is one that is balanced in all four areas of expression. 

In the Blue Zones research initiative involving the National Geographic Society, the National Institutes for Health, and others from around the world, the focus of study has been on five geographic areas – the Blue Zones – where locals live significantly longer with less physical or emotional disability than anywhere else.  The research has focused on the common practices of these areas that are most likely to contribute to health and longevity.  The practices with the greatest impacts are those with some relationship to the spiritual life of the inhabitants.  For instance, those who practice their faith with others every week add as much as 14 years to their life span.  This is the single biggest additive factor in the Blue Zones research.  Clearly, minding the spiritual side of our house is important.

Recently, a Spiritual Life Director at an upper Midwest hospital and a US military chaplain explained to me how one’s values, beliefs, and morals that can guide the actions and responses in every area of life.  He identified the following important steps:

  • Contemplating one’s purpose in life.
  • Achieving greater mindfulness.
  • Harmony with one’s surroundings.
  • Balancing one’s personal needs.
  • Considering and settling one’s values and needs.
  • Acting compassionately in life.

The chaplain explained the concept of “spiritual fitness.” This is a measure of the overall spiritual health predictive of how we live by what motivates us and engages us in life.  Of course, we cannot be spiritually fit if we have not explored how our values, beliefs, and morals guide our actions and responses.  Not paying attention to these factors can leave us stressed, depleted, or drained.

Steps to take as an individual – Remember that practicing your faith with others regularly is one of the healthiest things you can do for your life overall.  There are other steps to help improve one’s spiritual wellness or fitness.  They are:

  • Nature Bathing – getting out into a natural setting for enough time to settle your spirit.
  • Practice Mindfulness – check out the video on this topic on the WellnessMN.org website (disclaimer – I am a regular contributor to this website).
  • Volunteer – giving yourself away to others is healthy and healing.
  • Determine your life purpose and values.
  • Join spiritual groups – a good Blue Zones solution.
  • Express gratitude – there are many resources on the web available to help with this.
  • Contemplative practices, silence, solitude, and conversation with God

Leaders – encourage investment in spiritual disciplines and practices in your teams.  Remind your teams that the spiritual is as important as the physical, cognitive, and emotional areas and it deserves attention.

One final thought from me: I have found my greatest source of strength in a strong, deep, intimate relationship with the God explained in the Bible. My relationship started out as a connection to institutional religiosity as a young person, but has grown to be nothing less than a daily communion with my God. It is so much more rich, deep, and transformational than anything I experienced in the institutional religiosity so common today. For more information on this, please check out my other website and blog, 1Pursuit.org.

Image via Pixabay

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