During our retirement courses we consider all aspects of our health including Physical Health (keeping active and eating healthily); our Mental Health (including emotional issues/stress management and resilience) and thirdly the importance of developing our Spiritual Health. In today’s world with all that has happened as regards religious practices many people neglect what is essential to maintaining our Spiritual Health.
So what is Spiritual Health if it is not all about religious practice? Here we intertwine spiritual health with the singular “Spirituality”. Basically, spirituality connects us to a purpose in life that is larger than ourselves. For some this may still be traditional religious practice. Regardless of the methods we us to achieve it, spirituality dictates how we see the world around us and our attitudes to what we see. It dictates whether generally for us “the bottle is half full or half empty” as regards where we are at in life. It is about our own perspectives of life (more on this later).
To develop our spiritual health can be as simple as standing and staring in awe at what is before us at any moment in time. It can be as simple as
delighting in the world of nature in real life or in a television documentary on the wonders of the natural world. It can be staring at the power of a rough sea as it lashes the rocks or a cliff face. It can be standing in amazement at some piece of brilliant artwork or listening to a musical composition and wondering at its genius.
In her book The Seven-Day Soul, Susannah Healy outlines seven pillars for daily practice to help us develop our spiritual life through “persistent attention to our thoughts, actions and attitudes” as follows;
During our retirement course we introduced you once again to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in which the apex is Self-Actualization. This he describes as “the need for giving ourselves to something bigger than ourselves in a search for Truth. Justice and Meaning in Life as we seek spiritual enlightment and a desire to positively transform ourselves and society which he refers to as “self-transcendence”. This is also referred to as self-discovery; self–reflection; self-realisation; self-exploration. Maslow saw those of us who are sell-actualised as living creatively and fully using our potential. He described the characteristics of the self-actualised as being able to:
Correctly and honestly judge situations
Accept our own human nature and flaws
Form our own opinions and remain true to ourselves rather than to others’ expectations.
In this self-actualised state we are comfortable on being alone with ourselves; task-centred; autonomous; appreciative of the good things of life; capable of profound interpersonal relationships and compassionate towards others.
Andrew describes spirituality as being relative to three things:
(1) connections with other people
(2) connections with the world around us
(3) connections with a power greater than ourselves.
Some who deny the existence of God may still find comfort is accepting a higher power – a creator of superior intelligence – intelligent designer or whatever suits as long as we can see life’s positivity (Andrew, P).
Our Perspective on Life
Spirituality is very closely aligned with our own perspectives of life. Where we are inward looking as regards our perspective of life Fiona Harold in her advice to create “ a fresh new you” states that: perspective is all.“You are who you are and what you are not because of your past; but because of your perspective… to understand the power of your perspective is to begin to take command of your thoughts and your reality. Your perspective creates your thoughts and your thoughts create everything – and the way to control your thoughts is to change your perspective. Assume a different perspective and you will have a different thought about everything. In this way you will have learned to control your thoughts, and in the business of creating your (new) life, controlled thought is everything”. Finally she reminds us that “deep and true changes come from the inside out, not the other way around”.(Harrold, F).
If we believe the statistic that our brain generates 50,000 thoughts a day and that 70% of these are “negative” then we accept the need to maintain a positive perspective on life through nurturing our Spiritual Health on a daily basis.
Harrold, F. (2008).Reinvent Yourself: 7 steps to a fresh new you.
Andrew P MD, (2017)The Alcoholic Addict Within – Our Brain; Genetics; Psychology and the Twelve Steps as Psychotherapy.
Healy S. (2019): The Seven-Day Soul – Finding Meaning Beneath the Noise