The notion of spiritual health might be confusing to some because it is not a way of thinking that's common to our experience.
I know this firsthand because I had the notion of "health" topsy turvy for years.
I've always believed that we are a body-mind-spirit being and that each part of ourself must be attended to to have optimal well-being. This made sense to me. Take care of your body, take care of your mind, take care of your spirit and everything will be just fine. Oh, yes, take care care of your heart too—your emotional self.
After losing my health in 1994 (a complete crash and burn experience on all levels—physical, mental and emotional), using the traditional BMS formula is how I patched my life back together. Or so I thought.
It took me nearly a year to reclaim my well-being. During that year, I did very little but took care of myself and my family as best I could. I rested (alot!), walked the beach daily, laid in the sun, connected with nature, and I read--books I was unexplainedly drawn to (Thich Nhat Hanh, the poetry of Rumi, for ex., best to say these books/writers found me).
Each day of my healing journey I made sure that I did something "good" for my body, my mind, my heart, and my spirit because part of me still wanted to get the formula just right! At the end of a year, I did feel much better and could return to "normal" life at a reduced pace, with fresh awareness of how I could live more gently with myself.
Here's the miracle of miracles.
My soul was the guiding force in my healing journey.
My soul—the divine intelligence within me, the "heart/mind" that is plugged into the One (Source, God, Love, etc)—was the wayshower. It was out in front leading me the entire time and I didn't even know it.
I understand now that our soul is always guiding us toward healing and wholeness; to living intimately connected with the Source of everything ... the Divine as we understand it.
And even if we don't actively perceive this connection (like me), the soul is still present, active, guiding us toward homeostasis, to wholeness.
This, in my view, is where the notion of "spiritual health" comes in. When we learn to listen for our soul's guidance, we know (on some level) exactly what we need to do to restore balance in our life.
The soul knows. The soul guides
On a human level, this means it is our utmost calling to connect with our soul, strengthen our ability to hear it, then honor what it invites us to. When we do, we are literally "home free."
During my health crash/healing, I was listening to something, though I didn't know it was my soul back then. It was a still small voice within me that guided me to what brought spiritual nourishment and healing energy: to walk the shoreline, or to rest, or to say "No" to a certain responsibility. It drew me toward the right book to read, the right person to reach out to, the right foods to eat.
This process of listening to, honoring, and acting upon the soul's directives is "Spiritual Health." As we pay attention to our soul needs--our spiritual needs—our whole health returns.
Attending to our Spiritual Health can result in:
• healing, increased physical health and well-being (Body)
• mental stability, inner calm, peace of mind (Mind)
• stabilized emotions, improved relationships with self and others,
openheartedness, love, forgiveness (Heart)
• wisdom (compassion, lovingkindness, generosity, living "the
virtues of the Spirit") (Spirit)
Nurturing our Spiritual Health, in time, restores body-mind-spirit wellness. Life balance. Inner harmony.
Yet, in the bigger picture, the greatest benefit of attending to our Spiritual Health is that it softens us. It makes us maleable and opens us to our humanity and to the divinity within us. It plugs us into the Divine as we understand so we are directly connected to the source of our being—our love, our passion, our purpose.
Spiritual Health is a profound path to wholeness. And wholeness is our birthright and our destiny.
When we are in tune with our soul, Everything is possible.
I spent the early hours of the morning with a Deva.
At first light, before turning on the computer, I turn on Pandora, choosing my Deva Premal radio station. Chant, lilting and lyrical—words whose meaning are unknown to me even in Sanskrit kindle my inner light.
Choosing to spend time with Deva is just one way I might choose to to enter the day more mindfully. "Choose" is the pivotal word here. Mindfully choose. Any of us can do this.
I'm a firm believer that the way we choose to spend our time first thing in the morning sets the tone for our entire day. As we come out of sleep, we are vulnerable, open, receptive. It's the best time of day to honor the wide open spaces within us and fill them with something that is spiritually healthy.
Or not fill them at all, but allow them to remain empty and still.
Research backs this up, by the way.
Studies have shown that people who spend some time in the early morning engaged in a contemplative-type practice are calmer throughout the day.
Most of us are conditioned to hit the pavement running. Hurriedly getting kids off to school or ourselves to work, or beginning to check things off our lengthy To-Do List, can start the cortisol stream—releasing stress hormones—and before we know it we're in full-fledged get-it-done, survival mode. Stress builds.
Starting our day this way tends to make us feel off-balance immediately. When more small stressors are added throughout the day, it doesn't take much to tip the scales and we can easily dive headlong into overwhelm, anxiousness, or any number of wildish emotions.
This is because we have no foundation of inner calm to build our day upon.
If we were to dedicate 5-30 minutes in the morning to stabilizing our body/mind, our days would feel completely different. An early morning spiritual practice of some kind also stimulates the production of oxytocins and other feel good hormones and, truthfully, who wouldn't more of that? I'd much prefer to enter my work day feeling calm inside rather than chaotic.
Choice ... it all comes down to choice.
I believe that one of the kindest, most spiritually healthy things we can do for ourselves, is to begin our day with practices that calm and center us. Suitably centered from 5-30 minutes in the morning, we lay a foundation of ease that can stand up to stressful onslaughts throughout the day.
So this morning I spent time with Deva. Tomorrow it might be His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Hildegard or Peter Kater. It doesn't matter which one I choose, only that I do. The inner peace that is created in the wee hours is the lifeblood of my day. May it be so for you too.
Make a new early morning choice, will you? Invite something into your wee hours that nourishes you—body, mind and spirit.
As Rumi taught, "What nine months of attention does for an embryo, Forty Early Mornings will do for your gradually growing wholeness."
Even if you have to get up 15-minutes early, it's well worth the effort. Your whole and holy self will benefit ... all day long.
Today, I'm announcing my new ASM program: "Advanced Spiritual Mentoring." More honoring of my joy and passion to personally journey with people, one-on-one, as they navigate the ups and downs of daily life. If you're someone who's been "on the path" for a long time, if you find yourself in a time of difficulty, or if you know the value of having consistent contact and support from a "seasoned other," consider Advanced Spiritual Mentoring with me. I'd like to spend quality time with you.
Today marks another spiritual hallmark for me. The solidification of my life work into one concise phrase.
I never dreamed this would happen.
When I became a professional speaker in 1995, I was told by seasoned speakers that I should be able to put what I do on a business card—pare it down to one potent phrase—so people would really "get you" and what you stood for. Especially at cocktail parties.
This has been perpetually difficult for me, primarily because I wear so may hats professionally. (And, I don't go to cocktail parties.)
I am a certified Spiritual Director/Mentor. I am an educator who offers online and in-person programs and retreats. I am an author. I am the founder and editor of an online magazine. Not to mention a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend. (Did I mention I wear lots of hats?!)
I gave up trying to put into words, in one tiny nutshell, what it was I did because obviously I just did too many things. I realized those seasoned speakers were right. It's hard to explain to other people what you do when you change hats throughout the day and are never quite sure who's going to greet you coming and going.
A few weeks ago I met a wonderful couple who wear lots of hats too. They are both chiropractors. They work hard at helping people restore their health. They were devoted and passionate, deeply caring people. I loved them immediately.
Perhaps it was all the love flowing. Perhaps it was simple readiness on my part. Perhaps their clarity about their life mission triggered my own.
Whatever the reason, suddenly it dawned on me. I had the words to describe what I do. I help people CREATE SPIRITUAL HEALTH.
I DO. And it's what I've been doing for nearly 20 years. It is what I stand for. My dedication to Spiritual Health has never wavered or waned, not once! Beginning with restoring my own Spiritual Health in 1994. Then, once I had, dedicating all of my energies toward speaking about it, writing about it, guiding people into it through Spiritual Mentoring.
It didn't matter what medium I used (or which hat I wore), the mission was always the same: Creating Spiritual Health.
Eureka! Praise the gods! An epiphany was mine.
It feels so good to be at home in my heart with my passion held close and my mind settled happily on what it is I really do. Three simple words say it all for me ....
Now, if YOU are not sure what I mean by Creating Spiritual Health, I'm afraid I can't put all of that on a business card to hand you. But I can send you here to learn more:
Whew! What a whirlwind. Now, in support of my own Spiritual Health—and in celebration of this grand awakening—I'm ready to take a well-deserved, self-compassionate rest.
How about you?
What is the kindest thing you can do for yourself right now?
Now, that's the ultimate test of Spiritual Health—to ask this question, be able to answer it, then give your whole and holy self the kindest thing. I hope you will ...
Namaste' and blessings,
Note: Special thanks to Drs. Kurt and Laura Froese for their inspiration-by-living, and their beautiful intention of guiding others into greater healing. Gassho!
Each month, I offer a free, 30-minute audio teaching on one uniquely feminine issue that keeps us stuck and disconnected from our true self. I share inspiration and practical strategies to shift this issue so you can feel more free!
I call it "Wising Up!" Enjoy!
May 2013: "I Get Sucked into Negative Thinking" Listen here.
28 min. (downloadable mp3)
In this program, you'll learn:
• how "first thoughts" and early morning activities set the tone for your day
• how to "program" yourself for a positive day
• how input/media impacts your mood and energy level
• making wise choices that lead to "skillful" ways of thinking and feeling
Enjoy and may your heart be happier and lighter today!
It all begins with perception ... stopping ... noticing ... paying attention to what is here right in front of us.
Beauty speaks. It captures our attention. The essence of a flower is so simple. It whispers, "See me. Be with me."
When we accept its invitation to stop and linger awhile, something opens in us. The busyness of the world falls away and we drop into a place of remembering.
There is time. There is space. There is a place of belonging for us in this quintessential moment when human and flower meet face to face.
Being, breathing ...
We lean in. We take a closer look.
What is here ... what is here?
Ahhh, divine delight. Extraordinary beauty in soft plateaus of pink, in welcoming folds of gold.
Being, breathing ...
As we are drawn even more towards its center, a sacred flower soul embraces us as we are—affirms who we ourselves have forgotten ourselves to be.
"Do you remember," she says?
"I am you.
When you see me in all my pink-hued glory, you witness your own magnificence.
I am you and you are me.
You think me magnificent but you are magnificent too."
Breathing, being, receiving the blessing of remembering ...
Embracing the subtleties of divine creation, in essence and in purpose, all creatures below the heavens are One.
Would you like to deepen your connection to your true self and Spirit? Join "A Year for Me" and let the journey begin! This can be your year to finally access the deep peace, happiness, and connection you've longed for by listening to the whispers of your soul. I'd love to show you how and companion you all along the way.
Learn more. www.ayear4me.com
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.