Spiritual Health Metrics
Spiritual Health...what exactly do we mean by this? First off, this is not a theological or religious discussion. We’d like to keep it simpler than that. I had an atheist professor one time describe spirituality as, “The way you interact with the world around you.” That has always stuck with me and my understanding of it has grown over time. Spirituality is not by default good or bad. It just is. It only exists in the present moment and is experiential. Spiritual health is not a static thing to be achieved, but is dynamic like our physical and emotional health. It can change from moment to moment.
Today I define spiritual health as the way in which I interact with the world around me and within me.
In step 2 we are trying to understand where we are. I have a mentor that regularly asks me, “How is your spirit?” This is a much more difficult question to answer than some of the others we’ve asked over the last few weeks. By defining spiritual health as the way in which we interact with the world around and within us, it helps us better understand how to answer that question. In general we want to answer the question, “Am I at discord or harmony with the world around me? Am I at discord or harmony within?”
While using mindfulness and meditation practices, often markers of spiritual health will come up. Some of the things I look for as markers that identify poor spiritual health include: resentment, fear, embarrassment, avoidance, poor boundaries, insecurity, discord, anger, anxiety, negative self talk, a racing mind at bedtime, shame, guilt, and uncertainty.
Some of the things I look for that identify signs of higher spiritual health or harmony include: peace, serenity, intimacy, connection, joy, freedom, worthiness, intuition, satisfaction, laughter, calmness, gentleness, and a desire by others to be around me.
Which of these do I sense more of throughout my day? Once I have identified where I am, I can better create a plan to include practices that bring me into harmony both with the world around me and within.
While writing this, one major thing stands out - all forms of health must be experienced. You cannot learn about physical health - you must experience it. You cannot hear others talk about emotional regulation - you must practice it. You cannot wish for connection with others or a deeper knowledge of self - you must experience it.
Health in all areas is not earned. It is a gift that we can receive through practicing disciplines. It is not the result of the actions we take that brings us health, it is the process and discipline of the actions themselves that are the reward and the experience needed to improve our health.