Ah crap, I’ve gone and made it weird, haven’t I?
We were getting on so well with all the brain stuff, physical health talk and mindset topics.
Even the mental and emotional health shizzle from last week ended up being pretty cool after starting off with an awkward eye roll.
But now I’ve gone and mentioned the ‘s’ word… spiritual. What a dick.
Hear me out though.
Because I’m not simply going to suggest we all need to become hippies and spend 10 years meditating on a mountain in Asia.
I suppose we’d better start, then, by looking at what ‘spiritual health’ actually is.
Now this potentially is going to open up one hell of a can of worms as I know there can be a whole host of definitions here.
To me, however, the term ‘spiritual health’ has nothing to do with religion, hardcore dogmatism or falling into being any particular stereotype or ‘type’ of person.
In other words, you can benefit from improving your spiritual health without needing to start memorising a particular book or developing an obsession with Buddha statues. But there’s also nothing wrong with doing that if you want to (personally, I love Buddha statues).
Essentially, spiritual health is about continually looking to ‘grow’ as a person, while still understanding that we will never be ‘fully grown’. So however much we grow and learn, there will always be more room to grow and more things to learn.
To me, a spiritually healthy person is someone who feels like they’re living a meaningful, purposeful existence and lives with a constant awareness and openness to the idea that everything they believe about life could be wrong.
It all sounds kind of cool and fancy, doesn’t it?
But then there’s also the consideration of why do we need to bother looking after all this and thinking about spirituality and improving our spiritual health?
Well, in my view, it allows us to move away from, or at least begin to move away from, the bullshit of everyday life.
The perfectionism, the illogical fear, the worry, the comparing ourselves to others, the constant judgements being made, the drifting through life – it all starts to get put into a kind of perspective when we begin working on our spiritual health.
When we start doing this, things start to become a little bit clearer and simpler.
That horrible empty kind of feeling can begin finally filling up.
And we can start to experience more joy, happiness, love and that oh so elusive ‘inner peace’ in our lives.
So, as I’m sure you’ll agree, our spiritual health is a pretty good thing to get a handle on.
Let’s take a look at some things that we can do to start working on our spiritual health.
What we can do to give ourselves a ‘spiritual workout’, so to speak.
By no means is this an exhaustive list. I’m sure there’s much more that can be done, depending on what one would bring into the bracket of ‘spiritual health’.
But here are six things I feel are pretty important and useful when it comes to improving our spiritual health.
“Let it go” is a phrase we tend to throw around a lot.
But what exactly is ‘it’? What are we trying to let go of?
Well, this all stems from meaning and how and where we attach meaning.
You see, meaning is a self-made concept.
When you first arrive in this world, nothing means anything to you. Nothing matters except getting food and going to the bathroom.
But as we progress in life and get older, we start to give meaning to more and more things.
How we look, how successful we are, how much money we make, the people we have around us, our social status, making a difference with our life, meeting deadlines, paying bills, not upsetting people, having a nice car, watching the latest TV series, travelling to see other parts of the world, sports teams, doing the garden, keeping the house tidy, setting a good example, God or a religion.
We give all, some or possibly even more of these things meaning in our lives and convince ourselves that they matter so much.
In fact, we convince ourselves they matter so much that we attach them to our happiness.
After years of being told by parents, teachers, authorities and our whole world about how much these things matter, we create this belief that all these things create an infrastructure to happiness and living life the ‘right way’.
We feel like we need these things.
That having them all sorted out is so important or… well that’s just the thing. Or what?
Trouble is, life sometimes has other ideas and kicks us in the gonads when it comes to all this stuff.
It blocks things from happening, makes it hard and creates situations where we fuck up.
And when this happens, we start to feel like broken human beings who can’t even carry out the simple act of living a good life.
Letting go, or, as I like to call it, saying ‘fuck it’, is the act of breaking that bond of attaching meaning to all these random things.
I realise I’ve titled this first point “just let go”, as if it’s so simple to just say “fuck it” and all the meaning and attachment you’ve built up over the years will disappear.
Job done. Zen-master Buddha badass you now are. Or maybe not.
But think of these things like an ex-girlfriend or an ex-boyfriend.
And let’s imagine that you’re the one initiating the breaking up (you bastard).
If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a number of years, even if you’re the one doing the breaking up, it takes time for you to ‘get over it’.
It takes time for you to, essentially, detach the meaning of that relationship from your life. To disassociate that relationship or that person from your idea of happiness so that you can move on.
What I’m driving at here is that ‘letting go’ of the attachment of meaning we have with so many different things in our lives is tough, requires work and takes time.
But if we can break that bond, break up that relationship, then we can see that none of this stuff really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Now I know you’re probably sat there screaming at me “this all sounds so idealistic and great, but some things do matter. I need to pay my bills and have a good job and make a difference, etc.”
Okay, I agree.
But they only matter because you choose to create a feeling that they matter. And this means you can also choose to say ‘fuck it’ and create a feeling that they don’t matter.
People who find out they have cancer often have a sudden realisation that all the shit they were worrying about just doesn’t matter anymore.
All the things they were allowing to take over their lives – the work emails building up, paying off that bill, getting that more important job – they just all begin to seem so… insignificant.
I’m not saying you’re not allowed to care about anything and should give up on goals and dreams, but maybe just not attach so much meaning to it all and sacrifice our happiness and inner peace in the present moment because of fears we may lose what we have now or not get what we want in the future.
So invite you to simply zoom out, take a look at your life from a distance and consider the possibility that you could maybe let go of the meaning you are attaching to some things.
Note: An unbelievably epic book that really helped me on this concept is “F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way” by John C. Parkin.
It’s so easy in this modern day world to get caught up in the ‘rat race’ of life and spend our time always pushing and driving forward.
Of course, this is good in one sense. We all want to achieve things and live rich, fulfilling lives. And in order to do that, we need to work and be consistent action takers.
But we also need to remember the importance and value we can get from taking a step back and having regular moments of introspection.
If we’re constantly on, moving and driving, then we have very little time to consider whether we’re actually going in the right direction.
By taking the time to reflect inwardly every so often, we can allow ourselves the pleasure of assessing everything in our life and whether we are living in line with our values.
We can ask ourselves deep questions and give ourselves the time and space to answer them properly without thinking about having to rush back to the next client call, marketing activity or staff meeting.
Because when we ask ourselves these deep questions, and allow ourselves the time to go beyond the superficial ‘fake’ answers, we discover things about ourselves.
And when we discover things about ourselves, we become more aware of who we really are.
And when we can become more aware of our truest selves, then this provides room for growth.
Many people go through periods where they are trying desperately to “figure out their purpose”.
I hear so many podcasts and see so many blogs that give all kinds of ways of ‘discover one’s purpose’.
In fact, I had a crisis of purpose myself recently.
But I discovered that focussing on this one purpose, finding that one thing you were put here to do, is pretty much a needless frustration to have.
Nobody wants to ‘have a purpose’. We just want to feel purposeful.
So we should, in fact, be focusing on trying to simply find and do what makes us feel purposeful. This feeling is what we desire when we all delve into this whole ‘purpose thing’.
And feeling purposeful can come from anything. Acts as small as helping an old man cross the street, to as big as building an international charity that helps millions of people.
But finding out what makes us feel purposeful is an introspective act.
And it takes regular moments or periods of stepping back and assessing in order for us to ensure we are properly aligned in this way.
Of course, we can give ourselves some love in a physical way.
(No not like that, I can tell what you’re thinking).
I mean loving yourself through positive actions, such as exercise, healthy food, meditation, good sleep and all that good stuff.
But perhaps more importantly is loving yourself on a more spiritual level.
Sometimes we can do all these ‘good’ things, such as exercise and eating well, from a place of fear and hate.
We can get to a position in our thinking where we hate how we look and how we feel (or fear losing it) so much that we become obsessed with constant exercise and never putting a foot wrong with our diet.
On the other side of that coin, of course, we can also punish ourselves with poor exercise and eating habits. But it can still come from the same place of hating ourselves.
Either way, coming from a place of fear and hate is not exactly the most spiritually badass thing we can do.
So where we can start with all this is to make the decision to accept ourselves, just as we are, right now.
Each and every person reading this is worthy of love from themselves and others, regardless of things that happened in the past, what they look like or any other factor.
Nobody needs to be ‘fixed’ or to experience ‘self-improvement’, because there is nothing that is broken or that needs improving upon.
All there is, is room to grow.
Think about the acorn.
At its smallest, the acorn still has everything it needs within it to keep growing. As long as it stays nourished, it will become a mighty oak.
The acorn is continually looking to grow, but at no point is it ever ‘broken’. The only way it can do anything ‘wrong’ is to stop growing.
We each start off as a human form of an acorn. And we have the ability to grow into a human version of a mighty oak tree.
But it is key to embrace our imperfections, accept and love ourselves unconditionally as we are and be on a path of growth, not trying to fix.
So how do we stay on a ‘growth pathway’, so to speak?
Essentially, we need to make room for and be open to growth to take place and consistently nourish ourselves with things that will create growth.
One of the most crucial things we can do is open ourselves up to the idea that everything is an opportunity for growth.
Rather than staying closed off and ‘set in our ways’, being open and genuinely listening to new ideas without any bias can be extremely powerful.
We tend to form deep-rooted beliefs and opinions based on previous experiences and what we’ve been told by authorities in our lives.
But growth occurs when we put ourselves in a position to challenge these.
If we accept that everything we know and believe could be wrong, then growth is so much easier.
In fact, dispel the idea that there is in every situation a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ opinion. Simply the opportunity to learn, grow and add more knowledge.
Actually seeking out and listening without judgement to opinions, thoughts and experiences that are perhaps opposing our own or come from outside our usual sources can be one of the most powerful things we can do.
Read books you wouldn’t normally read. Listen to people you wouldn’t normally listen to. Seek out experiences you wouldn’t normally seek out.
By submerging ourselves in only ‘one side of the argument’, so to speak, we’re simply reinforcing old beliefs and patterns and not allowing ourselves room to grow.
The key phrase here in all this is ‘without judgement’.
If something disagrees or goes against our current belief set, it goes a long way to just consider it without passing instant judgement and blindly casting it away as complete BS.
Of course, things will trigger you.
I’m not expecting you to just be able to from now on sit back and not react to anything like some kind of crazy Buddhist monk.
There will be times when you read or see something that instantly sparks something inside and, sometimes, pisses you off.
But rather than running with that, denying any possibility that you could be wrong and potentially launching into some tirade of abuse, it can be extremely useful for you and your future growth to simply ask why it triggered you in the first place.
Be honest with yourself and ask ‘why don’t I really like this person?’ or ‘why did I really just get pissed off by what that person said?’.
This can be tough, but the truth will set you free.
I now feel like I’ve unleashed my spiritual zen master knowledge on you.
By no means am I claiming this to be the ultimate guide to spiritual health and everything you need to know.
But these are things that have really helped me and I wanted to share.
Feel free to non-judgmentally cast them away as complete bollocks (see what I did there? ;) )
But this is my truth at the moment.
Hopefully some of it will help you in some way.
Take a listen to the podcast episode for this blog post via the player at the top.
Love, Laughter & Light,