Why your spiritual health matters

by wondersource

According to Dr. Maya Spencer from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature.

Spirituality means knowing that our lives have significance in a context beyond a mundane everyday existence at the level of biological needs that drive selfishness and aggression. It means knowing that we are a significant part of a purposeful unfolding of Life in our universe.”

It operates on the belief that there’s a higher power. And it is an important piece of our overall well being According to investor and best selling author, James Altucher, “You aren’t just your physical body, but also an emotional, mental, and spiritual one. Every day, you have to do something for them, even if it’s just a small, simple act. That’s how you keep the four bodies healthy and yourself happy. Without a healthy spiritual body, you won’t be happy. You can’t be at peace with yourself if you aren’t at peace with the world.”

Thankfully there is not one way to be spiritual or practice spirituality. There are many. For some people, this might involve a specific religious practice. For others, it may involve experiencing a sense of connection to a higher state or a sense of interconnectedness with nature and the wider world. 

Spirituality can also help you take a lighter approach to life and connect with your heart and intuition with more ease. 

“More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.” — Roy T. Bennett

Spirituality can include:

  • Asking deep questions about topics like what are my values and how can I contribute positively
  • Cultivating a gratitude practice
  • Deepening connections with other people
  • Experiencing compassion and empathy for others
  • Feelings of awe and wonder
  • Seeking happiness beyond material possessions or other external rewards
  • Seeking meaning and purpose
  • Prayer and talking to the universe
  • A meditation practice
  • Energy work through things like reiki, acupuncture or emotional freedom technique (also known as tapping)
  • Wanting to make the world a better place

So, why is spirituality important?

Not only can spiritual health help us to feel good and connected to our intuition, various studies have proven that spirituality is linked to many important aspects of health and human behaviour. For instance, spiritual people have more positive relationships, higher self-esteem, are more optimistic, and follow a strong purpose in life and less depression, and stress as a personality trait. Psychology has demonstrated that expressing gratitude for what we have is associated with many positive emotions like optimism, being generous with time and resources, and overall vitality. 

Some observational studies suggest that people who have regular spiritual practices tend to live longer. Other studies show that spiritual commitment tends to enhance recovery from illness and surgery. For example, a study of heart transplant patients showed that those who participated in religious activities and said their beliefs were important complied better with follow-up treatment, had improved physical functioning at the 12-month follow-up visit, had higher levels of self-esteem, and had less anxiety and fewer health worries. In general, people who don’t worry as much tend to have better health outcomes. It seems spirituality enables people to worry less, to let go and live in the present moment.

There are so many benefits to spirituality and risks to a lack of it. According to executive coach, Chad Cooper, “Through my extensive work with entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and elite athletes, I have found that in our drive to achieve, we have let our spiritual health flatline. This leads to a lack of fulfilment and even physical/mental illness.”

“Nourishing our spirit through addressing the inner challenges we all face—whether it’s discontent in a marriage or job or self-sabotaging beliefs about not being good enough—these things have a major impact on our overall well-being.” – Dr. Mark Hyman

In a blog post, Dr. Mark Hyman explained how his coach Lauren helped him nourish his spirit. “Lauren has been a powerful force in my life. When I met her, I was a workaholic, I was unhappy with my relationships, and I wasn’t nourishing my spirit. After working with her to dig into the uncomfortable and scary parts of my life, I realized what a disservice I had been doing to my health and happiness by avoiding these topics. Lauren challenged me to look at the lies I was telling myself (like that I had to overwork to be successful) and focus on how I could turn my dreams into reality while also taking better care of my inner-self. Now, after doing the work, I am happily married to the love of my life, my business is doing better than ever, and I’ve been able to overcome some extremely difficult health challenges to rediscover optimal health. Spiritual nourishment shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Is there a place for spirituality in the office? 

Executives from a wide range of industries came to Harvard Business School to discuss how their spirituality helps them be powerful leaders. The following stories are from panel sessions at the Möbius Leadership Forum.

Can spirituality drive success? 

In a panel at Harvard Business School exploring how spirituality can lead to business success, panelist Tony Schwartz admitted: he was possibly the only person in the world who was “driven to the dharma” by Donald Trump. At a high point in his journalism career, Schwartz said, having written for prominent publications like The New York Times, Newsweek, and New York magazine, Schwartz co-wrote what became a best-selling book, The Art of the Deal, with Donald Trump. The collaboration was financially fulfilling (for a while), but Schwartz realised he was unhappy with his own success.

He decided to identify his “primary values”, which he said include humility, service, health, and authenticity. He’s since written two books: What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America, and Work in Progress (co-authored with Michael Eisner, chairman of the Walt Disney Company). 

Meanwhile, Ricardo Levy, chairman of Catalytica Energy Systems, talked about how executives are trained for action, not for contemplation. However, when it came to his own career, he discovered the need for spiritual guidance in key decisions, especially those that affected other people like employees. Many executives find this to be the case. Throughout one’s career and life, we are often called to make decisions with no obvious answer or clear path to move forward. Spiritual guidance can help you take a wider perspective and make a decision for the highest good of all. One that you can stand behind.

Levy’s guidelines to connect with spiritual guidance are:

  • Quiet the mind.
  • Reach deep inside. Go beyond the ego to hear the inner voice.
  • Don’t fear ambiguity; rest in the unknown. “This is the most difficult piece,” Levy admitted. “We’re not comfortable unless we see the path.”
  • Stay humble in the face of temptation and power. “Being humble is a key issue. It’s good for a leader to be reminded of the intoxication of power.”
  • Asked by a member of the audience for his definition of success, Levy said, “I’d rather use the word fulfilment. Success is a metric; you never have enough. But only you can define fulfilment. We as individuals are the only judges.”

What can we do to improve our spiritual health?

According to Altucher, to keep your spiritual body healthy, don’t time travel. “Don’t worry about the future or ruminate in the past. All your money and relationship problems, your insecurities and worries about tomorrow — they don’t exist. Your mind makes them up because your spiritual body isn’t healthy. Embrace the present moment and connect with everything that is right now.”

So, if you want to cultivate more spirituality in your life and you’re not sure where to start, try any of the following:

  1. Make a choice to become more spiritual. Motives lead to action.
  2. Reflect and define your values. It’s important to know who you want to be and what you stand for in order to make sure your actions are aligned.
  3. Practice gratitude. Start and end each day with 3-5 things you’re grateful for. Ideally, make them different.
  4. Put yourself on a positive information diet
  5. Don’t be afraid of good. We often busy ourselves with dramas without pausing to reflect and appreciate that good is enriching and normal.
  6. Consistently read a spiritual text. Pick one that speaks to you: for those who would like an easier start, try the Greatest Salesman in the World. Commit to reading ten minutes every day. It will help you feel grounded, inspired and the effect is both immediate and cumulative.
  7. Observe your thoughts. Listen and discern. We hear so much of our own thoughts that often our intuition or the Voice of the Universe or Spirit is distant and muffled. Listen to good ideas, ideas that benefit you and others, and elevate and nurture them. Look for the profitable and hopeful. Recognise negative talk, label it and talk back to it with more empowering talk.
  8. Let go of an opinion. Heavily weighted opinions wear us down. Simply surrender one, let it go. You alone know which of your opinions, your prejudices, is a burden to you and the world. Let it go. And then, another.
  9. Meditate or practice conscious breathing. Both are free and help to clear the mind, calm stress and create wholeness. Try breathing in for four, holding for seven and letting go for eight. Repeat for 5-10 rounds.
  10. Walk. Go for a daily walk in nature. Take the time to look around and see what is around you with a 30-minute daily walk, no matter the weather. Nature helps us to reduce our stress levels and at the same time become more connected to our authentic selves and intuition.
  11. Do something nice for someone else every day. Volunteer, connect with your community, reach out to a friend in need, hold the door for a stranger or offer to help a neighbour. We find our own spirituality in our connection to others. There is always something we can do for another and our motives lead us to action, a spiritual life, and a connection.
  12. Talk to a coach or therapist. Coaches and therapists can help us develop self-awareness, uncover blind spots and sabotaging behaviours and help us reduce stress.

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