What exactly do we mean by “spiritual health”?
Broadening the definition can open opportunities for greater spiritual health
While it may be a natural reaction to associate spirituality and “spiritual health” with religion, that’s not the whole picture. There’s also the individual dimension and the material world-oriented. Let’s dig into each a little and discuss how our “spiritual health” may thrive.
To be “religious” doesn’t necessarily mean an affiliation with one of the larger institutions. On the religious dimension, “spiritual health” can simply mean a connection to and love of God. And so “spiritual health” across the religious dimension might mean feeling like you’re moving closer to God.
If you’re one of the people who already feel connected to God, then this resonates with you. You probably already have practices you do to maintain your spiritual health, such as praying.
If this DOESN’T connect for you, then ask yourself if you could replace “God” with something else – a reality that’s non-material. Try replacing God with your mind. Try these questions on:
- Is my mind made of matter or is it something else?
- Does my mind have characteristics, like thoughts, feelings, and identity, or is it the space within which these things arise?
- Does my mind change constantly or is it continuous? Is it one thing or many?
- Where is the boundary of my mind? Is it large or small? Is it inside me looking at the material world outside? Or are my perceptions and my experience of them both mind? (And if so, perhaps it’s the material world we should be questioning the reality of.)
What does it look like to be “spiritually healthy” across the individual dimension?
In short, it’s having a human connection with yourself. This might include examining the meaning of life, having hope, striving toward or reaching self-actualization, having moral virtues or values, feeling at peace, having responsibility for oneself, feeling balanced, feeling meaningfully connected to a culture, or even being deeply connected to knowledge.
Which of those light up for you? What does individualism mean to you? Pursue those as ways to maintain spiritual health across this dimension.
Finally, the third dimension refers to the human connection with others and nature.
Specifically a responsibility toward others and nature, a feeling of unconditional love, forgiveness, pacifism, and maintaining a certain knowledge about, attitude and behavior toward, and eventually harmony with others. It means helping others without expecting anything in return. It can be a feeling of closeness and harmony with the universe or recognizing one’s duties to it. I can mean acknowledging the importance of nature, and showing respect for it.
Consider which of these you connect with and how you might add practices to your life which serve as “spiritual hygiene” along this dimension.
All that being said, it’s important to note that everyone is different. You may think of one or more of these dimensions as being more important than the other, or you may have a different definition of “spiritual health” altogether. That’s okay! This is one of those areas where individual belief and opinion reign supreme.
Whatever your spiritual affinities, it’s important to define them for yourself, determine how you’ll maintain good “spiritual hygiene,” and then maintain those behaviors. And remember: in the end, this is for you and only you. Be honest with and true to yourself. Now go forth and be spiritually healthy!