Nurturing Your Spiritual Fitness
I recognize my limitations as opportunities for growth and self acceptance.
I trust that all is well in each moment, even when I am experiencing fear.
I consciously nurture a personal, intimate relationship with a Power greater than myself through consistent meditation, prayer, creative endeavors, being in nature.
How fit is your spirit, the energy of your soul? For holistic self-care to be as effective as possible it must address not only our emotional, physical and intellectual lives, it must include our spiritual fitness as well. We are, after all, spiritual beings having a human experience. Yet, given the busyness of our lives, we too often forget this truth and get caught up in the striving, efforting, achieving, accomplishing, doing that life in this age and culture seems to require.
Many of us seek external gratification as the means of defining our selves and creating happiness in our lives. We are plagued with ìif only's conditions we think or hope will bring us the sense of contentment and fulfillment we lack. If only I had more money, nicer clothes, a boy friend, wife, better job, etc., then I'd be better, happier, my life would be complete.
Many of us wander around feeling purposeless, yearning for something. We ask ourselves, ìIs this what the rest of my life is going to be like? and ìWhat's the purpose of my life? We find we cannot put a finger on what that something is and so the yearning persists. We try drowning it out with activities, compulsive communications on our cell phones, shopping, over indulging in the many substances and activities available to us. And still the yearning persists.
This yearning is the voice of your soul crying out to you. If you have sensed it and choose to ignore it, you will continue to be haunted by it; the intensity of its persistence will increase until you start to pay attention and take action.
A component of spiritual fitness includes taking care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally so the more action you can take in these areas, the stronger the foundation you lay for your spiritual fitness. Since we are human we have to take care of our humanity! But, what about our spirit? What is spiritual fitness and how do we take care of it?
Spiritual fitness is living with the conscious awareness that you are human and divine, physical and spiritual, matter and spirit, ego and soul. It is living out the awareness that your life has meaning and purpose, yet is a mystery, a process, and unfolds with an implicit order that exists beneath even the most outrageous and tragic circumstances. When you allow your life to unfold in each moment with faith, trust and awareness of this implicit order to the best of your ability, you are taking care of your spirit and soul and practicing spiritual fitness.
The soul, as described by Dr. Tom Yeomans of The Concord Institute in Concord, MA, is ìthe organizing principle of a person's lifetime. It is the container of our energetic connection to the Divine, God, Spirit, Greater Power, however you choose to define that from which all arises. The soul is relentless in its desire for full self expression. It uses all of our experience, our personalities, bodies, relationships, essentially our whole lives, as the vehicle for this expression. In fact, when we allow ourselves to be fully human, accepting our humanity and our inherent divinity, we are fully expressing our souls. Our spirit is the energy of this expression.
We all have, out of necessity, developed strategies to protect our souls and their expression. Many of these strategies are no longer effective and have become outdated. They consist of habits, beliefs, thoughts and activities that we are stuck in, unconscious of, or that we have not taken the time to examine or challenge. They may be overtly destructive or justifiably positive yet we have outgrown our need for them and the protection they once provided us. They are experienced as that voice that says: ìI want to exercise but I don't have the time. ìI know this is not good for me but this time it'll be ok. I'll start tomorrow. It's all his/her fault.
When you begin to take care of your soul and nurture your spiritual fitness, you create the opportunity for those parts of your self that you have been neglecting, shoving aside or resisting. You challenge your self- and life-limiting beliefs. You begin to take risks and see your self and your life as a gift, an opportunity to make the impact only you can make in the world, and embrace this gift as it is manifested in your unique humanity and divinity. You consciously live as a spiritual being having a human experience, and experience the peace, fulfillment, excitement, challenge, and joy that comes from living as a human being with a spiritual essence.
Self-care for your soul requires that you cultivate the following states of being:
- Awareness: The state of being self-aware, conscious, intuitive and perceptive.
- Presence: The experience of being fully in the moment.
- Acceptance: Knowing that what is, is.
- Paradox: Holding opposing ideas and experiences. Life is not black and white, either/or; rather it is about both-and.
- In process: Spiritual fitness is not something to be achieved, like a smaller waist size or larger muscle mass. It is a lifetime process presenting opportunities to learn every moment and requiring surrendering and patience.
- Courage: This journey is not for the faint of heart. It requires rigorous honesty, patience, stillness and willingness to go the distance.
Some of the benefits of spiritual fitness include:
- Purpose: You discover, embrace and live your soul's purpose.
- Self and soul knowledge: You become intimately acquainted with your mind, body and spirit and learn to choose the way that does not go against your self.
- Unconditional Love: You experience loving and being loved deeply, totally, infinitely.
- Gratitude: You develop a deep appreciation for life and its abundance.
- Generosity and service: You give from your fullness.
Like physical health, spiritual fitness takes discipline, patience and persistence until it becomes a lifestyle, a soulstyle.
Here are five simple ways to begin your practice.
Practice living consciously. Deliberately change a daily habit, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, take a different way home from work, change the order you put your shoes on.
Breathe! Take breath breaks several times each day. Stop what you are doing. Consciously take five breaths inhaling and exhaling as deeply as possible.
Relax. Notice how you are feeling physically, emotionally, spiritually. Then go on about your day.
Experience silence. Turn off the radio when driving and TV at home. Be silent for 10 minutes. Notice what you are thinking and feeling. Be still.
Don't take yourself so seriously. Lighten up! Let someone go in front of you in traffic; give up your need to be right about something. Laugh at yourself. Cry if you need to! Suspend self judgment.
De-clutter! Pick one space to start in. Let go of things you don't really love or that don't bring positive memories. Clean it out! Do the same with your thoughts. Choose to think positive thoughts.
We are all here to experience the precious gift of life as fully as we can. Spiritual fitness helps you create joy, fulfillment and purpose in your life. What's more, as we grow spiritually we contribute to each other's growth. Imagine the possibilities for each other and the world. The time is now. What are you waiting for?
Monique Morimoto Flaherty, MS, CPCC is a certified life and spiritual fitness coach who helps men and women yearning for deeper fulfillment, balance and meaning to create lives that express their soul's purpose. Monique's ìSoul's Intent Guided Meditation CD has helped hundreds of people relax and gain deeper access to their inner wisdom. For more information call 617-328-7113, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visithttp://www.soulworkscoaching.com.