For my physical health I go to the gym to do exercises to strengthen my body. I eat nutritious foods to nourish my body. I avoid things that I know will harm my body.
For my mental health I read and study a variety of topics that strengthen my mind to help me understand the world around me. I play chess and other strategy games to train my mind muscles and keep my thinking skills sharp. I constantly train on how to think critically and accurately about life and the world around me..
What is Spiritual Health
But for my spiritual health – what do I do? What practice will strengthen me spiritually?
Some would say daily meditation is a great way to become spiritual. Or practicing Yoga. Or going on Nature walks. Or thinking about God and/or The Universe. Surely those things can inspire the feeling of awe and that’s what being spiritual is, right?
Sure. Those are the first steps towards developing Spiritual Health and Strength. However, if you limit your spiritual practice to just daily meditations and connecting with Nature, then that is similar to making healthy food, but not eating it. Or going to the gym and not using the equipment.
Strengthening your Spiritual Self
Increasing Spiritual Health is dependent on learning Spiritual Laws/Principles and then practicing them. For example, take the Spiritual Law of Love as taught by Jesus Christ (whether you believe he was the Son of God or just a really cool dude, is irrelevant for the purpose of this post). Jesus taught that we are to first love God and then love others as we love ourselves.
First – we are “awakened” to the fact that there is a Spiritual Law of Love. I relate this to when I first started weight training in the gym. My high school PE teacher “awakened” me to the laws of physics and explained muscle development. He taught us about the laws of health and fitness.
Secondly – we begin to practice it and experiment with what that looks like and feels like to us. Just like my high school PE teacher did with showing me how to do the various exercise routines. Having a Spiritual Teacher is crucial to Spiritual Development. I found my Spiritual Teachers through, first, the Holy Scriptures, and then in the writings of Lao Tzu, C.S. Lewis, Wayne Dyer, and many others, including those in my chosen religion.
Thirdly – as I grew more confident in my fitness training, I was able to increase the weight or duration of the exercise. I was able to do more things as I reached new levels of fitness that I never knew before.
In practicing the Law of Love, one must understand that there are many levels of progression in mastering this Law. The Highest Level of the Law of Love is what Jesus was talking about – the end result. Love God and Love Others. He didn’t include any exceptions to that Law. Learning to love God and Love others is actually really, really, really hard. Last year I decided I was going to practice the Law of Charity, which is also known as the “Pure Love of Christ” and I failed. Miserably. It seemed like every time I turned around, there was some opportunity for me to be Charitable and I inevitably failed at it. After many failures and deep introspection, I discovered that the Law of Charity is a vastly complex law made up of many smaller, but just as important, laws. To master the Law of Charity, one must also practice the Law of Patience, the Law of Kindness, the Law of Meekness, the Law of Humility, the Law of Service, and many, many more.
Ultimately, I learned that Love is a choice. Love at the lowest level is a feeling, but to become Spiritually strong, you must work at developoing that Love into a choice where you can love someone despite everything, including your own personal like or dislike of them. Love is a choice at it’s highest level and choosing to Love is practicing the Law of Love.
Choosing Your Spiritual Gym
To be able to practice the Law of Love, I choose to utilize a Spiritual Gym. My Spiritual gym choice is found in organized religion. There are some people who are totally against organized religion because of the “bad” people that have ruined it for them. To those who despise organized religion because of what the members did or didn’t do, I have to say that there are “bad” things about a regular gym that’s bad too, but I deal with it because I’m more interested in making my body healthy instead of getting all bent out of shape because someone sneezed on the console of the cardio machine I am using and didn’t bother to wipe off their germs and I’m probably going to get sick.
I’m a Mormon and I choose to practice spirituality through the organized religion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There I interact with others who are also seeking to practice their personal form of spirituality – my workout buddies, if you will. Through the organized efforts of my chosen religion, I’m given the opportunity to serve the people inside and outside of my church on a regular and consistent basis (just like a workout program you’d use in the gym, or an educational program in school).
I’m supported and encouraged and taught how to increase my spiritual strength through this organized approach to spirituality. Sure, there are sick people who sneeze all over my spiritual strengthening equipment (scriptures, doctrine, beliefs) and it’s really irritating, but, if I was spiritually strong (all the time), I’d be able to see them as people who need spiritual strengthening as well and need me to practice the spiritual exercise of compassion, forgiveness, and patience with them. I go to church for me, after all, not them.
How do You Measure Spiritual Strength Gains?
How do I know if I’m making any progress towards Spiritual Strength? Well, spiritual leaders talk about the “Awakening”. That’s the start. “Enlightenment” is when you’re awake to the spiritual laws and you’ve mastered them. There’s a long, long, long path from Awakening to Enlightenment and along the way, you practice, practice, practice.
One way that I know that I’m making progress toward Spiritual Strength is the level of joy I feel despite the hardships I’m going through. Feeling joy and peace despite the darkness crowding in around you is definitely one sign of spiritual strength.
How I Train Spiritually
I’m a little different than the stereotypical Mormon in that I like to use symbols to remind me of certain laws I’m working on mastering. I use crystals to mediate with and each crystal serves as a focus object for me and represents an aspect of Spirituality that I’m currently studying.
This year I’m focusing on being kind to people, but I have annoying human weaknesses that keep interfering with my spiritual training program, such as monthly fluctuating hormones, body aches and pains, emotional things like regret, guilt, anxiety and depression and other mental and physical symptoms that get in the way of my Spiritual training program.
In order to withstand my human weaknesses, I do everything I can to help me stay focused on my spiritual goals. Just as a person who is trying to control food cravings with a coping strategy, or trying to get through an hour at the gym with motivational music – I use a symbol or a phrase to remind me of my spiritual goals.
Recently, while I was struggling to summon kind feelings toward someone, I felt inspired to use a small quartz crystal with the OHM symbol engraved upon it to remind myself of my “kind” goal. However, it’s not very convenient to carry about with me all the time.
Then a friend introduced me to a pendant with the OHM symbol on it and I loved it. Having this spiritual symbol with me in this fashion is easier and if other’s know of the meaning behind this symbol – the meaning that I assign to it, then it also encourages me more to stay true to my commitment of being kind at all times to everyone.
That is just one way to train for Spiritual Health.
What is your symbols of Spirituality?
To your success,