Are We Getting Healthier?
Many of us focus our efforts on getting healthier during spring.
We have survived all the special foods associated with holidays and our more sedentary winters. Some of us want to get healthier physically so we can be more active, and more attractive, during summer.
Our bank accounts have absorbed all that holiday spending and paying our taxes. We might be working on building financial health.
Can we get healthier spiritually in the same ways we look for a healthy bank balance?
Are there lessons from trying to get healthy physically we can apply to getting healthier spiritually?
Some people see spiritual practices like physical exercises. They make sure to complete their reps for the week and are confident they are building spiritual muscle. As long as we eat right and get enough exercise, they believe, our spiritual life will be healthy.
I do not believe spiritual life necessarily works that way.
Getting Healthier by Clearing Away
There are people who believe they are healthier because they buy things intended to make them healthy. They have acquired special equipment, new and improved exercise clothes, or nutritional supplements. Their cupboards, or their garages, might be full of things they have bought to help them get healthy.
Some people treat getting healthier spiritually the same way. They persist in attending conferences, buying books, and listening to speakers. It is as if they are collecting spiritual supplements to make them healthier.
There is nothing inherently wrong with spiritual conferences or books. I am not convinced, though, collecting them helps us with getting healthier.
It helps me to clear things away, to let go every so often. My sense of my own healthy spiritual life is I do not always need more people speaking or writing into my life. It often helps me more to take a few deep breaths and spend some time reflecting on what I have already read or heard.
My experience is like people who go through all the stuff they have accumulated and make decisions. Some of them donate some of their stuff while others need to pitch some of it.
We take time to sort out what we really need to keep and put into practice.
Getting Healthier by Trying Something New
I am told people who focus on getting healthier physically by working out regularly try new ways to exercise. They may develop different groups of muscles or try to build strength or skills in mew areas.
Some people who believe they are getting healthier spiritually find practices with which they are comfortable. They sink into their familiar spiritual practices and “do their reps.”
There is nothing necessarily wrong with becoming comfortable in our spiritual practices. I believe spiritual life is about discovering and exploring our possibilities. The familiarity of a particular set of practices inspires us to try something we have not tried before.
We are not trying to master a set of skills or practices. Spiritual life is about being open to what the practices offer us.
It intrigues me how spiritual life draws me into new practices and moves me in new directions. Just when I feel I have begun to understand something, things seem to change. Maybe spiritual life is not about my figuring things out after all.
Trying something new is an indication our relationship to spiritual life is getting healthier.
Getting Healthier is About Recognizing What Health Means
Our understanding of what health means changes and grows over time.
I can remember when being healthy meant not being sick. We were healthy whenever we were not in pain or feeling ill. Now we have a healthier, more comprehensive understanding of health.
The ways we experience health are getting healthier.
We recognize we are getting healthier by eating wisely and exercising regularly. Our physical health is more than the absence of injury or disease.
In the same way healthy spiritual life is more than avoiding obvious spiritual distress.
Getting healthier deepens our appreciation of what being healthy can mean. We grow more healthy spiritually and see the possibilities of spiritual life more clearly.
How do we see the potential of spiritual life within us and in the world around us? What differences can healthy spiritual life make in the ways we live and understand life?
Are there ways we can live into the potential of getting healthier in everyday life?
We take time to clear away what we do not need and begin to try something new. As we take time to breathe deeply and reflect we recognize our understanding of health is getting healthier.
Getting healthier spiritually is more than following particular rules or checking things off on a list. Spiritual health grows in us and spreads out into the world around us. Spiritual life in us inspires the people around us and spiritual life in the people we know inspires us.
Steps Toward Getting Healthier in Everyday Life
Like getting healthier physically or financially, spiritual health can be a series of specific steps. Each step we take opens our eyes to new possibilities of healthy spiritual life.
Getting healthy spiritually is not about collecting intensely dramatic experiences or blinding insights. It is not a series of stunning leaps forward, but of small, specific steps.
We do not need to go to a particular place at a certain time on a specific day to grow healthier. Spiritual life draws us into itself no matter where we are or what day it is.
Choosing to listen to sacred stillness regularly may be a specific step toward getting healthier for us. Becoming a better listener could be our next step toward getting healthier.
Getting healthier spiritually may be about clearing away what we do not need or trying something new.
Each of us determines our own ways to get healthy.
The key question for us is are we getting healthier spiritually?
How are we getting healthier spiritually today?
What are the ways we can be getting healthier this week?
[Image by cogdogblog]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.