Spiritual Fitness

Spiritual Fitness is a term used to capture a person’s overall spiritual health and reflects how spirituality may help one cope with and enjoy life. Spirituality may be used generally to refer to that which gives meaning and purpose in life. The term may be used more specifically to refer to the practice of a philosophy, religion, or way of living. It also concerns with one’s spiritual attitude.

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Spirituality or spiritual fitness has two primary expressions:

  • Human Expression: Refers to the essential core of the individual. Includes activities that strengthen self and build healthy relationships.
    • Examples include commitment to family, love of life, and esprit de corps.
  • Religious Expression: Refers to the application of faith. Includes activities that connect one to the Divine, God, and the supernatural.

 

  • Examples include prayer, worship, and participation in the sacraments.
  • Hinduism spirituality is derived from various ancient scriptures like puranas and upanishads.
  • Buddhism encourages pursuit of the Noble Path.
  • Christianity has a focus on seeking the Holy Spirit.
  • Islamic spirituality is derived from the Quran and following the Sunnah.

Your spiritual fitness is typically healthier if you practice your faith, beliefs, and other activities that support your spirituality. Your spiritual fitness is typically less healthy if you neglect to practice your faiths, beliefs, and other activities that support your spirituality. The self-assessment tool to help in considering the spiritual condition:

FIT STRESSED DEPLETED DRAINED
Potential Indicators

·         Engaged in life’s meaning / purpose

·         Hopeful about life / future

·         Takes sound moral decisions

·         Fully engaged with family, friends, and community

·         Able to forgive self and others

·         Respectful of others

·         Engaged in core values / beliefs

Potential Indicators

·         Neglecting life’s meaning / purpose

·         Less hopeful about life / future

·         Makes some poor moral decisions

·         Somewhat engaged with family, friends, and community

·         Difficulty forgiving self or others

·         Less  respectful of others

·         Straying from core values / beliefs

Potential Indicators

·         Losing a sense of life’s meaning / purpose

·         Holds a very little hope about life / future

·         Makes poor moral decisions routinely

·         Weakly engaged with family, friends, and community

·         Not likely to forgive self or others

·         Strong disrespect for others

·         Disregards core values / beliefs

Potential Indicators

·         Feels like life has no meaning / purpose

·         Holds no hope about life / future

·         Engaged in extreme immoral behavior

·         Not engaged with family, friends or community

·         Forgiveness is not an option

·         Complete disrespect for others

·         Abandoned core values / beliefs

 

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When the year turns over, we reach a birthday, or mark a moment of life transition, most people take it as a cue to reflect on what they could do better or differently. For many of us, especially at New Year’s, thoughts immediately turn to promises of new diets and more exercise—physical fitness. But what about spiritual fitness? What if your top priorities were inner intentions, like forgiveness and kindness, rather than outer intentions like a better body or more money?

The amazing thing that we all know, but easily forget, is that when we have inner strength the other goals we hold, like fitness, healed relationships, and prosperity, are easier to achieve. Here are ten essential tips to help you on to spiritual fitness:

Tip 1 for Spiritual Fitness: Make a Commitment: No Junk Moods

A commitment should be made along with a concentrated effort to reduce the people, places, and things that drain your energy or entrap you in negative moods. It will help you to stay balanced and connected to your essence if there is a less violence in what you watch, your less gossiping and complaining in what you hear, and less chaos in where you would like to go.

Tip 2 for Spiritual Fitness: Lift Someone’s Spirit Every Day

It is certain that the life can be difficult. It will always brighten your day and feed your soul if you help make someone else’s day a little better or easier. Lifting people’s spirits can be as simple as a generous show of gratitude, a compliment to a person who has helped  you, holding a door open for a busy person, or offering encouragement to someone in need. It will pay back in a big way if you help others in small ways.

Tip 3 for Spiritual Fitness: Know Your Spiritual Personality

You shouldn’t forget that you all have a spiritual personality as practices, philosophies, and people are sought to help you explore your spiritual side. We won’t all like the same spiritual practices as similar to we all not loving the same types of sport, ice cream, music, or clothing styles. To begin to understand your spiritual personality, write a list of the activities that bring you a sense of peace, connection, or joy.  Find a practice that is similar, looking for themes in your answers. Remember: the best spiritual practice is one that works for you.

Tip 4 for Spiritual Fitness: Pick a Daily Practice: Break the 24-Hour Cycle

At least once a day, you should pick a simple activity that helps you to return to place of calm and reflection that can be done every day if you want true and lasting spiritual fitness. A five-minute breathing exercise, prayers in the morning, meditation, writing in a gratitude journal, or a ten-minute visualization are all examples of simple and effective ways to reconnect you to what matters most. It’s important that this practice be done daily so that it can interrupt your cycles of stress, distraction, and business that we all fall into each day.

Tip 5 for Spiritual Fitness: Pick a Weekly Practice: Break the 7-Day Cycle

From exercising your soul a deep sense of spiritual wellbeing and inner strength comes. A more involved practice will bring you depth even though a daily practice is essential for maintenance. Compared to your daily practice your weekly practice should be much longer and it could typically involve a group to help shape your context, keep your focus, and provide feedback. Church, synagogue, meditation groups, yoga, tai chi, singing in a choir, a contemplative walk in nature, or volunteering at the hospital could all be examples of a weekly practice. Try to have at least one thing that breaks up the weekly cycle of commitments and reminds you of what is most important.

Tip 6 for Spiritual Fitness: Be a Sensible Seeker: Ask the Right Questions

It’s important to remember that when you seek spiritual teachers, texts, and community, you should be a conscious consumer.  It’s important to look for credentials, to be sure it feels like a fit, and to look deeper than what the marketing and advertising is telling you. Here are five critical questions to keep in mind – if you experience any of these things, it is a likely time to step back, or step away completely:

  • Do you feel that your or other people’s sense of integrity is being violated?
  • Do you feel the financial cost exceeds the value offered?
  • Do you feel more dependent than empowered?
  • Do you see behavior that you’d otherwise consider abuse if it happened elsewhere (sexual, emotional, physical, etc.)?
  • Do you feel the teacher or program has become more important than the goal of growth, personal awakening or your own direct connection to a Higher Power?

Tip 7 for Spiritual Fitness: Find a Teacher

On one hand it is getting harder all the time to find a good self-help or spiritual teacher. It becomes harder to figure out whom to listen to, or what teacher to get involved with as it gets easier for people to self-appoint and self-promote. On the other hand, it could lead to disaster or misdirection by not having a teacher or a trusted guide of some kind. Try to incorporate a teacher, mentor, or guide in your life, at least on an occasional basis, and use these four questions to help you research your choice:

  1. Do they have a mentor or mentors in a recognized tradition or community that trained and prepared them for their work?
  2. Will they openly share their history of training and study with specific details?
  3. Are they a part of or endorsed by a community that you consider credible and recognizes their work and stands behind their reputation? This should not be their own organization (it could be a larger group such as a hospital, a university, a resort, a religious community, a training association, or a professional association).
  4. Do they demonstrate the 4H’s of a good spiritual teacher– Honesty, Humility, Heart-centeredness, Humor?

Tip 8 for Spiritual Fitness: Find Your Fellows

It’s a simple but powerful lesson: keep the company of like-minded and similarly intentioned people, and your goal will be easier to achieve. This doesn’t mean we should judge or reject those who are not like us, it simply means that spiritual growth is assisted by community, support, and the momentum of others headed in the same direction.

Tip 9 for Spiritual Fitness: Know When to Move On

One of the biggest challenges is to stay committed and present even when you feel like checking out and doesn’t mind whether you are struggling with a teacher, a practice, or a community. Sometimes our greatest breakthroughs come after we have found the courage to learn a little more and trust the process. In other cases, the greatest lesson is to honor your limits, your needs, and your truth. It could be harmful and dangerous if you stay too long in something that doesn’t serve. Find yourself a few friends or trusted guides to explore your feelings with, if you aren’t able to tell the difference between the good reasons for staying and the good reasons for going. You will find your answers quickly if you are honest and your counsel is reasonable.

Tip 10 for Spiritual Fitness: Live B.I.G. (with Blessing, Intention and Gratitude)

At the heart of all spiritual growth and meaningful practice is the role of your attitude and intent. The attitude you bring to your life, yourself, and your spiritual path will be reflected in what it returns to you. Amongst the many important attitudes are what I think of as “the big three.” Anchor your life, your choices, your attitude, and your practice in the big three and you will find that all the inner strength and love you seek. You can remember these three by their acronym: BIG. Just remember to live BIG:

Blessing – bring a mindset of blessing to each struggle and situation you encounter. This means both to look for the blessing in each situation and to bless what you struggle with – if it doesn’t change the situation, it will change you.

Intention – attention follows focus and if you are clear in what you intend to be or create you will be more likely to find it, or attract it. Intention also gives you a reference point for your decisions, rather that react, consider your intention, then make your choice.

Gratitude – take time as often as you can to feel gratitude for whatever goodness there is in your life. Sometimes it may be for simple things and other times profound, but feeling thankful will help you to look for the best in situations and bring out a sense of peace and contentment in you.

The role of your attitude and intent is at the heart of all spiritual growth and meaningful practice. The attitude you bring to your life, yourself, and your spiritual path will be reflected in what it returns to you. Amongst the many important attitudes are, what the main are the big three. You will find that all the inner strength and love you seek in the big three by anchoring your life, your choices, your attitude and your practice. You can remember these three by their acronym – BIG:

Blessing – bring a mindset of blessing to each struggle and situation you encounter. This means both to look for the blessing in each situation and to bless what you struggle with – if it doesn’t change the situation, it will change you.

Intention – attention follows focus and if you are clear in what you intend to be or create you will be more likely to find it, or attract it. Intention also gives you a reference point for your decisions, rather that react, consider your intention, then make your choice.

Gratitude – take time as often as you can to feel gratitude for whatever goodness there is in your life. Sometimes it may be for simple things and other times profound, but feeling thankful will help you to look for the best in situations and bring out a sense of peace and contentment in you.

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