We all know how important physical and mental well-being are, but spiritual well-being might trump them all. It may be harder to put into words, but our spiritual health impacts every area of our lives. Without spiritual wellness, we can never fully achieve or attain physical or mental well-being or true fulfillment.
Spiritual wellness is about how we feel about ourselves on a deeper level. It's about our innermost self. A more subtle self than our everyday outwardly self. It's about our connection to ourselves, our communities and something greater than ourselves, like a higher power or universal love.
Spiritual wellness is about having meaning and purpose in life. It's about knowing who you are, where you came from and where you're going. It's about self-awareness, transcendent experiences, inner harmony and being true to our inner yearnings, values and beliefs. In a nutshell, spiritual wellness is about inner peace. The true and lasting inner peace that resides no matter what is going on in the outside world.
Spiritual wellness is very personal. We all have different spiritual beliefs. Our life experiences and religious faith can have a significant impact on our spirituality, spiritual beliefs and spiritual well-being. But whatever our beliefs are, exploring what spirituality means to us can improve our spiritual health. The more we delve into our inner world of meaning, the more we learn what it is that gives us a true sense of purpose and fulfillment.
SPIRITUAL HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH AND PHYSICAL HEALTH
Psychology researchers are consistently finding that our spiritual health has a direct impact on our mental health and well-being. When we have meaning and purpose in life and feel connected to ourselves, our community and something greater than ourselves, our overall health and well-being are improved. We have more inner peace and inner resources to cope with whatever life throws at us.
Research suggests that there is also a relationship between spiritual health and physical health. For example, in one study, daily spiritual experience was associated with positive health behaviours in diet and exercise. Another study suggests that spirituality and spiritual health can have a protective function against negative health behaviours such as addiction. So, looking after our spiritual health can lead to positive health outcomes in other areas of our lives.
HOW TO IMPROVE SPIRITUAL WELLNESS
While seeing a therapist to get your mental health in order or going to the gym to get your physical health in order can be a drag, topping up your spiritual well-being can be fun and nourishing. Spiritual wellness starts with doing things that give you a sense of connection, purpose and satisfaction. So, anything that taps into the deeper spiritual aspects of ourselves can improve our spiritual well-being. And if they also bring you peace, contentment and inner harmony, you can be guaranteed to be well on your way to spiritual heights.
Classic activities that improve spiritual well-being include spending time in nature, slow living, meditation, mindfulness, chanting and singing, dancing, women's circles, yoga, Qi Gong, breath work, prayer, voluntary work and self-awareness practices like journaling and creative arts. But everybody is different. It's about finding what resonates with you, what nourishes you spiritually and what gives your life meaning.
People take different approaches to improve their spiritual well-being, but I think of it in terms of frequency. There are things I do daily, like meditation, and then there are things I do weekly, like spending time in nature and volunteering. But once or twice a year, I love to take time out from the world and all its distractions and immerse myself in spiritually nourishing activities.
SPIRITUAL WELLNESS IMMERSION
Let's take a deep dive into where you can get a spiritual immersion that nourishes, inspires, fulfils and makes you feel connected and content so that you're back on top and ready to take on the world again.
First off, the obvious choice is a meditation retreat. A simple Google search will return hundreds of meditation retreats to choose from. Here's what you need to keep in mind when choosing where to immerse yourself in the world of meditation.
How long do you want to immerse yourself? If you're starting out, a weekend might be enough. On the other hand, a week will satisfy your inner yearnings and put you on the road to inner peace. But once you've done a few week-long retreats, go for a deeper immersion to take you to new spiritual heights. Is the retreat silent? Or do you get to meet fellow retreatgoers? This is important because a week's silence for a beginner can be challenging, and you want to return home feeling nourished, not tormented by your mind.
While you can go all out on a meditation retreat, you can also choose a retreat that's a little less intense and a little more fun. Yoga retreats and holidays have got it all. Yoga, breathwork, meditation, a healthy diet and good company. If you've never done a retreat before, this is a gentle and fun introduction that will leave you feeling nourished, connected and fulfilled.
OTHER RETREATS TO IMPROVE SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING
Let's be honest: meditation and yoga are not for everyone. Topping up your spiritual well-being levels is not limited to these classic choices. A writing retreat might bring you more meaning and purpose and leave you feeling more fulfilled and content than any scorpion pose ever could.
Or perhaps a detox retreat is more your thing. While you might think detoxing is more about physical health, you'd be surprised to know that intermittent fasting was a steadfast part of religious practices and spiritual retreats long before intermittent fasting was trending. Some detox retreats include other activities that also support your spiritual health and well-being, such as walking, which leads me to my next immersion.
NURTURE YOURSELF IN NATURE
Mountains and nature have always been closely linked with religion and spirituality, and there's nothing like spending a few days in the mountains to reconnect with your deeper self. Away from all the distractions and technology, we're able to slow down and be at peace again. Nature helps us to feel connected and attuned. You can choose to walk an ancient pilgrimage route like the Road to Santiago in Europe or amongst ancient redwoods in California and Oregon. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it if you spend enough time in nature.
SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING LEADS TO FULFILLMENT
As human beings, we are multi-dimensional. That means we have a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimension. It's important that we remember to nourish all aspects of ourselves equally. The great thing about consciously improving our spiritual wellness is that many practices associated with spiritual health enhance human health in multiple ways. And when every aspect of us is full, we feel fulfilled. So, let's get started. How are you nourishing yourself spiritually?
Written by Kirsti Formoso - Wellness Writer for Koraru. Kirsti Formoso is a wellness writer and researcher. She is passionate about holistic health and wellbeing. She has over 30 years of experiential knowledge in personal and spiritual development, and a Masters of Science in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology. She is also a peer reviewer for two scientific journals specialising in Transpersonal Psychology. When she’s not writing she can be found working on her vegetable plot, hiking in the mountains and breathing in all the wonders nature has to offer
Cover photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash