Psychiatric Medical Care Through Lifestyle: The Mind-Spirit Connection (Part 2 of 2)

When seeking wellness, we often only focus on physical health, but recently the value of our mental health is being better recognized. Many people feel as though they aren’t “right” or something is still missing and unbalanced. This is because, more often than not, we neglect to care for our spirit (remember, we are threefold beings made of a body, mind/soul, and spirit). Our spirit is the life force that drives us and ties together all dimensions of our health. Different cultures, philosophies, and traditions have names for the spirit, such as prana, mana, qi, and pneuma. No matter the word used to define it, this energy or life force can exist in everything. Just as lifestyle habits influence the health of our physical bodies and minds, they impact the spirit.

Whether you have not given attention to the spirit layer of yourself or lost connection with it, nurturing and expanding it is a lifelong journey. Because we are all unique, this journey differs for each person, and starting is often trial and error until you discover the things that bring you healing and strength and create balance, joy, and harmony in your life. Mindful Living Group provides superb guidance in learning to pause, look inward, and seek out your spiritual needs through traditional or philosophical practices, religion, meditation, mindfulness, or even yoga.

Finding Balance In The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection

It is not uncommon for happiness and harmony to be sought after in the material world around us. This is not a new concept, considering it is a focal point of many traditions and religions dating beyond their written records. Whether it’s money, a job title, possessions, or physical appearance, chasing down the next thing to bring happiness often results in suffering. The fulfillment and balance we seek can be found within us if we choose to find it. Enlivening our spirituality and maintaining our spiritual health can be achieved through many forms and can provide extensive benefits in all areas of our lives.

What is spiritual health? Spiritual health cannot be summed into a single definition as it has different meanings to different people. It is an aspect of life that we each experience uniquely and can be profoundly personal. With that said, at the heart of spiritual health is recognizing that you are a part of something greater than yourself. Engaging in spirituality does not require committing to specific religious traditions or philosophical beliefs. Many individuals adopt components of multiple practices, while others find wholeness in strictly following a single religion.

 Spiritual health can affect our mental and physical health through the belief that they are all connected. What we put our faith or spirituality in is a determining factor for creating our foundational beliefs, thoughts, attitudes, values, and identity. A healthy spirit fuels our ability to cope with life’s inevitable challenges. Spirituality looks different to everyone. It may be meditation, prayer, music, religion, or other forms. With a healthy spirituality, we can discover our purpose in life and put meaning towards actions and behavior. Humans are the only beings on Earth able to question our existence and seek meaning in life. Meaning fuels our purpose for being alive and motivates us to continue pushing forward. When lacking purpose in life, many people have fallen into destructive behavior patterns or developed struggles with depression, hopelessness, and distress. As we seek our spirituality, we connect to the world around us, a higher power or God, the people in our lives, and our “self.”

Cultivating & Maintaining Your Spiritual Health

Pursuing spiritual health can be attained in many ways; what is good for you may not work for someone else. This is a personal journey, yet it does not have to be faced alone. One way to begin exploring your spiritual core is by engaging in mindful meditation. In mindful meditation, we utilize key components of mindfulness, such as approaching our thoughts without judgment and gently refocusing the mind when it wanders off. In a formal meditation, we employ a focus inward, examining ourselves. We can begin with answering questions like who am I as a person, what is my purpose, what are my values, and are my actions in alignment with my values and allowing me to reach the goals associated with my purpose. It is NOT expected for everyone to have the answers right away, it takes time, and more often than not, many of us need to heal wounds (old and new) and trauma – including generational trauma — before we know these answers. It’s all a part of the process. This can be difficult to address especially when emotions or experiences have been suppressed due to pain.

We live in a hustle-and-bustle world with to-do lists that seem more like to-do books, responsibilities to the home, to the family, at work, invitations to gatherings, dinners, and so on. When asked how we are, overwhelmed and “burned-out” are frequent responses. In addition to the inherent need for connection to others, we have an intrinsic need for alone time. Scheduling time for just yourself, with no distractions and no expectations from others, is vital to our spiritual, physical, and mental health. Time alone can look different to everyone; remember, it’s what works for you. It is not selfish to ask for space. Whether it is a few minutes each day or an hour or so set aside each week, we can recharge so we may be up to the task and challenges are thrown at us. During this time, journaling, practicing meditation, prayer, or engaging in a hobby or craft may be rejuvenating.

Finding and joining a community of others seeking to enhance their spiritual health may provide us with the support, insight, and connection we dearly seek. Communities can include gathering with family or friends, partaking in religious services, volunteering to help others, events and retreats, or spending time in nature with others. Options are limitless, and finding individuals with similar intentions can provide the encouragement to continue healing and growing, especially during times when all feels lost.

Benefits Of Espousing Spiritual Wellness

There is an emphasis on discovering your life’s meaning and individual purpose when discussing the realm of the spirit self. What is life’s purpose, and how do we find it? Broadly stated, it’s a cause beyond yourself that speaks to your “heart” and something you choose to dedicate time and energy toward. Contrary to popular opinion, your purpose may change as the circumstance in life or global events change. Life purpose provides a sense of direction and gives meaning to our daily actions.

Humans naturally function more proficiently when given instruction (direction) and understand why they are doing the task. Think back to when you were asked to write an essay in school (or at any point in life) where the only direction you were given was “write whatever you want.” The topics are limitless; you likely bumbled or put it off until the last minute. There was no “why” to the “what” or “how.” The same concept applies in life. Without purpose, we have no meaning, and a void is created in life that we often fill with harmful, risky behaviors or addictive habits.

To find our purpose, we must look inward at what is missing and the void in our inner world. Mindfulness and meditation are helpful in this, as it creates space for introspection. If we are going to dedicate ourselves to something greater, it is crucial to do so from a healthy, secure place. The proverbial expression, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” emphasizes our need to take care of ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean bubble baths and spa days; it’s the self-care that isn’t fun, such as cleaning your home, making (and keeping) doctor appointments, getting yourself out of debt, and healing the wounds from life that have been holding you back. As you do this, you might seek knowledge on spiritual practices or reconnect with your religion. No matter the way you go about making yourself whole, it’s the actions that matter.

As you heal, you can create a genuine capacity to help others. Oftentimes when helping others comes from trying to prove your worth, it may lead to codependent or toxic relationships. But healing may allow you to have substance to pour from. You may connect more intimately with family, friends, and partners, gain the support you need, and provide it to others. Your connection with something greater than yourself may increase and drive you to find your purpose while giving meaning to what could feel like mundane routines. You may no longer be wandering through life aimlessly.

Start Your Journey To Whole-Health Today

It is okay if you do not know where or how to initiate caring for your spiritual dimension. At Mindful Living Group, professionals are available to assist and guide you in finding practices appropriate for your individual needs and obstacles. Contact Mindful Living Group to inquire about the many retreats and events offered, or schedule an appointment with any of the expert therapists and counselors to discuss what’s weighing on your heart.

Eloquently stated by Morrnah Simeona, a native Hawaiian Kahuna named the Living Treasure of Hawai’i, “Peace starts with me and no one else.