When I talk about health I like to break it down into three main sections. Physical health, mental health and spiritual health. These can be broken down further but as a general consensus of what I consider health to be, they pretty much cover it! All three overlap a bit but are equally important. Sometimes I need to work on one more than the others, sometimes I take my eye off the ball and let one slip while working on the other two but these three factors are where I try to focus to keep myself healthy. I know you’ve heard of the first two so I’m not going to write about them. Physical health is best left to the personal trainers of this world and mental health is a complicated matter. I prefer to stay clear as I have no formal training in either aspect.
I can get into spiritual health, or at least my version of it. Why? Well, firstly it’s individual so I don’t need to be an expert in the field and this blog can’t do anyone any harm in that respect. Secondly, most people haven’t even thought about it and therefore neglect it and thirdly, I personally believe that it’s really important and really misunderstood. You don’t have to be spiritual to work on your spiritual health and just the term ‘spiritual’ tends to get people rolling their eyes and switching off. My version is probably not what you think.
Being spiritual is pretty fashionable at the moment and if you weren’t sure what being spiritual involved and only had social media as a reference you would probably come to the conclusion that it involved lots of yoga, meditation, veganism, constant self love, doing handstands in scenic spots and maybe growing a big beard. In fact ‘being spiritual’ is so popular at the moment it almost equates to being a hipster. Maybe that’s right and if that works for you go for it! It’s not for me. I’m thinking more of a short, intense moment of genuine happiness, regardless of what else is going on in your life. I think that spiritual health is whatever sets your soul on fire. Whatever fills you with passion, whatever helps you let go, whatever makes your heart feel like it’s going to explode! Mostly it’s the simple things in life, they are mostly easily accessible and often free.
I’m not talking about all the usual crutches that we use to escape day to day life like alcohol, drugs, shopping or food. A night out with your mates can be great but it’s not necessarily great for your spiritual health. We use a lot of these things as a form of escapism, a way to put pain or boredom on hold and I suppose some of this can run parallel with my version of spiritual health but it’s not the same. Not my version anyway.
I was listening to BBC 6 Music this week and Lauren Laverene played a song called Beating Heart Baby by Head Automatica (google it). I haven’t even thought about this song, let alone heard it for years, but I love it! It’s not a band I’m into, I couldn’t name another song and I wouldn’t buy an album but this song is great. I turned the radio up until the speakers were crackling and sang my head off, it felt amazing! That to me is spiritual health. That feeling. It’s not hard to come by but we just forget what it is and forget how to get it. It’s so good when it creeps back in!
Blasting a song you love and singing at the top of your lungs. Laughing with an old friend. Marching up a mountain and staring down at the view. The simplicity of the sun on your face and sand between your toes. Driving at night with the right soundtrack. Hanging out in my own company and being fine with it. Dancing like a dickhead. Doing something fun and not feeling the need to post it half way through. That’s how I think of my spiritual health.
There’s other stuff too. I’m lucky enough that my work fulfills me, it energises me and I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. Keeping in alignment with my work helps my spiritual health. Setting a goal, working hard and achieving it. Testing myself and analyzing how I feel about it afterwards might not be easy at the time but it’s great for my spiritual health. Push yourself to find something worth pursuing, then push yourself to pursue it. It’s great for your spirit. Watching other people do this is great as well. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things is always inspiring, and inspiration is great for your spiritual health.
I do a lot of things that are considered spiritual. I do yoga, I practice mindfulness and meditation, I’ve got a gratitude journal, and although I enjoy these things they don’t make me feel especially spiritual. To me, spiritual health is personal, it’s a feeling of contentment and happiness, a momentary lightness of heart and it can’t be measured by anyone other than me.
I think these things are important. The little things in life, the simple things. Modern society puts a lot of pressure on us to be better. The list of things we have to do to be “healthy” just keeps getting longer. Exercise, nutrition, yoga, meditation, sleep, breath work, morning routines. So much to keep up with and it can be exhausting! Social media makes us feel inadequate if we can’t do all of these things and doesn’t seem to account for trying to hold down a job, a family, be a parent or a partner. Constant pressure. It can be crushing and feelings of inadequacy are rife! Does prayer or meditation or being so called spiritual really balance this out? I’m not sure.
I want something to help me let go of these modern pressures, something to take the edge off the daily grind and I certainly don’t want to care if it’s Insta worthy when I’m doing it. No pressure, natural emotion, true freedom of feeling, pure joy just for a minute or two.
Take some time to bang out your favourite song from back in the day, kick your shoes off on the beach, catch up with an old friend, spend some time not giving a fuck what you look like. I might not look particularly spiritual jumping around my living room, screaming out a forgotten noughties rock tune but it doesn’t half make me feel great.
That, for me, is spiritual health.