Within all of us lies the ability to reach our full potential, to become, or self actualize: an essence of wisdom, peace, joy, and love. When we are relating from this center (i.e., inner self), rather than from the periphery (i.e., outer self) we are honoring and validating the spiritual core of who we are. I often to refer to this as "loving the skin we're in". To express this essence means to have purpose in your life. It is finding and living the meaning of your life. Your daily existence becomes an expression of your beliefs, your dreams, and your values. Your daily expression can be found in a variety of ways: visiting sick friends, emotionally supporting friends during their time of need (i.e., reported stress associated with taking care of elderly parents, coping with a recently diagnosed health condition, sudden family illness, or sudden loss of job or partner), joining a community project, developing a personal talent or new skill set for a possible career change, acheiving your personal best when exercising or trying to get fit, or making sure your kids or family get nutritious meals. It's putting into focus and action that which generates your enthusiam and energy.
The loss of relationship to this inner self, or spirit, leads to a splitting of the outer self from its source or power. The outer words, actions, and deeds are not in sync with the spirit within. There is a feeling of not knowing who you are, of loss, not able be yourself, or losing your "mojo". This disharmony can be a major contributor to ill health. A waning or death of the spirit results in a demise of "life affirming" energy, or getting back to life. There is no longer a belief in or commitment to a Higher Power, regardless of its source, whether it be family, career, humanitarian endeavors, or our ethical prinicples and values. There is no longer a sense of connectedness to other people, the world, or the universe. There is a loss of direction and fulfillment of goals that, in process, gives us a sense of joy and peace.
How can you turn a crisis into an opportunity for spiritual healing? What can you do to restore an integrated sense of wholeness? Getting back into the game of life involves the "reintegration of the self". Synthesis of self, or accepting all parts of ourselves, involves working to improve self-esteem: to accept, forgive, and love yourself. Movement towards wholeness is self-care, not self-sabotage. Reconnecting with the source within, or our "inner strength", buffers stress, enabling you to use it as a vehicle for positive growth, an opportunity for postive change, rather than to be defeated by an emotional or physical crisis. Inner strength helps us to cope with life's challenges, or the unexpected things that cross our paths. Life happens! You can weather a crisis better if you are able to find purpose and meaning in life despite the crisis. Spiritual wellness arises out of processing and resolving old wounds, from working to increase understanding and tolerance of others. Love of self and others does not cure anything, but it can result in wholeness; in healing the relationship between mind, body, and spirit. In the process of healing, physical cures, or wellness, can also occur.
Physical and emotional wellness emerges from maintaining good habits of nutrition, exercise, safety, quiet time, and relaxation. We are constantly working on acheiving a balance in our lives. It means monitoring alcohol, quitting smoking, having annual health exams and medical follow-up as necessary. It is making time for contemplaton and pleasure; to demand balance. Wellness stems from practicing coping skills to manage stress. It means communicating in the language of your heart to a Higher Power, yourself, and others.
Our emotions and thoughts play a signifciant role in determining our well-being. The way you react to what comes along in life can greatly determine your level of health. We can make changes in ourselves, in our lifestyles, and in our perceptions. In order to acheive balance we must learn to be able to relax, to regain the ability to gear up or gear down as is fitting to the situation, and to be able to control thoughts, emotions, and our physical and spirtual selves.
Our bodies become the truest and most accurate barameters of our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Our bodies mirror our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. The answer always lie within. The first step toward wholeness is to listen to the body's internal wisdom and to trust that mental and physical illness are ways the body and soul convey their deepiest needs, desires, and concerns.
It is wise to pay attention to how you view yourself. The internal, critical voice needs to be answered; its distortions refuted. Suppressed emotions need to be identified, owned, expressed, and processed. It is commonly believed by many researchers that these emotions, if chronic or unexpressed, may cause a surging of hormones and chemicals with consequent increased risk of heart attack, stroke, arterial disease, headaches, and kidney problems. Identifying emotional roots of illness and making conscious changes in lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and diet can result in wellness in body, mind, and spirit.