The Health of the Human Spirit
We are inspired by people who have endured catastrophic life experiences and emerged the victor. Helen Keller, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Weisel are some of the more familiar names, but many of us have personally known individuals who have come through the other side of a wrenching experience with grace and humility.
If we could ask each one, “What got you through your crisis?” in all likelihood their responses would be similar. One by one, they would describe inner resources that enabled them to survive. Brian Luke Seaward, author of Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, calls those qualities “the muscles of the soul.” Courage, faith, humor, patience, compassion, imagination, humbleness, forgiveness, intuition, creativity, optimism, honesty, and love.
By exercising those muscles we maintain the health of the human spirit. And the fitness of the spirit is vital to our total well-being.
Following are suggestions Seaward offers to enhance the health of our human spirit:
The Art of Self-Renewal
Self-renewal is a continual process. To be present and attentive to those around us and strong for others in times of need, we must first attend to our own capacity for strength and endurance. Typically this begins with some aspect of the centering process, going within to calm and replenish.
The Practice of Sacred Rituals
We attribute specific habits and various customs to be more special than others, then gravitate toward those activities and make them routine so that we are reminded of life’s sacredness. Special readings or meditations in the morning, witnessing the sunset every night, regular meetings of certain groups to which we belong—all manner of activities can serve as a constant reminder that we are connected to something greater.
Every act of forgiveness is an act of unconditional love. For forgiveness to be unconditional, you must be willing to let go of all feelings of anger and resentment. We forgive others and we forgive ourselves.
Embracing the Shadow
Embracing the shadow means to acknowledge negative, judgmental thoughts, and send a message of acceptance and compassion to the part of ourselves where those thoughts and perceptions originate.
Keeping the Faith
It is good to remember that “we are given no task too great to bear.” Faith is there to guide us through moments of turbulence.
Living Your Joy
Living your joy is seeking and appreciating life’s beautiful side. It reminds us to live in the present moment rather than become immobilized by that which is in the past or yet to come.
Compassion in Action
Compassion in action can be explained in one word—service. And service offers a dividend of love to all parties involved.