by David Ward
As we come away from our holidays or perhaps are about to start them how many of us have thought about getting into shape and returning to full fitness? I believe we have all had at least one urge to either loose weight or just simply get back to a level of fitness that we deem to be appropriate for our age, life style and person.
But when we think of fitness we mainly focus on our physical and mental ‘shapes’ either because it is our personal conviction that it is what is needed or it is part of a role model around us.
By and large there is absolutely nothing wrong with this and indeed many people find satisfaction in achieving their personal fitness goals and through them a sort of ‘happiness’ or more to the point, contentment. Moreover, when we tackle our insecurities that stem from either physical or mental issues or both we perceive an improvement in our overall well-being. As we saw recently even top athletes at the Olympics also suffer from mental issues. It should also be said that being physically and mentally fit or should we say physically and mentally healthy goes a long way in helping us to be happy, but let me reveal that it is not enough. What is missing is a third element and that is spiritual fitness.
Physical, mental and spiritual fitness confirm that mind, body and soul all have to be in sync for us to be truly content and happy. Not only but happiness starts from the soul, moves to the mind and finishes with the body. But how do we go about getting spiritually fit? This is the topic of the month and I will leverage my personal approach on the spiritual and relevant fitness techniques, routines and tools. This is not because I’m expert but a practitioner, albeit an experimental and entrepreneurial one.
First and foremost, consider that tools can come from many sources such as books, films, videos, music while techniques can be reading, painting, staying in complete silence, fasting, listening, gardening, connecting with nature such as hugging tress or star watching, volunteering and so forth. Such tools are usually taken as being for and about us so the ‘arrow’ points towards us. Instead, they are about you in relation to something or someone else.
In other words, it is not about you but the exchange between you and someone or something else.
For me that someone is God and that something is his purpose for me (in my last article I named it ‘The Calling’). Note that this is, for me, about the spiritual and not the religious!
That said I acknowledge that the religious part is needed in order to be spiritually fit. It is a bit like if you want to read you need to have an alphabet or if you want to spend money you need know how to count. Spirituality and religiousness walk hand-in-hand, are mutually supportive and intertwined.
What I have discovered, and that I reveal to you the reader, is that in order to be spiritually fit you need to have a God.
In the words of Bertrand Russell, a famous British mathematician and atheist of the last century, ‘unless you assume a God, life’s purpose is meaningless.’ This or He is known to Christians (like me), as the father. He is my personal trainer, who is available 24/7!
Moreover, I have only one spiritual fitness book or should I say ‘voice’, yes just one! And that is the bible. If you like you can consider the bible as being the religious fitness book and the lessons it contains as the spiritual exercises. In essence you can’t get spiritually fit if you don’t exercise and are without access with a (your) fitness book.
So how did I start my journey to soul fitness? Obviously not just by reading the bible but by trying to understand it and going about applying it. So, imagine yourself to be in the soul gym and instead of having weights, running machines, dance floors, skipping ropes, exercise mats etc. you have words, sentences, stories, advice!?
As a fitness routine I try to read verse daily, either early morning or late evening, on my own. By the way although I do read verse with other people, I prefer to be alone, that’s just me not a piece of advice.
Indeed, I acknowledge that this might be different for everyone and certainly far from being a top athlete, so to speak.
So how do we connect spiritual fitness to happiness? There are several, if not numerous, channels of thought such as the equivalent of repetitions in the gym through verse, another is to compare my attitude or response to what is quoted, or just simply asking is this really needed or is it just a desire? If you look at all my previous 13 articles you will discover that underneath there has always been a spiritual reflection or thought at its core. So, while we can be physically and mentally fit it is when we are spiritually fit that true happiness is revealed and completed. I picture this trio with a metaphor based one three friends.
Imagine you are in the middle of a circle of ‘fitness’ friends. With just one friend all you can do is hold hands. With two friends you can be in the middle and be hugged but with three you feel surrounded, complete and loved. That surround feeling is happiness and that third person is your spiritual fitness. So, no matter what your belief system is my take away is that true happiness is about being spiritually fit and, if I had to choose just one friend, it would be my personal trainer.
On a closing note, and as is customary, this month’s happiness calendar is duly attached. This month it is about self-care (not selfish care), so be kind to yourself. Also, as we approach autumn remember that although if might think that the spiritual gym is empty, you are not alone. So, go start your spiritual fitness journey.
As always thanks for reading as far as here.