People who have endured catastrophic life experiences and emerged the victor, rather than the victim may inspire our lives. 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, the famous and the familiar, “What got you through your crisis?” in all likelihood the 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.” These encompass courage, faith, humour, patience, compassion, imagination, humbleness, forgiveness, intuition, creativity, optimism, honesty, and love.
It is in exercising those muscles that the health of the human spirit is maintained. And the fitness of the spirit is vital to our total well-being and ascension or evolution.
With the understanding that there is a definitive link between stress and disease, and a greater appreciation for the healing power of the human spirit (or Soul), practitioners in all areas of health are beginning to acknowledge that to be healthy, happy and content, one must acknowledge and nurture the human spirit. Thus “holistic” care, attention and alignment encompasses all elements of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual which is the fabric that makes up the very rich tapestry of human beings.
Following are seven suggestions Seaward offers to enhance the health of the human spirit. These have been extended on to suit the message of this article.
1. 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. This could be in the form of a daily meditation practice or “Mindfulness” technique, connecting with nature via a walk in the woods or feeling the lap of warm water while your feet caress the sands of time along a beach. We have many choices in the gifts available to us.
2. The Practice of Sacred Rituals
We attribute specific habits and various customs as 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. Acknowledging milestones of life through Sacred Ritual is something that is of huge benefit to our evolving soul. For example celebrating or acknowledging birth, puberty, first love, marriage, divorce, death and so many other significant events, via Ritual.
3. Sweet Forgiveness
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. We can only forgive others by forgiving ourselves first.
4. Embracing the Shadow
Embracing the shadow means to acknowledge negative, judgmental thoughts, and send a message of acceptance and compassion to that part of ourselves where those thoughts and perceptions originate. Getting to know and love that part of us that we keep hidden from ourselves and others means giving light and love to that part and also means we can release that which has given us so much pain in the past.
5. Keep the Faith
The power of faith requires balance. It is good to remember “We are given no task too great to bear.” Faith is there to guide us through moments of turbulence. Faith in ourselves as part of the whole is a wonderful rock in our life.
6. Live 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 past or that which is yet to come. Living in the “now moment” gives us a fabulous appreciation and much joy. Looking outside of that could mean that we miss out on the wondrous life going on right under our nose.
7. Compassion in Action
Compassion in action can be explained in one word – “service”, and service offers a dividend of love to all parties involved.