We all have our 4 levels of health- spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. I believe that spirituality is the foundations for good health and when you have strong spiritual roots, it is a lot easier to regulate the other areas of your life.
One of the differences between spirituality and the other 3 areas are that your emotional, mental and physical health is easy to define, spirituality is not quite as easy to explain.
There is a lot of misunderstanding around spirituality- If you ask a priest what spirituality is, you will get a different answer than if you ask a CEO who uses it to stay motivated. If you ask a musician, an artist or a dancer what spirituality is they may not even see themselves as spiritual, but what they are doing is still very spiritual in nature.
Some people argue that spirituality is not even a real thing! And while I don’t claim to hold the one true definition of spirituality, in a moment you will see that the way I see it, it is something that is within all of us.
Some of your health from all areas can be linked to genetics, but just because you are more likely to exhibit a certain health problem or perk it doesn’t mean that you will. In most cases what you do with your time will be the defining factor in your health, although some problems are unavoidable.
Your emotions are the different feelings that come up throughout your days, they are changeable and you will experience them all in varying degrees over time.
To give you an example- You are late for work so you feel anxious, you go to your car and think you have forgotten your keys so you panic, you search and find your keys and feel relieved, you go to pull out of your drive and a child runs past and you feel shocked, you start to drive and see the road is clear and feel reassured you will get to work on time, as you are driving someone dangerously overtakes you and you feel angry and you finally get to work on time and feel happy.
In this example you feel 7 different emotions in a matter of minutes and there are examples when you could feel many more emotions. Our emotions chop and change constantly and to foster good emotional health you need to accept this changeability and be able to consciously process your different emotional states.
You cannot get rid of emotions, but you can learn to deal with them in the best way possible and encourage more of the positive ones while shifting your attention away from the negative ones when they become a problem.
There are many ways in which you can do this, my favourite is a technique I call Emotional Verbalisation.
The goal here is to bring awareness to your emotions by using an exercise which verbalizes them. So if you feel angry you will say the word angry. If you feel sad you will the word sad.
It does not just have to be your negative emotions, if you feel happy verbalise it. If you feel joy say to yourself joy.
Because we mostly think on an unconscious level this simple exercise will bring awareness to how you are feeling on a conscious level. When you process your thoughts consciously it gives the brain a chance to rationalise them and regulate them.
When you start to do this you will have some big revelations, as you work backwards from your negative emotions you will realise at times they are irrational and at other times you will see the real reason you are upset.
When you shut your finger in the door and proceed to smash a table into pieces, shutting your finger in the door is not the cause of your anger, but the trigger. When you start to move past these triggers you might just realise what is causing these issues and once you are aware it is a lot easier to process.
The same works for the good emotions, find the route of what makes you happy and as you start to uncover these things simply do more of them!
Your mental health is a direct manifestation of your dominant emotions stored in your unconscious mind over time. Your mental health is related, but not the same thing as your emotional health.
Think of it like this- you have a bank of emotional points, each time you feel an emotion you add a point to that bank. You stub your toe, one point goes in the anger bank. Your child makes you laugh, one point in the happiness bank and so on.
Over time your banks will fill up, so if you have lots of sadness and thoughts of sad things for a month your sadness bank will be filling up, which will manifest as mental health issues related to sadness.
You mental health is supported by healthy regulation of your emotions and while your mental state can change quickly it is a little less flexible than the erratic changeability of your emotions.
It’s like when people say things take a while to sink in, that is you building it up in your mind and repeatedly feeling the emotions until they manifest into the mental state which is related to whatever needs to sink in.
Being in a happy mental state does not prevent unhappy emotions, in the same way being in a depressed mental state will not stop you from feeling moments of happiness. It is just whatever is dominant that is you overall state of being.
In the short term mental states can be changed for the better by psyching yourself up, using affirmations, incantations, listening to music, motivational speakers or anything that evokes a strong emotional response. However for the best results you should get into the habit of doing this stuff daily as it will slowly manifest into a positive mental state.
You physical health can be in part a result of your mental and emotional health, but it could also be the other way around, with good physical health helping your mental and emotional health. It’s all a big cycle, with each area playing a part in the other.
The other things that will affect your physical health are the food, drinks and substances you put in your body and the amount of exercise you get.
This is why it is important to take care of your mental and emotional health. Bad relationships with food can lead to emotional eating and bingeing. Food can definitely give the illusion of filling a void and if it is bad stuff you are taking in, it can be pretty detrimental to your health.
This is the same for exercise, the health industry is one of the biggest for a reason- because people are never satisfied with their results or lack of results they get. You need to have a good positively charged reason to get yourself exercise otherwise you are destined for failure.
No longer wanting to be fat is not going to work in most cases, firstly because if you lose the weight you will have no more motivation and probably pile the weight back on and secondly it is negatively charged, it is not a solution, it is the highlighting of a problem.
Being a good role model for your children or wanting to live a long and healthy life are the types of reasons you will get out of bed in the morning for and push through when you feel like quitting. So make sure your reason is a good one.
I am not saying you cannot hit the gym motivated by negative emotions, you can train every day in an attempt to win back your ex or because you want to be able to kill someone with your bare hands, but this will jeopardise the other areas of your health. So keep your motives positive and figure out your reason why!
As I said earlier- I believe that spirituality is the foundations for good health, I will get to what this means in a minute but first- what is spirituality or spiritual health?
Your spirit is your essence, it is that elusive thing inside of you which you cannot hide from without facing a certain amount of anguish. It is the things you feel drawn to, sometimes for what seems like no reason. The foods you like and the activities you take part in for no reason other than you love them.
Meditation and religion are an example of spiritual practice, but they are not spirituality. Spiritual enlightenment can be reached without either of them and it is more connected with being conscious and in the moment than any ritualised stuff.
Meditation is the practice of being spiritual, hence the name- Meditation practice, really what you are practicing is that deep level of focus on a single activity.
Hobbies can be spiritual, work can be spiritual, even washing the dishes can be spiritual. It is that feeling of being fully conscious of yourself and being intensely immersed in what you are doing.
To connect spiritually is to be connected to what matters to you, this is why I say spirituality is the foundations for good health. Because if you regulate all other areas of your health, but you are still stuck in a life which is not the one you want to be living you will never be able to shake that feeling of disharmony.
You may get on with things, live comfortably and accept the life in front of you, but you will never truly reach the level of fulfilment you could if you lived in line with your true nature.
This does not necessarily mean you have to meditate, do yoga or pray. It means you have to connect with what matters to you. This could be science or music or art or dance, it could be working in an office or living off the grid on a remote island. This is individual to you!
Spirituality is the thing or things that you have such a strong affinity with that you would do it in your final moments and still get lost in it.
Although you don’t need meditation, if you are disconnected spiritually there is no better way to reconnect than to meditate, no matter how you view it, it makes sense. If you are doing it for deep and meaningful reasons, to connect to a higher source or just based upon the scientific research behind it, it is a very effective and powerful habit to take up.
I am Luke Miller the author of this article and creator of Potential For Change. I believe that spirituality is the foundation for good health and like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life. You can get a copy of Zen Week my free meditation and personal development course by clicking here!