A loss of life purpose or challenge to personal identity stresses the human spirit.
How you define who you are, and the meaning and purpose of life is core to the health of your spirit. You experience spiritual stress when these definitions are challenged or unclear. The human spirit asks, “Who am I”, “What is life about” and “What is my purpose”?
These questions peak at times of significant life change or loss as in the identity challenges of adolescence and mid-life or loss of a child, spouse, job or body part.
Attaching identity and purpose to variables outside your control makes you vulnerable to spiritual stress.
Here are four tips to de-stress your spirit.
Tip # 1 ~ Connect with Self. Look deep into your eyes in a mirror. Contemplate. Who is looking? Realize the same awareness inside of you today has been there from the beginning of your life. There is a steady, abiding Self that does not change with the changes in your body, emotions or thoughts. This invulnerable core is a foundation for inner strength and support.
Why it works ~ When you are not dependent on outer conditions to define yourself, you feel free. The outer world is constantly changing and undependable. Your inner being is solid, grounded in reality and invulnerable to attack by others. Viktor Frankl describes this beautifully in “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
Tip # 2 ~ Connect with the moment. Feel the water on your hands as you wash them. Notice the specific way you wash them, the slipperiness of the soap, the temperature of the water. Feel your feet on the ground, notice the sights, sounds and smells around you.
Feeling your experience in the moment is a practice in being present and helps you connect with life in a deep and meaningful way. Set an intention at the beginning of your day to stop and be present frequently. You will find this practice reduces stress by increasing awareness and meaning in each moment.
Why it works ~ Connecting to the present moment centers, relaxes and enlivens your life experience. You are not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, which are stressful. The insight, knowledge and experience of this moment is available to you. Stress decreases when you have a sense of control within yourself.
Tip # 3 ~ Connect with your purpose. How do you know what is important to you? You feel it. Notice the small voice or sense of knowing inside when something is attracting you. Your body alerts you to what is dangerous or attractive long before your minds can explain why. Pay attention to those cues. This is your intuition, or sixth sense. Your deepest values and purpose are not in your head, but in your heart. What does your heart respond to; what touches your spirit? Purpose is the force that energizes. It inspires you to get up in the morning. What excites your passion for life?
Why it works ~ When your inner promptings guide you, you cannot make a mistake. These are signs that lead to your truest desires and lasting happiness. Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist says, “Follow your bliss”. When you follow your true path or calling, you are invigorated rather than stressed.
Tip # 4 ~ Connect with nature. You are part of a larger cosmos. You are not isolated as the boundaries of your body suggest. Whether you look at life from a religious, spiritual or scientific perspective, what you think and feel affects the environment and the environment affects you. Spending time in nature reconnects you to your natural rhythms. It is easy to lose your center when attending to other people, television, computer, shopping, and so on constantly captures your attention. Taking time every day to be quiet in a natural setting, reflecting, journaling, or just being present can bring you back to yourself. When you take a break or before going home at the end of the workday, take a moment to smell a flower, watch the river flow by, or appreciate a tree.
Why it works ~ Earth vibrates at a certain frequency. Spending time in nature synchronizes our vibrations to the natural vibrations that support us. Closed up in hermetically sealed buildings with fluorescent lighting and re-circulating air all day can cause a loss of balance and connection with your self and your natural rhythms.
Spiritual stress results from the loss of connection to your true self, values, purpose and nature. Taking time every day to re-connect with these aspects of your life reduces stress and supports happiness, security and connection.