Personal Experiences of Spirituality & Religion 4Mind4Body: Mental Health Awareness Month

Caring for your soul is an important part of taking care of yourself that can improve physical and mental health along the way

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Overview

Mental Health Month explores multiple topics underneath their 2019 theme of #4Mind4Body, including Spirituality & Religion.

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Regardless of whether you rely on meditation, yoga or religion, caring for your soul is an important part of taking care of yourself that can improve physical and mental health along the way.

This article contains a personal experience about spirituality from a member of the UNCrushed team as well as a book extract from TJ Woodward about spiritual disconnection.


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jamy berntsen

“Spiritual wellness involves our values, beliefs, and purpose”

SEVEN WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH

The spiritual element of wellness can be the most personal piece of the puzzle when trying to put dimensions of wellness together while we are in recovery. We need to live a life with meaning and purpose. I found this to be highly useful after treatment. We all tend to have a connection with our Higher Power even though the road getting there could prove difficult. However, how and when we achieve our personal connection in spirituality and these goals are met, it puts harmony in life as well as the others we surround ourselves with.

So, what can you do to improve your spiritual wellness? It’s best to figure out what techniques work for you. Since spiritual wellness involves our values, beliefs, and purpose, it can be achieved in several ways—both physically and mentally. These are the steps that worked for me during my recovery.

1. Explore your spiritual core. By exploring your spiritual core, you are simply asking yourself questions about the person you are and what your meaning is in life. Ask yourself: Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I value most? These questions will lead you down a road where you will think more in-depth about yourself and allow you to notice things about yourself that will help you achieve fulfillment.  

2. Look for deeper meanings. By looking for deeper meaning in your life and analyzing occurring patterns will help you understand that you have control over your destiny. For myself, this is part of the Serenity Prayer. “God, help me grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” We cannot change our past but we can control our future. Being aware of this can help you achieve a happy and healthy life. In addition, remember we cannot control the actions of others, we can only control how we react to them. Acceptance, Courage, Wisdom. I repeat these words on a daily basis when life gets chaotic.  

3. Get it out. Expressing what is on your mind will help you to maintain a focused mind. After a long day or a significant event, you may feel confused and not be able to make sense of your feelings. By writing down your thoughts, you may be able to think clearer and move forward. You reflect more on yourself and see the event in a different light.

4. Try yoga. Yoga is a physical technique that can help improve your spiritual wellness by reducing the emotional and physical strain on your mind and body. Yoga is taught at all different levels and can help lower stress, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure as well as reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia. I started hot yoga post recovery. The one hour a day was mine and mine only. It helped ground me and connect to my Higher Power before and after practice ended. While it was not only good for my well being, the process made me stronger, centered, and more connected to myself and the world that existed outside of myself.

5. Walking in nature. Taking time for yourself to travel to a comforting place or somewhere new can do wonders for your mind. When you are  a place where your mind can keep out distractions and help you reflect and rest, you will have a better connection with yourself. This allows you to weed out stressors and set your mind on the right path for overall wellness. Some activities to take part in when on a trip can be exercising, speaking with a counselor or advisor, meditation, or taking a temporary vow of silence.

6. Think positively. Once you start viewing things in your life in a positive manner, you will find yourself thinking differently and refocusing your mind to a happy, healthy place. When you eliminate negativity and re-frame how you think about certain things and situations, you’ll notice yourself being more relaxed and an increase in your sense of self worth. Negative thoughts will turn into positive thoughts. Especially the way you view yourself and your feelings. Positive affirmations also help with reframing your thoughts and sense of self.  

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7. Take time to meditate. Meditation doesn’t have to be hard or take weeks to learn. While managing your time and daily tasks can be hard, it is crucial to devote time to connecting with yourself. Whether in the morning when you wake up, during your lunch break, or before you go to sleep, take five to 10 minutes to meditate each day. Fitting mediation and relaxation into your lifestyle will free your mind and foster a stronger relationship with your spiritual wellness.

Spirituality is an extremely personal experience for everyone and all our  spiritual paths are unique. I’m hopeful that some of these techniques are helpful on your road to recovery.

jamy berntsen

scottsdale, aZ, USA


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TJ WOODWARD

“I am whole and perfect in every way. From a spiritual perspective, life’s journey can be seen as an attempt to reclaim this truth”

What is Spiritual Disconnection?

“I am whole and perfect in every way.” From a spiritual perspective, life’s journey can be seen as an attempt to reclaim this truth. In fact, even our addictions can be a result of our attempts at restoration. Even our addictions can come out of the attempt to restore the connection to our true nature. Addictive behavior is categorically a response to the felt sense that something is out of balance, that we have forgotten our essential self, forgotten the truth of who and what we are. In our addictive behavior, we are usually looking for something outside of ourselves to help us manage something that feels disturbed or broken within. It’s a solution to the problem of the fragmented self. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz introduces us to the concept of “the domestication of the human”—the process whereby we receive messages about, in his words, “who we should be, what we shouldn’t be, who we (are), and who we (are) not.”  That’s what I’m talking about here as spiritual disconnection. It’s the separation from our essential nature.

We come into this world as spiritual beings intuitively experiencing our oneness with Source. If you look at a very small child, you recognize this connection with the pristine self. My first book Conscious Being opens with the following story that illustrates this: A young couple had a toddler, and then they had a second baby. When they brought the baby home, they realized the toddler was tiptoeing and sneaking into the infant’s room at night. Because they were curious about this, they put up a baby cam to record what the toddler was doing in the room. To their surprise they discovered that the toddler was leaning over the crib and saying to the infant, “Please tell me about God. I'm beginning to forget.”

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This is a powerful demonstration of the domestication of the human. We come into this world seeking the love that we know we are. We are designed to receive love, to see our love reflected back to us. But many of us don't experience that as small children. Or we do, but it’s not enough. It’s mixed up with other conflicting messages. From a very early age, life begins to teach us the opposite of what we come here intuitively knowing. We come into this world knowing our essential nature and our oneness with Source, but very quickly “the tall people” begin to teach us otherwise. These adults, often very loving and well-meaning, begin (quite often unconsciously) teaching us about “the world.” They teach us attitudes and approaches to life like competition, fear, scarcity, and separation. I love the phrase “domestication of the human” because it calls to mind the domestication of wild animals. When we domesticate animals, we call it “breaking them,” or “breaking their spirit.” That's what happens to human beings as we enter this realm of existence. Most of us get taught all sorts of things that are a fundamental lie about who and what we genuinely are.

TJ WOODWARD

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA


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Spirituality & Religion is one of the topics explored as part of the Mental Health Month theme #4Mind4Body. Learn more about Mental Health Month in our article here.

Infographics originally published by Mental Health America here.