4 Steps to Spiritual Health and Well-Being
The great lesson from the true mystics, from the Zen Monks, and now also from the Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists - that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred - this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.
~ Abraham Maslow
In 2005 I conducted a national research study focused on exploring what affect the cultivation of what I called "Sacred Moments" in daily life had on stress and well-being. It is well known that moments come in our lives that knock us on the head that we might call "precious, deeply meaningful, holy, or even blessed," however, was there a way to intentionally cultivate these moments and to what effect? I wanted to make sure this was something that could be short enough that it wouldn't feel overwhelming and anybody from any background, any tradition, be it Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Atheist or Martian could engage with it.
The results I found were fantastic. Yes, people were able to cultivate these moments and yes, it has a statistically significant impact on their levels of stress, life satisfaction, positive emotion, and sense of purpose in life. The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2007 and here is the practice.
There are 4 steps:
- Find an object that has special meaning to you. This could be tangible or intangible. One participant in my study found a plant, another used clouds, another used a family heirloom, and yet another thought of a memory. Remind yourself of its meaning.
- Take a few moments to become present, checking in with how you are feeling and then resting your attention on your breath, just noticing it come in and go out.
- Then slightly shift your attention to this meaningful or precious object and begin to intentionally attend to it slightly slower than usual. Notice how it looks, feels, sounds, smells, and if it's food, tastes!
- Then notice the thoughts and emotions that arise, acknowledge that they are there, and let them be. It is always good to be guided in a practice, but this one you could also experiment with on your own.
Note: Notice any pre-judgments that arise, "this will never work" or "this is stupid." Allow yourself to think of this thought as not something that is a fact, but a automatic reaction to something new that will eventually pass. In other words, just a thought, a temporary event in the mind that comes and goes. Return to the practice.
As always, don't take my word for it. Try it out for yourself and trust your own experience.
Please share your thoughts, feelings, and stories below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Great post - shilpa - Sep 15th 2009
Nice post. Very informative posts on spiritual health. All the 4 steps are really great. It does work. Want to read more on spiritual health from you. Keep on posting such good posts on spiritual health.