By Vaughn M. Bryant, III, PHD, LPC-S, LMFT-S, LCDC-CCS
Spirituality is one of the eight dimensions of wellness. These eight dimensions of wellness are all connected and growth in one area has the potential to stimulate growth in the other dimensions. As a person exercises spiritual discipline and achieves spiritual growth, their behavior towards other people changes and their social and relational wellness improves.
Spirituality has been a fundamental dimension of the human experience since the beginning of human cultural expression. Even before modern human beings emerged and formed civilizations, the Neanderthal species showed evidence of spiritual beliefs and customs. Neanderthal people would bury the dead and equip them with tools that held great value for survival success in the journey after life. This burial with tools ritual was evidence of the belief in an afterlife; the notion that there is another dimension beyond what we see and feel here and now. These beliefs in an afterlife and a force of power greater than oneself has evolved into a variety of spiritual expression.
Spirituality is a protective factor motivating people to think beyond the here and now and outside of self as they strive for some greater meaning in life. This fundamental dimension of human psychological experience is a useful resource for facilitating growth to wellness. Wellness is not only experiencing freedom from disease, but also experiencing healthy functioning in multiple dimensions of life.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES ARE THE EXERCISES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Meditation – active and open attention to the present. This discipline leads you to be mindful of self and others with attention to all the valuable resources around and within you.
Prayer – intimate and authentic communication with God. This discipline improves your conscious connection with the source of your spirituality.
Fellowship – social connection with others in warmth, cooperation and genuine engagement. This discipline places you in proximity to others and allows you to experience the warmth of inclusion in community.
Service – to sacrifice your own time and talent to be helpful to others. This discipline results in the most valuable use of your time and talent to enhance the world around you by helping others who will experience greater wellness from you serving them.
Gratitude – to give thanks. This discipline alters your mood and changes your personality.
Sacrifice – to release something you treasure or give up pursuit of something you covet. This discipline starves dysfunctional compulsions in your life.
Forgiveness – to release resentment you hold against another. This discipline releases you from bitterness and the discontent of resentment.
Love – is the meaning of life. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love is creative, restorative, healing and empowering. Love is a renewable energy source that gains strength when you transfer it to others through loving actions. It’s potential is not achieved through feeling, but rather through action – love is as love does.
Imagine the positive impact on your own psychological well-being, relational health, and general productivity if you were to practice each of these spiritual disciplines every day.