Spiritual wellness is the ability to find meaning, purpose, and connectedness in human existence. It is everyone’s unique way of finding a strong sense of belonging and connection to something bigger than oneself. It includes striving for harmony between oneself and others, and helps us to develop a relationship between what we believe, value and feel (the inside) with how we act and behave (the outside).
Spiritual wellness follows two tenets: It is better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others, and it is better to live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to feel untrue to ourselves.
Reaching Spiritual Wellness
College is a time of personal growth and maturation, often described as “finding yourself.” This makes it particularly important for college students to be aware of and focus on spiritual wellness. Everyone achieves spiritual wellness differently, but here are some ways to improve yours:
- Explore your spirituality. Ask yourself what your purpose is, what your values are, and what types of behavior align with your values. Identifying these three things can help you build a foundation for your spiritual wellness.
- Find meaning. What gives you a sense of purpose? Try taking notice of things in your life that bring you joy, both big and small. Identifying these things will help you understand what brings meaning into your life, and acting upon this can help you live a fulfilling life.
- Express yourself. Try journaling or drawing to make sense of your ideas. Sometimes things that don’t make sense in our head make more sense on paper. The process of putting our thoughts onto paper can help sort them.
- Try yoga. It has been shown to bring down stress levels. It releases emotional and physical restraints on your mind and body.
- Explore new surroundings. This does not have to mean leaving Fort Worth or even TCU! You can travel to a comfortable or new place on campus to help clear your mind and gain clarity. This could be anywhere from the top of the stadium to watch a sunrise or a cozy corner in the common area of your residence hall.
- Travel. If you are able to leave Fort Worth and travel to a new environment or you’re heading out for a trip, exploring and understanding a new culture can be beneficial to your spiritual wellness. Learning about others’ world views can open our mind to views different than our own.
- Be positive. Do your best to eliminate negative thoughts and to think positively about yourself and the world. If you are in a position you’re unhappy with right now, ask yourself what you can do to better yourself or your community.
- Daily Gratitude. Consider adopting an attitude of gratitude; being grateful for both the big and small things in our life every day can help us embrace positivity. There are numerous gratitude exercises you can find online to find the best way to be thankful.
- Meditate or pray. Take time out of your day to meditate, pray, or reflect on life in general and clear your mind. There is no one right way to do this; it may be practicing one or the other or a combination of both. It is important to figure out what works best for you.
Spiritual Wellness Exercises
Below are some exercises that you can use to help you actively seek spiritual wellness. Any or all of these activities may be helpful, but it may be beneficial for you to start with one and gradually attempt more, depending on what works best for you.
A contemplative walk may be good for individuals who want to meditate but struggle to sit still, or for individuals who are looking to change or begin a meditation routine. Use your walk to take time to be aware of your emotions and contemplate why you’re feeling the way you feel. Consider your current successes and challenges and reflect on how they might help you grow to be a happier and healthier person. Be mindful of your surroundings and let nature inspire you to be at peace with the world.
Some people find that journaling helps them release their emotions by putting their thoughts down where they can physically see them. Taking the time to express your feelings on paper may help you become more self-aware and mindful of why you feel the way you do. Journaling is not limited to feelings; you can also use it to write about your dreams, fears, and actions you take to achieve or overcome them. There is no set time of day or length of time required to journal—just find what works best for you and let your mind spill onto the page.
Creatively Connecting With Your Spiritual Self
This exercise is similar to journaling in that it involves forming thoughts or feelings into something that can be physically seen or heard. Creatively connecting with your spiritual self can include, but is not limited to: painting, drawing, sculpting, making music, or creating installation art. You can use these activities to represent or reflect on how past experiences have shaped you and how your current challenges might mold you. There is no right or wrong way to do this; the most important thing is just to express yourself.
It is easy to fall into the routine of praying with little thought, venting about current challenges and requesting our wants and needs be fulfilled. Take time to consider seeing prayer in a different light, as an act that allows the divine to change us. As you pray, free yourself to be open and honest with your God. Be open to being transformed, shaped, and changed so the intentions and desires of your heart will align with those your God has for you. Trust the Divine will not lead you astray.
Getting started with meditation can be an overwhelming task for some people. Start slow. Make a goal to work up to 20 minutes of meditation twice a day. It is most important to figure out what is right for you. Meditate for as long or as short as you need to bring you peace.
- Find a private, calm, quiet place to meditate.
- Find a meditation pose that is comfortable to you. The traditional pose is legs crossed with your hands on your knees.
Four Basic Ways to Practice Meditation
- Follow your breath. Clear your mind and focus on taking deep breaths and slowly letting them out.
- Observe an icon or object. Allow your mind to gently rest on an object. This object can be a religious symbol or some other object that is meaningful to you.
- Recite a Mantra. Mantra means “that which protects the mind.” Reciting a mantra can bring peace to your life. Choose the phrase that will provide you with what you need (something like “I breathe in joy… I breathe out peace.”) Repeat it after each breath.
- Do a guided meditation. Use your imagination to take you to a different place where you feel safe and at peace. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch?