I admit it. I am a fanatic for healthy living. I believe in eating organic, non-processed foods, exercising daily, taking vitamins, herbs and minerals, and going to an acupuncturist regularly. I am allergic to wheat and have a daughter who cannot eat artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and must avoid many natural foods that contain salicylates (almonds, berries, paprika, peaches–to name a few). So, eating out is a rare event and home cooked food has to be made from scratch.
Although not always easy, I am very happy with this way of living. But when it comes to others, it is hard to convince them that they, too, would benefit from a change in life style. Try persuading a total stranger that her hyperactive child would be much better off without the processed, easy to serve meal or snack, the extremely colorful birthday cake from the local grocery store or even that innocent bowl of fresh fruit she serves him. (Believe me, I was one of those parents!)
It is difficult to get someone to believe that he or she would feel much better with daily exercise and a healthier diet. Persuading that person that the effort is worth it is nearly impossible. They don’t have a clue that they are hungry, that their bodies are craving and, in some cases, screaming out for healthy living.
I think it is the same for those who are spiritually hungry. We go about our daily lives never fully comprehending that there is something missing or that life could be more meaningful and balanced. We live out our broken, dysfunctional lives unaware that there is any other way to live. And, so, how does one realize that the soul is craving spiritual wellness? How do we know that we are spiritually malnourished?
Admitting that I am “powerless” and especially that my life has become “unmanageable” is key for me (from Step One of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous). These signs–feeling trapped in the struggle of life (powerlessness) and having my life fall apart in the process (unmanageable)–are always my canary in the coal mine. A result of being spiritual malnourished is having a life that’s out of control. This could be at any or all levels of our lives–in our finances, work, physical and mental health, relationships, physical environment or all of the above.
Another sign we need to tend to our soul could be when we experience a single emotion ruling our daily lives. Do you have a tendency to rage? Obsessed with being over-the-top-nothing-is-wrong-in-my-life happy? Caught up in the downward spiral of depression? Constantly suspicious and fear based? Overwhelmed with stress?
My husband witnessed a man caught in traffic screaming, cursing and using choice hand and finger signals at anyone and anything that drove by. I had been stuck in this same road construction days prior and although frustrating, it only lasted 10 minutes tops. Can you imagine the strain his body, mind and spirit took reacting so strongly to a 10 minute delay? And I cannot help but believe that if he had some form of spiritual practice to draw on, a way to move beyond that moment of rage and into a place of serenity–his ten minutes of waiting would have been a breeze and maybe even a blessing.
Spiritual malnourishment is evident in a life out of whack. It is not only about having one emotion dominate, it’s about skewed personal focus. If I am obsessed with Me–My accomplishments, My status and reputation, My needs, My upward mobility, My possessions–and cannot see the connectedness between self and others (God, people, the environment, animals) then I am out of balance. If I have done the opposite and have forgotten myself and have traded my wellness to solely server others, then I am out of balance. For me, spirituality brings about this needed balance in our lives.
So. When do you know that you are spiritually malnourished? What does that look like in your life? How do you tend to your soul? What spiritual practices help you to find balance? How do you benefit from being spiritually grounded?
Share your insights and help inspire others to be spiritually nourished in an ever- increasing, crazy world.