7 Ways to Spiritual Health: Tips for carrying out your own spiritual health check-up

Photo of a lodge on a green field by a lake. Anton Jarrod describes how to organise a spiritual health check-up

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Our spiritual health is as important as anything else

We go to get checked out by the doctor; we take our car to the garage. But how often do we check our spiritual health? Indeed, what is spiritual health? In this short post, I give you 7 ways to do your own spiritual health check-up. I’ve found all of these activities to be very helpful over the years. Simply adapt them to your own needs and requirements.

A spiritual health check-up is where you take time and space to examine your own spirituality. You look at your life as a whole, but in spiritual terms. You look at where you are at in your journey. If you listen deeply to yourself, you own spirit and essence will let you know what you need to focus on, and what your spiritual health needs are. You will then find the specific meaning of spiritual health for you as it is right now. So look forward to some quality soul-time…

Tip 1: Prepare a retreat – home or away

A retreat is a great way to get time and space for your health-check. You don’t have to go far – I often do my check-up at home, over a weekend. If I’m really pushed for time, then I simply take a day-out and go on a long walk or hike. If you can get away for a few days, that’s wonderful – but don’t convince yourself that this is necessary, otherwise you’ll miss opportunities to take the check-up when you need it.

For your retreat, what you want to do is make sure the focus is on you. It can be difficult to get time away if you have family, but carving some time out for you is what this check-up is all about. You want to be able to set your intention on checking in with yourself and your emotions, your body, your thoughts and your deeper self. So plan your retreat day or weekend around dedicated “sessions” for your check-up and make sure you build in enough time for everything you want to do. For some ideas about how to create a retreat at home, check out this article from The Chopra Center: http://www.chopra.com/articles/12-ways-to-create-a-stay-at-home-yoga-retreat#sm.00001ui1c06i5xfgusxvi21v3hkns

Tip 2: Review your life

This is what the health check-up is all about. You want to review your life and give your own essence or spirit a chance to connect with where your life is. It is so easy to get lost in the maze of daily life – your check-up gives you time to step out for a moment and reengage with your deeper being and purpose. This is why spiritual health is important, and why it is important to review it.

Plan to look at your whole life in a deep way; if you won’t have time, or you have already done this, do a shorter review of the whole, or focus on a particular time. Whatever you choose here, answer for yourself these key questions: Where have I been? Where am I in my life right now? Where am I going?

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash. Anton Jarrod explains how important it is to have a spiritual check up.

Tip 3: Review your guides

It’s time to look at your guides for your spiritual journey. These are the people or ideas or books that have been most helpful and supportive on your way. It’s time to review whether they will accompany you as you continue your journey. As you review your life, think about how these guides have helped you on the way. What was it you gained or took from them, in a deep way? What will you take with you from them?

And then, honestly, think ahead about where you are going. Will these guides still serve you well? Perhaps you will need to find other guides, ideas, people to connect with. This can be difficult, but is this where your soul is taking you? Or, perhaps you simply need to reengage with these ideas or guides that have served so well. What then? Perhaps it is time to go more deeply and discover more about them.

Tip 4: Connect/Disconnect with people in your life where needed

It can be difficult to take steps to connect with others, or disconnect from some of the people in your life, for spiritual health reasons. But one of the most profound outcomes from a spiritual health check-up is learning that such changes need to be made. For the good of your soul!

We often have defences we build to protect us from difficult decisions like disconnecting from someone or entering into new relationships. We often need the quiet, safe surroundings of the retreat to hear the soul speak here. But don’t worry about getting it wrong – there is no room for doubt here! The right decision always feels absolutely right, whole and meaningful. Your soul will be yearning for the change that is about to happen. Go only where and if it is feels completely right – this is the hallmark of deep alignment.

Tip 5: Reorientation towards the divine/spirit/X

Whatever your name or sense is for the divine, spirit, “god” or “goddess”, now is the time for reorientation towards this. Your deeper self is most healthy, happy and flourishing when it is pointing towards the divine.

Daily life sometimes means we forget our deep connection to the profound Source of being. But taking time out of our day for recalling, remembering and reaffirming the divine connection is something that can take pride of place on your retreat. There are a thousand ways to do this, but the best ones are those you create for yourself.

Tip 6: Return to life with gusto

As your health check-up is completed, spend some time capitalizing on the new energy, insights and motivations that you feel inspired with. Think about what you’ve achieved in the short space of time of your review, and how you have now found yourself again. You have spent some time thinking and feeling into where you are going. Now you can set foot in that new direction, or keep going in the direction you’ve been going but with new energy.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/Summer_Solstice_Sunrise_over_Stonehenge_2005.jpg. Anton Jarrod explains how to create a spiritual health check-up

Tip 7: Look ahead to the next check-up

If taking a spiritual health check-up works for you, then think about keeping yourself in good form by keeping one eye on the road ahead and planning your next check-up. Giving yourself a spiritual goal will give you a sense of direction, and what better way to check you are on course than by reviewing where you are at a later date.

I often try to take a retreat and look at my spiritual health once every three months. I find that the solstices and equinoxes are perfect times for reflecting on the spiritual journey. But don’t feel restricted in any way. If your soul is calling out for it, then answer it as soon as possible.

Conclusion

By taking time out of the day, month or year to focus on your spiritual health by reviewing where you are, what you are doing and what your needs are, you will be giving your soul some valuable attention. Let it speak and it will guide you through the following weeks and months to where it needs to be.


Author:
Anton Jarrod

Photo of Anton Jarrod
Anton Jarrod

Anton Jarrod is a writer, thinker and practitioner of modern spirituality. He is currently writing about issues in modern spirituality, as well as the work of the largely unknown but important Danish thinker Martinus. He is the author of Martinus Cosmology and Spiritual Evolution: the essential ideas and teachings, as applied to the Gospels, published in June 2017.

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Introducing myself and my work on Medium

Writer sitting at a desk

I’m very pleased to start sharing my work on Medium. Over the coming months, I’ll be publishing short articles on modern spirituality, as well as Martinus Cosmology, here.

I have a real passion and deep interest in this field. I’m particularly interested in seeking out and applying the works and ideas of the field’s most profound thinkers. The last hundred or so years has, in my view, opened up entirely new possibilities for spiritual development and evolution. However, many new challenges and issues arise as well, and I wonder whether these are being so well articulated in our time, or having their solutions sought. There are many new questions that need answering by and within this field. What is more, I feel that the field itself as a whole needs to develop and move forward.

My background consists of the following intertwining strands. First, there is my formal/informal, independent intellectual work and investigation into modern spirituality over the last twenty years. This has involved a deep engagement with many of the main thought currents on spirituality that have emerged since the 1850s. This has involved using qualitative approaches and techniques to examining texts, contexts and philosophies that have emerged out of or fed into modern spirituality. Although my formal educational background has consisted of studying other subjects, namely English literature and Social Policy, my analytical research in spirituality has involved applying the epistemological and methodological tools I’ve picked up over the years to this area of study.

Second is my practical, developmental and inner transformational work, which has been going on for as long as I can remember, but which took on more formal aspects back in 2003. Here, the main thrust of this aspect was to develop reliable, sound and valid approaches to personal, inner work. I hope in the future to get the chance to write up some of this work for publication.

Third, there is also the encounter with the difficult-to-describe, call-it-what-you-will “something” behind reality. Perhaps the word “spirit” or “essence” captures something of it. It has taken time for me to recognize this essence as being there, but now I can more easily and readily affirm it as being an integral part of my own background and journeying. Again, I hope to write up something about it in the future.

After exploring more deeply my own sense of “vocation” since around 2011 or so, and after having got the opportunity to take part in and complete a two-year interfaith seminary training programme that finished in 2016 and culminated in ordination as an interfaith minister and spiritual counsellor, I decided to start writing about modern spirituality. My first book, “Martinus Cosmology and Spiritual Evolution”, is now available and aims to introduce readers in the English-speaking world to the profound works and ideas of Martinus, a still little relatively unknown Danish spiritual writer of the twentieth century.

Now, in 2017, after more than 20 years of serious exploration and work, I’m happy to share some of the results of this work. Look out for the forthcoming articles on spiritual development and the future of modern spirituality.

The benefits of having some kind of spiritual theory

you need a spiritual theory

Reading Time: 5 minutes

So many ideas, but what is important?

There are many, many ideas and theories about spirituality that have sprung up over the last hundred years or so. Some of these are more or less serious, original, popular, well-articulated or worthy of attention. Some tend to emphasize particular aspects of spirituality, like perhaps the emphasis on psychology in some of the work of Ken Wilber, or on the social constructive elements in the work John Heron, whilst others go for a more broad-based approach, as found in the work of Martinus, whose “Cosmology” makes an account for every aspect of existence. In the midst of all these ideas and theories stands the individual, and what emerges as the most important thing is this: what is your theory?

How it can help

For those people whose spirituality is not lived under the direction of one of the world’s religions, or the worldview that these religions draw on and promote, it can be a very good idea to develop some kind of theory of spirituality. By this I mean anything from a simple, overarching framework of the spiritual universe, to something much more complete in its details. Having such a theory can really help guide practice and development. It can be a shining light in an otherwise difficult terrain.

It might be worth adding here that I also mean by “theory” something very broad and plastic. In this regard, “theory” means simply an idea that is more or less expanded. As applied to spirituality, it means a more or less expanded idea of the spiritual universe. Not everyone is a Plato or Isaac Newton. Yet it is not necessary for each and every person to develop an entirely complete theory. It is not necessary to build a theory for others to use, or to convince others. I’m speaking here only of what is relevant to the individual who feels they are on some kind of spiritual journey.

A theory of spirituality can help give the spiritual journey a certain shape and direction, a form. It can help the traveller get a handle on some of the challenges of the spiritual life. As well, it can help contextualize and conceptualize what the lived experience is. It can help one see more clearly where one is, where one has been, and where one is going. It can help one triangulate one’s position, but also help answer questions that nobody else can answer. One of the challenges of the spiritual journey outside of religion is that very often there is no other guidance but that which lies within. Having some kind of spiritual theory can help give that inner guidance a shape and vessel through which to speak.

What is needed

To get such a theory, it is necessary first of all to think. To get and build one’s own theory, it is necessary to think about everything one has come to realize and verify for oneself as being one’s truth or belief. This might involve, of course, drawing to mind the many important things that have influenced one through one’s life. This can include the many different ideas and theories shared by others in conversation or in books, or in one’s previous education. But it is still more important to come to some kind of recognition and valuation of what, ultimately, one believes or holds to be true oneself, despite what other people have said, thought or written down.

Such a theory does not need to be written down, although of course it may help if one finds writing helpful. The important thing is not that it is written, but that is thought through. It can take time to go through such a process of bringing to mind everything related to this theory that one has, or that one is forming. But it is time very well spent, because then the traveller will be much clearer about the journey, the terrain and the road one is taking through it.

As mentioned above, the theory I’m speaking about here can be more or less complete; it can consist of something as simple as a few broad strokes and “big ideas” about how everything goes together, or it can be complete and detailed so as to cover everything that exists. Its completeness is not of immediate importance, as it can always be developed and refined later. With this theory, simple or complex, one can measure one’s experience of life against it, and gradually come to an ever more accurate theory. This would also be the beginning of an individual’s spiritual science.

Isn’t such a spiritual theory redundant?

It might be argued that it is not necessary to spend time undertaking such an exercise, because people already have their theories of life and operate under them every day, and use them every day, continually refining them in a natural manner without any effort. However, this would be to mistake theory with something like a perspective, worldview or view of life, which can be more or less unconscious. It is true that our worldview is always coming into play and always being refined and added to by experience, by everything we read or speak about with others. However, this is something that is quite passive within us. A theory is something that we create, by our own mental power, and which involves will power and analytical processing. It means making choices about what the world is like, perhaps independent of our worldview.

It might also be countered that people cannot make such a theory, that it is too difficult or that one cannot escape the many influences that have fed into our worldview. Here, it may feel true that one’s theory of spirituality actually comes from this writer or that writer, and that one cannot think any differently to that writer. However, there will always be some kind of reason why one agrees with this or that view, and why one takes this or that idea on board. Here it will be important to rediscover those reasons, and not take anything for granted. One cannot truly have a theory if one does not attempt to own it, no matter where the thought may have come from, whether from Plato or Kant or the woman down the road. Here, it will be most unlikely that one’s whole theory of spirituality and the spiritual universe comes from just one source. As such, it is important to go within and try to work out where one’s ideas have come from. As an ancient philosopher once said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

A basic need

There are very many reasons to start thinking along these lines, and continue thinking through one’s ideas about spiritual reality, as well as build them into a more or less simple theory. It is not necessary to create a Newton’s Principia of spiritual reality, as I’ve already said, but of course if you can then all the better for you. What feels right depends on many factors, including who you are, where you are and what you can do, as well as what you feel you need. However, I would contend that all who are exploring spirituality need to have at least some kind of theory. If they do already have this, then certainly it can be a good idea to look at it and develop it.


Author:
Anton Jarrod

Photo of Anton Jarrod
Anton Jarrod

Anton Jarrod is a writer, thinker and practitioner of modern spirituality. He is currently writing about issues in modern spirituality, as well as the work of the largely unknown but important Danish thinker Martinus. He is the author of Martinus Cosmology and Spiritual Evolution: the essential ideas and teachings, as applied to the Gospels, published in June 2017.

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