Posted on April 28, 2011 by Deah Curry PhD, CPC
Long ago our ancestors knew what we are only recently rediscovering: health and happiness are inextricably intertwined with living out our deep, innate urge towards spirituality. Transpersonal psychologists in the past several decades have produced reputable science that shows that people who have strong spiritual beliefs and practices are generally more resilient in the face of life crises, and tend to have an easier time recovering from some physical illnesses.
Let’s not confuse religious belief and observance with spiritual development, which is about cultivating transformative awareness, deep empathy and natural wisdom, living a life of service, and having tolerance and integrity — all virtues that can and should apply, no matter what religious framework one believes in.
As an educator, therapist, and spirituality coach, I find that changing one’s life often involves developing one’s spirituality. But transformation is more than just change. It occurs at such a deep level that we are truly different beings when we undergo transformation.
No matter where you are in your personal spiritual journey, it is useful to ponder these five transformative questions.
1. In the way you are living your life, how are you being the medicine?
In teaching naturopathic medical students, the relevance of that question is obvious. But if we think about medicine as an energetic spiritual power, as the First Peoples of the Americas did and do, I think this question applies to all of us on the path of transformational consciousness. Being the medicine is about how you are living your life in such a way as to be respectfully and appropriately using the spiritual power that is innate within you. What can you further develop in order to be the medicine more fully?
2. What do you trust?
Notice I didn’t ask who. This question is asking: in what do you place your belief that all is and will be as it should be? In your everyday life, are you acting in congruence with what you say you trust? If not, what needs to be surrendered, reframed, or healed in order to be in alignment with what you say you trust?
3. For what cause would you give your life, and would historians say this is what you actually gave your life energy to?
What we prioritize in thoughts, words, and deeds on a daily basis is what we are giving our life energy to. Many of us say we value our families, but then we work 16 hours a day, rarely eat a meal together, and put business success above interpersonal family relationships. Doing this is giving life energy to work, to stress, to something other than the family that is supposedly valued.
Are you really living a life of purpose and meaning now, and if not, what needs to change? What you put your attention on, grows. Are you growing what you want to be growing? If not, how does your attention need to shift? It really means something spiritually profound and psychologically healthy to be able to say you walk your talk. Can you say that with full integrity? If not, look at how you need to re-prioritize your choices.
4. How would you describe the sensory experiences of peace of mind, contentment, curiosity, soul healing, and connectedness, as felt on the inside of your body?
Have you ever thought about how such qualities of mind-body-spirit and spiritual experiences have bodily felt sensory components? Try paying attention to this some time. The results can provide an amazing awakening in consciousness. In fact, this is a great meditation exercise as part of any spirituality coaching journey.
5. At the end of your life, what will you have dared so that you can pass on with no regrets?
Daring to take risks is one of the most essential transformative energies that I know of for both spiritual and mental health. In fact, many mental health and relationship problems start from a fear of risking, being fully seen as our authentic selves, fear of asserting our whole truth, fear of risking rejection and abandonment by those we love, fear of risking pride or security, and other large and small risks.
Daring is a catalyst for becoming everything we are meant to be. It’s not just about skydiving or bungy jumping. It’s about daring to live a life as large as you can envision. Try it; it’s a powerful medicine.
Take a chance on small risks at first, until you get the hang of it, and don’t neglect practical safety measures—-even Evel Knievel wore a helmet. Just think about it—–how far will you leap into the unknown, or over the perceived mountains that turn out to be molehills? Where would you expect to land?