"Spirituality is not about being perfect but about aspiring to a life of heart-filled integrity. It is a journey and not a destination. When we are spiritually fit and balanced we are a powerfully exquisite blend of human fallibility and divine perfection. It is this dynamic tension that gives us our uniqueness, our power to create and our compassion." -- Caroline Reynolds
When I first picked up Caroline Reynolds' book and saw the title, Spiritual Fitness, I instantly visualized a very sacred spiritual master, advanced in years but built like Arnold Schwarzenegger doing curls with a 450-lb. dumbbell with one hand while meditating at the same time. When you think of being spiritually fit, what images come to your mind? I know my example is silly, but let's face it: Taking charge of our spiritual fitness is probably as challenging for most of us as maintaining optimum physical fitness is. I don't know about you, but there are days when I simply don't feel motivated to get out there and jump on the ol' treadmill or do the stretching I know is so vital to my physical wellbeing. Likewise, there are days when I look for any excuse I can find to avoid sitting down and doing my spiritual discipline.
I wonder if sometimes we have such high ideals set in our minds as to what spiritual fitness is "supposed" to look like that we feel defeated before we even begin, so we find ways to put off ever beginning. In the process, we end up living an out-of-balance life because of some mistaken belief we have been told along the way that spirituality is about always being perfect. While the spirit that we are is indeed perfect, practicing our awareness of its presence is never quite so.
As Caroline Reynolds suggests, it's not about finding the unobtainable perfection in the human experience but rather seeking the perfect blend between the human and the divine. It's not about what you do so much as it is who you are in your day to day dealings. Spiritual fitness helps get us there! She offers six questions we can ask ourselves to see how spiritually fit we are:
- How loving and kind am I?
- How free am I?
- How honest am I?
- How wise am I?
- How at peace am I?
- How joyful am I?
Notice that not even one of the questions refers directly to practicing spirituality, but in truth, they all reflect the actions of someone who is deeply connected to life -- someone who is spiritually fit. Think about it: You know that when you are anchored in your spiritual truth, loving-kindness is a way of life because you have developed reverence for all life. When you live mindfully, remembering that God is your source, you are truly free because you are not dependent on others for your good or for their approval. When you integrate a conscious awareness of spirit's presence in every area of your life, you begin to live authentically with spiritual integrity. Honesty is simply the action of living with integrity. And, when you listen to the divine knower within, that natural inherent wisdom guides you with grace and ease through your life 24/7, which has to manifest as inner peace. Finally, when you live in an awareness of God's presence, the spirit within lifts you in authentic joy, which is infectious because you have risen above the belief in duality and fear. That's also when you live life more boldly.
This is what spiritual fitness looks like in action, and the key to remember is that while you don't have to be perfect or an ascended master to practice spiritual fitness, there are two things you absolutely do have to be: awake and willing. Being spiritually fit is not a place of destination at which we one day arrive; it is a journey of a lifetime for the awake and willing, and it begins with your first step, even if it isn't perfect.
As a "mindfulness practice," consider the following:
- Take time right now to reread the six questions that serve as the cornerstones for living a life that is based in spiritual fitness. Be as real with your answers as possible.
- As you ask yourself the questions and be aware of what your body is reporting to you. If you get a "click" within that says there is room to grow in a certain area, you will know where to start your fitness program.
- See how you can incorporate a greater awareness of God's presence in that area of your life, and then move on to the next, and then the next.
- Don't look for perfection, look for that exquisite blend of the human and the divine. Enjoy the journey!
Note: This writing is an excerpt from my book, The Art of Being -- 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life. Used with permission of the publisher.