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Understanding Your Spiritual Wellness and Connecting With Your Higher Self

By Sam Woolfe

‘Spiritual wellness’ refers to leading a spiritual life that enhances one’s overall well-being. This can include a range of attitudes, values, activities, and lifestyle practices that have a person’s  most fundamental needs and drivers in mind. One crucial aspect of spiritual wellness is connecting to something greater than one’s self. For many people, this is a source of deep meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and life satisfaction.

You can explore what spiritual wellness is by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Where can I derive a sense of meaning?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How can I feel more connected to myself, others, the natural world, or something bigger than myself?
  • How do I deal with suffering?
  • What gives me a feeling of hope?
  • Do I actively try to see life from other people’s perspectives?
  • Do I dedicate enough time to my own needs and well-being?
  • What are my most important values, and are they currently guiding my decisions and actions?

Exploring Your Spirituality

Based on these questions, some goals of spiritual wellness emerge.

The Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl argued that a person’s core drive is the search for meaning. It is in the attainment of meaning that gives us the deepest sense of fulfillment and contentment. He believed there are three sources of meaning available to people: creative works or purposeful deeds, the experience of love, and finding courage in the face of adversity.

A person’s sense of purpose and ability to feel hope are connected to a meaningful life. Your purpose is a personal choice which helps you feel hopeful about your efforts and what you are striving towards. 

A key component of spiritual wellness, regardless of your religious or metaphysical views, is a sense of connectedness. When we feel connected to aspects of reality beyond ourselves – other humans, animals, nature, and the planet – we can experience true feelings of well-being. That is because the sense of being part of something greater than one’s self is part of what makes us human. When we ignore this drive, it becomes easier for feelings of isolation and meaninglessness to overwhelm us.

Spiritual wellness involves continual balance, considering the interests of others as well as your own. If you don’t take care of yourself and address your own suffering, you won’t be in a place to help others, as much as you may want. This balance also calls on us to ask how our values guide decisions that can affect ourselves and others. If you value compassion and kindness, ask yourself if you extend these values to yourself and others when experiencing difficulties in life.

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The Four Domains of Spiritual Wellness

We can truly look at what spiritual wellness is by closely examining its different dimensions. Researchers have identified four domains, all of which center around the theme of connectedness:

  • Connection to self
  • Connection to others
  • Connection to nature
  • Connection to the transcendent

Connection to Self

We can better connect to self in a variety of ways, one of which is by enhancing self-understanding. An example would be seeing how external events affect your internal state, which can link to your personality traits. If you are a highly sensitive person, you could become more irritable and overwhelmed by noise and crowds compared to others.

Connecting to self can also mean looking out for your well-being. You genuinely care about yourself, as you would for a family member or good friend. This can involve adopting an attitude of self-compassion, instead of self-criticism.

Lastly, a disconnect from one’s self can come from neglecting personal values. So an important step can be by honing in on what yours are. This might mean taking a hard look at your principles, such as honesty, and your priorities, such as creative projects.

Spiritual Wellness #3

Connection to Others

If you don’t genuinely connect with others in your daily life, you can end up feeling small and isolated. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging and are meant to contribute meaningfully to the lives of others. This is a vital source of lasting satisfaction. There are many ways you can connect with others such as: 

  • Being considerate to loved ones and offering help
  • Helping strangers in need
  • Volunteering or dedicating one’s self to a cause
  • Pursuing a career or project that improves the lives of others (this could be anything from an artistic path to a career in the charity sector)
  • Listening to others with empathy and compassion instead of through judgement or absent-mindedness
  • Looking for core similarities between yourself and others, rather than less important differences

Connection to Nature

Connection to nature, or nature relatedness, refers to how closely you identify with the natural world. Those who score higher in this trait have been shown to have lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress as well as better overall mental health. 

You can improve your nature relatedness by spending more time outdoors in nature. You can try dedicating more time to hiking, forest bathing, looking for wildlife, gardening, or playing nature-based sports like rock climbing and rowing.

Connection to the Transcendent

Connecting to the transcendent is a bit harder to define. This is because everyone has their own terms to refer to something ‘larger than themselves’. Some may call this the universe, Ultimate Reality, God, Brahman, the Divine, or Cosmic Consciousness. 

What unites these different ideas is the experience of transcending one’s self by expanding consciousness to something greater. This can create a sense of humility, reverence, gratitude, and sacredness, all of which contribute to spiritual wellness and leading a more spiritual life.

Spiritual Wellness #2

How to Improve Your Spiritual Well-Being

There are a number of ways you can improve your spiritual wellness, one of which is by finding a community you resonate with. When you surround yourself with others who share your values, attitudes, worldview, and goals, it can help you connect more deeply with your true authentic self. 

You can find communities, centered around spiritual experiences and values, at religious services, Buddhist and Quaker meetings, meditation and psychedelic retreats, and through events you can find on sites like Eventbrite and Meetup. You can also focus on practices that connect you with your present feelings, emotions, thoughts, and other sensations. These practices include mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathwork, and the intentional use of plant medicines.

Lastly, you can seek out more ways to experience transcendent emotions like reverence and awe. Connecting to something bigger than yourself can help you realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things. While this can sometimes feel scary or overwhelming, it can also lead to positive emotions like amazement, wonder, and unity. Research has linked awe to various mental health benefits, whether experienced in a natural setting or during a spiritual practice like prayer. 

The Connection Between Psychedelics and Spiritual Well-Being

At Retreat Guru, we pay attention to the well-established (and evidence-based) connection between psychedelic experiences and spiritual wellness.

Psychedelic compounds can induce a range of spiritual effects, such as ego dissolution and a feeling of interconnectedness. Researchers have linked these effects to improvements in mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction.

Psychedelics can also enhance the connection to self, particularly the connection with emotions. The effects of psychedelics have also been linked to emotional breakthroughs by facing difficult feelings that are being avoided or getting emotional closure from  a challenging circumstance.

Some natural psychedelics, like ayahuasca, have a rich history of ceremonial use. Westerners have increasingly become interested in using ayahuasca (and other traditional plant medicines) as a way to achieve transformative spiritual experiences.

Spiritual Wellness #4

Retreats for Your Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness retreats give you the time and space to connect with yourself, others, and nature. They focus on inner exploration, whether through meditation or psychedelics, and are usually run in groups so you can connect with like-minded people. This creates a sense of community and shared experience. 

Many spiritual retreats often take place in beautiful and peaceful natural settings for an ideal way to connect with nature. When combined with the spiritual focus of the retreat, this can help you experience long-lasting mental health benefits and unlock your full potential. Many people find they get more benefits out of a multi-day retreat and will seek out more experiences if it resonates with them.

If you are interested in a retreat to improve your spiritual well-being, Retreat Guru can help guide you on the next stage of your journey

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Final Thoughts: Spiritual Wellness is an Ongoing Project

Spiritual wellness doesn’t end and is something many people come back to. Going on a single retreat is not enough to permanently alter your sense of self, yet it can be an important stepping stone for adding more spiritual practices into your life.

There will be ups and downs, but the low points can act as a lesson just as much as the spiritual highs. No single spiritual experience will be the cure for all of your problems and the goal should be to aim for more peace of mind and connections in your life. Trying to achieve perfection is doomed to fail, but improving your spiritual wellness to better connect with yourself is more than achievable for everyone.

Tags: Spirituality

Posted by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer and blogger specialising in philosophy, psychedelics, psychology, and mental health. He is the author of Altered Perspectives: Critical Essays on Psychedelic Consciousness. His work has been published by the Institute of Art and Ideas, Philosophy Now, Psychedelic Press, Psychedelic Support, Third Wave, and Lucid News. You can find him on X and read more of his work at samwoolfe.com. He lives in London, UK.

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