Skip to content

Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the importance of taking responsibility for our state and examined what that looks like for our physical, mental, and emotional states. Today, we will discuss the last of the 4 pillars of the state: The Spiritual.

Our spiritual state has a profound impact on every aspect of our lives – our mental health, our relationships, our life purpose, and our overall well-being. It affects what thoughts are available to us at any given moment.

Yet many of us neglect or ignore this vital part of ourselves, relegating our spiritual needs to the back burner as we get caught up in the daily grind. We tell ourselves that we’ll “get to it later” or that our spiritual life isn’t a priority right now. But the truth is, our spiritual state is foundational – without tending to it, the rest of our life will suffer.

Spiritual health expert Dr. Elise Barron emphasizes the central role of our spiritual life:

“Your spiritual state is the wellspring from which the rest of your life flows. When that wellspring is healthy and vibrant, it nourishes all the other areas of your being – your emotions, your relationships, your sense of purpose. But when your spiritual state is neglected or malnourished, the rest of your life will wither as well.”

Indeed, research has consistently shown the myriad benefits of a thriving spiritual life. Studies link regular spiritual practice with reduced stress and anxiety, greater life satisfaction, stronger social connections, and even improved physical health.[1][2][3] Conversely, a lack of spiritual wholeness has been associated with depression, addiction, relationship difficulties, and a pervasive sense of emptiness or lack of meaning.[4][5]

The question then becomes: how do we take responsibility for our spiritual state and cultivate this essential aspect of ourselves? Here are some key steps:

1. Get Clear on What “Spiritual” Means to You

One of the challenges in discussing spirituality is that it means different things to different people. For some, it’s about a connection to a higher power or the divine. For others, it’s more about finding meaning, purpose, and inner peace. And for many, it encompasses both the transcendent and the immanent.

Ultimately, spirituality is a highly personal and subjective experience. The first step is to get clear on what it means to you. Ask yourself: What brings me a sense of wonder, awe, and connection to something larger than myself? What activities, practices, or beliefs help me feel grounded, centered, and whole?

For some, regular meditation or prayer might be central to their spiritual life. For others, it might be time in nature, creative expression, or community service. There’s no one-size-fits-all definition – the key is to get clear on your own unique spiritual needs and values.

2. Assess Your Current Spiritual State

Once you have a better sense of what spirituality means to you, the next step is to take an honest look at your current spiritual state. Ask yourself:

– How often am I engaging in spiritual practices or activities that nourish me?

– Do I feel a sense of meaning, purpose, and inner peace in my life?

– Am I experiencing a felt sense of connection to something larger than myself?

– Are there areas of my spiritual life that feel neglected or out of balance?

You might find that your spiritual state is fairly strong and vibrant. Or you might discover that it’s been pushed to the sidelines, leaving you feeling adrift, unfulfilled, or disconnected.

Dr. Barron cautions that neglecting our spiritual needs can have insidious consequences:

“When we’re not tending to our spiritual well-being, we start to experience a slow erosion of meaning, joy, and vitality in our lives. It might not be obvious at first, but over time, that sense of inner wholeness and aliveness can fade, leaving us feeling lost, cynical, or chronically dissatisfied.”

3. Make Your Spiritual Life a Priority

Once you’ve gotten clear on your spiritual needs and assessed your current state, the next step is to make your spiritual life a genuine priority. This means carving out consistent time and space for spiritual practices, rather than treating it as an optional add-on to your already-packed schedule.

Integrative health coach Amelia Rodriguez emphasizes the importance of this shift in mindset:

“So often, we treat our spiritual life as something that has to fit in around the edges of our other obligations. But the truth is, it needs to be at the core. Your spiritual well-being is the foundation for everything else—your mental health, your relationships, your ability to show up fully in the world. It has to come first.”

This might mean setting aside a certain amount of time each day for meditation, prayer, journaling, or other reflective practices. Or it could look like regularly dedicating a few hours each week to activities that nourish your spirit, whether that’s time in nature, sacred ceremony, or creative expression.

The key is to be intentional and consistent. As philosopher and author Dr. Amara Honeck notes,

“Cultivating a thriving spiritual life is like tending a garden – it requires regular, mindful attention. If we only water the plants once in a blue moon, they’ll wither. But if we give them the consistent care and nourishment they need, they’ll flourish.”

4. Explore a Variety of Spiritual Practices

While it’s important to find the specific spiritual practices that resonate most with you, it can also be valuable to experiment with a variety of approaches. After all, our spiritual needs and desires can shift over time, and what feeds our soul one day may not the next.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Leila Bakhtiari recommends a multi-faceted approach:

“I often suggest to my clients that they cultivate a ‘spiritual toolbox’ – a repertoire of different practices and modalities they can draw upon depending on their needs in the moment. Maybe one day you need a grounding meditation, the next you need to express yourself through art, and the day after that you feel called to be of service in your community. Having a diverse set of spiritual resources gives you more ways to stay nourished and centered.”

Some examples of spiritual practices to explore include:

– Meditation (mindfulness, loving-kindness, visualization, etc.)

– Prayer or ritual

– Journaling

– Time in nature

– Creative expression (art, music, dance, etc.)

– Community service or activism

– Sacred ceremony or ritual

– Study of spiritual texts or teachings

The key is to remain open and curious, trying out different approaches until you find the ones that truly resonate. As philosopher Dr. Asha Sharma notes,

“Our spiritual needs are as unique and multifaceted as we are as individuals. The practices that feed one person’s soul may not nourish another’s. The journey is about self-discovery – finding the specific ways that you can best cultivate that profound sense of connection, meaning, and wholeness.”

5. Address Spiritual Wounds and Traumas

For many people, their relationship with spirituality has been shaped by difficult experiences – religious trauma, spiritual bypassing, or a deep sense of disconnection from the divine or from their true selves. These wounds can leave lasting scars that make it challenging to re-engage with spiritual practice in a healthy, life-giving way.

Integrative psychotherapist Dr. Sasha Loring emphasizes the importance of addressing these underlying issues:

“If we try to build a spiritual life without first healing the wounds and traumas that are holding us back, it’s like trying to grow a beautiful garden on infertile, contaminated soil. The seeds simply won’t take root and thrive. That’s why it’s so crucial to do the inner work of acknowledging and processing those painful experiences, so we can clear the way for more authentic, nourishing spiritual growth.”

This inner work might involve:

– Coaching, counseling, or psychotherapy to work through religious trauma or spiritual bypass

– Practices like inner child healing, shadow work, or ancestral healing to address core wounds

– Ceremony, ritual, or energy work to clear energetic blockages or negative patterns

– Forgiveness practices to let go of resentment toward religious/spiritual institutions or figures

– Prayer, long conversations between you and your higher power

The goal is to create the internal conditions that allow your spiritual life to flourish – clearing away the debris of the past so new growth can take root.

6. Cultivate a Sense of Interconnectedness

At the heart of many spiritual traditions is the fundamental recognition of our deep interconnectedness with all of life. Whether you conceive of this interconnectedness in religious, mystical, or secular terms, nurturing a felt sense of your belonging to the web of existence can be a powerful antidote to the isolation and fragmentation so many of us experience.

Philosopher and author Dr. Elijah Tate explains:

“When we lose that sense of being part of something larger than ourselves – whether it’s God, the universe, nature, or humanity as a whole – we start to feel untethered, ungrounded. We forget that we’re not alone, that our individual lives are woven into the great tapestry of existence. Reclaiming that visceral awareness of our interconnectedness is crucial for true spiritual wholeness.”

Practices that can help cultivate this sense of belonging include:

– Meditation on interdependence and non-duality

– Ritual or ceremony honoring our kinship with the natural world

– Service work that connects us to our human community

– Contemplation of our place in the grand sweep of history and the cosmos

As we deepen our felt sense of being part of the great web of life, we often find that our concerns become less self-centered and our perspective more expansive. We start to see how our individual flourishing is intricately linked to the flourishing of all beings. And this realization can imbue our lives with a profound sense of meaning, purpose, and sacred responsibility.

7. Seek Out Support and Community

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that we aren’t meant to navigate our spiritual lives alone. As social creatures, we deeply need connection, community, and support in order to thrive.

Spiritual teacher and author Dr. Saanvi Gupta emphasizes this point:

“So often, we try to go it alone on the spiritual path, thinking that it’s a solitary, internal journey. But the truth is, we need each other. We need the mirroring, the reflection, the shared practices and wisdom that come from being part of a spiritual community. That sense of belonging and mutual support is vital for the long-term sustainability of our inner work.”

This might look like joining a religious congregation, a meditation group, a nature-based ritual circle, or an online community of like-minded seekers. It could also involve working one-on-one with a spiritual mentor, counselor, or guide. The key is finding the relational container that helps you feel seen, heard, and held as you navigate the ups and downs of your spiritual unfolding.

As we take responsibility for our spiritual state and make it a genuine priority, the rewards can be profound. We may find ourselves experiencing greater inner peace, more fulfilling relationships, a deeper sense of purpose, and an abiding wellspring of joy and vitality. And ultimately, this spiritual wholeness has the power to positively transform every aspect of our lives.

As philosopher and author Dr. Zara Noor reflects,

“When we tend to our spiritual garden with care and attention, the entire landscape of our existence starts to blossom. The flowers of meaning, connection, and aliveness spring forth, infusing our days with a quiet radiance. It’s not always an easy path, but it’s truly a journey worth taking.”

Questions to Consider

As we close up this series on taking responsibility for your state, here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. How might you take more responsibility for your physical state? What is one thing you’re committed to implementing?
  2. How might you take more responsibility for your mental & emotional state? What is one thing you’re committed to implementing?
  3. How might you take more responsibility for your spiritual state? What is one thing you’re committed to implementing?

When you take responsibility for your state, you increase your well-being 10 fold. You help your brain to function in ways that are more helpful, giving you the freedom to be who you want to be and live the life you want to live. And this freedom gives you the opportunity to love your life, no matter what you’re going through.

It is work worth doing.

Live Free. Love Life.

Would you like help implementing these principles? Join my Live Free Love Life membership!

Learn More!

[1] Koenig, H. G. (2012). Religion, spirituality, and health: the research and clinical implications. ISRN psychiatry, 2012.

[2] Unterrainer, H. F., Ladenhauf, K. H., Moazedi, M. L., Wallner‐Liebmann, S. J., & Fink, A. (2010). Dimensions of religious/spiritual well‐being and their relation to personality and psychological well‐being. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(3), 192-197.

[3] Oman, D. (2013). Defining religion and spirituality. Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality, 2, 23-47.

[4] Unterrainer, H. F., Lewis, A. J., & Fink, A. (2014). Religious/spiritual well-being, personality and mental health: a review of results and conceptual issues. Journal of religion and health, 53(3), 382-392.

[5] Koenig, H. G. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: A review. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(5), 283-291.

Thanks for reading Live Free. Love Life! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.