Most of us make effort in one way or another to keep physically fit. Some of us enrol in a gym, some of us run marathons, some of us make sure we take a daily walk. We do that so that we can maintain a good level of health to ward off disease, to be able to meet any physical demands and, in general, just to feel good.
However, being spiritually fit is often something not only overlooked, but few people know what that actually means or where to begin. Some may not even be sure of what spiritual fitness looks like; it is even thought that stress and anxiety in our modern society are ‘normal’, and nothing could be further from the truth. Our world is so full of problems, challenges and difficult situations in the physical dimension that it is worth spending time developing our spiritual fitness, to be able to manage and deal with whatever comes our way.
We need spiritual resources and powers to face and deal with whatever life presents to us, so that we remain in a state of balance and inner stability. We need to spend time with ourselves, each day, in meditation as a way of experiencing our natural state, which is of peace, harmony, and inner well-being. Unless we do this, we cannot taste our true and eternal state of being.
There are many ways to spiritually develop strength, but the following five are a good place to start.
1. A strong and healthy heart. Physically our heart needs to be in good condition to pump the blood and take oxygen to all organs of the body. We also have a heart in the soul. It is the capacity to generate feelings that are positive and benevolent and filled with good wishes for all; to be able to understand the hearts of others. Can we keep compassion and empathy flowing no matter what? A lack of spiritual fitness would mean that sometimes we can, and sometimes we cannot because someone has said or done something that makes us unable to keep those benevolent thoughts flowing.
2. Strength and power. Physically we need strength to lift, run, cycle, and power to be able to do that quickly. Spiritually, strength is shown when we are able to resist and manage our reactions. For example, if we feel a little twinge of anger, are we able to quickly detach from that feeling and stay protected and stable. If we are able to maintain peace within, then we can transform situations that could otherwise turn into ones full of conflict. A sign of spiritual weakness would be an inability to control our emotions.
3. Flexibility. Tennis players, ballerinas and those in other high-performance sports require the ability to stretch and change direction quickly and fluidly. In the same way, spiritually we need the inner capacity to adapt quickly and easily to change and to accept new situations so that we can fluidly change direction if needed. Lack of spiritual fitness would be seen when we become stuck and rigid in our way of thinking or opinions. We would demonstrate the wrong kind of resistance.
4. Balance. Inner balance is when we know how to use every quality and power that is at our disposal without losing the complementary quality that gives us balance. For example, determination is a powerful quality, and it allows us to reach our goals and aims. However, if we are too determined, we run the risk of being stubborn and driven without consideration for others. Determination needs to be balanced with patience to maintain equilibrium. Too much patience, on the other hand, means simply watching and waiting, not noticing real opportunities, and nothing gets achieved.
5. Present and focused. A sportsman, especially in a team sport, needs to be totally present and focused in the moment, if they want to win. Any distraction or lack of presence will mean a poorer performance. In the same way, we need to be present in the moment and focused on those we are with, really listening and giving our full attention. If we allow distracting thoughts of the past or the future to influence us, we are not truly present. No matter what may have happened half an hour ago, if I am spiritually fit, I am strong enough to be right here, right now.
These are just some of the practices we can pay attention to, so that we become spiritually stronger and well prepared. We are facing challenges now, and there will be more to come, so it is important to develop spiritual strength. Daily meditation is essential to understand, develop and demonstrate our spiritual fitness.
Bill Simo is a coach and trainer, and teaches Rajyoga with the Brahma Kumaris, based in Madrid, Spain.