SPIRITUAL FITNESS CHALLENGE!
At this time of year, we often think of ways to reset our intentions and undertake ways to move toward our goals. For example, one way we might move toward physical goal of increased health and increasing ACFT score, is committing to something like the Double Eagle Fitness Challenge! With intentional action and discipline, in the areas of movement, sleep, and nutrition you can meet physical goals, and enhance your physical health. The same is true for Spiritual Health! With intentional thought and discipline, you can build a path toward greater spiritual strength which results in “qualities a person needs in times of hardship, stress, or tragedy.” (FM 7-22, 10-1) Additionally, greater spiritual health promotes strengthened sense of connection, identity, and purpose. Through consistent and intentional dedication to a series of “spiritual disciplines,” you will become spiritually strong.
The spiritual disciplines can be adapted and integrated into any religion or belief system and will be valuable to you regardless of if you are religious or not! Just like with physical activity you may want to build a variety of practices into your spiritual fitness routine. They will help build a well-rounded spirit!
- Fasting. Fasting is often connected with connected with food. For example, Muslims around the world will observe Ramadan from 10 March through 08 April 2024. Ramadan includes a fasting from food from sunup through sundown. However, you can also “fast” other things. For example, you can practice fasting from social media for a period. You can participate in “Dry January” giving up alcohol for a month. Christians around the world will observe Lent 14 February through 30 March 2024. One of the main practices of Lent is abstaining from something, such as a particular food (such as desert or red meat), or giving up some “thing” like TV watching etc. Fasting from something doesn’t mean it is bad! Fasting builds spiritual strength and freedom by helping you build healthy relationships with everything, so you are not being controlled by anything.
- Simplicity. The practice of simplicity builds spiritual strength by making space from freedom and generosity. The discipline of simplicity focuses on letting go of things we do not need or do not serve us. Practically, this may look like decluttering, weeding out our closet, clearing out that storage locker or garage (and NOT refilling it). Mentally, it may be letting go of negativity or things in the past. It may mean limiting the busyness of our lives, so we can enjoy the freedom simplicity brings. As we move into this freedom, we build spiritual strength by practicing generosity toward others, instead of keeping resources only for ourselves, and enjoying the blessings we have.
- Stillness. In our busy fast paced world, practicing stillness maybe one of the most difficult disciplines we have, but embrace the challenge. Find 15-30 minutes to just sit…no activity, no noise, no agenda, just sit and breathe. If you are constantly rushing from place to place, your experience of life may become shallow and anxious. Stillness allows us to collect ourselves, promoting reflection and physical health. As you consistently practice stillness, you build a mental and emotional depth contributing to overall spiritual fitness and strength!
- Meditation. The discipline of meditation is a practice of reading and reflecting on books and teachings that can build your spiritual strength. These could be sacred scripture such as the Bible, Talmud, or Koran, or literary works Meditations by Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson. The discipline of meditation can enhance your ability to think through difficult issues, develop wisdom and discernment and gives you spiritual energy!
In the same way a consistent habit of diverse physical training is necessary for optimum health, consistent spiritual training will develop your internal fortitude. Strength, whether physical or spiritual, must be developed over time with intentionality and consistency so you will be ready when the testing time comes!