When was the last time you exercised your soul?
Health and wellness tends to be compartmentalized but we can’t really isolate any aspect of wellbeing. We’re whole beings with complex, interactive systems. In recent years, there’s been a growing understanding that mental and emotional disturbances lead to physical issues and vice versa. Yet spiritual health remains an often neglected component of overall wellness.
Soul health has gotten tangled up in religious ideologies. It’s crucial to recognize that religion and spirituality are not the same thing. While religion ought to be spiritual (though it’s often not!) spirituality need not be religious. Sadly, people who have suffered religious trauma may reject any form of spirituality, preferring to maintain distance from anything that bears any connection to religion.
We also live in a culture that’s become so focused on individualism and material gain that we’ve lost connection to Spirit, to the natural world and to one another.
Our souls are suffering.
Anxiety, depression, isolation and loneliness are some individual symptoms of ailing souls. War, mass shootings, human rights violations, natural disasters, and other tragedies are the terrifying result of collective soul sickness.
It’s imperative that we heal not only our bodies and our minds, but our souls as well.
Just as eating healthy, exercising, managing stress and communicating effectively are key components to overall wellness that should be prioritized, so should prayer. Before you roll your eyes or dismiss what I’m saying, please understand that prayer isn’t just a plea to God or Jesus. There are many ways to pray that don’t involve any religious dogma. Some examples include:
Spending time in nature
Spending time with loved ones
Growing or preparing food
Reading spiritual texts
Engaging with the arts
…the list goes on…
Pretty much anything you do that takes you out of yourself, brings you a sense of peace and is done mindfully is exercise for your soul. I implore you to bring awareness and intention to activities that bring you peace and/or a sense of the divine. Make it a practice to do this regularly.
If you’ve experienced religious trauma, it helps so much to process with a professional. However you heal the trauma, doing so opens a pathway to spiritual connection that would remain closed otherwise. If you’ve never been introduced to spirituality in any form, it helps to study different philosophies to find what resonates with you. While it can be really powerful to pray in any of the unconventional or creative ways, it can also be really nice to pray in a traditional sense. So often prayer only happens when in crisis or in need of something. Try praying simply for connection and to express gratitude.
Just like it doesn’t matter what sort of cardio workout you do–a HIIT class at the gym or a hike with friends are both good for you–it doesn’t matter how you connect with a sense of spirituality. Simply do it and you’ll feel the positive effects, which will ripple out into the collective. Please get in the habit of exercising your soul.
With Love & Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide and a supportive companion. An artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and with others through shadow work. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.