While in this series of articles the examination of physical wellness was loaded with nouns (such as “obesity,” “cancer,” and “nutrition”) and our examination of emotional wellness was loaded with adjectives (such as “energetic,” “intellectual,” and “stimulating”), this examination of spiritual wellness incorporates mostly verbs.
The topic of spiritual wellness is both timely and (I hope) useful for New Mexicans for several reasons:
1. The unusually diverse population of the state, with its Native American(10%), Hispanic (19%), Mexican (16%, many of whom are descendents of ethnic groups other than Spanish, including Mayans, Huichols,Tarahumara Indians, and French), African-American, and White citizens, plus a large number of “Crypto-(Hidden) Jews,” other Jews, Muslims, and GLBT folks, each with his or her own takes on what it means to be spiritually well.
- Native Americans “I personally feel that New Mexico is blessed by the centuries-long spirituality of the Native Americans whose energies continue to make this a place of easier spiritual wellness because of the residual spiritual vibrations, ”–Rev. Jac Blackman of The High Desert Center for Spiritual Living told joltleft.com.
- Ethnic Prejudice Most New Mexicans, regardless of ethnic background, admit that there is a rather high level of ethnic prejudice and discrimination in the state.“Prejudice in New Mexico takes many forms and varies according to one’s darkness of skin, one’s education level, and one’s ability or willingness to demonstrate economic superiority over others.”–UNM professor Una Medina told joltleft.com.
- Homophobia“Bigotry and homophobia are still apparent in New Mexico…Although it should not matter, I am a straight ally. Time after time, I have witnessed utter cruelty to GLBT members, and now it is the time for all of us to stand up against the repression they face.”–Brittany Arneson, UNM student.
- Dylan will soon be performing in Albuquerque on the evening of July 21, and a new book looks at the spiritual mystique of one of the most respected and spiritual (especially for baby boomers) musicians in The Gospel according to Bob Dylan.
- Hillerman Many of the novels of New Mexican Tony Hillerman explore the interaction of traditional Navajo culture with the White man, as well as the Navajo idea of hózhó: beauty, harmony, and the interconnectedness of the natural world.
2. The New Mexican desert: In his book The Wilderness of God, AndrewLouth wrote that the desert, although so barren for human purposes, is “open to divine purposes.”
3. Its many spiritual places: The Santuario De Chimayo, The Ghost Ranch, the ancient Petroglyphsnear Albuquerque, and “The Bosque Stump,” a modern-day descanso for prayer, meditation, and the deposit of spiritual mementos.
4. Devotees: More than 50% of the population of Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) identify themselves as members of organized religions: Catholic (33%); Protestant (18%), Jewish (1.3%), Mormon (1.5%), and Muslim (.3%).
5. Scores of cults, religious groups, and “New Age” “meetups” in New Mexico cater to a rapidly growing number of those searching for spiritual fulfillment, from Albuquerque Kabbalah to ABQ Goddess Spirituality Circle.
6. Malfeasance The recent increase in acts by Albuquerque police, a University of New Mexico official, several New Mexico teachers, and at least one Albuquerque pastor that are legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law in violation of a public trust.
7. End Times?: Recent chatter in the state among some Christians about signs of the End Times: the Wallow fire recently forced the evacuation of thousands of people in Los Alamos, home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory housing much of the nation’s nuclear weapons research.
8. A popular new film: The film The Tree of Life, which is full of biblical and spiritual symbolism, has caused a lot of buzz in places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
9. TEDxABQ has been presenting engaging events with spiritual themes: Karen Armstrong, a former nun, has discussed her Charter for Compassion, an effort to restore compassionate thinking and action to the center of religious, moral and political life; and Church of Beethoven was held on June 22, 2011.
“’Spiritual wellness’ is perhaps wellness created by a person’s desire to be obedient to the life pattern of Jesus Christ: the following and developing of a life pattern of holy thoughts, daily prayers to God the Father, as well as praises for the Father God, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” according to a well-known pastor. “All of the latter can create love of a happy and healthy life. Such a conscious pattern creates a solid sense of wellness, both physical and spiritual.”
This definition both answers one key question (“Why do some people consider spiritual wellness as a foundation on which all other aspects of a person’s health depend?”) When things go awry in one’s life, the spiritual dimension of one’s wellness sustains, according to many wellness coaches.
And the question that this quote asks is: “Are non-Christians also able to attain spiritual wellness?” [You are invited to provide your opinion. Just click “Add a comment” at the top.]
To serve with compassion
In both an answer to the aforementioned question and to introduce the second “spiritual verb,” religious scholar and former nun (who is mentioned above) Karen Armstrong’s, current passion is to make the world a more compassionate place. In “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,” she calls on people in all walks of life to put the Golden Rule to a preeminent place in their lives.
“Serving, yes. That’s what Jesus said: ‘I’ve come among you as one who serves and who washes the feet of his disciples.’ Service is a universal religious practice,” said Ms. Armstrong in a recent interview.
To seek empowerment
“I define ‘spiritual wellness’ as ’having and relying on a ‘place of power’ (God, the Oversoul, Nature Spirits, etc.) that can solve life’s problems,” a Buddhist-leaning Albuquerquean told Examiner. “I believe we have the capacity to feel completely empowered and peaceful all of the time; believing that this isn’t true is probably one of the biggest symptoms of spiritual unwellness. Look at someone like Ama (the Hugging Saint) or Gelsang Gyatso, or others in other traditions: they appear to have the outer manifestations of pure, unending peacefulness and empowerment.”
Joseph Campbell has said that poetry is a door to spiritual awareness by evoking images that reach deep inside the soul. Rumi is a 13th century Iranian poet who has been translated by many people and whose stories and poems give us a glimpse of the transcendent. Not all are easy to understand, but Rumi is one of those individuals that have made a difference in many people’s lives.
And, of course, To love
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Next is part 5 of the series: social wellness