Today we explore the notion that when it comes to self-care we largely draw from (or depend on) our spiritual core. One of the places we can find inspiration to create a spiritual definition of success, as well as, the knowledge needed to live according to those definitions is in our religious texts. Examples are:
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13 (The Bible)
“Because I take care of myself, I can take care of others” – The Bhagavad Gita
“I am the good shepherd.”- John 10:11 ESV
“How often a small force has defeated a large army with God’s permission!” – The Quran
A clarification about religious and spiritual
It is very easy to conclude, from the above, that spiritual self-care is about religion. It is not. It is important to remember the deeply-rooted spiritual messages of all the texts, irrespective of the religion you practice. They are love, peace, friendship, a sense of connection, purpose, respect, trust, etc.
Spirituality, like music, can be listened to, heard, and experienced by many different religions because of the joy it stirs in the soul and the heart of the listener. It reminds me of this Youtube video, where a group of diverse people played Beethoven’s no. 9. Each person playing a different instrument can be compared to each person having a different religion. But when they come together in musical harmony, the essence of comfort it brings, if only for a moment, is what separates religion and spirituality, and yet connects them.
We cannot ignore the fact that everything we know about self-care (physical, practical, spiritual, and emotional) can be found in stories passed on through generations (a spiritual practice) from our religious texts. For example, The Bible says, “You must never eat fat…from cattle, sheep, or goats.” (Lev 7:23 NLT) and The Geeta says,“… the killing of cows constitutes the most heinous of all sins in existence.” Both statements are warnings against eating saturated and trans fats that are largely responsible for strokes, heart attacks, and an increased risk for cancer.
If and when you choose to adopt the health practices from these texts and cannot pinpoint the source of what you experience, I dare say you are in the spiritual domain. It is the heart of all the other domains and a MUST for the other domains to work in concert for the benefit of the whole.
Of course, some of us either resist, don’t remember, or recall these ideas and principles, until faced with a situation, like the pandemic. It forced me to deepen my connection with the teachings I learned in Kindergarten Bible classes. A spiritual practice many of us returned to when we were at our lowest, during COVID-19, was prayer. The protocol of washing my hand or social distancing (keeping me from school), is exactly what my mom would make me do when I was sick. Where did she get her information? You guessed it, the Bible and her parents. Then passed it down to me.
A word of Caution
If we consider all the information that comes through any religious medium as purely religious, thereby ignoring it, we could miss the wisdom in the ideas and practices suggested. But, if you took a peek and developed a curiosity about their meaning, you will find that the knowledge to care for self and an organization is fully outlined in the texts. Just written differently for different religions.
Let’s explore leadership as an example. A skill required for leaders to lead competently in is self-awareness. The idea may seem new due to the times we are living in. But it was obviously important “way back when” because it is clearly spelled out in The Bhagavad Gita.
It says, “it is not possible to become an effective leader if the leader does not understand his or her own self, and does not understand his or her own potential and purpose.”
That statement was further memorialized by Socrates, a Greek Philosopher, who said, an unexamined life is not worth living, becoming an invitation for self-introspection and reflection. in other words an opportunity to “Know Thyself” – to constantly question to discover truths within, be aware of, and act on them. After all, if you cannot take care of yourself how do you expect to care for and lead others who depend on you? ( A direct quote fromThe Bhagavad Gita). Several tools you may be familiar with (Birkman, EQ, ELI Energy assessment, Ego game, DISC, HOGAN, etc.) have helped you on your journey of self-discovery.
A follow-up quote from the Bible that has trickled into the mainstream is “Without a vision my people perish” – (KJV, Proverbs 29:18). In other words, without some planned course and destination, followers will not know where to go or what to do. They are left to wander in the dark down a path that ultimately leads to destruction. Many, if not all organizations have vision statements, guardrails, and values. Even leaders are encouraged to have mission statements for themselves and their teams.
We also have strategic plans (individual and organizational) and develop habits to fulfill those plans to achieve our mission and experience the vision. Like jogging every day (individual goal) or reporting financial status every quarter (organizational goals).
After a while, it’s easy to grow weary of these demands of life and work. Yet again, you can find wisdom (definitions of success) in the religious texts as motivation to keep going.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”(Galatians 6:9) – The Bible
“How will you fulfill your purpose if you let the winds of change blow you off your path.” – The Bhagavad Gita
“Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do.” (Proverbs 6:4-6). – The Quran
I hope that you now understand the interconnectedness of all the domains and the role religious texts can serve to create our definitions of success. They can also help us develop practices as they contain all the knowledge, ideas, and behaviors, that you need to care for yourself and your organization.
Here are other examples that can easily be considered for definitions of success for some of the domains.
“Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you” (verse 7 NIV) – The Bible (Physical Domain – Eating nourishes my body)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place”. (Mark 1:35 NIV) – The Bible (Spiritual Domain – Solitude helps me connect to a Higher Power)
“—–this yoga is neither for him who overeats, nor for him who observes a complete fast; it is neither for him who is given to too much sleep, nor even for him who is ceaselessly awake.” (6:16) The Bhagavad Gita ( Emotional Domain – Sleep restores my mind, body and soul)
“…so you may be mindful.” Surah an-nahl 16:90 (The Quran) (Emotional Domain – Slow down and smell the roses.)
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” Proverbs 23:4 (Practical Domain (Financial) – Money isn’t my master).
Lastly, from Ghandi. “When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Think of it. Always.”