The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Do you feel like something in your life is missing? Is it difficult for you to experience true joy, because it’s hard for you to find meaning or purpose?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you may want to assess your spiritual health. Your spirit affects your energy, emotions, pursuits, and relationships. When we are spiritually sick, we stop growing — we forget who we are and lose sight of what’s important in life.
Often, we spend so much time focusing on our physical health that we forget to make our soul a priority. And the soul is the part of us that will last for eternity. But, just like our physical body, our soul requires daily maintenance to stay spiritually healthy and strong. So, here are eight tips, from my perspective as a Baha’i, to have a healthy spiritual life.
1) Reflect About Your Spiritual Health
In order to improve your spiritual health, you need to first reflect about what thoughts, habits, or vices might be harming your soul. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote, “Man should know his own self, and know those things that lead to loftiness or to baseness, to shame or to honor, to wealth or to poverty.”
During your reflection, you may want to assess your character and ask yourself: What kind of person do I want to be? Does my lifestyle reflect these spiritual aspirations and ideals? If not, what changes will I make?
2) Pray for Your Spiritual Health and Growth
Once we have a specific goal in mind and know what we want to improve about ourselves, it’s helpful to ask for God’s assistance and pray daily for our spiritual well-being. The central figures of the Baha’i Faith revealed thousands of prayers for us to say on every topic, ranging from detachment and forgiveness to spiritual growth and healing. Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah and one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, wrote, “The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then, to heal both the soul and the body.”
Prayer gives us clarity and guidance for any problems we may be facing, and uplifts and strengthens our souls. In a prayer, Baha’u’llah wrote:
Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men.
Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul.
So, prayers will always have a positive influence on ourselves and our surroundings. It just may take some time for us to fully realize the influence that they have.
3) Meditate on the Verses of God for Inspiration
Baha’is believe that prayer and meditation go hand in hand. It’s not enough to simply ask God questions through prayer without waiting and listening for the answer.
The prayers and verses of God are filled with astounding wisdom and power. Baha’u’llah wrote, “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” Every word of the writings of the prophets of God contains manifold, profound meanings that we can spend hours deepening on. They contain lessons for us to learn, guidance to follow, and stories of spiritual exemplars that we can all strive to emulate.
4) Find a Healthy Outlet
Of course, we aren’t robots. We will get stressed, upset, or frustrated at some point in our day-to-day lives, and we each need a healthy, spiritual outlet to channel our pain into something productive.
The Baha’i writings speak highly of how powerful the arts are in healing and uplifting humanity. My go-to artistic outlet is poetry. Abdu’l-Baha said, “Poetry is much more effective and complete than prose. It stirs more deeply, for it is of a finer composition.” Whenever I feel sorrowful, I write poetry to record my pain, relieve my tension, and revive my spirit. I believe that finding an outlet is crucial for your mental and spiritual health.
5) Improve Your Physical Health
Since our body and spirit are connected, our physical health will undoubtedly affect our spiritual health. Abdu’l-Baha said, “The more healthful his body the greater will be the power of the spirit of man; the power of the intellect, the power of the memory, the power of reflection will be greater.”
Remember to exercise, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep and sunlight. Our body houses our soul, so it’s important to give it the care and attention it needs too.
6) Strive to Eliminate Your Spiritual Diseases
In order to have a healthy spiritual life, you have to diagnose and cure your spiritual diseases that contribute to the degradation of the world around you.
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States wrote, “The tensions, divisions, and injustices that currently beset America are symptoms of a longstanding illness. The nation is afflicted with a deep spiritual disorder, manifest in rampant materialism, widespread moral decay, and a deeply ingrained racial prejudice.”
Baha’is believe that racism, for example, is a “cancerous growth…which is eating into the vitals of an already debilitated society.” Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, explained how necessary it is for us all to have close, interracial friendships, that are freed from this disease of racial prejudice, in both our personal and private lives.
7) Decide How You Can Best Contribute to Society
People often become disheartened or depressed because they’ve pursued a career that isn’t meaningful to them. But we all have unique interests, talents, skills, and capabilities that allow us to contribute to society in a way that only we can.
The Baha’i writings say, “The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling…” So, if you haven’t already, you may want to take some time to explore what you have been called to do. What fields inspire you? What work comes naturally to you? What tasks would you love to do, even if you couldn’t get paid for it? Baha’is believe that when we pursue a career that we love and are doing the work in a “spirit of service,” we offer the “highest form of worship” to God.
8) Engage in Service to Humanity
Baha’u’llah wrote, “Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self.” The best way to have a spiritually healthy and fulfilling life is to have an inspiring vision of a just and unified society to work towards, as you serve humanity to the best of your ability.
This involves finding causes that you are passionate about and dedicating your time, energy, and resources to alleviating the global suffering that these problems are causing. It’s always easier to feel joyful when we are making a difference in the lives of others. Worldwide, Baha’is engage in social action, contribute to public discourse, facilitate discussions about personal and community development, and morally empower children and adolescents to bring positive change to their communities.
“In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world—for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace,” said Abdu’l-Baha.
This is the essence of a healthy and spiritual life.