6 Markers of a Healthy Spirituality

Over my life I have been involved in many different styles of Christian denominational expression, or Ice Cream flavours as I like to say.

Staid conservative Bible fundamentalism, ‘swinging from the chandeliers’ Pentecostalism, social justice activism and many other ice cream flavours.

They all have strengths and weaknesses. 
Some aspects of all of them have been helpful to my Mental health while some aspects have been down right destructive.
People often ask me ‘What Church should I go to?’
I suppose I would answer this question with this statement.
‘A Church that keeps you grounded with reality, connects you with Biblical truth, is actively part of the local community, and promotes a healthy spirituality.’

David Benner provides 6 markers of a healthy spirituality[1]

1. Grounded in Reality, seeing things as they are.
There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. When our life feeds on unreality it must starve and die. The death by which we enter into life is not an escape from reality but a complete gift of ourselves which involves a total commitment to reality. Thomas Merton

It is the acceptance of what reality can and cannot fulfil that leads to real change because, short of the progressive destruction of illusion and consequent mourning, one cannot discover the world as it is. Donald Winnicott

Reality itself – my limited and sometimes misinterpreted experience -is the revelatory place for God. But for some reason we prefer fabricated realities to the strong and sensitizing face of what is. The spiritual life begins with accepting and living our reality. Richard Rohr

2. Awareness
The spiritual life is, first of all, a matter of keeping awake. Thomas Merton

We have to accept that we are all sleep walkers. We need to awaken and we need to learn to see. Spirituality is about seeing. Once you see, the rest follows. Jesus tells us that if our eye is healthy our whole body will be full of light. Richard Rohr

3. Hopeful openness

  • To life, to others and to God

The most important question each person has to answer -“is the universe friendly?” Einstein

4. Loving connectedness

  • Connectedness with others, with the earth, with God
  • Interdependency, compared to codependency and independency

5. Transcendent meaningfulness

  • Making sense of personal reality in a way that gives direction and purpose to life
  • Having a framework to make sense of failure and suffering
  • Making suffering sufferable
  • Movement beyond egocentricity and entitlement
  • Capacity for grace and gratitude

6. Capacity for love, work and play

  • Altruistic attitude toward others
  • Sense of vocation
  • Spontaneity and playfulness

Questions to Consider and leave a comment.

  • How would you answer the question ‘What Church should I go to?’
  • What would be the signs for you of a Healthy Spirituality?
  • In what ways can Mental Illness rob you of a Healthy Spirituality?
  • In what ways can Mental Illness actually lead you to a Healthy Spirituality?

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Cayusa via Compfight cc

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