“Tell me about your spiritual practices,” Oprah Winfrey asked candidates in the OWN Network CEO search. It was an essential question for any leader, she told Stanford business students, and she wasn’t talking (only) about God.
The mind-body-spirit connection is well documented. Whether you meditate, pray, cogitate on long runs or commune with nature, the act of contemplation, reflection, being alone with your thoughts – taken as regular practices are essential to well-being.
In the busy pace of life, there are days we have not a moment to spare. We long for more meaningful, connected and abundant lives. To quench the thirst for spiritual connection, it’s essential to take time each day to step back, explore meaning and grow as a person. Spirituality is individually defined and voluntarily adopted. It seems like a generation of Millennials has awakened the world to the phrase, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” The belief system has been shortened to the initials SBNR. So, what are we after in seeking spirituality?
“Spirituality is anything that connects you to the exhilaration of being human, discovering a new part of yourself, and being fully alive,” says Stephen Cope, founder of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A regular practice comes to mind of stillness, consciousness, awareness and living in the moment.
When she wakes in the morning, Oprah describes her deep spiritual practices: “…The first thought is ‘thank you’ and the next thought is one of mindfulness,” as she lingers over the awareness that she is here and wants to be fully present to all beings and all things. After decades of practice, she defines her spirituality as an essential part of her being.
The benefits of spirituality to health and well-being are well documented. Caring for your soul, restoring the spirit is a huge part of physical health.
“There is more evidence that spirituality is more protective against illness than anything else known to science, according to Lisa Miller, PhD, director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia’s Teachers College.
Yet, according to an August article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), modern health care clinicians regularly overlook dimensions of spirituality when considering the health of others or even themselves.
Is spirituality, along with sex and politics, the last of three taboo topics to be broached in polite conversation? Doctors don’t talk about it. Business people bury it. Professionals in other realms often contain their spirituality as well.
We seek Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All. It’s a good time to begin or return to a daily practice: to pause, reflect, rest the mind and explore the heart. Whether you are religious, spiritual, contemplative in nature, the daily act of stillness is good for body and soul. Regardless of how you define spirituality in your own life, keep going. It’s good for your health and state of mind.
Gerri Leder, founder of LederMark Communications & Coaching, helps leaders navigate change and seek greater fulfillment in their lives and their work.
She is certified as an Energy Leadership Institute Master Practitioner (ELI-MP®) from iPEC, a leading coaching training organization. She has an MBA in Marketing from Loyola University in Maryland and BA in Journalism from the University of Richmond. She completed the Securities Industry Institute (SII) at the Wharton School of Business.