Spiritual stressors arise when existential questions such “Who Am I” (core identity) or “Why Am I Here” (life purpose) remain unanswered. It can also arise when you lose faith and break contact with your Divine or Deeper Self. This disconnection can compromise your immunity and affect your health. If you can discover your spiritual stressors and what triggers them, you can take specific and targeted actions to recover from them.
The last place to look
Sometimes our physical, mental, emotional and systemic levels may not reveal what is really going on, at least, not enough to explain the manifestation of a life-threatening disease like cancer. In many such cases, the stressor may lie in the spiritual aspect of our selves, which we have to delve into.
What is spiritual stress?
Life seems to be going along just fine when, out of the blue, something big happens – an important relationship threatens to fall apart, an expected promotion disappears into thin air, a hurricane rips all earthly possessions from the ground, or cancer cells invade the body.
Such events, and often, many less dramatic events throw us out of our comfort zone, demanding that we live a different life. Then come the seemingly unanswerable questions that force us to dig deep, introspect and grow: Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God when you need him most? Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? And in my experience, this is a difficult and uncomfortable process to say the least. Recognising spiritual stress and its purpose can be empowering.
The evolutionary impulse of spiritual stress
Turbulence is in fact the transition phase
We have seen time and again that a difficult life-situation is simply a period of transition in life’s journey.
The turbulence we experience is really a ‘loss of equilibrium’ due to our lack of resources and coping skills.
- Yet this very loss triggers an evolutionary impulse that makes us dig deeper to find those capacities which we need. And with them we arrive at a newer, higher equilibrium.
- This equilibrium ‘holds’ for a while, during which we experience ‘health/wellness’ and enjoy this stable phase of our life.
- However, change being the only constant, nothing lasts forever. Life seeks to move on to ever richer, more complex states of existence.
- As if on cue, its evolutionary forces shake the stability, which we experience loss of equilibrium in the form of disease, stress or depression.
- And the cycle repeats itself, again and again and again.
Health issues signal need for change
In other words, health and growth are two sides of the process of life. We alternate between these two states, with illness often serving as the signal and impetus for the transition to the next level of wholeness.
This is akin to molting, like a snake shedding its skin or metamorphosis, when the caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
Resistance to change causes stress
In human beings, this level of dramatic transformation is painful because of our tendency is to hold on to the familiar and resist the process of transition and evolution. That is when we experience spiritual stress.
And our body, in response to this stressor, may manifest a disease such as cancer which will force us to stop, question and understand that this is about a larger change that we are resisting. By implication then, illness can be seen as an inevitable part of the evolutionary impulse itself, which is constantly unfolding in a never-ending upward spiral.
The pain helps us to grow
Spiritual stress is a bit like labour pain. The necessary discomfort nature puts us through for us to be born. We do not enjoy leaving the comfort of our mother’s womb but really, it was not meant to be our permanent abode. Like the baby, we too are not meant to linger too long in each stage of consciousness. We are simply to pass through, by breaking through.
Ken Wilber, a great modern mystic, says that at each transitional point in human evolution, we will experience two things simultaneously
- On one hand, a challenge from the current evolutionary stage
- On the other, support from the next stage that we are entering.
Much like the baby at the time of birth. From one side it is pushed out by the mother’s labour contractions, while on the other, its passage is also being supported by a caring mid-wife, nurse or doctor.
Take this opportunity to ask yourself about the growth opportunities contained in your life transition. Take the first steps to transition out of spiritual stress into a new equilibrium of health and growth.
- What major life transitions have you faced? And how have they contributed to your evolution?
- What according to you is a state of health and well-being? What do you think is hampering it for yourself?
- Looking ahead, what kind of transformed life can you visualise for yourself?
This ends the series of articles on identifying your stressors at all levels of our being. We hope this has been a useful and illuminating exercise. Don’t stop now! You’ve just started on the incredibly healing journey of awakening from illness.
The Holistic Health Questionnaire (HHQ) will help you understand your stressors. To take the free test, please mail Anamika at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject as HHQ.
More from this series
|Title||About the article|
|Uncovering Physical Stressors||The key factors in maintaining optimum physical health are diet, exercise, rest & relaxation, personal habits (smoking/ alcohol) and sociability & laughter.|
|Uncovering Mental Stressors||Our mind is in constant chatter, with a series of voices saying this, that or the other. Limiting beliefs and negative self talk are a major source of mental stress, which eats away at our immunity.|
|Uncovering Emotional Stressors||In this article we will explore where negative emotions come from and how they can be managed.|
|Uncovering Spiritual Stressors||Sometimes our physical, mental, emotional and relational levels may not reveal what is really going on, at least, not enough to explain the manifestation of a life-threatening disease like cancer. In many such cases, the stressor may lie in the spiritual aspect of our selves, which we have to delve into.|
|Uncovering Relational Stressors||We are all part of a system: family, workplaces, societies, etc. The quality of our relationships determine the health of the systems we live in, and the health of the system plays a big role in our own health.|