The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection:
6 Benefits of Daily Spiritual Practice
“We are all appointed with heaven—great openness and brilliance. Bringing this heaven down to earth, into our daily life, is how we rule our world.” ~Sakyong Mipham
When I was in graduate school, a new field of psychology was emerging: spiritual psychology. The world had finally accepted the connection between the mind and the body; now, it was beginning to see the role of the spirit in personal growth and self-actualization too.
I’ve always been a spiritual person—beginning as a child, with my personal religious practices, and expanding into my everyday way of being; I have studied, pondered, and learned. As I moved into my own psychology practice and worked with client after client, experiencing problem after problem, however, I began to understand the true importance of spiritual practice. It wasn’t just my clients’ psyches that were hurting and needed healing. Their spirits were hurting too. I understood, more fully, the connection between the mind, body, and spirit, and began to wonder, How could anyone not believe spirituality is important to the practice of psychology?
The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
The truth is, spiritual health is inextricably connected to mental, emotional, social, and even physical health. When our spirit is healthy, our body is healthier, our brain is healthier, our relationships are healthier. Our entire soul is healthier.
What Does It Mean to Be “Spiritually Healthy?”
Spiritual health may mean something different to each of us. To me, spiritual health means connecting with God (The Universe, The Divine), on a daily basis through slowing down, tuning in, listening, and obeying the whispers. Spiritual health involves stepping out of our mind and body, getting in touch with what really matters, and living in line with our truest self.
In order to improve our spiritual health, we, first, need a desire to grow, spiritually. Once we have that desire, it’s important to begin some form of daily spiritual practice. After all, it’s only through practice that we see self-improvement and growth.
There are plenty of reasons to start a daily spiritual practice. Here are six I’ve discovered over the years. I hope they inspire you to make your spiritual growth a priority, and start “practicing” today!
1) We all have a spirit. And, when our spirit is unwell, our body, mind, and soul are unwell too. I know not everyone identifies as a “spiritual” person. That’s okay; we don’t have to identify as “spiritual” to have a spirit. When we neglect our spirit, it shows up in other areas of our life, whether we notice it or not. Taking care of our spirit makes all areas of life a little better. Don’t believe me? Just try taking care of your spiritual side for a while. You’ll see the benefits soon enough.
2) Spiritual practices improve health, increase personal growth, strengthen relationships, and are the way to true self-actualization. better parent, spouse,We can read and study and work until we’re blue in the face, and we can achieve great growth and learning this way. But, our greatest learning comes on the spiritual plane. It comes when we get quiet and still. Only then can we listen and hear and know the things we need–to improve ourself and our relationships, to be a , partner, or child. To be a better person.
Practices such as prayer, meditation, scripture study, pondering, stillness, yoga, and mindfulness (to name a few) open us up. They re-connect us with the Divine. They allow us to hear the fine whispers that can guide our life. They allow us to step out of our everday worries–out of our own “agenda”–and be who we really are. As one of my favorite men wrote, “We are very busy people. We have so much to do. We need to get off by ourselves once in a while and think of the spiritual things and build ourselves spiritually. If you have a study at home, lock yourselves in it. If you have a place in the basement where you can be by yourself, go there. Get by yourself…. Just meditate and reflect…about yourself and your relationship to [God]. If will do something for you.” Yes, it will.
3) Most spiritual tools and practices are not only backed by experience; they’re backed by research. Even though I know, from experience, these spiritual tools and practices lead to greater health, meaning, and purpose in life, you don’t have to take my word for it. Practicing meditation, mindfulness, prayer, and even being in nature have all been shown to improve health and wellness, in the scientific research too. In fact, as one study says, “nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being.” All the more reason to get outside and get still today.
4) At the core of every trauma is a spiritual wound; and focusing on spiritual health can heal us. That’s what I have learned, not just from my own experience, but time and again from those I help in therapy. It may be easier to see or feel the physical, emotional, or mental wounds, but pain and trauma also impact the delicate spirit, whether we sense that impact or not. When we focus on creating spiritual health, we not only feel emotionally stronger. We heal.
5) When we engage in spiritual practice and “obey the whispers,” we’re not only healthier—physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. We grow. As I write in my memoir, This is How We Grow: “There are some principles that are time-tested to be true, and when we live according to those principles we experience an increase of joy. Obeying the whispers is one of these. Call it your conscience, the voice of God, the spirit, the Holy Ghost—it’s like a radio wave continually broadcasting which you can only hear if you sit and tune in. It is up to each of us to listen for this guidance and up to each of us to choose to obey.” As we listen and obey, we know what we need to do. And, we’re somehow given the strength to do it. And, that makes us grow.
6) Having a Daily Spiritual Practice is the surest path to Joy. We all have joy, deep within. But, for most of us, our joy is covered up by the stress, drama, and trauma of life. Only when we get still, pray, connect, listen, do we begin to uncover our joy, leading to a continual source that improves our life and everyone around us. Bottom line: if we want true joy, we need to connect, spiritually. As Eckhart Tolle writes, “It is from inner space, the undconditioned consciousness itselt, that true happiness, the joy of Being emanates. To be aware of little, quiet things, however, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alterness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.” That about sums it up.
Don’t miss a thing!
 Sakyong Mipham. (2005). Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern Life. Doubleday; New York, NY: p.1.
 Jon Kabbat-Zinn. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the present moment, and your life.
 Maller, et. al. (2005). Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Oxford Journals: Health Promotion International. Vol 21, Issue 1: 45-54.