Mind-Body-Spirit Strength Training When Facing a Chronic Or Life-Threatening Illness

How strong are you? If you go to the gym you can measure your strength by using some of the apparatus in the gym. Aside from muscular strength in your arms and legs you hear trainers talk about core strength; the strength in the torso of the body, abdomen and back. It’s easy to measure your strength on the physical level but what about measuring your emotional or spiritual strength? Is it possible to develop a workout program for you mind and spirit? What would it look like? How would you know the workout is working?Developing emotional strength takes practice just as if you were working out your body’s muscles. You develop your emotional strength by experiencing your emotions and allowing them to unfold in their own time. When you give yourself the freedom to express yourself fully, you give your emotions room to expand and become stronger in how they manifest. Full emotional expression is freeing, stress reducing, and an authentic way to life your life. It comes down to willingness. If you didn’t grow up in an environment where emotions were expressed then this may be a challenge, but it can be learned. It requires that you place yourself in environments where emotional expression is not only modeled, but encouraged. This is why support groups are a great model for authentic emotional expression when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness. Being in an environment where emotions are present or right below the surface gives you a safe place to experiment. It’s like having your own emotional strength building gym.Have you ever tried to measure your spiritual stamina? It’s not like you can start running and see when you get tired, although the concept is similar. Spiritual stamina requires that you find inner guidance providing you with a sense of faith and hope. Developing your spiritual stamina is not about dogma; it’s about knowledge of your beliefs, values, and intuition. Having the capacity to find comfort and peace by going within is building spiritual stamina. Some may need a personal trainer just like when training the physical body and they turn to spiritual directors to help fortify their spiritual stamina in the face of a health challenge. Knowing that there are others willing to support you is empowering. It punctuates the knowledge that you have your own internal and external resources for health and healing.Remember that developing your emotional and spiritual strength is just as important as developing your physical health when facing a health challenge. Finding outlets that will support this development is the key. Learning to ask good questions of yourself and others serves as a catalyst for this type of development. It’s about coordinating your strength building efforts between the mind, body, and spirit. Don’t under develop one area and over develop others…you’ll live life lopsided and that doesn’t benefit your journey toward health and healing.

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