My God is the most exceptional partner. My God, Jesus, Mary, Saints, and Spiritual writers are my bedrock of sanity. From the unimaginable to the tangible written word I have spiritual guidance and solace. While they are within me and outside me, I still must actively seek union between my corporal body and thoughts and my soul’s wisdom and guidance. The tools for me include daily prayer, Ignatian Examin, spiritual direction, and the sacraments of the church. I was not called to be a hermit, yet I have been invited to live a holy life.
My meditation practices are for my peace. Meditation is required of me to tame my anxious mind and unforgiving nature towards myself. Without it, I tend to become overly enmeshed in human desires, fear-based thinking, pain avoidance, and the utter hopelessness of the human condition. I place my actions in overdrive and even when in a state of non-activity remain hypervigilant to maximize achieving my ideas and pursuit of coveted ends and control of my destiny. A mind on overdrive leaves little room for any partners of the spiritual or human variety.
You can find many ancient proverbs and biblical writing on “self-mastery” before attempting any external endeavors. Whether you turn to the philosophical world or spiritual for reference, the aim is the same. Here is a modern day writer and blogger that I have never read, but whose quote seems to capture the balance of integration of action and restraint:
“As a rule, we must not be the slaves of passion; rather, we must be the possessors of great passions. Through passion commences power, but passions should not direct our paths; rather, passions should be our bridled horses, with us commanding whence and to they be directed. Our passions must not take their own courses; but they must be directed by us into which course they ought to take. Modern day people blindly follow the notion that to be slaves to their passions is to be free! But for one to be the Master of one’s passions is to be not only free— but powerful.” ― C. JoyBell C.
My body deserves its due. It is the only vehicle I have, and it comes with no warranties. I am fortunate enough to have access to healthy food, clean water, a gym, and subject matter experts on both nutrition and exercise. I have no excuse to not treat my body like a temple that hosts my soul and carries out my spiritual and meditation practices.
My human partners are where the rubber hits the road. My spiritual metal, mindful practices, and overall physical health will be severely tested and nourished by the relationships I keep as well as the relationships imposed upon me by happenstance. The vastness of this partnership network is too exhaustive to nail down here, but each requires nurturance and respect commensurate with demands, sometimes reciprocal and sometimes vastly unequal. Involvement with family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers, church groups, spiritual director, fraternal organizations, self-help groups, charities, clubs, political groups, and anyone you come into contact must be treated with dignity and respect regardless of circumstance.
An imbalance or neglect of any of these four partners (Spiritual soul, mindful awareness, physical health, and human relationships) collapses the whole. Sometimes a fifth partner is needed as well.
Professional help is also a potential partner. For some of us, we need additional partners that although considered of the human variety, take on an unnatural essence as their services must be sought out and provided compensation for their expertise. Physical or psychological conditions have overwhelmed our capacity to resolve the presenting issue. Regardless of origin, these conditions have caused sufficient damage that requires rehabilitative interventions and support of the professional type. While these professionals are of the human variety, the relationship is not reciprocal. They are there for a price to meet your needs when they exceed your resources. They have dedicated their lives to being prepared for helping people that fall into suffering and need help accepting or alleviating said conditions.
I write this for myself as I embark on another chapter in my life, not disconnected from the previous episodes or discontinuous, but an extension and expansion of purpose. It is time to take stock and realign my actions and intentions with my beliefs and mission. Some call it a personal inventory or taking stock of where you are today as opposed to where you want to be. Perhaps call it the State of the Union of the four partners. The fifth partner if you have any, will graciously be considered a part of the human partners! They often demonstrate a higher possession of humanity and humility than the average person by their exposure to immense suffering in the people they help. I have some work to do! How about you?
The majority of readers of this post will stumble under the assumption that their “State of the Union” is strong. It is my opinion that this cannot be. The evidence is all around us. We witness heinous acts of violence, abuse of power, incessant gossip, lies, greed, power mongering, and other senseless and selfish actions every day. If we look closely, we may be the ones committing the acts or by our silence contributing to a culture that supports an unprincipled and unholy life. By relativity standards, I could make the case that the state of my union is strong. But if I hold the state of my union up against the full human capacity to live a holy and disciplined life, conscious and aware in my every action, I am far from being strong. What is the state of your union? Is it in any of the four partnerships lacking? Do you need a fifth partner?
Others will fail by being overwhelmed by the immensity of feeling, emotions, and responsibility that emerges by taking stock. Procrastination and avoidance to preserve a sense or actual comfortableness with our adequacy or even inadequacy. Unifying all the partners requires specific effort and discipline. They are frequently co-existing in contradiction. It takes effort to live in opposition, yet we do it all the time. We are at the end of the day human and incapable of perfecting harmony of the four partners and unified self.
And finally, a lack of knowledge and specific action plan to pursue greater integration and unification of the whole will defeat many to relying on autopilot in a state of status quo. A self-justifying rationalization will support leaving some areas of the partnership underdeveloped. Through neglect, we neglect to maximize living our lives to the full potential. Excessive activities will create enough fog and chaos to keep any uncomfortable reflections recessed and buried under the clutter of our very sense of self-importance and necessary goal-driven actions. Who has the time for contemplation and self-care?
Without proper self-care, I believe the integration of mind, body, spirit and human relationships is unnecessarily hampered and ruinous to living our ideal selves. While my perfect person spiritually may differ from yours (Christianity), the bulk of ancient philosophical treaties, eastern and western thoughts, and significant religions will converge on the principals of integration of mind, body, spirit and direct application to every human relationship we encounter.
Where are you today in your practice of self-care:
- Spirituality (of any faith) and nurturance
- The consciousness of your thoughts and mindful decisions (fully informed and not auto-pilot)
- Nutrition and Excercise (and perhaps add appropriate sleep!)
- Healthiness in relationships (and any negative relationships that need to be restored or healed)
- Do you need professional help (from often great humanitarians!) for any spiritual, psychological, or physical conditions that are impeding you from living to your full potential?
You deserve to be the best you can be and if that is not enough for you, the people around you deserve and need the best You! This is a life long process, never-ending and always unfolding new and deeper wisdom. Never too late to start or restart wherever you left off and never time to stop until you are no more. Seeking to perfect our selves is an infinite process within an infinity of life that we cannot ever fully comprehend.