When we think about staying healthy, we tend to focus on our bodies. We wonder what new or modified workout will help us firm up, trim down or strengthen our cardiovascular system. We examine our diets and nutrition, our sleep habits, the skin products we use and options for physical self-care such as acupuncture and massage. Rarely do we ask ourselves what steps we should take to support our spirit. Our soul.
Yet health is inclusive. For better or worse, body and soul are intrinsically connected. Health means bringing the body and soul into harmony. Our bodies are not a set of separate parts, but rather are whole—and one with the soul.
This became crystal clear to me after a surgeon’s mistake altered my life forever. I was diagnosed with a tumor on my right adrenal gland; the surgeon removed my left gland. Even after a second surgery to remove the tumor, there was no way to rebuild my broken body: I now live with one half of one adrenal gland. The only thing I could do to improve my health was to focus on rebuilding and revitalizing my spirit. I write about this in my bestselling memoir, On the Way to Casa Lotus.
In the 10 years that have passed since then, I’ve created a number of rituals that have helped me maintain and grow my spiritual fitness. They keep me grounded and help me listen to the voice of my soul. They’re not connected with a religious practice; nor do they need to be. The most important thing is for them to have meaning to me. Here are some of the steps I’ve taken that you can take, too.
Before my second surgery, friends gathered at my home the way you would gather for a baby or bridal shower. They gave me a collection of polished stones, each one etched with a word of blessing—peace, strength, grace—and presented me with a ramillete espiritual (“spiritual bouquet”) of hopes and prayers. The next morning I placed the stones in my suitcase with all my comfort needs. To this day they uplift my spirit, bringing me hope and strength.
Write your own affirmations
Before my health crisis I was forced to uproot from Mexico for my family’s safety. We moved to Austin. During my early days there I felt lost. So I created a display with several dozen colorful little round boxes from India that I attached to a wall in my home. On white scrap paper, I wrote a good intention for each box: Stay patient. Speak your truth. Be open. Seeing the boxes, I think about what each intention means to me and remind myself to act on that meaning.
Set up a “grateful corner” in your home
I have a sacred space in my home that I call my “grateful corner.” During my post-surgery healing journey I expanded it by adding cards, letters, and small works of art. I meditated beside it. When I closed my eyes, I envisioned myself at the center of a swirling galaxy of love, where my family surrounded me. Devoting a special place in your home or your yard filled with spiritual meaning where you can relax, meditate, set intentions or simply breathe is a beautiful, uplifting ritual.
Start a daily spirituality practice—and stick with it
Like yoga and journaling, spirituality flourishes with regular practice. I find popular approaches such as meditation, mindfulness and gratitude to be very effective. There are dozens of apps you can use that provide guided meditation, soothing sounds, sleep stories, breathing exercises and more. My favorite is Calm, and I especially like its masterclass on gratitude by Tamara Levitt. Once you’ve found an app you like, you can dedicate time to immersing yourself in it in your grateful corner, surrounded by your amulets and affirmations!
While these rituals can’t bring back what I’ve lost, they have helped me see that while not a gift in itself, my health journey has opened doors to a host of hidden blessings that have enriched my life in many ways.