“To be great, be whole;
Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.”
~ Fernando Pessoa
As human beings, our life consists of four basic levels: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. In order to create a healthy, balanced way of living, we need to give attention to each of these aspects of ourselves. As we do so, we become able to heal the specific parts of ourselves that are in need in any given moment and we begin to create a greater sense of wholeness by attending to all aspects of ourselves. Life is always changing and so are we, but as we deepen in our experience of ourselves, all aspects of ourselves, we begin to create a foundation for living a more joyful and balanced life.
When go through life transitions, we tend to lose the structure of caring for ourselves or we may have never even had one. Also, when we are desiring to create a certain change in our lives, a new structure is needed and in the transition, we are lacking a foundation to support that change. This is a natural part of the change process. Although there may be discomfort with the uncertainty and instability that accompanies change, there is an opening for a new way of being to emerge. By being willing to look at where we are, what we have experienced and what changes we wish to bring forth in our lives, we have a great opportunity to delve deeper into ourselves and to create a new structure for living life in a more loving and conscious way.
In my personal healing journey and in my work with others, I have found that taking an integrative holistic approach to life and well-being supports a return to balance. This model also offers a structure for self-reflection and action during the change process. It can also be used in an ongoing way as part of a holistic self-care plan.
Defining The Four Levels
Spiritual: This is our soul or our inner essence that connects us to universal source and the oneness of life. By developing this part of ourselves, we can begin to experience a sense of belonging to a greater whole, to having deeper purpose and meaning in our lives, and to feeling we are more that just an individual. This level creates a foundation for all the other levels of our being.
Mental: This is our intellect, our ability to think and reason things out. It includes our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and values. Developing this level supports us in our abilities to think clearly, to be open-minded and to be discerning. Through our minds, we are able to gather information and knowledge from our life experiences and from the world we live in.
Emotional: This is our ability to relate to others, to ourselves and to the world on a feeling level. It allows us to experience life deeply and to have meaningful connections with others. Developing this level supports us in having a full range of experiences and to bringing fulfillment to our relationships with others and ourselves.
Physical: This is our physical body. It includes our ability to survive and thrive on the material plane. We develop this level through caring for our bodies and learning to be connected to our physical being. It also includes the development of skills to live and manage life in the material world.
Caring for the Four Levels
Caring for all of the levels is equally important. To live a balanced and healthy life, we need to focus time and attention on each level. Most of us develop certain parts more than others depending on our life experiences. We may have been supported or discouraged from developing certain parts. At certain times in our lives, we may need to focus attention on a specific area to assist us in where we are and what we are experiencing or in healing traumas and wounds from the past that may exist on any level. There is no right way to heal or change. We can proceed by developing one area or working on all at once. Allowing our lives to guide us by being present with where we are and accepting who we are is a major part of the process. We cannot change where we have been, but by being gentle, loving and present with ourselves in the now, we can create positive changes in our lives. And it is this moment, which creates the next.
Here are some ways to explore caring for each of the levels.
Spiritual: Develop or explore a spiritual practice, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or studying a spiritual teaching. Spend a few moments in prayer each day. Create a gratitude journal and write in it. Spend time in nature, gardening or hiking. Practice mindfulness in your daily activities. Spend some time each day checking in with yourself and asking for inner guidance. Take time to be alone and quiet, just “being” with yourself. Explore creative activities such as painting, dancing, singing. You know it’s a spiritual practice when you feel it feeding your soul.
Mental: Pay attention to your thoughts. Write down some of your repetitive thoughts and beliefs. Make a list of core beliefs and examine where they came from. Explore which beliefs support you and which limit you. Be open to exploring new ideas and letting go of old ones. Explore things you do well and like to do, as this is part of your native intelligence.
Emotional: Honor all of your feelings. Ask what they are about; allow the feelings to guide you to what you need. Learn to appreciate your different moods and emotions. Journal about what you are feeling. Get help or support on emotional healing from friends, family, a therapist, a healer or a support group. Have healthy boundaries. Give yourself time and space to process your feelings. Be open to receiving love and support.
Physical: Tune in, feel and listen to your physical body. Consume plenty of water. Eat a diet that is appropriate for you. Eat regularly. Get plenty of rest. Get fresh air each day. Get regular exercise and daily physical movement. Heal you addictions. Experience physical touch, affection and closeness. Cultivate your ability to practically manage aspects of living in the material world. Get some bodywork or massage. Listen to your body’s innate wisdom and follow it.
A Holistic Self-Care Exploration
Take a few moments to answer these questions. The intention of looking at each of the four levels of existence is to see how you are experiencing these aspects in your life at this time. Notice any areas that may need attention and notice those areas that feel developed and balanced. Also, be open to noticing and exploring any resistance that may come up about any of the levels. Write down any ideas you have about how you can create more balance in any specific area or overall. Also, write down anything you have done in the past, particularly before recent transitions, which may have supported you in any of these areas.
Spiritual: Do you feel a sense of connection to your spiritual source? Do you have a relationship with your own inner wisdom or intuitive guidance? Do you feel you are a part of a greater whole? Do you spend time alone just “being”? Do you have a spiritual practice, which supports you being?
Mental: Are you satisfied with your intellect? Can you think and express yourself clearly? Do you have a belief system that supports you and works for you? Are you open to new ideas without being overly impressionable? Do you have clarity? Are you able to stay focused?
Emotional: Are you in touch with your feelings and able to express them appropriately? Do you allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions or do you find you shut down certain emotions if they arise? (E.g. fear, sadness, anger, joy, love) Are you able to set appropriate boundaries with others? Are you able to be open and honest with others and your self about your feelings? Can you relate to others in a close, intimate way?
Physical: Are you physically healthy and active? Do you feel comfortable in your body? Do you like your body? Do you eat a healthy, balanced diet? Are you comfortable in the material world? Are you practical and down to earth? Are you financially stable? Do you enjoy your sexuality?
This review can be useful in the process of creating changes in your life. It can also be used regularly as part of a holistic self-care plan. It is a great way to do a check-in or review of where you are in the change process. I tend to use it monthly just to touch base with the various aspects of myself and to see where I may have moved out of balance or need to give more attention based on what is arising in my life. It is also great to see the progress and how I have grown in certain areas as well.
As always, please feel free to share you thoughts, feelings and reflections.