top of page

How To Know If Your Spiritual Practices Are Healthy

Written by: Kiara Norwood, M.A., Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

What is Spirituality? Spirituality can be defined as our connection to something bigger than ourselves. According to Brown (2018), “Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.” Often, we express this spirituality through religious affiliation or involvement, exploring nature, and/or practices such as prayer or meditation. Many people have described these practices as helping them feel peace and providing a sense of community. However, what happens when our spiritual practices are harmful to ourselves or others?

Shot of an athletic young woman practicing yoga on the beach.

What Is Harmful Spirituality?


When something is “harmful,” it can be described as negatively impacting or creating potentially devastating effects on someone or something. I was part of a harmful and cult-like set of religious organizations/churches. The brand of religion and spirituality to which I was taught to subscribe taught me I was innately “bad,” that nothing good could come from me outside of a greater spiritual being, that women were to be seen as lesser than men, that LGBTQ folx were traumatized, perverted, and confused; and that there was only one true way to connect with The Creator. I call this harmful because it created devastating effects that I had to be very intentional to process and heal from. It impacted me deeply in my core self-knowledge and belief in self. The healing from that is a continuous process.


Before me embarking upon my healing journey, my inner voice was often very critical. My perceptions of relationships were unhealthy and skewed. My beliefs in my capability and competence were limited. I believed there was only one way to practice spirituality and that there was only one set of “true” spiritual beliefs. My ability to incorporate the spiritual practices of those that came before me was non-existent. The practices created a very unhealthy perception of self. My self was fragmented, unable to be properly integrated, and filled with anxiety from ignoring the ways my body told me these practices were harmful. These experiences stopped me from reaching my full potential, from believing in myself and others, from seeing the beauty in other cultures and their practices, from connecting with past elders, and from experiencing and celebrating the beauty of living in the present moment due to an ingrained obsessive focus with “eternity.”


How Do You Know If Your Spiritual Practices Are Unhealthy?


Often, we do not recognize the signs that our spiritual practices are unhealthy until substantial harm has been done. What are some signs that your spirituality is unhealthy?

  • Your spiritual practices, and/or the people you engage in them with, make you feel isolated, hyper-self-critical, embarrassed, and/or less than others.

  • Your spiritual practices isolate you from loved ones and those with whom you share relationships.

  • Your spiritual practices cause you to ignore, participate in, or create harm to yourself, other individuals, or other groups of people.

  • Your practices point to one person, institution, or way of thinking being the source of all knowledge and truth.

  • Your practices teach you to distrust yourself, your inner voice, and/or your intuition.

  • You often experience symptoms of your fight, flight, or freeze response being activated more than you feel calm or at peace in your spiritual practices. Symptoms of this include feelings of unsafety, clammy/sweaty hands or body, long-lasting quickened heartbeat, feeling as if you will pass out, feelings of prolonged hunger or dehydration, feelings of your stomach “dropping” or “jumping,” feelings of doom or as if something bad will happen, feelings of fear or terror, etc.

While there can be other signs, these are a few that can serve as indicators to dig deeper and devote more attention to the way you are being impacted by your practices.


What Is Healthy Spirituality?


What does it mean for spirituality to be healthy? Healthy spirituality contributes to positive health and well-being for its subscribers. It helps others to see the good in themselves and those around them. It helps people to recognize our interconnectedness to others and the world around us. Healthy spirituality draws you closer to your purpose. It helps you on your path. It helps to further illustrate the principles that help us to grow in love, character, and tolerance. It creates balance, unity, and harmony internally and externally.


How Do You Know If Your Spiritual Practices Are Healthy?


In my present day, my spiritual practices align with me. They enlighten me. They help me to honor my ancestors. They help me to see and understand myself and my path. My practices help me to help others. My practices help me to experience healthy interconnectedness and interdependence. Here are some signs that your spiritual practices are healthy for you:

  • Your practices help you feel at peace and safe.

  • Your practices encourage healthy relationships and community with a balance of boundaries and interconnectedness.

  • Your practices help you connect more deeply with the world and earth around you.

  • Your practices help you to practice the principles of equity, humility, inclusion, tolerance, and love for others.

  • Your practices help you feel greater connection and love to yourself, your lineage, and/or your internal and external power.

Overall, experiences with personal spiritual practices can be beautiful gifts. They can be activities to cherish, practice regularly, and connect with our best selves. We are all connected to something greater, and acknowledging and participating in that truth can propel us to new heights.


Be well. Be vigilant over yourself and your beautiful spiritual connection to yourself and Mother Earth. With Gratitude and Grace, Ase’.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!

 

Kiara Norwood, M.A., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kiara Norwood, M.A. is an alternative wellness therapist and certified trauma specialist. She is a trailblazer in the practice of alternative wellness and healing for women of color experiencing mind-body-spirit concerns. She is a certified coach, certified level 3 reiki practitioner, and certified holistic herbalist. After working in the mental health field and navigating her wellness journey for several years, she recognized that additional options were needed to help people achieve holistic wellness. She decided to open an alternative wellness practice to help women of color heal holistically and authentically. Her mission is to help women of color live fulfilling lives and holistically heal trauma through the use of ancestral remedies and alternative wellness therapies.

 

References:

Comments


CURRENT ISSUE

  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04

CHANNELS

bottom of page