Growing up in any society means growing up with a lot of messages about who we are and how we are meant to act in the world. Whether outright or more subtle, we are given cultural norms, religious norms, gender norms, societal norms, local norms and even familial norms. We learn very early in life what is acceptable and what is not. And, as social creatures, we do our best to follow these “rules” because it’s important to us on a very basic instinctual level. Of course, some of these norms are beneficial to live anywhere in a shared space with other humans. But oftentimes, it doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe they never felt right to you. Perhaps you always knew that to follow those norms meant you would have to hide or ignore a part of yourself. Maybe, like me, you followed all the rules, and somehow still didn’t feel quite fulfilled when you checked off all the life-goal boxes. I felt something was missing, but I’d been so focused on following the rules and had consumed so much of the cultural norms of my generation that I didn’t remember how to hear or feel my own input anymore.
Today, many of these norms are being questioned and challenged in a variety of ways, bringing about the inevitable push-back that always seems to arise when change comes about. Social media and the constant generating of feelings of alarm by our 24-hour news cycle encourage people to identify even more strongly with certain groups. This is understandable, but ironically can still lead to a sense of identity being outside of yourself and with the norms of the group you’ve aligned with. Ultimately, most people seem to feel very isolated and lost, young and older alike.
“We tend to measure our own well-being not by how we feel, but by how our lives compare to other people’s.”
I became a Spiritual Wellness guide after I began to practice meditation more regularly, which allowed me to tap back into my own inner guidance and begin a new path in my life. The more I aligned with that inner voice, the more I felt compelled to leave a career which had become strained and follow what felt most right for me, even though it was not necessarily the most “practical” choice according to what I believed up to that point. When I made the decision to follow this unknown path, I knew deeply it was the right decision for me.
We’ve all had experiences where our gut is telling us what to do, but for many of us, that message has to be quite loud in order for us to hear it and not ignore it. Your gut, or your intuition, connects you on a deeper level to that which is for your highest good. Spiritual Wellness is about learning to listen to and trust that voice. It’s about getting back to your most true self. When we are able to home in on our inner knowing and let it guide us, we begin to live in spiritual wellness.
When we live from our most true self, the importance of norms and other’s ideas of what is right often changes. We become less concerned about what we’ve been taught to believe by the larger institutions we are a part of, and much more interested in what feels true. This is not a shift in our egoic needs for power and control, but a much deeper dive into a greater guidance. Our view of ourselves also shifts as we examine old beliefs and patterns. This is not easy, but the reward is great. We learn to love ourselves, “flaws” and all. In doing so, our compassion extends to others in ways we may not anticipate. Accepting ourselves more fully allows us to accept others as they are. Feeling a greater sense of purpose in our lives can bring clarity to our days. We can delight in the big and small moments of life, and weather the hard times from a place of greater understanding.
As a Spiritual Wellness Life Coach, I assist clients in connecting to their inner voice. This could be through guided visualizations, mindfulness practices to learn to live in the present moment and quiet the mind, assisting a client to identify their goals, or helping a client identify what might be holding them back. It can look different for each person, depending on the client’s choices, needs and desires.
“Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.”
— Richard Rohr
Ultimately, connecting with your true self can offer the healing and connection we all long for. Never has this felt more urgent than in recent years as our communities have shifted so rapidly. Tapping into this greater knowing may be the most important work we do.
Angelica Ward is a guided meditation facilitator and spiritual wellness life coach based in Northern Virginia. She is an Academy graduate of the Spiritual Wellness Specialist program. Angelica works with clients to help them develop tools to live the life of peace and purpose that they desire. You can find her at:
Facebook: Sacred Sparrow Wellness