Lathrop/Kendal North Residents' Website

Wellness Matters

Roadwork on the Inner Path –Spiritual Fitness is the Fourth Pillar of Prevention

Today’s column completes my series on the Four Pillars of Prevention. If you’ve been following, you know for me this is a personal question related to my own immediate familial risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Outside of the common risk of traumatic accident or the possibility of malfunction that might lead to the development of cancer, I’m likely to live long and face the modern challenge of Alzheimer’s. I’m committed to doing what I can now to reduce that risk, and the previously discussed habits of Supportive Diet, Stress Management, and Physical and Mental Fitness figure into how I plan life every day.  Today I want to address the fourth pillar – What ARPF calls Spiritual Fitness. And by describing it as fitness we see it as a state that needs to be developed and maintained.

In my many conversations with residents I am always picking up hints at the simple bits of truth that point toward what  a teacher of mine calls the “gateway to the miraculous.” These expressions of wisdom and well integrated insight are the qualities that I believe contribute to resiliency, and allow us to meet what comes with acceptance instead of suffering in resistance.  What clinicians call psycho-spiritual well-being is the healthy state of living with interest, curiosity and appreciation. 

So how do we get on that road? What are the steps on the path?  Here are some aspects that you might well recognize.

  1. Socialization or being with like-minded people
  2. Volunteering or service without thought of self-reward
  3. Acceptance and forgiveness of yourself and others
  4. Patience and allowing yourself to be in the moment
  5. Compassion and empathy towards yourself and others
  6. Purpose or meaning in life via self-discovery and building your legacy
  7. Sense of spirituality, regardless of origin or religion

According to ARPF, modern research suggests that some of the most striking brain benefits of Spiritual Fitness are:

  • Reversal of the amyloid plaque which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Improvement in your genes via healthier telomeres
  • Slowing of Alzheimer’s progression

The good news for Lathrop residents is that the first two aspects are baked into life here, if you choose to eat from the banquet of options.  You may already have these as habits, but if not, like the aspects on the rest of your list, there is always value to carry new intention. Our community is rich with folks well along their a path, and the availability of wise teachers in person and print has never been more abundant.  Your neighbor may be someone who has made practice an important part of life.  International teachers such as Pema Chodron  and Ekhardt Tolle, or the mindfulness guru Jack Kornfield can point us in the direction of greater spiritual fitness. And of course the great religious traditions that may be a part of your current or former life have been guiding human beings to the levels of spirit that they are willing to pursue.

Everyday a new opportunity.  Every person a possible teacher.  Every action a choice to be in alignment. And of course a good place to start with it all is right within ourselves.  Each day we commit to get more exercise or not overeat, and each day we have a chance to accept what we’ve done and start again. That’s practice. And that’s progress.  No guarantees of course as the course of Alzheimer’s and the many other fates that may be ours are mysteries.  But if nothing else, the benefits of following the guidance of these four  pillars will make us feel better along the path wherever it leads. 


Click on the links below to read all of Rob’s articles

Spiritual Fitness April 2017

Cross Train the Brain April 2017

The Second Pillar of Prevention- Stress Management March 2017

Food as Medicine: The First Principle of Prevention March 2017

The Stories We Write and The Stories We Live February 2017

Neighbors Caring In Northampton January 2017

How Much Support Is Enough? January 2017

Aging In Place January 2017

Seasonal Tidbits December 2016

Want To Make A Healthy Change? Start With the Right Goal December 2016

Living in the Rhythm of the Year December 2016

Fight Heartburn and GERD: Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference (Part one of two) December 2016

Fight Heartburn and GERD: Diet and Lifestyle Can Make a Difference (Part two of two) December 2016

The Four Keys To Well-Being November 2016

Fitness Committee Working to Get You Moving October 2016

CPR-Responding in a Cardiac Emergency October 2016

Independent Musing October 2016

10 Easy Steps to Prevent Colds and Flu September 2016

Be Prepared For Stroke Response September 2016

Musings at the Edge of Things August 2016

Anybody Home? August 2016

Vitalize 360-A Powerful Tool in the Wellness Toolkit July 2016

Directing your Care- Hospice at the Roads End July 2016

Feeling Better is as Easy as ABC June 2016

Directing Your Care – Certified Home Care is the VNA June 2016

Directing Your Care – Time Spent in Rehab June 2016

Retired Men at Work May 2016

Tick Prevention May 2016

Directing Your Care: Who is the Hospitalist? May 2016

Directing Your Care: Injured When Away From Home April 2016

New Partner on the Path: Lathrop’s Fitness Committee April 2016

Responding to an Emergency: Lathrop’s Safety Net March 2016

What’s Your Plan? March 2016

Foods that Fight Inflammation February 2016

Straight Talk On Depression February 2016

Reaching For Fitness January 2016

Pendant and Pull Cords – January 2016

Caregiver Support Group – January 2016

Mindfulness Basics -December 2015

Holding Light in Darkening Days – December 2015

Correct Walker Use – December 2015

Assistance for You Should the Time Come – November 2015

The Gift of Never-ending Work – October 2015

On Being Mortal – October 2015

Grief and Praise – Changing Aging October 2015

Cultivating Vitality, Yoga – September 2015

MIND Diet – September 2015

Staying Healthy in the Months Ahead – September 2015

Walking Promo – September 2015

Falls, the Game Changer – August 2015

Stay Driving -August 2015

More on Driving Safety – August 2015

Wellness Plan and Coordinating Care – July 2015

Tune ups, Maintenance and Possible Spare Parts – July 2015

Six Dimensions of Wellness – July 2015

Morning Edition Walking Piece – June 2015

MD Recommendations – June 2015

Informing the Web of Care – Advanced Directives -June 2015

The Web of Caring Part 1 – May 2015

The Web of Caring Part 2 – May 2015

Wellness Matters – April 2015