“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
1 Corinthians 3:16 “
I have a confession to make. I’ve been drawn into the whole Star Wars thing. It started a couple of years ago when my wife, Suzy, convinced me to watch the saga from the first movie through the remaining eight feature films.. Flash forward to winter 2020, the emergence of Covid-19 and enter The Mandalorian. The series follows a bounty hunter who goes on the run to protect, “The Child” (Baby Yoda).
The main character, Din Djarin, otherwise known as Mando, is a Mandalorian, a group of religious zealots who follow the ancient “Way of the Mandalore.” They follow an ethical code which is summed up by their credo, “This is the way.”
So what does this have to do with spirituality and mental health you may ask? Well, this is something I’ve been thinking about for the last 10 days. I’m on vacation on Cape Cod and on most mornings I’ve taken long walks. I use this as a means of exercise and listen to instrumental music (Philip Glass, Pat Metheny Group, Jean-Michel Jarre) which allows me to get into a real meditative state. I just let go.
At one particular point on my walk there is a fork in the road, which is shown in the photo above. When looking at the fork, I’m reminded that we have hundreds of “forks in the road” every day. What I’m talking about is our decisions.
In one of the books I’ve been reading on my vacation, “The Art of Happiness,” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D., one question that is posed is, “Does what you are doing bring you happiness?” Thus the idea behind our decisions.. Are our actions leading us to a happier way of life or contributing to a sense of “dis-ease.”
I believe that there is a great deal of dis-ease in our society because of the decisions we make, sometimes caused by others’ actions as well as those we inflict upon ourselves. This can, at times, be manifested in the forms of mental illness and substance abuse.When it comes to our mental health we can, however, find “the way” to a better life.
I believe that the place to begin is with our relationship with God. In my Twelve Step program, the 11th Step states, “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” When we are aware of God’s will for us and we are able to make the decisions that will benefit our wellbeing, based on this knowledge, then we can learn how to take better care of ourselves.
Prayer and meditation are known to be effective “self-care” tools that can improve our emotional wellbeing. There are other decisions we can make every day: eat nutritional foods, exercise, utilize social supports, listen to music, journal, and/or volunteer. There are, of course, others. But by employing these tools we can become healthier.
When I think about the Mandalorian creed, “This is the way” I’m reminded of the vow taken by physicians, “Do no harm.” The way to a healthier life is to do no harm to ourselves. This is why our decisions are so important, especially those that pertain to our mental health. And knowing that God’s spirit is present within us, we can tap into God’s infinite power to become the person we are intended to be.
So, what decision are you going to make today that will serve to positively impact your mental and emotional health?