Who talks about spirit? And what is it anyway?

The Latin word spiritus means breath, and spirit means God to some. If you practice a religion you may have your own definition.  And your religion may be a source of comfort and strength. If you do not practice a religion however, you still have spirit and it needs care. Spirituality is not the same thing as religion.

Your spirit is a part of your being. It grows and develops if you are healthy.  It is where your emotions and desire come from.

Nourishing your spirit

  • Schedule time to just “be” without feeling guilty
  •  Find a place that soothes you and enjoy the sight, sound and smell
  • Try a new community  like the Universalist Unitarian, Shambala, Baha’i or  anywhere that welcomes visitors.
  • Write a page that starts “What makes me feel good is ...”
  • Get rid of clutter, one small space at a time


Exploring your spirituality

Our non-religious family found a different sort of church when our daughter expressed her wish to ask questions about spirit.  The Universalist Unitarian Church, 5500 Inglis St, Halifax, is a group that prides itself in seeking truth, appreciating the worth and dignity of all human beings, and being a loving community. Those who attend have a mix of religious backgrounds or none at all and they believe that all religions have something to offer. It is a very comfortable place to be for anyone who is not interested in a regular church but misses the sense of community and wants to explore questions about spirit. They do hold services, but nurturing spirit is the focus, not God and prayer.

The Baha’i community does practice a religion, with a belief in God, but the six million Baha’is around the world believe in the spiritual unity of all humankind. All religions, they say, have had a messenger  - for example Jesus or Mohammad. Their messenger is Baha’u’llah who taught that now is the time for us to work towards global peace, justice and unity. What is nice about this group is that they meet in people’s homes in small groups to study and pray. These gatherings are called Fireside Chats. The Halifax Baha’i can be contacted at 425-8188.

Maybe you just want to tend your spirit on your own?  While a community can nourish your spirit there are things you can do on your own, too.

Banish clutter

These days I work at home and often I am surrounded by clutter. I have discovered that creating order in my home makes me feel peaceful and empowered.  As I look around my home office I try not to put myself down about the mess. Instead, I think: what is this room asking me to do? Taking some time to go through my “stuff” and decide what to keep or throw out is hard, but in the end it is freeing. I feel I have taken care of a part of my life, and what can be more nourishing than that?

Being in the moment

Other ways to nourish your spirit are to just sit quietly and notice your breath going in and out. Or have a close look at a flower. Enjoy a candle and listen intently to soft music while sitting still, doing nothing. Lock your office door for ten minutes and lie on the floor and breathe. Put a fifteen minute walk into your day. Peel an orange really slowly and smell it before you eat it - slowly with focus.

In looking after your spirit you will find that there is a very close connection to mental well being.

For more information on spirituality and mental health:

Duke Centre for Spirituality, Theology and Health

The Royal College of Psychiatrists


National Alliance on Mental Illness 

About Sheila Morrison

Sheila is an accomplished freelance/creative writer, community volunteer, and public speaker. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The mother of an adult daughter who lives with mental illness, Sheila is a passionate advocate for mental health initiatives which respect and support individuals and families. Sheila calls her daughter her hero.